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.
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.
While Manitoba is bending over backwards to foster cooperation and benefit for both rural and urban communities, the Ontario government is doing the opposite, says PostMedia writer Jim Merriam. In fact, the Wynne government has made it very clear what it thinks of rural/small-town Ontario –you’re there to supply our power and bury our garbage.
Although Manitoba and Ontario are neighbours, their differences far outnumber their similarities.
One of these differences is the way their leaders treat the rural-urban divide.
Brian Pallister, recently elected Conservative premier of Manitoba, has coined two new words: “rurban” and “urbal,” according to the Western Producer.
The Manitoba premier is trying to create a new reality in Manitoba, wherein his urban members of the legislature care about rural areas and vice versa. He is trying to convince legislators that, “You do not think about yourself. You think about your team.”
The new boss went on to say “there are rural situations that many people in the city don’t fully appreciate.”
In contrast, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has been all over the map on the same issue.
As recently as two years ago she denied the divide even existed. Then last November, she told a rural audience “the issue of bridging the rural-urban gap” has been on her mind since she was first elected in 2003.
The reasons for the divide are various, but some stand out.
No. 1 is the way this government has shoved industrial wind turbines down the throats of rural dwellers. The province is still approving new developments over the strongest objections of municipal leaders in a wide area of the province.
During the last provincial election, the Liberals told rural Ontarians their voices would be heard on wind farm developments.
Yet, in April, just weeks after awarding controversial contracts for five wind farms, Ontario said it’s opening bidding for double that amount of wind energy.
Recent approvals included a development in Dutton-Dunwich in southwestern Ontario where 84 per cent of residents who voted, didn’t want such developments.
In November 2013, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli testified before a legislature committee that municipalities wouldn’t be given a veto over projects but it would be “very rare indeed” for any to be approved without local backing.
Municipalities vote for more say in wind power locations
May 25, 2016
Hard as it is to believe, with electricity bills soaring, hydro and nuclear power being wasted, and Ontario’s surplus power being sold at bargain-basement rates to neighbouring U.S. jurisdictions, Ontario still plans to let contracts for 600 more megawatts of expensive, intermittent utility-scale wind power.
The new bid process begins later this year.
Although the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) claims the citizens of Ontario have a “say” in where these huge power projects — which result in considerable impact on the environment and communities forced to have them — they still can’t “say” NO.
In March, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said it was “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract for wind power without municipal support—then the IESO announced five new contracts, three of which were in Not A Willing Host communities. One, Dutton Dunwich, had even held a referendum on the wind power bid, which resulted in a resounding 84 % NO vote, but a contract was awarded there anyway.
Now, more than 60 Ontario municipalities have told the Ontario government under Premier Kathleen Wynne that they don’t think that’s right — in future, the municipalities say, local or municipal support must be a mandatory requirement in wind power bids, not just a way to get more points in the bidding process for Large Renewable power projects.
Last evening, council in Prince Edward County voted unanimously to send that motion to Queen’s Park. The County is currently battling two high-profile wind power projects on the basis of the clear danger to wildlife, specifically the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat. The County is also on the flyway for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds each spring and fall.
Among the cities and municipalities which have passed the resolution are the City of Kawartha Lakes (which is itself the size of a county) and the second largest city in Ontario and Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa.
“Communities have good reasons for not wanting these huge power projects,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Wind power represents high impact on the environment, both natural and social, for very little benefit. What’s worse, wind power on this scale has no benefit in actions aimed at climate change. Everyone wants to do what’s best for the environment —this isn’t it.”
A list of municipalities that have passed the motion to date is here.
No one is forced to have wind turbines on their land; communities shouldn’t be, either.
Ontario Farmer, May 17, 2016
By Jane Wilson and Warren Howard
Recently, a Mitchell, Ont. resident wrote to Ontario Farmer saying that the wind turbine siting process seems fair to him: “no one [has been] forced to have a wind turbine.”
We beg to differ: with almost 2,600 industrial-scale wind turbines now operating or under construction, the fact is thousands of Ontario residents have been forced to live with wind turbines, without any effective say in the matter.
The decision to host wind turbines should not rest with the few individuals who lease land for the project, but also with the entire community; many people can be affected by this decision.
The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed local land-use planning for wind power projects, at the same time as it overrode 21 pieces of democratically passed pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, the Environmental Bill of Rights — even the Places to Grow Old Act.
Can’t say NO
The result is a process in which citizens and their elected governments now have no “say” whatsoever. Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this past March that it would be “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract in a community that did not support turbines, but that’s exactly what happened.
Even a community that held a formal referendum, in which 84 per cent of residents said “no” to wind power, is now being forced to have turbines.
Compare this to the procedures for other forms of development: they are relatively open, in which the community is presented with detailed information and opportunities to comment on the type and scope of development proposed.
The opposite is true for industrial-scale wind power projects. Municipalities are asked for support with very little information on environmental, economic, or social impacts. In some cases, where the developer has determined formal municipal support is unlikely, the company simply files a document saying it “tried” to get municipal support but failed — the truth is, municipalities will meet with anyone. Failure to meet on such an important project should be a red flag to contracting authorities about the nature of the development and the degree of opposition to it.
The public information meetings held by developers often occur after municipal support is requested. A paper produced by a team of academics published this year termed these meetings “dog-and-pony shows” which is an indication of how much real information is offered.
Municipal support must be mandatory
Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) on the contracting process, which included: a requirement that all documents related to the project should be released prior to any public meeting or municipal consultation; the precise location of turbines must be revealed as well as a broader set of site considerations; there must be a process through which municipal government, community groups and individuals can comment on these documents and their accuracy; and last, municipal support must be a mandatory requirement of any contract bid.
It may be true as the letter writer suggests: no one is forced to have a turbine on their own property, but communities and neighbours should not be forced to have them either.
Before people sign for lease turbines, they need to talk to their neighbours (because the whole community will be affected by the decision to lease) and learn from the experiences in other communities where turbines are operating. They may discover that the small lease payments offered are not worth the impact on the community, and on their friends and neighbours.
The fact is, wind turbines result in high impact on communities for very little benefit. The Ontario government needs to respect the right of Ontario citizens to make decisions on wind power developments for themselves.
Jane Wilson is president of Wind Concerns Ontario. Warren Howard is a former municipal councillor for North Perth.
I want to be certain the nature of my concern with regard to the awarding of the industrial wind turbine project in my community, the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich, is understood.
As the mayor of Dutton Dunwich, it is my responsibility to represent the citizens in my community. We spent the time and resources to survey the entire community about IWTs and asked for responses from every adult. Eighty-four per cent of the 1,503 who responded stated they were not in favour of having wind turbines. Our total adult population is 3,020. Based on this response, council stated it was not in favour of an IWT project coming to Dutton Dunwich.
Council and staff took action and had community meetings and requested delegations with the Minister of Energy. We were granted several delegations, both with the minister of energy as well as the parliamentary assistant to the minister. We prepared briefs and presented them. Each of these stated we did not want this project.
Nevertheless, on March 10, we learned that IESO had decided to award an American wind development company, Invenergy, a contract for an IWT project in Dutton Dunwich.
This is very disappointing news. It can never be good news to see the people you represent have no say and no power as it relates to the land they live on and decisions about what happens in their community.
I realize a small number of landowners did sign options to lease with the wind company, but this pales in comparison to the number of citizens who voiced opposition to this project.
I appreciate the work Geordi Kakepetum, chief executive of NCC Development, identified in his April 30 column, Northern natives have wind energy expertise, with regard to seeking solutions to challenges faced by his communities, such as replacing diesel fuel use with more sustainable sources of electricity like solar. In fact, I applaud his ingenuity, intelligence and business acumen, as well as that of NCC Development and the First Nations communities involved.
I also celebrate the fact he and the other decision-makers in these communities will be able to choose where to spend revenue and savings from these investments on important community priorities. This is a good example of communities having voice and autonomy. Any community looking after its vital needs is to be commended. It is no wonder he is proud.
On the other hand, I do not accept the gain in power Kakepetum speaks of should be at the expense of the citizens of Dutton Dunwich.
There are a number of communities that stated they were willing to host IWT projects, yet their applications were not successful. Given the provincial government’s statements with regard to taking communities’ preferences into account regarding the location of IWT projects, I am left deeply disappointed for my community.
None of the benefits highlighted by Kakepetum make up for the fact the citizens did not want the project.
My community is now divided. The calculations of revenue to be received by this project seem to vary widely, depending on who reports them.
We calculate a tax revenue vastly different. The construction and rezoning of farmland results in an assessed value of approximately $100,000 per IWT. Based on the 2016 industrial tax rate, and assuming annual increases of three per cent over 20 years, the proposed 20 industrial wind turbines would provide about $1 million in property tax from the province through Chicago-based Invenergy to the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich. Annually this would be $50,000 on average to Dutton Dunwich. Over this same period, the County of Elgin would receive about $740,000 in property taxes and the province would collect about $830,000 for education purposes. The aggregate property tax collected by all three levels would be about $2.5 million. This is significantly less than the $4 million estimated for Dutton Dunwich tax revenue alone.
Regardless, no financial incentive will make those opposed to the turbines feel better about their loss of autonomy and concern for their community.
In conclusion, I regret that the voices of the people of Dutton Dunwich were disregarded by the province for this important decision, which has significant implications for the life of our community.
As the Ontario government prepares to open a second, more ambitious round of bidding on large-scale renewable energy projects across the province, some Ottawa city councillors want more local control over where wind farms go.
“There’s no way for a municipality to express concerns about location, or if and when these projects would happen in our municipalities,” said Scott Moffatt, who represents the rural ward of Rideau-Goulbourn.
In March Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator awarded contracts to 16 renewable energy projects, three quarters of which had support from the local municipality, the government said at the time.
Five of the contracts were awarded to wind projects, including the 100-megawatt Nation Rise Wind Farm in North Stormont Township, a municipality which had previously declared itself an “unwilling host” to wind farms.
A motion approved Thursday by councillors on Ottawa’s agriculture and rural affairs committee urges the province to strengthen legislation to require municipal buy-in before contracts are awarded.
Communities want a voice, councillor says
Moffatt said communities want a voice in the planning process.
“This isn’t just for Ottawa. We’ve had this issue in the past in Ottawa, specifically in North Gower, but you look at Nation, you look at South Dundas and Brinston,” said Moffatt, describing proposed wind farm locations.
“Are those municipalities able to respond adequately or is the IESO just going to run roughshod over them? That’s the concern.”
In an email, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Energy Ministry said the government is proud of the 75 per cent support rate from municipalities for its first round of contract offers, and noted 60 per cent of neighbouring landowners also supported them.
“By putting emphasis on price and community support, we believe the right balance has been struck in early community engagement and reduced prices for consumers through the procurement process for renewable energy projects,” wrote the spokesperson.
930 megawatts sought in 2nd round
The IESO is gathering feedback on its first competition, and could use that information to fine-tune the process the second time around.
The Ontario government intends to issue a request for qualifications by August for projects that can generate a total of 930 megawatts of renewable energy, two thirds of which will go to wind farms.
That’s more than twice the size of the initial contract offer.
The ministry’s ultimate goal is to have 10,700 megawatts of wind-, solar-, and bioenergy-powered projects feeding the grid by 2021.
Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) as part of the “engagement” process on the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process on May 3rd.
In a letter to IESO CEO Bruce Campbell, WCO president Jane Wilson wrote:
WCO has been involved supporting individuals and community groups dealing with wind turbines imposed on communities since before the Green Energy Act was enacted. We saw the government’s commitment in 2012 that it would only place wind turbines in communities willing to host them as a positive first step toward addressing the concerns of rural Ontario. The results from the RFP I process, however, made a complete mockery of this policy. The Minister of Energy stated as recently as March 7 that it would be “virtually impossible” for a contract to be awarded without municipal support. Yet, three of the five successful bids for wind turbine contracts in LRP I were awarded to municipalities that did not support the project.
The wind power contracting process shows no respect for Ontario citizens and communities, Wilson said.
The key issue is: neither the government nor participants in the procurement process have listened to valid community concerns or displayed any learning from problems created by the existing projects. Most people in rural Ontario seem to know more about the impact of wind turbines (economic, environmental, societal) than the people proposing projects, who continue to use outdated and limited information to support their proposals. Far from streamlining the process, the Green Energy and Economy Act has created a confrontational environment. Based on local activities such as municipal resolutions, public demonstrations and media stories, it is clear this situation is not going to change until provincial government agencies deal seriously with the problems that have been created by wind turbine projects to date.
WCO recommendations: let communities choose
The recommendations to change the RFQ and RFP process as well as the generic contract are driven by four objectives.
Activities within the process need to be consistent with the high levels of openness and transparency that the provincial government expects of agencies and municipalities.
Full disclosure of project information is needed to allow the community to provide meaningful feedback.
Mechanisms need to be included within the process to measure the responsiveness of proponents to input from the community.
The process needs to place value on and respect for community views on proposed projects.
Among the recommendations was the need for municipal support to be mandatory. “More than 90 municipalities have declared themselves ‘unwilling hosts’ to wind power projects,” says president Jane Wilson. “They have good reasons for that. But this government has no respect for Ontario citizens and their elected governments, who want to plan what is appropriate and sustainable for their own community.”
Highlights of WCO Recommendations:
Qualification of bidders
Failure to deliver past projects on time should result in disqualification of bidders
Inappropriate behaviours or actions such as clearing land that is habitat for endangered species while a project is still under appeal, should result in disqualification as a bidder
The qualifications of proponent team members should be evaluated: “experts” in noise and health impacts for example, should have appropriate training/education and proper professional credentials
“Engagement” should not be confused with “support”
Public meetings should be more accessible and greater in number, and take place before a municipality is called upon to determine whether it supports a wind power project bid
Communities need much more detail about projects than they were given under FIT or LRP I
Proponents should disclose and have available the full range of documentation on impacts of the proposal including impacts due to environmental noise (potential for adverse health effects), and effect on property value as well as other economic considerations (e.g., airport operations, tourism)
Municipal support must be a mandatory requirement in contract bids
Proponent engagement with Aboriginal communities should be subject to the same disclosure requirements as for other communities
IESO needs to do an independent technical review of proponent submissions
Full documentation should be provided to municipalities prior to bid submission, so that local governments can review the information and comment as to completeness and accuracy
Again, a resolution of support from a municipality must be a mandatory requirement for a bid in the RFP process
An Elgin County community that stands to gain a wind farm it doesn’t want has told regulators they should count native endorsement of a project only if the bands have claims near the planned site.
Dutton Dunwich says any future renewable-energy rules should also require municipal support before any contract can be awarded.
Still steamed by a 20-turbine project awarded to Chicago-based Invenergy this month, Dutton Dunwich wants the province to do more than just tweak rules for Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) for wind, solar and water power. The Independent Electricity Systems Operator has asked for corporate and municipal feedback for the next two LRP rounds.
Under current rules, a company needs to prove it has engaged the community if it wants to win a contract. But that doesn’t mean what Dutton Dunwich thought it meant. “They talk about community engagement. All that means is public meetings,” said Mayor Cameron McWilliams.
His council has unanimously passed a resolution saying a municipality’s no should mean no and only a municipal ‘yes’ can place a project in the running.
In Dutton Dunwich, in a referendum answered by 56 per cent of voting-aged residents, 84 per cent said they didn’t want turbines.
NCC Developments — a green-energy partnership among six Northern First Nations groups — has a 10% ownership interest in the Invenergy Strong Breeze project in Dutton Dunwich.
In a letter to The Free Press NCC chief executive officer Geordi Kakepetum said the proximity of native partners should have no bearing on a project’s value.
NCC’s revenue from this project will help First Nations develop remote solar microgrids and reduce dependence on diesel, it says.
Dutton Dunwich also wants to know why some projects were selected and others rejected. “As elected officials, we are supposed to be transparent . . . but it doesn’t seem to work at a provincial level,” McWilliams said.
The six northern First Nations are hundreds of kilometres northwest of Dutton Dunwich.
But there is precedent for green-energy contracts with aboriginal support far from where the power would be generated: A solar project in Ryerson Twp west of Algonquin Park is backed by Missanabie Cree First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie; a hydro-electric project on the Trenton Locks near Belleville has backing from Dokis First Nation west of North Bay; and Invenergy’s solar contract at Lake Simcoe Airport also has support from the NCC in Ontario’s northwest.
NCC says Dutton Dunwich should be proud to be part of the greening of Ontario.
And, it notes, Dutton Dunwich will see economic benefit from the $150-million development: 150 construction jobs, plus local suppliers providing many of the materials; and tax revenue in excess of $4 million during the 20 years of the contract.
McWilliams said the province limits tax assessments of turbines to about one-fiftieth of their actual value. “I’m not disputing there’s some tax revenue but it’s not significant.”
Neighbouring Malahide Township offered to be a host site to turbines but the bidder there was unsuccessful. …
IESO’s designation of Huron-Kinloss as potential host for green energy projects forces township to reaffirm its no wind turbine stance
The Township of Huron-Kinloss has reaffirmed its stance as an unwilling host for wind turbines.
The decision was made during the April 18, 2016 council meeting, following notification of Huron-Kinloss’ designation as a potential site for future projects by Ontario’s electricity market regulator, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
During the regular council meeting Monday night, Huron-Kinloss was informed that the IESO had designated the municipality, along with all of Bruce and Huron counties, as ‘Low Area Capability’ for large-scale renewable projects.
It had previously been labeled a ‘No Area Capability’ by the IESO. The change in designation was mentioned by the regulator as part of an April 12 webinar concerning the second phase of its competitive process to find locations for a total of 930 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy sources.
The change in designation was brought to the attention of Huron-Kinloss through a motion by the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group (MMWTWG) to support its demand that the IESO necessitate municipal approval and involvement in the selection process.
“We’re low, but we were right out of that,” said Deputy Mayor Wilfred Gamble during discussions on the motion. “… So that’s why [the MMWTWG] is recommending that we start screaming.”
The IESO is looking to contract upwards of 600 MW of wind capacity, or the equivalent of 300 2MW turbines. The Request for Qualification process will launch Aug. 1, according to the IESO website.
Huron-Kinloss has long been an opponent to wind turbines, passing a resolution in May of 2013 blatantly stating it is not a willing host for wind projects. Also, in 2011 it passed a motion prohibiting the municipality from issuing developers building permits, unless they adhere to Huron-Kinloss’ own wind turbine rules.
However, its declarations of being unwelcome to this green energy is of little use, said Mayor Mitch Twolan.
“We can say that we are not a willing host, but what does that mean at the end of the day? Nothing because the contracts are let out by the IESO,” Twolan said, following the council meeting. “We’ve always said we’re not a willing host. We passed that a long, long time ago, but the new map that came out, it changes all the time and we had no input into that. And it doesn’t matter that we passed that we’re a non-willing host, they can still put that in there.”
Generally motions passed by municipalities on the siting of turbines are symbolic, as the IESO is the ultimate arbiter under the Ontario Green Energy Act.
Chuck Farmer, the IESO director of stakeholder and public affairs, said the change in designation was to indicate that there is room on the transmission system for more projects and not a reflection of community or municipal support.
“I do understand their concern and I do want to stress that this is an assessment of transmission capabilities — so an assessment of the system ability and not a statement of any community stance,” Farmer said in a phone interview on April 27.
He said the redesignation occurred because previous projects slated for the area are now no longer moving forward, which freed up space on the system.
“That creates an indication there maybe room on the transmission system to connect some more projects in the area,” he said.
Farmer said he couldn’t elaborate on the disbanded wind projects previously set for the area.
The slide from the IESO presentation also states that the designation is the result of preliminary results and is subject to change.
As part of the second phase of its process, called the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP), to construct large-scale energy projects, the IESO is asking stakeholders, including municipalities, for opinions on how the project can be improved.
“Right now we are in the middle of collecting feedback and comments from people about the first LRP process,” said Mary Bernard, the IESO media relations manager.
With a IESO deadline for feedback of May 3 (which Bernard called a “soft deadline”), the motion was added to the agenda the day of the April 18 council meeting. Many councillors had not seen the motion prior to it being announced as new business during the meeting.