Good times at Charter challenge fundraiser!

More than 100 people are gathering at this hour for the fundraiser for the Charter of Human Rights legal challenge, sponsored by SWEAR, S.T.O.P., and Central Huron in Clinton!
  Among the many special items auctioned were a golf bag, and Billy Beer from former MPP Bill Murdoch’s own brewery—the last bottle went for $100.
 Pictured are guests at the fabulous steak dinner, which followed a day of golf. Stephana Johnston of Norfolk and Helen Brimley of Ashfield.

What’s wrong with Energy in Ontario? Yes Ministers, Not “Yes Minister”

Unlike the brilliant BBC satire, Yes Minister, in which a minister of the Crown makes decisions with the advice of staff, Ontario’s energy portfolio has been headed by ministers who are inclined to say “Yes” when confronted by environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs).
   On June 2, 2008, the Toronto Star published an article by Tyler Hamilton, former environmental columnist for the paper, that described the ideas formulated by the ENGO crowd, including quotes from David Suzuki, Kristopher Stevens, Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, as well as Deborah Doncaster, who was and still is heading up the Community Power Fund (a fund granted millions of dollars by those “Yes Ministers” of the McGuinty government).
    Doncaster once made a presentation to the committee established to review the premise of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) and said this:  “Finally, we believe that one of the most significant features of the act is that it will create jobs—tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs.”  We are still looking for those “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”  
   Marion Fraser, who claims “architect” status of the GEA, was also quoted in that Tyler Hamilton article.
    The fact is, the individuals instrumental in persuading the then Energy Minister, George Smitherman, to produce the controversial GEA  are still around and are as active today as they were in 2008. 
    Ontario has had six Energy Ministers since the start of 2008 (Gerry Phillips served twice) making the average term less than a year.  In that period, the various ministers issued 45 directives to the Ontario Power Authority dealing with all aspects and types of generation, smart meters,  smart grids,  transmission, conservation, grants (via the Community Power Fund), etc.  Is it really possible to understand Ontario’s complex electricity system in less than a year? Or is it possible that there is influence from individuals who are designing a system that will be beneficial to them and their close business associates?
    We are now about to see the current Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli demonstrate his knowledge as he launches a purported  redesign of the Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) together with the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and MicroFIT programs and the process for siting large generation projects.  The LTEP was a creation of Energy Minister, Brad Duguid, who launched it in November 2010 approximately one year after his appointment as Minister. 
     Premier Wynne is big on “conversation” so Minister Chiarelli says he wants one with all interested parties.  The conversation is off balance, however, in that it appears that many conversations are one-on-one with ENGOs.  Look at the submissionmade by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) on June 7, 2013 and you’ll see that conversations with the rest of Ontario will be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.  OSEA’s suggestions include the establishment of two committees to recommend changes to both the siting of large generation projects and the MicroFIT program.  In other words, the changes should be overseen by the very people who were responsible for the design of the GEA! 
    Worse, it seems the intent is to continue actions spurred by the GEA that increase electricity costs, and benefit only those involved in sectors of the renewable energy business. To hell with Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers!  
    Will this Minister abide by their wishes?
    Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO)  has already seen evidence that the concerns of rural Ontario will be ignored.   WCO’s submission to the joint task force (IESO/OPA), to review the “siting” of large energy projects was made after intense discussion and deliberation, and with the best of intentions.   The recommendations of WCO, and those of other stakeholders, were basically ignored in the OPA/IESO document provided to Minister Chiarelli on August 1, 2013, although they at least noted our involvement.
    The WCO and many community groups have encouraged and supported rural municipalities to pass resolutions to indicate they are “not a willing host” to monstrous industrial wind turbines; currently, 62 municipalities have done so. The submission by the joint committee on the “siting” aspect made no mention of the “willing host” concept.
   The principal influencing ENGO is OSEA, which not only published its June 7 recommendations, but also organized a “webinar series” in August, aimed at developing further input.  In a brazen demonstration of confidence in their role as an influential organization, they even invited Colin Andersen, CEO of the OPA, to join them.  (He wisely declined.)  The webinar panel is identified on the OSEA website and includes such luminaries as Chris Benedetti of the Sussex Group,  (which famously was seen in a leaked strategy documentrecommending that the Liberal Party “dupe” the public about the true cost of the  government’s push for green energy), and others who directly benefit from the FIT and MicroFIT program.  
    No doubt the post-webinar OSEA recommendations presented to Minister Chiarelli (who met personally with Kristopher Stevens of OSEA recently) will favour the companies and individuals who benefit from the continued largesse of the GEA, FIT and MicroFIT programs. 
    I expect that when the current Yes Minister of Energy Mr. Chiarelli deals with the LTEP he will do as his predecessors have done— ignore the public and accommodate the ENGOs.  Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers will continue to hand over their hard earned income via their electricity bills, to fulfill the ENGOs’ “green” dreams.
Parker Gallant,
August 15, 2013
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the policies of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Scene from the BBC hit comedy, Yes Prime Minister, in which Sir Humphrey explains the balance of power in government decisions to Bernard

The 2003 blackout:truth and lobbying

Now that the media “Where were you when the lights went out?” pertaining to the black-out in north-eastern U.S. and Canada  10 years ago is over, we can take a look at what really happened (it wasn’t an Ontario event) and then be able to look at the comments being made by the current Ontario government and lobbyists in context.
Here from energy analyst and blogger Scott Luft, a posting from Cold Air.

Satellite photo from NOAA

NOAA image of blackout in the Northeastern USA taken Aug. 14, 2003, at 9:03 p.m. EDT.

Legal action: rural Ontario takes an interest

The town of Listowel, population 6,600, in Perth County, was the location last evening of a public event on the legal options open to residents of rural and small urban communities, facing invasion by predatory, subsidy-seeking wind power developers.
   More than 120 local residents gathered to hear Toronto-based lawyer Eric Gillespie. The community is facing a wind power project by U.S.-based Invenergy, who sent a representative to the meeting last evening.
   Gillespie and his firm were counsel for WCO member group APPEC during the recent Environmental Review Tribunal hearing the appeal of the approval of the Gilead Power wind power project at Ostrander Point, and for a group of residents near Clearview, among many other cases.
  The Clearview case is noteworthy because previously, it was thought one had to wait for a project to be built (such as cellphone towers) before suing for nuisance and property value loss; in the Wiggins et al case, the decision was that legal action can be taken at the time of approval.
  The province has approved a wind power project a week during the summer of 2013, but that is being met with opposition throughout the province. Currently, there are at least five appeals of approvals ongoing in Ontario plus other actions pending, or being contemplated.

Eric Gillespie at the Listowel Agricultural Hall, August 13, 2013.

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.


*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.