Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
“We get it” ministers tell community leaders from Ontario rural communities
June 2, 2019
Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Northern Development Greg Rickford attended an event at Queen’s Park sponsored by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and hosted by Wind Concerns Ontario this week with his colleague Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Minister Rickford said the two are working together on responding to citizen concerns and reports of noise and other adverse effects from the thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines that were forced on Ontario communities by the McGuinty-Wynne governments.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Minister Rickford said, but we are dedicated to helping communities with concerns and problems with wind turbines.
In recent days, the environment ministry has determined that two large wind power projects are not in compliance with provincial noise regulations. K2 Wind is out of compliance and now the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan within the next two weeks, and further, to establish firm dates for new audits to demonstrate compliance to the revised noise protocol by mid-July.
The Director has also stipulated that K2 Wind, which is owned now by Axium Infrastructure, must review resident complaints as part of its response.
The Order, the requirements for immediate noise abatement, and the acknowledgement of resident concerns mark a significant departure from how complaints were managed by the previous government, which treated the wind power operators as their “Client” and failed to respond to the majority of complaints. Response to complaints about noise and other effects is a requirement of Renewable Energy Approvals.
The “Windlectric” project on Amherst Island was also determined to be out of compliance; Wind Concerns Ontario is unaware of a Director’s Order for that project.
The Energy Minister said that cancelling the contracts with wind power operators was difficult and likely not possible, but the government was taking other action to deal with problems. Minister Phillips said they are very aware of the problems being experienced.
“We need more material from you,” he said, speaking to community leaders from across Ontario.
Many of the MPPs who have wind turbines in their ridings attended the event including Lisa Thompson (MInister of Education), Rick Nicholls (Deputy Speaker), Laurie Scott (Minister of Labour), Sam Oosterhoff, Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation) and of course, Daryl Kramp, who sponsored the information event. Other MPPs attending were Daisy Wai, Belinda Kalaharios, Michael Parsa, Robin Martin and Effie Triantafilopolous (both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Health), Dave Smith, Doug Downey, Goldie Ghamari, Logan Kanapathi, Vijay Thanigasala, Will Bouma, Jim McDonell, and Jane McKenna.
Senior staff members for MPPs also attended the event.
“When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised action to address any concerns about health and safety associated with wind turbines,” said WCO president Jane Wilson. “That’s not what happened — today, we have thousands upon thousands of complaints filed with government about noise and other effects, and the former government did almost nothing.”
Minister Lisa Thompson, who was environment critic while the PC party was in Opposition, told WCO president Jane Wilson, “I think about this every single day–I have been with you from the beginning.”
MPP Rick Nicholls, who has many turbines in his Chatham-Kent riding, said the reality of wind turbines has resonated with the public which no longer believes the mythology about impact-free, “green” wind power generators. He referred to the defeat of the pro-wind Chatham-Kent mayor as a sign of the public’s changed attitude.
“I think they get it that there are concerns,” said Stewart Halliday of Grey Highlands, who is vice-chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, and who came to represent municipal concerns about noise and safety issues. “They reassured us and now they are starting to take action with K2 and Amherst Island.”
Posters were presented around the room, outlining major concerns and suggestions for government action. A slide show featured pictures from wind turbine projects all over Ontario including Amherst Island, Bow Lake, K2 Wind, Bluewater, Belle River, and Chatham-Kent.
A WCO member and resident of West Lincoln wrote to WCO after the event to say “spirits were uplifted” for area residents after the ministers’ statements and recent actions by the MECP.
Wind Concerns Ontario has discovered through research that the length of the distribution lines planned for the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont is in violation of both the Electricity Act and Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks policy.
The length of the distribution lines as planned is 125 km; the allowed length is 50 km.
The relevant section of the Electricity Act is as follows:
(4) and (5) of Electricity Act, 1998
ONTARIO REGULATION 160/99 under the Electricity Act
Definitions and Exemptions
(4) For the purposes of the definition of “renewable energy generation facility” in the Act, the following associated or ancillary equipment, systems and technologies are prescribed:
Transmission or distribution lines of less than 50 kilometres in length that are associated with or ancillary to a renewable energy generation facility.
Transformer stations or distribution stations that are associated with or ancillary to a renewable energy generation facility.
Any transportation systems that are associated with or ancillary to the provision of access to a renewable energy generation facility, during the construction, installation, use, operation, changing or retiring of a renewable energy generation facility. O. Reg. 328/09, s. 1 (2).
The prescribed 50 km length is also mentioned in a regulation as part of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks “Technical Guide” as follows:
Technical Guide to Renewable Energy Approvals
4.3.1. Scope of Transmission or Distribution Lines Ancillary to the Project Subject to the qualifications discussed below, transmission or distribution lines ancillary to the renewable energy generation facilities are included as part of the facility and thus must be considered in an application for an REA. These facility components will contribute to the size and dimensions of the project location for the purposes of setbacks and will require assessment for negative environmental effects that will or are likely to occur from their installation, operation or decommissioning in the REA application.
Since transmission and distribution lines are interconnected with the broader electrical grid, it is important to describe what is meant by an “ancillary line” so that REA requirements are applied appropriately. Ancillary equipment for renewable energy generation facilities are defined in O. Reg. 160/99 under the Electricity Act, 1998. Transmission and distribution lines are defined as lines 50 km in length or less ancillary to the renewable energy generation facility. [Source: O.Reg.160/99, s. 1 (5)3)]
As well, this excerpt is from a letter that was sent to the lawyer for the White Pines appeal from Sarah Paul, Director, Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, May 14, 2014: “It is the Ministry’s position that the limit of 50 km applies separately in respect of each type of line (transmission or distribution) in order for them to be considered part of the facility. Therefore, the length of the transmission line and distribution line independently (and not combined) must be less than 50 km.”
It would appear that according to the regulations and government policy, the Nation Rise wind power project should not have been granted a licence to generate electricity, and neither should it have received a Renewable Energy Approval.
“Here we have yet another example of how these projects appear to somehow skate through the application process and get an approval regardless of the rules,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “This isn’t the only project in which the distribution lines exceed the allowed length—how does this keep happening? Where is the oversight and accountability?”
The Nation Rise project received its Renewable Energy Approval during the last days of the Wynne government prior to the 2018 election, an approval that was full of “conditions” for the developer to meet; then, while the new government was elected but not yet sworn in, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO determined Nation Rise had met all its “developmental milestones” and was given a Notice To Proceed.
The project has gone through every appeal possible and is currently the subject of a direct appeal to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Wind Concerns Ontario has written to the ministers of Energy and Environment to request clarification.
In a recent meeting with senior officials in the Ontario Ministry of Health, members of Wind Concerns Ontario executive were told that “not that many people” are affected by wind turbines in Ontario.
We launched a research project to estimate the numbers of people now forced to live with wind turbines and discovered:
THOUSANDS Ontario citizens are living near turbines, and inside turbine arrays in wind power generation projects.
Going back over project documents and wind power developer noise impact estimates, we learned that in fact, there are over 30,000 homes located within 1,500 metres of a wind turbine in Ontario. Applying a conservative figure of 2.5 people per residence, that means that 91,300 people are exposed to the highest levels of noise, vibration and other wind turbine noise emissions.
In other words, the number of people being exposed to wind turbine noise is equivalent to the population of the City of Pickering.
“This puts an end to the notion that there are only a few people in Ontario living next to these industrial power generators,” says Jane Wilson, RN, president of the Wind Concerns Ontario community group coalition. “We know from the calls and emails we get that there are many people in Ontario suffering from exposure to the noise. At a minimum, they have sleepless nights from the noise they can hear. At worst, they have other problems including severe headaches, vertigo and cardiovascular symptoms.
“This is a major public health problem that is being ignored.”
Wind turbine noise regulations* only apply to homes within 1,500 metres; the government has assumed that beyond this distance, people will not experience any effects of wind turbine noise emissions.
Records of noise complaints dispute this, however, and even the poorly designed Health Canada report on wind turbine noise indicates that problems persist beyond the 1,500-metre distance.
So, what does that mean in terms of the likelihood of adverse health impacts from the noise produced by the huge power generators?
Strong health impacts
According to a paper published in 2012 by the Acoustic Ecology Institute, “up to 20 percent of nearby neighbours [of turbines] are strongly impacted with sleep disruption, stress issues, and their sense of home and place is forever changed.” The paper notes that some impacts may be “extreme” and result in noticeable changes to health status.
The Ontario government was aware of this very early on in its wind power program, when a report by consultants under contract to the McGuinty government contained this statement:
“The audible sound from wind turbines is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed.** As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound for wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress-related health impacts in some persons …”
Today, the Ontario government has records of thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise and vibration, which are largely unresolved. In a review of Master Incident Reports prepared by Provincial Environmental Officers, Wind Concerns Ontario discovered that 35 percent of the files contained notations from the officers about adverse health effects from the noise emissions reported.
Burden on healthcare system
Many people seek medical attention for the symptoms being experienced due to the exposure to wind turbine noise, and often have many interactions with our healthcare system. For example, one member of one family reported multiple visits to the family physician who arranged both MRI and CT scans and consultations with audiology, ear, nose and throat, as well as neurology specialists. The cost to the healthcare system to investigate the physical effects of exposure to wind turbine noise in just one person is considerable.
The Nation Rise power project in North Stormont will add hundreds more people exposed to wind turbine noise, with virtually every resident in a nearby hamlet living within 1,500 metres of a turbine. The project is being appealed currently to Environment Minister Rod Phillips.
Sample of Ontario wind power projects and the number of receptors within 1,500 metres
# of turbines
# of “receptors”/houses
# of People
Melancthon 1 and 2
Niagara Region Wind
Note: Receptor numbers based on Noise Reports prepared by the proponent as part of the REA approval process. Population estimates were reached by applying a factor of 2.5 per residence. Vacant receptors were not included in this survey. Source: Wind Concerns Ontario
Copyright: Wind Concerns Ontario
*Section 6.2.4 of Ontario’s Noise Guidelines for wind power facilities
**”Annoyance” in this context is used as a medical term denoting stress or distress.
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
No cause for hilarity this April Fool’s Day. Noise complaints unanswered, wells contaminated, a huge job ahead to unwind the damage
April 1, 2019
It’s now almost a decade since Ontario passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which opened the door to industrial-scale wind power developments throughout the province, and heralded ten years of environmental impact … for nothing.
In fact, the province had already approved a gigantic wind power project in Melancthon, and racked up hundreds of noise complaints before the Green Energy Act was passed — the government went ahead anyway.
Today, we have high electricity bills which are harming ordinary families and discouraging business investment; the government has records of thousands of complaints about wind turbine noise and vibration (mostly unresolved); there are 40 or more families in Chatham-Kent who trace the failure of their water wells to construction and operation of wind turbines on a fragile aquifer there; and, we are seeing the environmental impacts that were brought forward in citizen appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals now becoming reality.
Ontario citizens spent close to $10 million in after-tax dollars to protect their communities from the onslaught of large-scale wind power, according to a survey Wind Concerns Ontario did of our coalition members.
The Ontario wind power disaster should not have been a surprise.
Auditor General Jim McCarty chastised the McGuinty government for never having done a cost-benefit or impact study on the wind power program; subsequently, current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimated that Ontario electricity customers overpaid for renewable energy by $9.2 billion.
Guaranteed to fail
The program to encourage large-scale wind power (the province had a choice back in 2004 onwards to go for small-scale power generation–that’s not what they chose, guided by wind lobbyists) was based on ideology and was criticized by such informed analysts as Michael Trebilcock, who said “This combination of irresponsibility and venality has produced a lethal brew of policies.”
Economics professor Ross McKitrick predicted, “If the goal [of the Green Energy Act] was to promote industry and create jobs, it is guaranteed to fail.”
And Tom Adams, who said, “Urban Ontario, including city-bound journalists, are largely unaware of the corrosive effects some wind developments are having on communities, neighbourhoods, even families. This is expropriation without compensation.”
The jobs never materialized, electricity bills went up, a new phrase “energy poverty” was coined, businesses closed or left, and families were forced to leave their homes because of unbearable noise.
Noise complaints are so prevalent in Huron County that the health unit launched a follow-up study (results will be published later this year). Preliminary data showed that 60% of the people participating in the follow-up were experiencing problems because of wind turbine noise.
Wind Concerns Ontario presented the government’s own noise complaint data as evidence at the appeal of the Nation Rise power project last summer; the approval was upheld regardless of citizen concerns about noise, and damage to a provincially designated “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
Meanwhile, reports of noise are investigated on behalf of the wind power operators by the same companies who prepared the original noise impact assessments for them; one such acoustics firm even boasts that it created the government’s noise assessment protocol.
The fox is not only in the hen house, he built it to ensure easy access.
As Ontario’s new government struggles with all this (Energy Minister Greg Rickford told the Legislature last week that this is a “very difficult” file), there is little to laugh about in Ontario today as the spring winds blow, and families face more sleepless nights.
Residents ‘blindsided’ as licence granted for ‘cancelled’ power project
March 3, 2019
In July 2018, citizens of rural and small-town Ontario communities breathed a sigh of relief when energy minister Greg Rickford announced that the Ford government was cancelling more than 700 renewable energy projects. Many had had concerns about the impacts of these projects on the environment, on their own lives, and about the restrictive approval process for the projects which offered no opportunity for input from citizens or municipalities.
The projects were gone.
Or, so they thought.
Now, two renewable energy projects appear not only not to have been cancelled at all, but are proceeding full steam ahead.
CBC News reports that a solar project near Port Hope is actually now under construction despite local residents believing it had been “cancelled.” The project is located on prime agricultural land and will need hundreds of trees to be removed, despite being inside the protected Oak Ridges Moraine greenbelt area.
And, community members in The Nation, just east of Ottawa, were shocked to learn that a wind power project, “Eastern Fields” received a licence from the Ontario Energy Board to generate electricity a few weeks ago, in December. The licence is good for 20 years, and doesn’t expire until 2038.
In an email to both Wind Concerns Ontario and community group Save The Nation/Sauvons La Nation from Environment, Conservation and Parks staffer Sarah Raetsen confirms that the Eastern Fields project is under “technical review” towards achieving a Renewable Energy Approval.
“We were shocked to find out about this licence,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation. “We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement.”
Save The Nation sent an urgent letter to Minister Rickford on Friday demanding clarification.
“The approval process for ‘green energy’ projects is very limited in terms of community input and favours the corporate power developers,” says Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario. “Now, by believing what the Ford government promised, all these citizens have lost seven very valuable months they could have been working to gather important data on environmental impacts in case they want to appeal a formal approval. They have been blindsided.”
Wind Concerns Ontario has government records of thousands of reports of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, Wilson says, which remain unresolved to this day, despite the change in government.
Julie Leroux Save The Nation: firstname.lastname@example.org
News Release from Save The Nation follows:
For immediate release
March 3, 2019
How Can a Cancelled Wind Turbine Project Receive a Licence to Produce Electricity?
ST-BERNARDIN – Save The Nation is seeking answers from the Ontario Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, regarding the issuance of an Electricity Generation Licence to the ‘cancelled’ Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project. The Ontario Energy Board issued the licence on December 6, 2018, even though Minister Rickford had announced the cancellation of Eastern Fields project on July 13, 2018.
“We were shocked to find out about this licence. We do not understand why or how a cancelled project can be issued a licence to produce electricity for a period of 20 years – until 2038. We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation.
Eastern Fields was one of 758 projects identified by Minister Rickford for wind-down on July 13, 2018, following a promise to cancel unnecessary and wasteful energy projects in order to cut hydro rates. “We’re asking Minister Rickford to confirm that this promise has been kept and that Eastern Fields Wind Farm LP is a dead project with no chance of ever moving forward. We also ask him to revoke the useless Electricity Generation Licence EG-2018-0213” adds Leroux.
The Electricity Generation Licence was issued on December 6, 2018. Incidentally, on that same day, the Ontario Government adopted the Green Energy Repeal Act, which will affect other acts and regulations, namely the Environmental Protection Act, the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation 359/09 and the Planning Act when fully enacted.
Save The Nation is a grass-root movement that has been opposing the Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project near St-Bernardin in The Nation Municipality and Champlain Township since it was publicly announced in June 2015. Save The Nation is not against green initiatives, but is fiercely opposed to the process that was used for the approval of renewable energy projects in Ontario under the Green Energy Act.
Proposed changes to Regulation 359/09, which covers wind turbine siting, noise, and how project appeals are allowed, don’t begin to cover the landscape on Ontario’s problems with wind power projects, says Wind Concerns Ontario. For one thing, there is no protection for health and safety.
November 9, 2018
Proposed amendments to Regulation 359/09, infamous in rural Ontario subjected to wind power projects as being THE regulation responsible for the abuses of democracy and social justice, don’t begin to make the changes needed, Wind Concerns Ontario says in a comment document filed this week with the Ontario government.
“The wider provisions of the regulation do not align with the experience in Ontario and current research on the impact of wind turbines on communities,” president Jane Wilson wrote in a covering letter attached to the formal comment document.
“The conclusion of experience and research is that many aspects of the current regulation are not sufficient to protect the health and safety of residents living near the wind power projects. Significant changes are required.”
The document was filed with the government on November 5th.
Affected by wind turbine noise, vibration and well water disturbance, or have experience with effects on the environment and wildlife? Send the document to your MPP with your personal comments.
A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.
October 31, 2018
At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.
He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:
Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?
Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*
Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?
The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.
Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).
And, it’s expensive.
Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.
Nation Rise may cost Ontario as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**
But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.
Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.
He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.
It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.
We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.
*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.
**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.
New draft bill doesn’t go far enough to address change needed to undo damage
October 30, 2018
In a presentation before the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Wind Concerns Ontario described the wide range of problems caused for all of Ontario, and especially rural and small-town communities, by the Green Energy Act.
Bill 34, which aims to change aspects of the Green Energy Act, is at the committee stage, before receiving final approval by the Legislature.
Presenting for the coalition of community group members and individuals and family members of Wind Concerns Ontario was executive vice-president Warren Howard, a former bank executive and municipal councilor.
He reviewed the problems with wind turbine noise and disturbed water wells; the removal of local land-use planning for municipalities; and the fact that municipalities are now being called upon by residents for help with these negative impacts of the wind power projects, but that they are helpless to do much. In some cases, he said, municipalities tried to take action to protect the health of their residents, but were met by threats of expensive legal action by wind power developers.
The rules for the approval and operation of wind power projects are not based on solid science, Howard said, and are today, out of line with rules in other jurisdictions.
Wind Concerns Ontario obtained documents showing thousands of official records of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, he said, but the response rate from the former Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change was poor.
In more than a few cases, people across Ontario have abandoned their homes because of the impact of wind turbine noise emissions. Even though the Ministry’s Spills Action Line operates on a 24 hour-7 day per week basis and had the capability to respond on an emergency basis to other environment issues, the only response to wind turbine complaints was to advise the District Office who would respond in a day or so. There is no evidence of action being taken on requests by frustrated residents that turbines be turned off so that they could sleep.
The new Bill does not go far enough in making the necessary changes required to repair the damage done to Ontario by the Green Energy Act, Howard explained to the committee. There is no change, for example, in the role of municipalities to approve wind power projects, and there seems to be no provision for enforcement of existing noise regulations, which need to be improved.
Wind Concerns called for retraction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health statement published in 2010, denying that health issues are linked to wind turbine noise. The document is incomplete and outdated, yet it is being relied on as the foundation for environment ministry response.
Wind Concerns also called for regulation 359/09 be rewritten and action be taken to address the 4,562 complaints about wind turbine problems.
Last week, MPP Jim McDonell (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) rose in the Legislature to speak in favour of changes to the Green Energy Act, and brought forward the serious concerns for the environment, health and safety posed by the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont.
Currently under appeal, evidence brought forward has shown the environment ministry staff were not even aware of significant risks to the water supply, for example, or to safety posed by the Leda or “quick” clay, and the former government did not require the power developer to provide proper assessments.
Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m pleased to join my colleagues to speak on Bill 34, the Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018. We promised a government that puts the needs of everyday people first—another promise our government for the people is delivering on.
I would like to quote our Premier, Doug Ford: “The Green Energy Act presents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s rich history. Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need. Today we are proud to say that the party with the taxpayers’ money is over.”
That theme went through our campaign and got us to where we are today. The people of Ontario were tired of a government that not only didn’t listen to them, but they were gouged at every opportunity.
The two opposition parties can point fingers all they want, but remember that when you point a finger, three of them point back at yourselves. They worked together to push through the Green Energy Act when experts around the province warned them of the dangers of not using the science to develop energy policies for Ontario.
The summer before I was elected, Professional Engineers Ontario published a research paper on the problems with the Green Energy Act. They highlighted that a system such as ours, which relies on central power stations, cannot be converted easily to a distributed power format, and such a plan would generate unneeded surplus power that simply couldn’t be ignored or destroyed.
Thus we see the problems with the Green Energy Act. Unneeded, unpredictable and comparatively expensive, supposedly green energy is dumped into the system when our much cheaper water and nuclear systems are fulfilling all the demand. Remember, you can’t destroy excess power. It must be used or other, less expensive, sources throttled back.
In the water world, water was diverted around or spilled over dams to avoid generating power. That was cheap power that was already paid for but not being used.
In the nuclear world, thanks to an innovation by Bruce Power, they developed a way of dumping substantial amounts of steam, enough to account for a measurable amount of excess power. But, remember, the steam had already been paid for. One might wonder why Bruce Power was the only nuclear power producer in the world to develop such a system, but it’s sad to say that it was self-inflicted. The Liberal and NDP governments had ignored all of the warnings, pushing the Green Energy Act on our utilities, who were forced to make the best of a bad situation.
The Liberal government bragged that they would be the number one producer of green energy in the world, but at what cost? The only way to attract the amount of investment required to build facilities on the scale they wanted would require a guarantee of return on capital unattainable anywhere else in the world, and that’s exactly what they did. The 80 cents per kilowatt hour was more than double what Germany had agreed to, and they were in second place. To be fair to Germany, they quickly realized how their price was unsustainable in their program and cancelled theirs.
A person just north of my riding was awarded one of these rich contracts. He decided to delay the construction for a period, as allowed in the contract, until the technology had brought down the cost of materials, as everyone predicted it would. He was attending a solar conference in the US, and one of the presenters asked, “What was the price that everyone was receiving?” When he said it was 80 cents per kilowatt hour, first it was laughter, then disbelief. No one believed him. The rate of return was outrageous. The wind turbine guarantees are the same: They’re strictly outrageous.
What was the result? A huge construction of unneeded power generation and capacity—and the problems started. Auditor General’s report after Auditor General’s report hammered the Liberal government on the dangerous and ill-thought-out plan. First, they tried to justify it to close coal plants, but they were proven wrong, as efficiencies obtained by Bruce Power alone more than allowed for the power they needed to close these plants. Then they originated a plan where they had wind turbines simply shut down, not producing the power, but with sensors added to the turbines, they would be paid for the power whether they produced it or not—a completely ridiculous plan, but they sold it as a solution.
All this time, especially during the minority Parliament, when our party would introduce motion after motion to stop the foolishness, the NDP helped the madness continue by voting for the Liberal minority government.
It’s particularly satisfying today to finally debate a bill that will end the calamity. The Liberal government could no longer hide the facts, and the people of Ontario gave the Doug Ford PC government a massive majority and a mandate to clean up the mess. But, unfortunately, the Wynne Liberal government, with the support of the NDP, have saddled the people of Ontario with a huge bill that must be paid back through outrageously high energy bills for decades to come.
I see people come through my constituency office, and they are in trouble. They can’t afford to pay the hydro bill and their taxes and have enough money left to put food on the table. I was talking to a local senior couple just a couple of months ago, and the lady said that they would have liked to go to the local fair that day, like they always used to do, but it was $10 and they just couldn’t afford it in their budget. That’s a common thing I hear across my riding. People cannot afford to do anything but simply cut back and try to put food on their table. As I said, the couple is like the vast majority of Ontarians, who don’t have a generous government pension plan. They have been experiencing years of expenses escalating at rates much higher than the money they were managing to put aside. When your pension increases by $10 or $20 a year, how do you cover hydro increases of hundreds of dollars a year, property taxes of hundreds of dollars a year and more? You can only save so much by doing your laundry at night and turning your thermostat down.
The Liberal government just didn’t get it. The increased minimum wage doesn’t help people who can’t work either because there’s no work available or they just can no longer work. That is why our government for the people promised to work for the people. The Liberal carbon tax was nothing more than another tax for an out-of-control-spending government, and experts were clear that the plan would not allow Ontario to meet its targets. It only resulted in life being more unaffordable and the business environment being more uncompetitive. Under the Liberal government, energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.
Let’s be clear: The Green Energy Act helped Liberal insiders get rich while families across Ontario were forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food on their tables. The Green Energy Act made it much harder for businesses in Ontario to stay in business; thousands of jobs were lost across Ontario because manufacturing plants were too expensive to operate. Ontario lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs, not to China or India but to our neighbours south of us. The Liberal government’s mismanagement of our economy and massive spending to cling to power at all costs cost Ontarians their good-paying jobs. It’s time to put people first.
With the repealing of the Green Energy Act, we’re also proposing amendments to several existing acts, including the Planning Act and Environmental Protection Act. The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated.
As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I am comforted to see the amendments that would give municipalities back their voice when it comes to making future energy decisions. I share the belief that the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities. By restoring municipal authority for the placement of renewable energy facilities, we’re ensuring that future projects have the support and buy-in of local communities. Because municipalities have told us time and time again that they felt ignored when wasteful green energy projects were forced upon their communities.
Madam Speaker, let me tell you about the plight of residents of North Stormont. They had been battling against a huge multinational corporation, and they were promised that if they were an unwilling host, they would not receive the project. The small rural township passed what they thought was needed, a resolution that would designate them as an unwilling host, and sent it off to the Liberal government. They turned down a huge amount of money from the project company, approximately $500,000 a year, because the residents did not want the problems and the issues associated with wind turbines. Madam Speaker, $500,000 is a huge amount and would go a long way to pay for roads and infrastructure in a small rural township of approximately 6,000 residents, the smallest population in SDG. Potential health issues, noise issues, groundwater issues were just not worth the money in their minds.
For more information contact MPP McDonell at email@example.com and the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont at http://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/