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.
The sitting Liberal government persists in “green” ideology despite energy poverty, no environmental benefit from industrial-scale wind turbines
Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara-West Glanbrook, put forward a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislature yesterday, proposing the government halt all wind power approvals in unwilling host communities.
An excerpt from his speech:
Industrial wind turbines are one of the reasons people are facing a choice between heating and eating. Expensive and counterproductive power subsidies for turbines we don’t want or need have contributed to the soaring hydro prices that are among the greatest burdens the people of Ontario have to face.
Whether they are spending billions of dollars to stretch out future debt payments or handing out rich subsidies to industrial wind turbine operators, this government will always stick Ontarians with the bill.
I’m not just tilting at windmills like Don Quixote, but a comparison is in order. Cervantes, in his famous novel, wrote about a dreamer of no substance who could not perceive reality—sounds a lot like the Liberals and their hydro plan. This government’s scheme does nothing to address the root cause of the Ontario energy affordability crisis: the Liberals’ Green Energy Act. We call it the bad contracts act because it was designed to benefit Liberal corporate donors, and locks taxpayers into a 20-year contract for overpriced wind and solar power. It’s also for energy we don’t need.
Since 2009, Ontario has given away $6 billion—$6 billion—in surplus energy to US states. States that have lower energy costs than Ontario are getting electricity from us at discount prices. We’re giving businesses across the border a competitive edge over our own Ontario businesses. Truly, Premier Wynne is the best Minister of Economic Development the United States has ever had.
Speaker, I’d like to remind everyone that although the NDP also like to complain about high hydro costs and say that they too are on the side of local communities, they were complicit in setting the stage for industrial turbines being forced down the throats of rural municipalities across Ontario. The NDP joined the Liberals to pass the bad contracts act that enabled the government to sign contracts with big hydro companies that aren’t transparent and can’t be examined. Municipal governments also say that their planning authority was eliminated by this provincial legislation. …
The Minister of Energy has acknowledged that this government has made mistakes with the energy file. The Premier has acknowledged that there are serious issues on the energy file that her government is going to be working on. Yet they don’t seem willing to address the fundamental reasons behind those mistakes. Today, I’m giving them a chance, and I hope they’ll take up the chance that this government can make remedy. If they’re actually sorry, they will vote for this motion. If the Liberal government is actually willing to listen to rural residents, to listen to municipalities and to follow up on the words of their throne speech, I hope their caucus will vote in favour of my motion.
Several other MPPs spoke as well, including Jim McDonell, PC Energy Critic Todd Smith, and Michael Mantha and Gilles Bisson for the NDP.
Read the transcript and the results of the recorded vote here.
DUTTON – A year after it was approved by the province, residents of a London-area rural township are still fighting against a wind farm that’s going ahead despite an overwhelming local vote against such projects.
Thursday, more than 60 people gathered at the Dutton Community Centre during one of two public meetings, organized by Chicago-based Invenergy, to protest against what they say is another broken promise by the Liberal government and a violation of their rights.
“Everything about it is a slap in the face, especially when you look at what is happening to our hydro bills,” said Dave Congdon of Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, a community group opposed to the project that organized Thursday’s demonstration.
“As a democratic society we voted in opposition of this (project) and yet here we are still fighting them . . . it doesn’t seem to matter that we don’t want (the turbines).”
Dutton Dunwich, in Elgin County, in 2014 became Ontario’s first municipality to hold a referendum asking residents their opinion on such mega-projects.
More than half the residents took part, with 84 per cent voting against the wind farms.
Last year the province gave Invenergy the green light to proceed with the project, called the Strong Breeze Wind Farm, in part thanks to the support of six Ontario First Nations groups, one of them located 1,000 kilometres and a time zone away from the municipality.
One local First Nations man at the rally said outside aboriginal communities have no business in Dutton Dunwich’s affairs.
“They have no right and no say in bringing corporations to this land,” said Darryl Chrisjohn, a member of the Oneida Settlement near Dutton Dunwich.
Protestors say the provincial Liberals are ignoring residents.
“That’s what bugs people the most,” Dutton Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam said. “They don’t want to have, as I call it, the ‘province of Toronto’ dictating to rural communities what to do.”
James Murphy, vice president of business development for Invenergy, defended the project, saying it has received 75 per cent support from adjacent landowners to the site.
“We are well aware of the sentiment in the community and we are doing everything we can to help address it,” he said.
Murphy said the company is still in the permitting process and is expected to present a final application to the province this summer. If everything goes as planned, the company would begin in 2019 the construction of 16 to 20 wind turbines capable of generating a combined 57.5 megawatts of green energy, with the facility going online later that year.
Last fall, the Dutton Dunwich group circulated a petition among residents asking the government to reverse its decision of approving the project. Congdon said his group collected more than 1,400 signatures and the petition was sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“We have to continue to believe that we can stop it from happening, and it’s not something just for our community but for everyone in Ontario,” Congdon said.
The government “has admitted already many times that they have made mistakes when it comes to the energy sector, so hopefully, they will wake up and realize this is another mistake.”
NOTE: DDOWT is a community member of Wind Concerns Ontario
The need for mandatory community support and proper mitigation of harmful effects from wind turbines is acknowledged, but there is still no definition of who is “local” or a community, Wind Concerns Ontario says.
February 13, 2017
A Western University PhD candidate and a professor at the university have produced a “toolkit” on wind power development in Nova Scotia and Ontario, which purports to summarize social responses to wind power projects, and offer a set of recommendations.
The document is based on a survey of residents living near several selected wind power projects. It was prepared in association with Communities Around Renewable Energy Projects or COAREP, a “project” designed to “produce original research and outputs to contribute to constructive and sustainable dialogue within and between rural communities and other wind turbine stakeholders.” COAREP is funded by the Metcalf Foundation.
The authors Chad Walker and Jamie Baxter explain the “toolkit” initiative: “The toolkit also explores some novel forms of planning mechanisms and benefit packages based on the preferences of those residents. We find high levels of support for systems that would allow for independent experts during planning stages, investment opportunities for local residents, and discounts on electricity for those living close to turbines. The paper closes with a list of nine principles which are intended to summarize the key points of the document.”
Significant differences were noted between the people surveyed in Nova Scotia and Ontario, the authors noted.
Wind Concerns Ontario had the opportunity to view the toolkit in draft form several weeks ago; we were very concerned about the complete lack of any discussion of adverse health impacts, property value loss, and the fact that the wind power program in Ontario was launched without any cost-benefit or impact analysis (a fact pointed out by two Auditors General) — the situation in Ontario today is that the province has a surplus of power, the cost of signing expensive contracts for renewables like wind power has been a significant factor in driving electricity bills up, yet communities are being forced to “host” the power projects with little or no benefit locally, or to the province.
Wind Concerns Ontario also noted that there was very little real community consultation performed as part of the toolkit development process.
The authors acknowledged Wind Concerns Ontario’s contribution: “Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a 23-page report in response to the toolkit, outlining a range of issues not covered in much detail in the toolkit, but highly relevant to the issue of wind turbine facility siting. We have edited the toolkit considerably as a result …”
“While the creation of a ‘Toolkit’ is a worthwhile objective, it needs to be aligned with the realities being experienced by the host communities if it is to be useful as a framework for assessing interactions with these communities,” Wind Concerns Ontario said in its comment paper to Walker and Baxter.
“It is a concern to us that the work done in developing this ‘Toolkit’ seems to have included very limited communication with Ontario communities. To understand the full impact of wind turbines on a community, the contents of the current draft suggest that the authors need to have more direct contact with the people who are being affected by wind turbines. These are the people that are coming to WCO for information and assistance and forming local support groups to deal with the problems being created.”
While the Toolkit authors maintain that better communication (and money) is all that stands between communities and acceptance of wind power projects, WCO said that for the communities forced to lived with the power plants, the false mythology of wind power has been disproved.
“Over the past six years, the government claimed a number of benefits from the green energy program, including the following:
The investment in wind turbines allowed coal plants to be closed. Fact: the Asthma Society this year presented a certificate to Bruce Nuclear in Kincardine recognizing the role of the refurbished nuclear facilities in allowing this change to be implemented.
The investment in renewable energy technology creates jobs. Fact: Most jobs created are lower-skill, short-term construction jobs. In the 2011 report, Ontario’s Auditor General warned that studies in other jurisdictions which showed two to four jobs were lost due to increased electricity costs for every job created.
Surplus electricity is being sold to other jurisdictions at a profit. Fact: the IESO’s reporting shows that the revenue recovered is below the rates provided for in the wind turbine contracts. Neighbouring jurisdictions are now promoting their lower electricity rates to lure Ontario businesses to relocate.”
WCO pointed out flaws in the research behind the Toolkit development, in particular the fact that the power projects studied were small compared to many developments in Ontario. The use of the Gunn’s Hill wind power project was particularly questionable, WCO said, because while nominally a “community” group invested in the power project, in fact few locals were in the investment group—at the same time, residents fought the project from the beginning, even launching an appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal.
“It is odd to suggest that this outside group hiding behind the façade of a community organization, will change local population’s perception of the project,” WCO wrote. The situation is confirmed by the survey results which indicate that the project, even in its new format, does not have community support. Concerns about impact of the noise emissions on the nearby resident population take precedence over sham organizational structures.
This situation raises the question of how the authors have defined ‘community involvement’ in its analysis of the benefits. To be considered as having an impact on project acceptance, it would seem appropriate to include only groups that are located within a limited distance of the wind turbine project. There also should be some measure of how the group reflects all the residents in an area. In many wind turbine projects, a small group of landowners agree to participate and impose a project on a community despite the wishes of the wider community. Creating a ‘community’ structure around these landowners does not change the basic relationship.”
Perhaps as a result of the WCO comment submission, the authors added an eighth principle to the document, related to adverse health effects and other issues with industrial-scale wind turbines:
Principle 8: Financial benefits are not a replacement for proper mitigation
Though residents living near turbines are dissatisfied with the amount of benefits and particularly how they are distributed among the people living closest to turbines, this does not mean that paying residents will quell concerns. Addressing the mitigation of negative impacts from turbines e.g., noise, vibration – and clearly establishing the need for new facilities – should still be viewed as priorities.
Principle 6 also acknowledges support for mandatory community support as part of the wind turbine siting process (i.e., as WCO says, contracts should not be awarded without community support as a mandatory requirement) and further, that any discussion in a community about he possibility of a wind power facility should occur BEFORE lease negotiations. In Ontario, the practice is to sign up leaseholders and by the time the community is aware of a potential power development, all the documents have been signed.
We remain disappointed that many in the academic world seem to be unmoved from the ideology of wind power development, while the real world community experience provides a different view.
It’s been quite windy the last few days in Ontario, as it often is in the fall. Temperatures have been mild, too — all that stacks up not only to a beautiful fall but a very expensive few days for Ontario’s electricity customers, already hard-hit by their power bills which are the fastest rising in North America.
Parker Gallant has done the analysis on a single day last week, November 10, which he says points out everything that is wrong with Ontario’s electricity policy. Too much power produced when we don’t need it means cheap exports to our neighbours and more expense for Ontarians.
November 10th serves as a perfect example of what’s happening to electricity customers in Ontario: that day, the government’s electricity policy shows we reward huge corporate wind power developers and it also highlights the intermittent nature of power generation from wind — it is out of phase with demand.
November 10 should be the basis of a message to the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault on the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program: Ontario should cancel both the LRP I contracts awarded last April and cancel the now “suspended” LRP II process. The Minister has already admitted our electricity supply is more than adequate for the next 10 years (“robust” in fact, he says) so acquiring more wind generated power (and solar) should be immediately suspended. It does nothing other than drive up the costs for “average” households.
The $9.4 million of ratepayer dollars handed out November 10 neither reduced emissions nor provided useful electricity. Time for a complete overhaul of electricity policy in Ontario, starting with those contracts and the LRP process.
When the subject of cancelling contracts (which is government’s right) comes up, the immediate response from the influential wind power lobby is that to do so will incur lawsuits, and wreck Ontario’s reputation in the business/investment world. The fact is, anyone knows that building your business on a subsidy program is not good planning; it’s also true that the Ontario government included “off-ramps” in the latest contracts, so that it could change its mind if the power is not needed, and pay out the power developers’ documented expenses.
Here are the details for the five contracts awarded by the IESO last spring.
20-yr cost $
Max payout liability $
Source: data from IESO contracts
So, in the case of Strong Breeze, for example, in the community of Dutton Dunwich which resoundingly expressed its Not A Willing Host status but got a wind power project anyway, the government could get out of a $250-million contract by paying, at most, $515,000. Similarly, Nation Rise, in another unwilling host community, could be cancelled for a maximum liability of $600,000 and save Ontario electricity ratepayers from having the $436 million cost added to their bills.
Let’s go farther! Among the projects with Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs) but not yet operating, are the much contested White Pines in Prince Edward County and the Windlectric project on Amherst Island, both of which are in legal battles and both are in danger of not meeting their contracted Commercial Operation date. Cancelling them would save a lot of wildlife and also save Ontario electricity customers almost $1 billion.
Mr Gallant says that November 10 is emblematic of what’s wrong with Ontario’s electricity policy; we add, why buy more power Ontario doesn’t need and inflict more damage on the natural environment and Ontario’s rural communities, when the answer is so simple.
North Stormont is an unwilling host community … but a foreign power developer got a contract anyway [Photo Cornwall NewsWatch]
October 21, 2016
Portugal-based power developer EDP Renewables has scheduled an Open House in Finch, Ontario, for its 100-megawatt, “Nation Rise” wind power project in the Township of North Stormont.
The power project could have as many as 30 industrial-scale wind turbines; it will cost the people of Ontario more than $436 million over the 20-year contract period.
The contract was one of five awarded earlier this year through the Large Renewable Procurement process by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The IESO has since suspended the contract process planned for 2017 saying Ontario has a surplus of power and more is not needed.
North Stormont is officially an unwilling host or Not A Willing Host community, one of almost 100 in Ontario.
Community members have formed a group, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont and have vowed to fight the power project which they say is not appropriate for their community, will raise Ontarians’ electricity bills (the fastest rising in North America) even higher, and will result in no appreciable benefit to the environment.
The Mayor of North Frontenac has written to Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault on behalf of all the 115 municipalities demanding change to the Large Renewable Procurement process. While relieved the next round of bids is “suspended,” he says, the municipalities say more can be done to stop the dramatic rise of Ontario electricity bills.
October 5, 2016
Mayors across Ontario who united together as a result of a resolution being supported to have municipal support mandatory for industrial wind turbines are relieved that procurement of future wind power has been cancelled for now. The Mayors still feel however that the government needs to take very aggressive actions to address the ongoing crisis caused by high electricity costs in this province. Taking steps to not add $2.45 per month in 2020 does not address the real hardship being felt by our residents now. It is also not clear that the other measures announced by the government will even offset the ongoing increases in hydro rates that can be expected in the short term unless additional changes are made.
It was important that the Minster of Energy’s statement confirmed that the province has a “robust” supply of electricity and the procurement process could be cancelled without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This provides room for more aggressive actions that will address increasing costs. Our tracking of wind turbine contracts shows that there are still many wind turbine projects in the pipeline that will add at least another $7.9 billion to electricity generating costs. This is equivalent to another $82 per annum for each Ontario electricity user. Seven of these projects are under construction but will not be connected to the grid until sometime this fall or in 2017. Another five have not been issued ‘Notices to Proceed’ as they are, or have been until recently, involved in Environmental Review Tribunal proceedings or other legal appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals. The final six projects are in the pre-MOECC submission stage. These include the five contracts issued in early 2016 plus one outstanding project from earlier FIT offers.
In all of these cases, the IESO has the option of terminating the agreement for any reason with very limited cost liabilities relative to the 20 year commitment to electricity that is not required. We respectfully ask that all industrial and solar wind projects be cancelled to avoid ongoing costs to our residents.
Now 112 Ontario municipalities have either passed a resolution demanding change to the wind power contracting process, or have endorsed a resolution to that effect, and it’s all because of “six years of energy assault,” says the Mayor of Enniskillen Township.
In a letter published in Ontario Farmer, Kevin Marriott says that “Rural people in the Province of Ontario have been under assault by the provincial government for about six years since the Green Energy Act (GEA) of 2009 was enacted.”
That legislation, says Marriott, was “the first ever to take away a municipality’s democratic right” to perform local land-use planning, “in this case, to say no to industrial wind turbines.”
That’s not all, says Marriott: the other right taken away is affordable electricity. He also points to the difference between how rural and urban residents are treated.
“Why should rural Ontario pay almost double for delivery when most electricity is actually delivered to the GTA from rural Ontario?”
Marriott concludes by saying the electricity policy has made electricity bills three times higher than they were eight years ago. The government “has ignored our pleas to stop subsidizing wind turbines by billions of dollars”.
Now 111 municipalities in Ontario have either passed or formally endorsed a resolution at Council, demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement for contracts in the Wynne government’s next round of Large Renewable Procurement.
The municipalities include several urban municipalities with rural components including Ottawa, Hamilton, and Stratford.
“That number, 111, represents more than a quarter of all Ontario municipalities,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
“They believe that they are the best judge of where important infrastructure should be sited, and that they are the voice of their community concerns about where power generation projects are located. Development is only sustainable and appropriate where there is community support — and as we are seeing, many rural communities don’t support the government’s policy of forcing these power facilities on people, and the environment.”
Local land-use planning for developments such as wind and solar power generation facilities was removed by the Green Energy Act in 2009.
Despite a surplus of power in Ontario, the cost of long-term contracts for renewable sources of power, and province-wide protests about Ontario’s rising electricity bills, which have forced several hundred thousand residents into “energy poverty,” the Wynne government still plans to launch a new procurement process in 2017. The deadline for corporate wind power developers to file a request for qualification with the IESO was Thursday, September 8th.
Energy analyst Tom Adams told Global TV news last week that the government needs to cancel contracts where it can, and cancel the planned Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II).
As of August 19, 2016, 86 Ontario municipalities have passed a motion or resolution at Council, demanding the Wynne government and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) make municipal support a mandatory requirement for new wind power contract bids going forward.
Despite a surplus of electricity and the fact that Ontario ratepayers take losses weekly on sell-offs of extra power, while paying generators to “constrain” or, in the case of hydro and nuclear, to spill or steam off, the Ontario government still plans to proceed with a request for proposals for 600 megawatts of new contracts in 2017. The new contracts will cost Ontario electricity customer billions, at a time when bills have risen dramatically, and more than 8 percent of electricity customers have allowed their accounts to fall into arrears, according to a report recently released by the Ontario Energy Board.
Wind power aiming at the wrong thing
Ontario’s “green” energy program, now widely regarded as a failure, was brought in to benefit the environment, specifically air quality. Ontario’s new Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe has commented that the government has made a mistake—the true source of emissions is in the transportation sector.
Municipalities say that wind power projects have been a very invasive and high impact form of infrastructure on their communities: aside from the increasing electricity bills (which have social costs in terms of energy poverty, resulting in more visits to food banks and greater strain on social services), reports of noise, inaudible sound and health effects, and environmental impacts such as the deaths of birds and bats.
As a result, several passed resolutions to the effect that they want municipal support to be a necessity in successful wind power bids. As a City of Ottawa councilor put it, before Ontario’s second largest city passed its own resolution, the siting of power plants should be in line with municipalities’ own development plans. Moreover, truly successful sustainable development must have “buy-in” from the community — there are many serious concerns about wind power projects that warrant municipal control over siting … or whether a project goes ahead at all.
“This has been growing over the last several years,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Three years ago, the Association of Municipalities [AMO] met in Ottawa and we attended a special meeting on wind power. Sixty-three municipalities were represented that day, and I recall one mayor saying, ‘We’ve been beaten up pretty badly’ by government and the wind power corporations. Now, the municipalities want the land use planning powers removed by the Green Energy Act returned—it’s the fair and transparent thing for this government to do.”
A symposium was held prior to the recent AMO 2016 conference in Windsor, attended by municipal representatives, the IESO, and the Energy ministry. The IESO told the municipal officials that they were open to change but that they were “bound” by ministerial directive.
Asking Wynne to restore democracy to rural Ontario
“Democracy should be restored,” comments North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins, whose municipality faced proposals by two huge wind power developers in the last contract round and where a plebiscite revealed more than 80 percent of voters did not support the power projects. Environmental impact and property values were key concerns for the community. “I am hopeful the new Minister of Energy will meet with municipalities to discuss this,” he says.
While the 86 communities represents about 20 percent of all municipalities in Ontario, in fact it is the majority of municipalities that are vulnerable to wind power projects. The 86 span the province from east to west and include several in Ontario’s North. Several of the municipalities already have wind power projects operating—they have seen the complications first-hand, and have had enough.
See the list of communities here:
Adelaide-Metcalfe, Middlesex County
Alfred & Plantagenet, Prescott-Russell County
Amaranth, Dufferin County
Asphodel-Norwood. Peterborough County
Algonquin Highlands, Haliburton County
Armour, District of Parry Sound
Arran-Elderslie, Bruce County
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, Huron County
Bayham, Elgin County
Bruce Mines, Algoma District
Central Elgin, Elgin
Central Huron, Huron
Chamberlain, Timiskaming District
Chatsworth, Grey County
Clarington, Region of Durham
East Ferris, Nippissing District
Elgin, County of
Elizabeth-Kitley, Leeds and Grenville County
Essex, Essex County
Enniskillen, Lambton County
Gananoque, Leeds and Grenville
Georgian Bluffs, Grey
Greater Madawaska, Renfrew County
Greater Napanee, Lennox and Addington County
Grey Highlands, Grey
Hastings, County of
Hastings Highlands, Hastings County
Huron, County of
Kawartha Lakes, City of
Killarney, Sudbury District
Lambton, County of
Laurentian Hills, Renfrew County
Leeds and the Thousand Islands, Leeds and Grenville
Municipal approval key to sustainable development, Canada’s capital city tells the Wynne government
The City of Ottawa, Ontario’s second largest city and Canada’s capital, has sent a letter to the Minister of Energy requesting a return of local land-use planning powers removed under the Green Energy Act.
Ottawa is a city but it also has a large rural area, which makes it a “draw” for wind power developers, Councillor Scott Moffatt wrote in the letter. Moffatt is Chair of the city’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, and the representative for the rural Rideau-Goulbourn ward in the city.
The City is not opposed to renewable energy projects, the letter states, but because wind power projects have “significant implications” for planning, Ottawa believes their approval should “go through the existing planning framework that takes Ottawa’s Official Plan, community sustainability, and input of the community into consideration.”
Under the current Large Renewable Procurement process, Ottawa’s letter says, municipalities’ role is “consultative” only, and without “decision-making authority.”
The letter was sent to the former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, whose own riding is in Ottawa.
In 2013, the City supported a Not A Willing Host declaration by residents faced with a 20-megawatt wind power project that would have been close to hundreds of homes and a school.
The Ottawa resolution, passed unanimously at Council in May reads as follows. Ottawa is among 75 municipalities now requesting the IESO and the Ontario government to make municipal support a mandatory requirement for new wind power bids.
Ask the Province of Ontario to make the necessary legislative and/or regulatory changes to provide municipalities with a substantive and meaningful role in siting wind power projects and that the “Municipal Support Resolution” becomes a mandatory requirement in the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) process.