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.
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.”
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.”
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. …
Collingwood Regional Airport: an appeal will cost more than $100,000
The Town of Collingwood will be appealing the province’s decision to approve a wind farm south of Stayner near the Collingwood Regional Airport.
In a unanimous decision on Thursday evening, council instructed its legal counsel to draft and file a notice of appeal of the decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Last week, the province approved WPD Canada’s plan to construct and operate eight turbines west of Stayner.
Council received a presentation from its lawyer, Richard Butler of Willms & Shier. He said of the 199 renewable energy projects in Ontario, only two have been rejected. He said 120 have been appealed and only two have been overturned.
“The vast majority of appeals are either abandoned or unsuccessful,” he said.
The Environmental Review Tribunal is an arm’s length body that has the authority to confirm, amend or revoke a decision. He said appeals must be based on two criteria: the decision will cause serious harm to human health, or cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.
“I think applications and approvals really speak to the uphill battle that opponents of wind projects face,” he said.
Butler said Collingwood would likely be appealing on the basis the turbines would cause harm to human health.
“A plane hitting or blown off course would meet serious harm to human health,” he said.
Butler said the municipality would likely need a risk assessment completed, which would determine the likelihood of a plane hitting a turbine. He said this could be done within a matter of weeks.
The town would need to prove “more likely or not, during the lifetime of the turbines, there would be a collision.”
Citizens engaged in an appeal of the approval of a huge wind power project that will threaten wildlife and change a heritage landscape
February 17, 2016
The Association to Protect Amherst Island has formally launched a fund-raising campaign to assist with its legal actions against the huge Windlectric wind power project. An appeal is underway, with more hearings scheduled before the Environmental Review Tribunal in coming weeks, and a Judicial Review has been filed, based on details of the approval of the power project despite clear inaccuracies and inadequacies in the application.
The MOECC approved Windlectric’s Renewable Energy Application on August 24, 2015. Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro, approved an Overall Benefit Permit on the same day to allow Windlectric destroy the habitat of grassland birds on the Island.
Turbines are planned beside the world famous Owl Woods. Located on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway, the Island is a refuge for 11 species of Owls, wintering raptors, and grassland birds. 34 Species at Risk will be impacted.
The Ontario government claims to be a leader in environmental action but approval of a huge wind power project on Amherst Island will harm, not help the environment, say community leaders. “Approval of this turbine project indicates the hypocrisy of the government’s wind power program,” says Michele Le Lay, spokesperson for Association to Protect Amherst Island. “Constructing and operating wind turbines here will do great harm to the natural environment.”
After just one day, the group had raised over $2,600 toward its goal of $200,000.
Debris from the exploding Ontario Liberal green energy rocket continues to land on the hapless citizens of the province. Gas plant scandals, soaring power rates, declining electricity output, massive subsidies to money-losing wind and solar, non-stop bafflegab from government ministers: when will it stop?
Not now, and maybe never.
Details of the latest meteorite-sized chunk of the Dalton McGuinty/Kathleen Wynne green power blow-up are on display at the blog of energy consultant Tom Adams, who formerly served on the Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator board of directors and the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy board of management
Adams picks up a story that made brief headlines in late 2012 when Windstream Energy, a U.S. company, filed a NAFTA complaint claiming $475 million in damages. The company says it had a contract with the government-controlled Ontario Power Authority at 19 cents a kilowatt/hour to build an offshore wind farm near Wolf Island in Lake Ontario near Kingston.
The water flows are the circulatory system for the entire ecosystem, biologist tells Tribunal.
Aquatic biologist Les Stanfield testifies before the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing of an appeal to 26-turbine project on Amherst Island. Stanfield was critical of a consultant’s report examining water flow on the small island. “You must understand how the water flows to assess the risk of such a project on wetlands, plants, reptiles and amphibians,” said Stanfield. “These are vital corridors. They are the circulatory system of the entire ecosystem.” Photo: Wellington Times
Amherst Island residents see industrial wind turbines as an assault on their way of life
It is surely an understatement to say life on Amherst Island is highly dependent on the ferry that steams across the channel twice an hour between Millhaven and this teardrop of land situated just a few kilometres east of the tip of Cressy Bayside.
There is no gas station. No place to buy bread or milk. For some the 400 residents who live on this small island (20 kilometres long and seven kilometres wide), the isolation is an acquired lifestyle—bearing the promise of quiet and solitude. For others, it is all they have ever known.
Everyone relies, in one way or another, on the ferry for the essentials of life. So when an Oakville-based industrial wind developer first proposed constructing dozens of the massive machines on the island, the first searing concern was what a major industrial project would mean to their connection to the mainland.
They were assured that part of the approval process would include a Marine Safety and Logistics Plan—detailing how turbines would be transported across the channel and the measures established to protect the ferry lane.
But no Marine Safety and Logistics Plan was ever produced. Nevertheless, the developer Windlectric—a subsidiary of Algonquin Power—obtained a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
Residents and members of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) appealed the REA. Currently, an Environmental Review Tribunal is hearing the matter in a country church on the island. But they won’t hear about the lack of a marine safety plan—
On Monday, a NAFTA arbitration panel will start oral hearings in Toronto arising from a dispute between the Delaware-incorporated renewable power developer, Windstream Energy, and the Government of Canada (notice how awkward it is for the public to attend). At stake is Windstream’s claim for damages of $475 million plus interest and costs over an alleged breach of NAFTA obligations by the Ontario government. Windstream had a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) contract granted by the Ontario Power Authority in 2010 to develop a 300 megawatt, 130-turbine offshore wind project west of Wolfe Island, but says it was thwarted by the Ontario government prior to construction.
My main interest in the Windstream litigation is how it illuminates the chaos inside official Ontario’s administration of the province’s electricity future. The case also illustrates how international trade agreements can leave the federal government on the hook when provincial government engage in shenanigans, an important but previously known fact of life in our imperfect federation. (As if our provincial governments need more incitement for irresponsibility.)