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.
In December 2014, The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (higher Court) in a ruling indicated that the Environmental Review Tribunal is required to engage in a two step analysis on appeals of wind turbine projects. While an Appellant is required to show that the project will cause harm (step 1), the Tribunal must also be satisfied that the project will NOT CAUSE harm (step 2).
Recent evidence that came out of the appeal of Gary Fohr showed that while the scientific evidence has been unable to conclusively demonstrate harm, the experts for the wind company and the government agreed that there is NO SCIENTIFIC DATA available to demonstrate that wind turbines do NOT CAUSE harm. The Fohr appeal has been joined with our appeal. We, as well as the court, will have the benefit of the Fohr evidence at our appeal.
The provincial government has recently approved more industrial wind projects into Ontario communities who were unwilling hosts. More projects are slated for 2017. On Monday, we have an opportunity to make a difference.
We appreciate your support, your attendance and your financial contributions.
Court cannot rule when quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal gave no reasons for decision
Ontario Divisional Court ruled yesterday that it cannot overturn a decision made by the Environmental Review Tribunal, on the motion for a stay in construction activities for the White Pines power project in Prince Edward County. White Pines’ approval was overturned at appeal, and the ERT is now waiting on submissions for “remedy” hearings.
Here is a statement from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.
Late this afternoon we received word from the Ontario Divisional Court that our appeal of the motion for a stay has been dismissed.
APPEC provided evidence from four expert witnesses of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles if WPD proceeds with vegetation clearing. What APPEC could not provide to the Court however was the ERT’s reasons for its decision of last week to dismiss our stay as the ERT never provided reasons. Justice Stewart noted in her decision that “the specific grounds of any such appeal are uncertain given the fact that reasons for the decision are still forthcoming.”
By not providing any reasons for dismissing our motion for a stay the ERT has handcuffed APPEC in appealing its decisions.
According to the Court this disposition is without prejudice to the entitlement of the Appellant (APPEC) to renew its motion if it so chooses “on a fuller record that will include the reasons for the Tribunal’s decision under appeal.”
To help with fundraising, or for more information on these proceedings and the fight in Prince Edward County, go to www.savethesouthshore.org
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.”)
simcoe.com, March 28, 2016
By Jenni Dunning Barrie Examiner
Towns to have input ahead of solar, wind farm decisions
A few weeks after the province approved a wind energy project in Clearview Township, sparking an appeal, Ontario’s energy minister said municipalities will soon be asked for input ahead of future 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. …
North Frontenac Council requests municipal support be a mandatory feature of the bid process, and ask other municipalities to support them
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
No stay decision yet, developer and ministry make plans
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. …
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.”