Is the OPA up to the job?


Ontario gas plants and the future of power: is the Ontario Power Authority up to the job?
 Gas plant cancelled for political expediency, millions wasted
The Auditor General’s report dated April 2013 on the Eastern Power Mississauga gas plant contained the following remarks:
 Eastern Power was awarded three of the seven contracts, including one for the Greenfield South Power Plant. This was proposed as a 280-MW combined-cycle gas-fired facility to be located in Mississauga and to operate over a 20-year period. Ultimately, it was the only contract Eastern Power executed. For various reasons, including Eastern Power’s challenges in securing financing, the other two projects were terminated. The Greenfield South contract was signed in April 2005.
   It appears the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) in awarding the contracts to Eastern Power didn’t bother to ensure they would be able to obtain financing, but awarded the contract(s) anyway. 
   Now, in 2013, the OPA will soon be handed the full authority by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli to ramp up their powers to negotiate and sign competitive contracts, as part of his idea of how to fix the feed-in tariff (FIT) program.   Minister Chiarelli directed the OPA via his June 12, 2013 directive to make the following change to the FIT program:
Replacing the Large FIT program with a new competitive procurement process and working with municipalities and Aboriginal communities to help identify appropriate locations and siting requirements.
   That “gas plant scandal” the Liberals have been dealing with was partially caused by the OPA’s prior actions as the Mississauga plant was to be up and running by 2007; yet the Minister is now proposing to give them moreauthority.  Past and present Energy Ministers appear to think the bureaucrats that made mistakes in the past have learned their lesson.  Or have they?
   Recently The Hill Times (Ottawa) did a complete review of the “energy” scene in Canada and took the time to do an article on the Ontario electricity sector and its push for renewable energy via the Green Energy and Economy Act. The following quote from Ontario’s Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli appears:
“He also outlined a number of other incentives for municipal participation in the renewable energy sector, including making it easier for cities[my emphasis] to become equity partners in wind energy projects and provisions for increased tax and assessment revenues from turbines. “And that will be retroactive—it includes existing turbines as well,” Mr. Chiarelli added.”
   I’m not sure how that last comment will play out as the “assessment” on wind turbines was defined by the previous Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, who instructed the Municipality Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to assess a maximum taxable assessment of $40,000 per megawatt (MW).  If the contracts executed by the OPA carry guarantees on the assessed values, we should expect threats of further lawsuits, and unless Chiarelli has got clearance from current Finance Minister Charles Sousa, his premise may be dead in the water.  Nevertheless the many processes recently announced by Minister Chiarelli are moving forward, but most anti-wind turbine groups see this whole exercise as a worthless “conversation” (to paraphrase Premier Kathleen Wynne).   Those groups are also having trouble understanding what “cities” have to do with the process when it is chiefly rural communities that are affected.  I am confident Minister Chiarelli would have difficulty pointing to a major wind turbine development near any “city” in Ontario.
   In any event it appears to this writer that the OPA, charged with running this new “competitive procurement process” may be challenged as the Mississauga Greenfield project and another contract they awarded has recently demonstrated. 
   A recent case has surfaced: a small OPA contract of 6.15 MW awarded to Redbird Energy, reportedly chaired by  Kevin Loughery.   The President is listed as Nancy Loughrey and coincidently, an Internet search turns them up (or two people connectedwith the same name) in Atlanta, Georgia.  As a further coincidence the FBI in the U.S. has charged a Kevin P. Loughery with “wire fraud” for using investor funds for his personal use. 
   Is the chair of Redbird, described on the Redbird website as “Kevin has been actively involved in reviewing and assessing renewable energy companies and projects since 2006 and brings 20 years of investment experience as a stock broker for Bear Stearns, a currency trader for Thomas Cook, etc.”  and the person charged by the FBI one and the same?  If so, it appears the OPA awards contracts to companies possibly controlled by individuals charged with fraud. 
   I’m sure this latest finding will provide Minister Chiarelli with even more confidence in the OPA’s abilities to negotiate future contracts.
   This recent example and the past history of the OPA’s awarding of the Eastern Power/Greenfield contract(s) fails to provide the voters, taxpayers and ratepayers of Ontario with confidence in the  process that the previous and the current Ministers of Energy seem to feel is active in the OPA.    
   We Ontarians have certainly had our share of scandals over the past 10 years; at some point someone must draw a line in the sand—it appears the government won’t!
    Now is the time!
Parker Gallant
August 13, 2013
The opinions expressed in this posting are those of the author and are not necessarily the policy of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Niagara Region letter: what could make people leave their homes?

Here from Niagara Region, a letter to the editor on a recent council meeting, and claims of “NIMBY” against people concerned about the effect of a wind power project on the health of their families.

Grimsby Lincoln News

At the Aug. 1 regional council meeting I attended Mr. Tom Rankin* was heard in a loud angry voice giving the entire council gallery the label of NIMBYs. Of course he did not include himself even though they are not being built in his backyard.
    Rankin continued spewing out his displeasure that council had the audacity to vote in favour of Wainfleet and West Lincoln declaring themselves unwilling hosts to wind turbines in their municipalities. A grateful thank you goes to those councillors who had that courage to recognize that Canada is a democracy.
    There has been a back and forth argument whether wind turbines do cause serious health issues. But, on the other hand, gravely speaking why would people be leaving their beloved homes that they worked a lifetime for? Leaving their highest investment of their lifetime? The documented cases were not happy planned moves; on the contrary they all claimed they were ones they say were forced by illness caused by wind turbines.

Read the full article here.

*Editor’s note: Mr. Rankin is a partner in Wainfleet Energy Inc.

Environmental spills at McLean’s Mountain, Manitoulin

Further to the opinion piece in the Sudbury Star today on the environmental damage being done at the Northland Power McLean’s Mountain wind project, here are some photos from a volunteer on the island.
   Wind is green, wind is good.

 Turbine 21: wetland being drained onto neighbouring, non-participant property

Oil spill on McLean’s Mountain Road

Turbine 9; Northland Power releasing crusher dust onto pasture (with livestock) and homes downwind

Environmental devastation on Manitoulin Island

Here from today’s edition of The Sudbury Star, an opinion piece by Ruth Farquhar on what the wind power project at McLean’s Mount means in terms of the environment. Excerpt:

Have you ever felt heartsick? That’s what I call it when I see something I can’t really do anything about but you know in your core it’s just wrong on so many levels.
   I took a tour of the work that is happening on MacLean’s Mountain to install the industrial wind turbines.      As I looked at all of the land being destroyed, the wetlands being filled in, truck after truck of gravel going up and down the back roads, blasting the rock, that’s how I felt — heartsick.
   If you want to see the beauty that is McLean’s Mountain and surrounding area I would suggest you visit now because it is going to be long gone in just a few short months.
   I find it fascinating that people have been shrugging off the project and still seem surprised when anyone talks about how it may affect the Island and its peoples. They seem to think the turbines are plunked down without the connecting lines to the transmission line that will take this highly subsidized energy off the Island.
   Each of the 24 turbines needs to have clear cutting to take the connector lines to the transmission line, imagine if you will a spider web of lines all over the mountain and going down Greenbush Road to Harbor Vue road and then underwater to Goat Island. When I was there, a barge in the North Channel was laying down the submarine cable. At the end of Harbor Vue road they are building a transition station, which according to one source, was not part of the original plan.
   It seems many people are getting more than they bargain for with this project. Even the transmission line poles are not like any hydro poles I’ve seen. They are from 25 metres to 32 metres tall and the ones I saw and took pictures of were oozing some kind of treatment while lying in the ditch waiting to be put up.
   A couple of weeks ago, an environmental review tribunal overturned the province’s earlier approval of a wind turbine site in Prince Edward County due to the rare Blanding’s turtle, saying the required access roads would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the rare reptile.
   But the province is challenging the findings and it is being appealed to divisional court. The craziness continues.

Farmers Forum: agriculture deserves more than occasional minister

Farmers Forum Editor Patrick Meagher has a few thoughts on Kathleen Wynne’s dual role as Premier and Minister of Agriculture. Somebody is getting the short end of the stick, he says, and guess who might that be (again)? Rural Ontario…
Here is his editorial from today’s edition of the paper.

When you’re passionate about something, you commit time to it. You’ll even spend your off-time mining for ideas, using a drive-home or late-night quiet time to form a vision. But does anyone think our Minister of Agriculture Kathleen Wynne sits up at night wondering what great ideas she can bring to farming? How can she? She’s not only part-time, but her bigger portfolio is running the province as premier. And now she has decided she will also be the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs.
  Maybe she should be called the “occasional” Minister of Agriculture.
  This wouldn’t be so embarrassing if she were spending time on these portfolios. But in the last two months, she has expended an abundance of energy on photo-ops, campaigning for by-elections, and dodging the gas plant scandal.

  So she’s not only the occasional minister of two portfolios–did I mention she’s also the premier–she has a huge and growinf cancer on her watch.
  A paper trail has confirmed that Wynne was in the know about cancelling a gas plant to save a Liberal seat in the 2011 election. She was the co-chair of the Liberal campaign for re-election and the Liberal campaign agreed to the cancellation. So she is guilty of agreeing to squander millions. Perhaps she didn’t know how much at the time but the total is about $300 million*. It would take the average Canadian about 6,300 years to pay that back, if every penny of each year’s earnings were not spent on anything else.
  Wynne has apologized for the past but is having a hard time moving on, partly because, contrary to the rules of government, Liberal government officials deleted thousands of e-mails.
   Then suddenly in late July, an amazing 3,226 lost e-mails from 11 Liberal staffers and politicians, including 1,233 of Wynne’s e-mails, resurfaced on backup tapes. It will take some time to extract the evidence, but it certainly looks like a smoking gun.
   Maybe these new e-mails will exonerate Wynne and she indeed can get on with actual governing, although that’s usually why e-mails disappear in the first place.
  As this ugly plot thickens, and the trickle of damning e-mails and internal documents turns into a river of evidence, it is becoming more and more clear the ship is foundering. Dalton McGuinty** fled before everything hit the fan and Wynne’s future seems more uncertain than ever. Did I call her an occasional minister? Might have to make that “occasional” and “temporary.”
  Even as it stands, with Wynne walking under a cloud, agriculture deserves better than minsiterial flyovers and brief acts of presence.

Contact: news@farmersforum.com

*editor’s note: the cost is estimated at $585 million, for ONE gas plant; the Auditor General’s report is due August 21st on the other cancelled plant
** editor’s note: Mr McGuinty is now a “fellow” at Harvard University

Giving developers the right to “pillage” Ontario

Here from today’s edition of The Wellington Times, publisher Rick Conroy’s analysis of the appeals of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision on the Ostrander Point wind power project.

Both the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and wind energy developer Gilead Power Corporation have concluded they can’t live with an environmental review tribunal decision last month to revoke the approval of a nine-turbine project on Crown land at Ostrander Point. Both the MOE and the developer have decided to appeal the Tribunal decision that stopped the development in its tracks to the Ontario Superior Court.
   The Tribunal had been persuaded the risks to the Blanding’s turtle that nest on this project site were too great and that mitigation measures were likely insufficient and in any event untested and unproven. And given the Blanding’s turtle is an endangered species, the network of roads needed to service the turbines posed too great a threat to the species in the Tribunal’s view.
   It is the first renewable energy approval overturned by a review tribunal. The stakes were high for the developer, the Ministry of Environment, the appellants, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) and, of course the Blanding’s turtle.
   The notice of appeal came at the deadline of August 2.
   Both Cheryl Anderson of PECFN, and Henri Garand of APPEC had expected an appeal.
The developer is fighting to keep his project alive while the MOE is scrambling to ensure a turtle doesn’t derail the green energy ambitions of the governing Liberals.
   Many had expected Gilead to appeal—but far fewer expected the MOE to pile on. After all, this was their review process, their rules and their playing field. When McGuinty’s Liberals removed many of the regulatory hurdles for wind and solar energy developers in the Green Energy Act—that same government devised the Renewable Energy Approvals process and the Environmental Review Tribunal. They promised this replacement process would listen to, and take into account, concerns raised by experts or the general public.
   Now the MOE is claiming in its appeal that Tribunal members Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs, erred in law, in part because there is nothing “genetically unique” about the turtles that live at Ostrander Point. The MOE says Wright and Gibbs looked too narrowly at the fate of the turtles on the project site—that it should have considered the fate of the turtle on a province-wide basis….

Read more here.

Wind Concerns Ontario cleared of all accusations on election finances

Wind Concerns Ontario received a letter from Elections Ontario today from Director Maria Martins, advising us that following a full investigation, which WCO cooperated with at every step over the last 20 months, the conclusion is that the organization did not contravene the Election Finances Act of Ontario.

The complaint was lodged by Toronto activist Jude MacDonald, and pertained chiefly to a billboard purchased by a community group in Ontario that featured the WCO (then) URL, and images from news media on our website.

We are pleased that the this matter has concluded, and that now, all our members and member community groups can continue our advocacy work to inform the public on the potential negative effects of industrial wind power generation on human health, the natural environment, and Ontario’s economy.

Jane Wilson, President
Parker Gallant, Vice-president
Wind Concerns Ontario
windconcerns@gmail.com

Citizens’ group files appeal of ERT decision

The Government of Ontario via the Ministry of the Environment and wind power developer Gilead Power (a.k.a. Ostrander Point Power) filed an appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision that revoked approval of a power project on Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.

Community group, and Wind Concerns Ontario member, APPEC or the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, has also filed an appeal of the decision. APPEC is filing on the grounds of human health, and specifically that the Tribunal made an error in law by “failing to apply the appropriate standard of proof” and by not finding a causal link between the proposed project and that the project will cause “direct or indirect serious harm to human health,” according to documents filed with the courts last week.

“This is another expensive legal undertaking,” said APPEC Chair Henri Garand in a message to members. “An appeal on health applies to every Ontario wind project.”

For more information, visit APPEC’s blog site.

Interactive tool lets you build Ontario’s power system

Cold Air energy blogger Scott Luft has developed an interactive tool that lets you play with various scenarios to create a power system for Ontario.

The interactive tool is here and lets you try different supply mixes.

Fr the rest of the post, including more information on Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, which Ontario residents are currently being invited to comment on, is here.

Ontario has its own interactive tool for planning the supply system, the difference being that changing supply results in more or less “pollution” while Cold Air’s tool lets you see how much your dream system will actually cost Ontario ratepayers.

What an interesting premise? A power system built on the most competitive, economical sources of power!

Amherst Island residents demonstrate at Wynne fundraiser

Residents fighting the planned destruction of Amherst Island by a wind power development travelled several hours through Eastern Ontario yesterday to let their views be known to Premier Kathleen Wynne as she arrived for a Liberal Party of Ontario fundraising event in Perth, Ontario.

With signs proclaiming “Save Amherst Island” and “STOP the wind scam” the Amherst Island citizens lined a roadway leading into the Civitan Centre.

Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington MPP Randy Hillier was there too, lending support and addressing the crowd. “The message is clear, save Amherst Island!” he said.

Amherst Island is a significant Important Bird Area and has an endangered species of owl, as well as the Blandings turtle which caused an Environmental Review Tribunal to revoke approval of a wind power project at Ostrander Point in nearby Prince Edward County. (That decision is now under appeal by the wind power developer and the Ministry of the Environment.)

The Heritage Canada Foundation recently listed Amherst Island among the Top Ten endangered places in Canada, due to the wind power development.

For more information on Amherst Island and the community group, see the link under WCO member groups, right.