Communities to get “more input” to wind power siting decisions: Chiarelli

Rubbing salt in the wounds of the communities who just got notice of wind power contracts forced on them, despite unwilling host declarations, Energy Minister now says process will allow for input earlier in the process. (We’re still not hearing communities can say “No.”)

Just a little bit more "input"? But Bob still doesn't want to hear you say "no."
Just a little bit more “input”? But Bob still doesn’t want to hear you say “no.”

simcoe.com, March 28, 2016

By Jenni Dunning Barrie Examiner

Towns to have input ahead of solar, wind farm decisions

“There was a problem with particular large wind and solar farms. There was not enough of an alignment of what they were doing and what the municipalities wanted,” said Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli.

“We are in the process now… It involves much more communication with the municipality. It (will be) almost impossible for (contractors) to win a contract without having participation with a municipality.”

Chiarelli clarified that “participation” referred to approval from a municipality, adding all contractors will be required to show proof they consulted municipalities. One wind energy and 13 solar projects have been approved in Simcoe County, according to the provincial Renewable Energy Projects Listing.

The Clearview project is the only wind farm. There are five solar energy projects in Springwater Township (three of which are in Midhurst), four in Tay Township (three of which are in Waubaushene), three in Orillia, and one in Oro-Medonte.

Chiarelli said he expects the ministry to announce more projects “in a month or two.”

Springwater Township Mayor Bill French said he has noticed the province has slowly started asking municipalities for more input on solar and wind projects in the past year.

They have been asked to use a scoring system to rank their support for proposed projects, he said.

“We always thought there should be a final approval process at the municipal level. It should’ve always been that way,” he said. “We’re quite welcome to that change in legislation.”

French said the township has been concerned when “fairly good agricultural land” was chosen as the location for solar farms.

“The ones that are approved, you can’t turn back the clock on those ones,” he said, adding once municipalities are more involved, Springwater will likely approve energy projects in areas with steep slopes or on smaller properties.

“Multi-acre ones, that’s going to be much more of a challenge,” he said. “We have acres and acres of rooftops around. That’s where solar panels belong.”

Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper said she has heard the promise of more municipal involvement from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“I’m hopeful. I just have not seen it thus far,” she said. “Municipalities have been sending the message for quite some time — we need to be part of the process.”

Cooper and the rest of Collingwood council voted last month to legally oppose plans to build a wind farm with eight turbines west of Stayner, near the Collingwood Regional Airport. The town is concerned about the possibility of a plane hitting a turbine.

Cooper said the province made a “snap decision” to approve a wind farm despite of this possibility.

By allowing municipalities more say in the approval process, they can help stop decisions that may negatively affect residents, said Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes.

For example, a couple in the township built a home about five years ago that ended up being surrounded by a solar farm, he said.

“If municipalities had a say in it, that would never have happened,” he said. “Residents expect their municipal council to have some protection for their property.”

When municipalities are more involved, they can demand companies complete up-to-date soil testing to avoid solar projects taking up quality agricultural land, he added.

The province also does not require companies to repair local roads if damage is caused by solar or wind projects, but some have anyway in Oro-Medonte, said Hughes. …

Read the full story here.

Council seeks more clout in denying wind power projects

North Frontenac Council requests municipal support be a mandatory feature of the bid process, and ask other municipalities to support them

KIncardine area house w turbine

Kingston Whig-Standard, March 25, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

PLEVNA — A municipal council opposed to wind energy projects is calling for the province to make local government support for such projects a mandatory requirement.

North Frontenac Township council, which last year declared itself an unwilling host to a pair of wind energy projects proposed for the area, passed a resolution asking the Independent Electricity Systems Operators (IESO) to change the way municipal council consideration is viewed in companies’ requests for proposal for the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program.

Under the current rules, municipal support for a renewable energy project strengthens a project proposal but is not needed to ensure a successful bid. Likewise, municipal opposition does not prevent a project from being approved.

The resolution called for the IESO to make a municipal support resolution a mandatory requirement rather than one of many rated criteria.

The resolution also called for municipal councils and communities to be given the full details about proposed projects before any support resolutions are considered.

“The current process does not meet the government’s standards for openness and transparency because municipal councils are asked to support power projects based on little or no detail,” the resolution stated.

“The province has not demonstrated that renewable energy projects are of sufficient strategic importance in meeting Ontario’s electricity generation requirements and/or carbon emission reduction targets to warrant the province taking action to override municipal decisions.”

The resolution from North Frontenac council came more than a week after the province announced the projects selected as part of the first round of the LRP program earlier this month.

North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins noted that four of the projects selected are to be located in municipalities where councils did not provide supporting resolutions to the companies.

On March 7, three days before the projects were announced, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said during a visit to Kingston that municipal support would be critical to the success of any project.

“It’s almost impossible [now] for a proponent to win a [wind or solar] contract without having some kind of agreement with the municipality,” Chiarelli said.

Higgins is calling for other municipalities in Ontario to …

Read the full story here.

Citizens to file appeal vs wind power developer over premature construction start

The White Pines’ wind power project by Germany-based wpd Canada had its approval overturned on appeal, and does not have a Notice To Proceed, but the developer has threatened to begin construction anyway.

Prince Edward County residents appeal to the court
Prince Edward County residents appeal to the court

This notice is from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, on the Save The South Shore website.

March 25, 2016, PICTON —

Earlier today APPEC’s legal counsel Eric Gillespie notified WPD and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change of APPEC’s intent to appeal the ERT’s dismissal of our stay motion.

This legal action is considered to be necessary following the ERT’s decision this week to not allow APPEC’s motion.  WPD still plans to start construction on the White Pines wind project.  In WPD’s own words: “We are entitled to begin vegetation clearing immediately.”  We strongly disagree.

APPEC will be making an application as an urgent matter to the Ontario Divisional Court.  Our intent is to submit the application at the beginning of next week.

During the past few weeks we have received many messages of encouragement.  Your support is always appreciated but especially so when faced with a developer that is determined to destroy the natural and cultural heritage of our community for its own financial gain.

Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC

appec.wordpress.com

– See more at: http://savethesouthshore.org/appec-will-be-making-an-application-as-an-urgent-matter-to-the-ontario-divisional-court-orville-walsh/#sthash.zfdjkJBb.dpuf

 

Rural residents vow long fight in Dutton Dunwich vs wind power contract

Flawed bid evaluation process is one of nine points as basis of the community’s continuing fight

Mayor Cameron McWilliam stands on the front steps of the Dutton Dunwich municipality offices in Dutton.
Mayor Cameron McWilliam: this isn’t right

St Thomas Times-Journal, March 22, 2016

A citizens’ group which has led the opposition to industrial wind turbines in Dutton/Dunwich says it’s ready to fight them at every turn, despite approval granted for a proposed for wind turbine farm in the municipality.
“At this point our primary objective is to seek the cancellation of this project and future inappropriate industrial wind turbine developments,” said Jamie Littlejohn, a spokesman for Dutton/Dunwich Residents Opposed to Wind Turbines.
Invenergy’s proposal for the Strong Breeze wind farm was approved recently by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and is seen as a crushing blow against Dutton/Dunwich, where 84% of people who responded in a poll two years ago were opposed to them.
Dutton/Dunwich council was also one of the earliest municipalities in Elgin county to declare itself an unwilling host to turbines.
DDOWT met last week after the announcement to review the situation and discuss strategy.
As a result, it formed a response based on nine key points.
Littlejohn said DDOWT will be doing everything to see that Invenergy’s proposal was properly presented to the IESO.
“This may be difficult due to the lack of transparency in the process,” Littlejohn said.
The citizens’ group said it also wants to challenge the political decision on Invenergy’s application and “flawed policy that led to this decision.”
DDOWT’s strategy is based not only on countering Invenergy’s plans, but challenging the philosophy behind the province promoting wind turbines as a green energy solution based on the environmental, health and economic damage they are inflicting on rural Ontario.
Littlejohn said DDOWT will also investigate what it believes are flaws in the IESO evaluation approach.

Read the full story here.

Points from the DDOWT news release:

DDOWT is going to:

1)      Do everything we can to make sure that the Invenergy proposal was properly presented and evaluated by the IESO. This may be difficult due to the lack of transparency in the process.

2)      Challenge the political decisions and flawed energy policy that led to this award

3)      Raise public awareness of the fallacy of the “green energy” policy of the current provincial government and the environmental, health and economic damage it is inflicting on rural Ontario.

4)      Investigate and expose the flaws in the IESO LRP-1-RFP evaluation process and the potential abuse by proponents including Invenergy.

5)      Publicize the impact of the current energy policy on all Ontario electricity rate payers

6)      Actively campaign for the removal of the current provincial government at the next election based on their disregard for the concerns of rural Ontario

7)      Vigorously fight the potential development of this project at every phase of the approval process including the Renewable Energy Approval, Environmental Review Tribunal and any appropriate legal challenges.

8)      Provide support for leaseholders and adjacent land owners to rescind agreements if there were any misrepresentations, undue influence, or coercion to seek support for the proponent (Invenergy)

9)      Work with Dutton Dunwich Council and represent the residents to respect the will of the community who overwhelmingly oppose this project.

At this point, our primary objective is to seek the cancellation of this project and future inappropriate IWT developments. Failing that, we will still fight to minimize the impact of this development, on our community, economy, and natural environment.

In short, we are going to oppose and challenge Invenergy and the IESO on every possible front!

Jamie Littlejohn and Ric Walford,

Spokespersons, DDOWT

MPP demands answers on contract process from Chiarelli

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 22, 2016

YUREK QUESTIONS MINISTER ON WIND TURBINES IN DUTTON/DUNWICH

QUEEN’S PARK – This morning MPP Jeff Yurek rose in the Legislature to question the Minister of Energy on the recently awarded industrial wind turbine project in the Municipality of Dutton/Dunwich, found in MPP Yurek’s riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London.

“This government has stated that municipalities will have a say in wind projects however; in this latest round of contracts this seems not to be the case.  Minister will you explain to the municipalities in my riding why their views do not matter to this government?”  questioned MPP Jeff Yurek.

On March 10, 2016 Invenergy was awarded a 60 megawatt project in the Municipality of Dutton/ Dunwich.  The Municipality of Dutton/Dunwich had declared themselves an unwilling host for Industrial Wind Turbines after conducting a survey which showed 84 per cent of residents were opposed to a wind project.

On the contrary, the municipality of Malahide declared itself as a willing host and their project was denied. The government promised to listen to rural Ontarians but has failed to do so.

“It is unfortunate that this government has blatantly chosen to ignore the local voice on these projects. The approval of the Dutton Dunwich project is literally tearing this community apart.  Unfortunately, this government continues to ignore the voice of rural Ontario,” concluded MPP Jeff Yurek.

 

Stantec staffer qualifications questioned at Amherst Island appeal

Power developer says no turtles on Amherst Island; turtle experts and residents say there are.
Power developer says no turtles on Amherst Island; turtle experts and residents say there are.

Kingston Whig-Standard, March 18, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

BATH — The two sides fighting it out at the Amherst Island Environmental Review Tribunal sparred over the qualifications of an expert witness Friday morning.

Andrew Taylor, an ecologist with Stantec Consulting, the company that performed environmental studies for the proposed wind energy project, had been called to testify on behalf of Windlectric, which has received conditional approval from the Ontario government to build up to 26 wind turbines on Amherst Island. Taylor was called to provide testimony about the impact the project could have on bats and turtles on the island.

Windlectric lawyer Arlen Sternberg said Taylor was qualified to testify about the project’s potential impact specifically on birds, bats and turtles.

“He’s got a lot of experience he has developed on those topics over the years,” Sternberg said.

Eric Gillespie, the lawyer for the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), had opposed Taylor’s expert qualification and instead wanted him declared a witness with experience in wildlife.

In the end, tribunal member Robert Wright ruled Taylor could be considered an expert witness on the effects on wildlife of wind energy projects, but he did not specifically label him an expert on birds, bats and the Blanding’s turtle.

Sternberg had noted earlier in the morning that Taylor has testified at five other ERTs as an expert witness and has studied the impact on wildlife at the pre- and post-construction stages of wind energy projects.

Sternberg said Taylor was more qualified than many expert witnesses called by APAI.

Under questioning from Sternberg, Taylor said he has performed wildlife studies at 19 large construction projects, including nine wind energy projects, and had delivered testimony at previous ERTs.

“This tribunal has accepted him five other times as an expert witness,” Sternberg said.

Earlier in the hearing, Taylor provided expert testimony about the impact of wind energy projects on birds.

A 2013 study from Stantec stated there are no Blanding’s turtles on Amherst Island. Island residents have testified earlier in the tribunal that they have seen Blanding’s turtles on the island.

APAI’s lawyer Gillespie admitted that it is rare to challenge the qualifications on an expert witness, but he noted that Taylor was not accepted as an expert witness at the 2013 Ostrander Point ERT. Gillespie argued that little has changed in Taylor’s qualifications since then that would make him an expert witness in this hearing.

“We say nothing has changed,” Gillespie said. “It’s the same Andrew Taylor who is standing here.”

Read the full story here.

Prince Edward County on the ‘eve of destruction’ as power developer threatens to clear vegetation for unapproved wind power project

No stay decision yet, developer and ministry make plans

Tree-Mauler

wpd Canada sent this photo to show what kind of machinery they’ll be using. Nice.

The Wellington Times, March 17, 2016

Many eyes will be watching the countryside south of Milford today, looking for signs of heavy equipment arriving to clear the land of not-yet-budding vegetation. As of Monday, there was no decision on a motion for stay in construction activity on the industrial wind project site.

The developer, wpd Canada, advised the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) and John Hirsch, appellants of the project at an Environmental Review Tribunal that it intended to commence vegetation destruction this week—despite the Tribunal’s decision that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to two endangered species, the Blanding’s turtle and the little brown bat.

APPEC responded immediately seeking a halt on all physical activity at the site. Other parties have said they wish to be heard on the matter so the Tribunal has allowed a few days this week to hear those submissions.

In the meantime, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has advised the developer it must complete a stormwater management plan before construction begins.

wpd Canada spokesperson Kevin Surette says that report has been completed and his company is awaiting the MOECC’s signal to begin clearing the land.

“The intent of the notice provided to APPEC on March 1st was to make them aware that vegetation clearing could occur anytime after March 14,” said Surette. “MOECC has indicated the Stormwater Management Plan must be approved prior to vegetation clearing; it has been submitted, and it could be approved at anytime.”

Remember that this is a project that has been stopped by a Tribunal—yet wpd Canada and the MOECC continue to go about development of this project as though nothing has changed.

But APPEC and a variety of conservation groups are sounding an alarm about the devastation that will result for the habitat of vulnerable species that reside in and around the targeted area.

“wpd Canada will be clearing significant wildlife habitat for endangered species such as the Blanding’s turtle and endangered grassland species such as the whip-poor-will, eastern meadowlark and bobolink,” said Orville Walsh, APPEC chair. …

Read the full story here.

Critics blast Ontario wind farm contract process

“A slap in the face for rural Ontario” says Dutton-Dunwich Mayor

84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway. (Maybe)
84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway. (Maybe)

 

London Free Press, March 16, 2016

By Debbie Van Brenk and John Miner

A new process to select sites for renewable energy projects was “open, fair and transparent,” says an evaluator hired to ensure selectors followed all the rules.

But critics are furious the same rules let wind firms with low bids trump municipal objections and the “transparent” process doesn’t yet let them know why.

“We were involved in the process of the initial guidelines . . . and we said there had to be co-­operation and support from the community (for a successful bid),” said Cameron McWilliam, mayor of Dutton-Dunwich. “And we didn’t get it. We got ‘community engagement,’ which is what we’d have with any development . . .

“That’s not what we were led to believe were the terms.”

A week after Invenergy got the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with the province for 20 to 25 turbines in Dutton-Dunwich, the municipality is still awaiting word on why it’s getting a project opposed by 84 per cent of the residents who voted in a referendum.

“We don’t have any information as to what the criteria were and what criteria they met,” McWilliam said.

The green energy contract selection process was designed and run by the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO), a not-for-profit corporation overseeing Ontario’s power system.

Previous rounds of wind energy contracts drew allegations of political interference, including a NAFTA lawsuit by U.S. energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens against Canada. Pickens’ suit, claiming $650 million in damages after his company was denied a contract for a wind farm near Goderich, awaits a NAFTA tribunal ruling.

For this latest round of wind farm procurement, an outside firm was hired as a “fairness advisor.”

The firm, Knowles Canada, in a March 9, 2016, letter posted on IESO’s website, said the procurement in their opinion “fully met provincial standards of an open, fair and transparent process.”

Under the old process of the 2009 Green Energy Act, Ontario set rates it was prepared to pay wind, solar and hydro producers per kilowatt-hour generated.

Under the new process, developers had to submit a price they were willing to accept. Their bid would be weighed along with other ­factors, including community support from municipal ­councils, nearby landowners and First Nations.

An energy developer offering a lower price, but no community support, might still win a contract offer; a developer with community support, but a higher price, might not.

In Malahide, just east of Dutton-Dunwich, for example, council backed Capstone Power Development’s plan to expand its Erie Shores Wind Farm, but the bid was unsuccessful.

“A lot of very, very positive things were working in that project’s favour,” said David Eva, a ­senior Capstone vice-president, ­noting “very strong support” of host municipalities and other features made it “very viable.”

Meanwhile, McWilliam said he’d like to see the numbers now. “IESO is making a big deal about the (open) process, but why can’t they share that? It’s taxpayers’ money.”

His municipality sent a terse email to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, noting council had met him “on numerous occasions” to make the ministry aware residents had “clearly stated they did not want an industrial wind turbine project.”

McWilliam maintains if a municipality doesn’t support a proposal, that should be a deal-breaker.

“It’s a slap in the face for sure for rural Ontario,” he said. “Everybody is scratching their heads.”

Read the full article here.

 

Six appeals filed against contentious Clearview wind farm

An insult to the community, says a councillor. Issues include aviation safety, economic impact, planning control

Small airplane on runway

By Gisele Winton Sarvis, PostMedia

Barrie Examiner, March 9, 2016

CLEARVIEW TWP. – Six separate appeals have been filed to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) against its approval of the wpd Canada project to construct eight 500-ft wind turbines east of Stayner.

At the Feb. 29 Clearview council meeting, Deputy Mayor Barry Burton said that in addition to appeals filed by Clearview Township, the Town of Collingwood and the County of Simcoe, appeals have also been filed from Kevin and Gail Elwood, the Wiggins Group and Preserve Clearview Ltd.

Burton didn’t discuss the topic any further but later in the meeting, council was reluctant to even receive the lengthy wpd Fairview Wind Project Renewable Energy Approval (REA) document for information.

“This is in no way accepting the report, it’s just for information,” said Burton, who chaired the meeting.

The municipality is opposed to the project due to concerns over public safety as the closest wind turbine is just more than 3,000 metres from the end of the runway at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

In addition, plans for the Clearview Aviation Park is expected to attract business and potentially hundreds of jobs in the aeronautic industry and therefore expand use of the airport. A study commissioned by the municipality, found that turbine construction would put the economic development project in jeopardy.

Clearview fought and received intervenor status in a court case between wpd Canada and the MOECC in order to voice its opposition to the project.

But on Feb. 11, the day before the case was to be heard, the MOECC granted wpd approval to construct the turbines.

‘This has to be stopped’

Coun. Thom Paterson said during the council meeting, “This is the kind of insult many municipalities feel in this process. We can make the concerns known and be ignored… This has to be stopped. Many municipalities have made that known. Hopefully the government will start to listen.

“Here’s a another example of your government not listening to your municipality,” he said.

Following the meeting, Burton said the municipality is “forced” to go to the appeal route because they didn’t get their day in court.

“Premier Wynne talked about how unwilling communities would get their say and that wind turbines wouldn’t be forced upon them and that’s exactly what’s happening in Clearview. They are being forced upon us,” he said.

“And when we tried to have a proper hearing and spent money in the process, they bailed at the last minute and caved into wpd, so it’s very disappointing,” he said.

“I don’t feel the province has done its due diligence.”

Read the full story here.

Wind power site “poorly chosen” : Environmental Review Tribunal

Power developer admits it was unaware of degree of risk to endangered wildlife

Toronto Star, February 29, 2016

By:

John Hirsch, a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, filed an appeal of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines wind turbine approval. The appeal was upheld.
John Hirsch: appellant with Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County against WPD wind project
Blessed are the small and humble, for they, it seems, shall halt wind turbines.

In the latest instalment of the epic machine vs. nature struggle being played out in Prince Edward County, environmental activists have scored another victory against construction of wind turbines they say will do serious and irreversible harm to already endangered species.  This time, in a ruling released Feb. 26, an Environmental Review Tribunal upheld an appeal against a turbine development it concluded posed serious risk to the Little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle.

Last July 16, the Ontario Environment Ministry issued an approval to White Pines Wind Inc. to install and operate a facility of 27 turbines on the pristine south shore of what locals call the County. As it happens, a man named John Hirsch was scouting property in the County at the time for he and his wife to move to after wrapping up a career in customs consulting.

Hirsch had already become a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, one of the most important bird-banding stations in Canada. He suspected — even before eventually buying property in another part of the County — that the White Pines proposal would profoundly alter the south shore. He was also, owing to his career in customs administration, quite familiar with tribunals.

By July 29, Hirsch had filed an appeal — “it’s not all that complicated” — of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines approval, getting in a day ahead of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward Country.

“It turns out a case gets named after whoever gets in first,” he told the Star on Monday. “That’s why the case is named Hirsch v Ontario.”

“We didn’t think we were going to win”

While Hirsch, 66, might have got top billing, the alliance “came to the rescue,” he said, with funding, legal representation and recruitment of expert witnesses. During November and December, Hirsch, who now works part-time at Home Depot in Belleville, sat through 21 days of hearings, after which he wasn’t terribly confident of the outcome.

“Were we expecting this? No!” he said. “We didn’t think we were going to win. We didn’t get the birds. But we got the bats!”

The tribunal dismissed appeals on the grounds of human health risks. It also rejected appeals on the threat to birds, although it did call the project site “poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.”

The panel upheld the appeal because of the risk of serious and irreversible harm to the Little Brown Bat and Blanding’s Turtle.  …

Read the full story here.

ToughonNature