TVO The Agenda podcast

Last night, TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, had a panel discussion on Ontario’s “current” situation and the Long Term Energy Plan announced on Monday. While most of the panel played nice, there are some very interesting comments particularly from Universuty of Toronto’s Don Dewees (“I was never in favour of the Green Energy Act”) and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ Paul Acchione, who said Ontario is committing suicide economically with its energy policy.

The podcast is here.

Wall Street Journal in Toronto Sun: Ontario worse off than California

Ford’s follies hogging criticism for Wynne

Simon Kent

By ,Toronto Sun


TORONTO – Come, let us annoy Kathleen Wynne.
The leader of the biggest province in Canada has never had her claim to be premier tested by the electorate, but she presses on regardless.
All rictus grin over outstretched arms, forever seeking to have yet another conversation (sigh) with voters, Wynne also happens to oversee the biggest budget and deepest debt this side of the Ottawa treasury benches.
The same person who recently entertained OPP officers investigating the destruction of gas plant e-mails in her office to help them “familiarize themselves with the operation.”
Meanwhile, the whole world — literally and figuratively — and its maiden aunt talk about Rob Ford’s personal foibles and not Ontario’s nominal leader and her appalling inability to manage the public purse.
I know that at a personal level because I have been inundated with media requests about Toronto’s mayor.
I’ve provided a newspaper op-ed for The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, fielded numerous television interview calls from Al Jazeera America, joined a radio debate on the BBC World Service, and had queries from ABC Radio.
Rob Ford. Rob Ford. Rob Ford. Rob Ford. Rob Ford. Rob Ford.
The 64th mayor of Toronto is just about the only game in town.
All the time Wynne is able to pull her con trick and convince pretty well anyone who will listen that she is doing a just fine and dandy job at Queen’s Park, thanks for asking.
Which she isn’t.
Here is what the Wall Street Journal said a week ago.
“In the wake of the financial crisis, the state of California has been something of a poster child for fiscal dysfunction, with years of budget deficits, service cuts and public-sector job losses.
“By some measures, though, the Canadian province of Ontario’s fiscal situation is worse than California’s, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
“The bond-rating firm noted in an Oct. 21 report that California’s debt burden, for example, was about 50% of total revenues in 2012-13, while Ontario’s net direct and indirect debt was at roughly 226% of consolidated revenues at the end of March 2013.”
By any measure, Ontario has a massive liquidity problem. It will not be solved by Kathleen Wynne borrowing still more money.
Yet, that is exactly what she intends to do. Not cut spending, mind you, just put more on the tab.
She honestly thinks we can borrow our way out of debt, spend more taxpayer dollars and hope nobody will notice because … hey, look over there … Rob Ford!
Which is a betrayal of the future generations of Ontarians who will be saddled by the prodigious amounts of debt created by the fiscally illiterate McGuinty/Wynne duumvirate.
My Queen’s Park colleagues Christina Blizzard and Sue-Ann Levy have never stopped pursuing the Liberals about their casual approach to our taxes.
Where is the rest of the media attention?
Cue crickets.
For what it’s worth, Tim Hudak and his team have been trying to amend the media attention deficit disorder that spreads in the wake of Toronto’s mayor.
A full week ago, Ontario PC finance critic Vic Fedeli exposed gaping holes in the government’s Fall Economic Statement, but he was largely ignored. “The government is hiding the truth from Ontarians,” Fedeli said. “For one, the numbers in their Fall Economic Statement do not add up to being on track for their promise of a balanced budget for 2017.
“And, most telling of all, the government refused to provide the traditional three-year spending and revenue outlook in their statement in order to hide the true impact of a weaker economy.
“To put it bluntly, it tried to pull a fast one.”
Fedeli makes a good point. The Wynne government publishes numbers that don’t add up and it appears they have no chance of making a balanced budget by 2017.
All predicated on a conspicuous lack of forward fiscal projections, even to the accepted three-year mark for standard financial forecasts.
If we are supposed to get the government we truly deserve, you have to wonder what Ontarians have collectively done in a past life to have Kathleen Wynne foisted on us.
Now back to the Rob Ford show.

Green energy: not playing the role it was supposed to

Here from the Lucknow Sentinel, an opinion on what is being done to our fair province…and its fortunes.Lucknow is the location of the ongoing Drennan appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval.

Green energy not playing the role it was meant to

Tracey Hinchberger
By Tracey Hinchberger, Kincardine News Freelancer

A Wind Concerns Ontario 'STOP' sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)
A Wind Concerns Ontario ‘STOP’ sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)

Is this what “green energy” is supposed to look like? This is a question I keep asking myself, and would like to pose to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.
As a writer of an environment-themed column I should be pleased to see the fruits of the provincial government’s Ontario Green Energy Act sprouting up all over our municipality.
Instead, as yet another wind farm project has been approved for the area, I find myself dismayed. I am also heartsick for the residents who have fought so hard to oppose these developments and who will be impacted the most by their presence.
While I realize wind turbines utilize an unlimited resource and produce energy that does not create pollution (at least the operational turbine itself) I have never been convinced they are the Holy Grail of clean energy. There are too many cons, such as unstudied health risks, environmental impacts and effects on energy costs.
But some of the biggest concerns I have with the “green energy” the provincial government has been installing in Ontario are the unquantifiable costs.
What I think Queen’s Park has been ignoring is the impact this program is having on Ontarians’ lives.
By denying municipalities the right of refusal in their jurisdictions, and seemingly disregarding opposition to wind projects, an environment of distrust and anger has been created. Unwilling host communities have lost trust in the process, in the government and the corporations who are developing these installations.
By not giving a meaningful voice to individuals who are impacted by neighbours’ decisions to option land, animosity and distrust have been created between former friends.
Communities have been divided.
Too many reports of ill health effects and lives disrupted have come to the forefront. Too often these same families are left unable to escape because of their inability to sell properties that fall within the boundaries of wind developments.
Pro-wind agents will argue that no health effects have been proven. However, even if no physical impacts truly exist (which I’m not convinced is the case) what about the emotional and psychological effects on these families? What about the anguish people have faced, the feelings of helplessness as massive mechanical structures are erected around their properties, and the stress in knowing their homes are now largely unsellable?
The Kincardine area is already inundated with wind development. To the south there are the 38 turbines of Ripley Wind, to the north 115, when combining the towers of Enbridge Bruce and the handful from Huron Wind. From some vantage points in the municipality there are turbines in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
The recently approved Armow Wind project will see another 92 towers erected in the north east of the municipality, almost doubling the number of turbines already in existence north of town. Compounding this is the fact that these towers will be markedly bigger than those already in place.
What the government refuses to acknowledge is that these benignly labelled “wind farms” are in reality large industrial installations, huge pieces of machinery being erected in great numbers across our rural landscape, amongst people’s homes. The province is essentially turning our municipality into a big factory.
Lives in host communities are being impacted significantly, whether it is health-wise, financially or socially.
If I could, I would invite Premier Wynne and Minister Chiarelli to actually stand amongst the turbines, take it all in and attempt to comprehend the impact of masses of towers sprawling off in every direction, with scores more to come.
I would then ask them to look at every one of the lives that have been so wrongly disrupted, imagine their own loved ones in the same position and ask “is this really what green energy is supposed to look like?”

Health issues dominate Dufferin Wind Power hearing

For the Citizen, August 29, 2013

The Energy Review Board’s hearing into the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for Dufferin Wind Power (DWP) is progressing into what observers say will be protracted arguments about health issues, and a war of words is continuing in Melancthon apart from the hearings.
Threats to human, animal and plant life are among the issues the ERB is mandated to rule on. Recently, a tribunal revoked an REA in Prince Edward County on the basis of possible serious and irreversible harm by Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point wind turbine project on the habitat of the endangered Blanding’s turtle.
On the DWP hearing, the tribunal was meeting in Toronto rather than Shelburne earlier this week. Part of the time was devoted to procedural issues, according to observers, and some to arguments over light flicker, one of the concerns of the CORE group.
At some point next week, health evidence will be admitted via a video conference with an Australian specialist.
In the meantime, Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill has received a response from the Ontario government to his letter criticizing the Green Energy Act which he sent to Premier Kathleen Wynn.
The response from Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli is essentially a reiteration of the premier’s position as stated in the Throne Speech and also of the minister’s stated position that “the Ontario government’s priority is to develop renewable energy in a way that both engages and protects local communities.” Mayor Hill’s response to the minister is that, “we are well aware of the changes that have been announced and feel that ‘in reality’ they will make very little difference. “Your response is another indication, in my opinion, of how out of touch your Government is with the results and impacts your flawed legislation has on people and municipalities that have to live with the results of it.” He goes on to invite the minister “and anyone else” to visit the township to discuss the situation.
On the other hand, Wayne Hannon, who has spoken out in favour of DWP on more than one occasion, denies there’s any kind of war going on as, he says in an Aug. 15 letter to county council, “Melancthon Township signed a ‘treaty’ with (DWP) in the form of a mutually binding and fully executed Road Use and Amenities Agreement.”
Mr. Hannon says he doesn’t feel that the mayor “represents all of council and definitely not the majority of people in my township.” He says the issue has “become personal.”
The oddity in the DWP situation is the ownership – a majority held by Longyuan and a minority by the farmers who have also leased property and easements to the wind company.
It is not unusual that foreign money is involved in the developments. When Canadian Hydro Developers was seeking funding for its Phase 2 Melancthon wind farm, the prospective lenders included bankers from New York City, among others.
In the CHD case, however, the lenders did not become owners. The shares were traded publicly on both TSE and NYSE. Later, TransAlta acquired ownership in what began as a hostile takeover.
 Correction – In last week’s story entitled ‘County demanding burial of entire 230kv line: DWP’, we erred in stating the amount of the company’s donations. The correct figure should have been $9,450. We apologize for the error.

Not a Willing Host communities heard at AMO

Representatives of the now 64 communities in Ontario who have declared themselves Not a Willing Host to giant wind power developments, made their voices heard yesterday at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario convention, in Ottawa. Questions were raised during the afternoon “bearpit” session, during which Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli appeared to contradict himself, by saying that preserving valuable Ontario farmland and the quality of rural communities was a priority and then later saying that wind power was necessary for the province. He also said that there is no chance of giving municipalities a “veto” on wind power projects.
   Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott remarked later that he was appalled by the Minister’s “doublespeak.”
   The municipal representatives held a meeting later in the day, and discussed what the effects of wind power had been on their communities to date, and what options were left open to them as they struggle to protect the health and financial wellbeing of their citizens.
   Here is a report from today’s Ottawa Citizen. Comments are open at the time of writing.

Windmill opponents demand province give power to municipalities

By Teresa Smith, OTTAWA CITIZENAugust 20, 2013

Windmill opponents demand province give power to municipalities

Sixty-two Ontario communities have declared themselves ‘unwilling hosts’ to provincially approved industrial wind-power projects. They are demanding that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government allow municipal governments to choose whether and where to put them.

Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson , National Post

OTTAWA — A coalition of 62 communities in Ontario have declared themselves “unwilling hosts” to provincially approved windmills and they’re demanding that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government allow municipal governments to choose whether and where to put industrial wind projects.
A group of residents in North Gower, a region of Ottawa that the province pegged for a large-scale wind-power project, is supportive of the coalition’s demands, but Ottawa is not officially a member of the unwilling hosts coalition.
Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak told 1,600 delegates gathered at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference this week that, if elected, he would “scrap the Green Energy Act” entirely. If communities don’t want windmills, the municipality should not be “forced” to house “industrial wind turbines,” Hudak said.
New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath said “short-sighted” decisions on the energy file have created a needless backlash against wind power in communities that feel inadequately consulted.”
The Liberal government’s 2009 Green Energy Act gave the province control over the location of wind energy projects but, in May, the province announced changes that will require developers to work more closely with municipalities. Energy projects that are part of a co-op, owned by a First Nation or at least half-owned by a municipality, will get priority for the Feed-in Tariff program “which is good, because if the private company has community support already, then the project will be more successful,” said Kristopher Stevens, executive director of Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA).
To that end, Wynne has asked the OSEA, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness in communities slated for the turbine projects about the benefits of hosting, including the financial gains that can come from being power generators in a cash-strapped economy.
“It’s going to require a transformation in the way we think about energy,” said Stevens, who noted one of the best things about the Green Energy Act is that it supports smaller scale projects.
“What we want is to have lots of points of light — sort of like the Internet — so that if part of the system goes off, the rest of the system can isolate it and keep running.”
He said such a change would prevent blackouts like the one that happened in much of Eastern Ontario and the Northeastern United States 10 years ago. “What happened in Ohio affected everyone because were pushing power from one centralized place,” said Stevens.
So far, 62 municipalities across Ontario have declared themselves not willing hosts to wind-power projects, citing health problems and loss in property values as their main concerns.
However, while research into the issue is limited. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a 2010 report, concluded that “the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”
The report said that while some residents might find the sound and vibrations from nearby wind turbines annoying, the sound is not sufficient to cause hearing problems and there is no scientific evidence the vibrations cause health issues.

The report recommended that “community engagement at the outset of planning for wind turbines is important and may alleviate health concerns.”
Health Canada has launched a major study into the effect of wind turbines on health.
The Marlborough 1 project in North Gower is on hold until the province announces its new procurement process. However wind developer Prowind, headquartered in Germany, has said it intends to reapply when the new process is in place.
In a letter to Ottawa Wind Concerns, a North Gower anti-wind turbine group, Mayor Jim Watson reiterated that the province is responsible for granting approval for wind projects and called the regulatory regime “quite onerous.” However, before any project is approved, he said, the city “will review all documentation and information relating to the proposed development and fully participate in any such consultative process.”