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

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

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

simcoe.com, March 28, 2016

By Jenni Dunning Barrie Examiner

Towns to have input ahead of solar, wind farm decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story here.

Council seeks more clout in denying wind power projects

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

KIncardine area house w turbine

Kingston Whig-Standard, March 25, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Higgins is calling for other municipalities in Ontario to …

Read the full story here.

Make municipal support mandatory for wind farm contracts, says Ontario municipality

North Frontenac missed the wind farm bullet this time but the community is taking no chances–it wants the unwilling host status to mean something to the Wynne government

logo

Press Release – Renewable Energy

March 24, 2016, PLEVNA —

The Council of the Township of North Frontenac passed a resolution on March 18 2016 that will request that the Independent Electricity Systems Operators (IESO) rate an unwilling municipality for renewable energy to be a mandatory requirement versus a rated criteria in future requests for proposals (RFP) for the Large Renewable Procurement  (LRP) program.

Currently RFP has the Proponents bid submission as a points system rated criteria for municipality support. North Frontenac is proposing that this RFP requirement needs to be a mandatory requirement. Four of the six contracts announced on March 10, 2016 did not have municipal support for the renewable energy project. Although the Minister of Energy indicated on March 7 that it would be ‘almost impossible’ for a contract to be granted under the current process without municipal agreement it has happened.

Mayor Ron Higgins stated that he wants all Ontario Municipalities, who object to Industrial Wind Turbines and/or Solar Farms, to support this resolution and to provide additional input to the IESO on their thoughts for improving the LRP RFP procurement process for future projects.

Mayor Higgins knows this is but one step but this one needs to be done before the end of April as per IESO deadlines. He states that his focus on now on the government policies and directives related to renewable energy in rural municipalities.

To view the resolution please go to the following link http://www.northfrontenac.com/news/IESOletter.pdf

For more information please do not hesitate to contact:

Cheryl Robson, AMCT, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

6648 Road 506, Plevna, ON K0H 2M0

(613) 479-2231 or 1 (800) 234-3953 Ext 221 [email protected]

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

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

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

St Thomas Times-Journal, March 22, 2016

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

Read the full story here.

Points from the DDOWT news release:

DDOWT is going to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Littlejohn and Ric Walford,

Spokespersons, DDOWT

Wynne government running roughshod over rural communities says MPP McDonnell

North Stormont declared itself an unwilling host twice during the procurement processes for large power projects — now it’s getting a 100-megawatt giant wind ‘farm’

MPP Jim McDonnell

Seaway News, March 23, 2016

CORNWALL, Ontario – Local Tory MPP Jim McDonell believes the provincial government is “running roughshod” over a nearby township, by forcing a wind turbine project down its throat.

McDonell continues to attack the Liberals at Queen’s Park for approving the controversial Nation Rise Wind Project, which North Stormont has turned down.

“North Stormont deserves to be heard – they voted on at least two occasions against the Nation Rise Wind Project, rejecting cash incentives in the process,” he said. “There are other communities across Ontario willing to take renewable energy developments – there is no excuse to impose the wind turbines on North Stormont’s residents.

McDonell has demanded answers on the file from the Ministry of Energy, but has been dissastisfied with the response at Queen’s Park. He’s now taking a bureaucratic approach to getting answers.

“Members who are not satisfied with the answer given by a minister can request what is conventionally called a ‘late show’ – an opportunity to present the question and issue to a member of the government during a five-minute speech,” said McDonell.

The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, MPP Bob Delaney, has been taksed with proving a response. But McDonell wants Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli to weigh in.

“The government refuses to answer for their running roughshod over municipal jurisdiction and residents’ wishes” McDonell said. “The people of North Stormont don’t need platitudes – they need a commitment from this Liberal government that an unwilling community won’t have industrial renewable projects shoved down its throat.

Read the full story here.

MPP demands answers on contract process from Chiarelli

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 22, 2016

YUREK QUESTIONS MINISTER ON WIND TURBINES IN DUTTON/DUNWICH

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

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

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

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

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

 

Critics blast Ontario wind farm contract process

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

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

 

London Free Press, March 16, 2016

By Debbie Van Brenk and John Miner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article here.

 

Ontario wind power policy failed rural communities, says university research team

“Top-down” policy ignored community concerns, health impacts, research team says

3-MW turbine south of Ottawa at Brinston: Ontario. Communities had no choice. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

3-MW turbine south of Ottawa at Brinston: Ontario. Communities had no choice. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

Ottawa Citizen February 3, 2016

By Tom Spears

Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand, says a University of Ottawa study.

The 2009 Green Energy Act gave little thought to the transformation that wind farms bring to rural communities — problems that even revisions to the act “will only partially address,” writes a group headed by Stewart Fast.

Fast personally favours wind energy, “but only if it’s done right.”

In Ontario, he says, much of it wasn’t.

Read the full story here, including comments from Wind Concerns Ontario president, Jane Wilson.

Unwilling host resolutions affected Ontario policy: research paper

not-a-willing-host

January 29, 2016

In the paper published this past week in the journal, Nature Energy, authors Fast et al. reviewed the policy behind the Ontario government’s push toward industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power, and had this to say about the “Not A Willing Host” phenomenon among Ontario communities.

“The new government [the Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne] continued to pursue wind energy development but only for communities willing to be hosts. The move backfired as 89 municipal councils (around a quarter of the province’s total municipalities*) passed ‘unwilling host’ resolutions. The planned changes for the awarding of FIT contracts were therefore never implemented. Instead, in June 2013, faced with continued criticism, the FIT programme for large wind was disbanded. Two years later, the province once again began to offer wind contracts, this time in a competitive bid system, giving preference to bids that demonstrated agreements with local governments and signed support from at least 75% of land owners abutting wind turbine sites. This marked an extraordinary reversal of the earlier tenets of Ontario’s FIT programme…”

Early in 2016, Ontario’s rural municipalities undertook another important step in warning the provincial government of communities’ opposition to its energy policy. As of this date, five municipalities have passed resolutions at Council, referring to the recent report from the Auditor General on the cost of renewables as it contributes to Ontario electricity bills and the situation of a power surplus in the province, and demanded that Ontario NOT let any more contracts for wind power development.

The government, via the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO, began a bid process in 2015 for Large Renewable Procurement; it has yet to announce the successful bids for 300 megawatts of power, having moved its announcement date from November 2015 to February or March of 2016.

*the number of unwilling host municipalities may have been about a quarter of the total number of Ontario municipalities but the figure represented a significant proportion of rural communities vulnerable to wind power projects.

wind contract banner

“No veto” on wind power for Ontario communities says Wynne

Give you a CHOICE? Like, you know, democracy? I don't think I said that...
Give you a CHOICE? Like, you know, democracy? I don’t think I said that…

Eastern AgriNews, October 2015

by Nelson Zandbergen

Finch- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will not intervene to quash proposed wind turbine projects currently being evaluated for the Township of North Stormont and the Municipality of South Dundas, despite her earlier stated position that communities not wanting such developments shouldn’t be forced to receive them.

The councils of both municipalities have declared themselves unwilling hosts to wind projects in recent months.

But the premier, in reply to a question posed by The AgriNews at the International Plowing Match September 22, made clear that she won’t veto the projects in officially unwilling communities.

“We’ve been clear, it’s not a veto… but what we are seeing is that there is a much more collaborative process going on between proponents and municipalities,” said Wynne, explaining that her government does put “an emphasis on the municipality being willing.”*

Said the premier, “You will know that the process, as it has been changed by our government, is that now there is much more weighting toward the municipality. In terms of procurement, there is much more of an emphasis on the municipality being willing, we have already changed the process, and I think that has changed the way turbines are sited.”**

Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal then jumped in to highlight how the Wynne government has imposed restrictions on the siting of solar projects. …

“I never use the term solar farms because it’s the wrong term to use, they are solar generating entities.”***

Editor’s notes:

*False. Municipal support is just one factor in the bid process. Proponents simply find other strong sources of points such as First Nation support, or a lower bid price.

**This is false. Municipalities in the 2015 bid process often DIDN’T EVEN KNOW where turbines were to be located, and the proponents were not obligated to provide that information or anything else such as environmental impact studies, before being asked to say yes or no.

***So wind “farms” are now “wind power generating entities”?