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.

Private sessions on Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan

Here, from The Toronto Star on Friday August 2 (page B5—inexplicably, there is no link to this story online), is a story by Business writer John Spears, on how the consultations on Ontario’s much-needed Long-Term Energy Plan are rolling out. Note: we have it on good authority that the so-called public consultation sessions are dog-and-pony shows with a set of posters from the masses to view.

Private sessions for industry insiders, public sessions for everyone else: That’s how Ontario’s Energy Ministry is conducting consultations on its long-term energy plan.
  The consultation rolled into Toronto Tuesday and Wednesday this week, one of eight stops around the province.
  Energy bureaucrats were reviewing the plan, published in 2010. The plan sets targets for how much of the province’s power should come from nuclear plants, gas-fired generators, hydro stations or other renewable sources.
  An invitation-only session in the afternoon–closed to the public–drew about 100 industry insiders, according to one participant. They were clustered into discussion groups, each headed by a ministry official.
  The public session at The Intercontinental Hotel on Bloor Street West in the evening was less formal, with ministry officials standing by information displays to answer questions or field comments.
  About 50 people turned up for the session, most with some connection or longstanding interest in the power sector. Two, who didn’t volunteer their names, were employees of CANDU Energy; another was an employee of the Town of Whitby, scouting for industry intelligence.
  Brendan Costelleo is a third-year student in nuclear engineering at University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
  “I’m curious what’s going to happen when the Pickering reactor shuts down,” he said. That’s due about the end of the decade; the province is still considering whether to build two new nuclear units to offset it.
  Audrey O’Handley of Whitchurch-Stouffville and Rita Bijons of Toronto were looking to promote low-carbon, community-based energy projects.
  They were happy to be able to speak directly to senior Energy ministry officials, but weren’t sure how feedback from the public was being recorded, as no one was visibly taking notes.
  Information about the review of the plan is available on the Ministry of Energy website.

Ontario power in July: demand down, price up. Does this make ANY sense?

For those who are interested in drilling down into the finer points of Ontario’s power system, specifically supply and demand, take a look at the analytical blog, Cold Air, and the most recent posting, here.
http://morecoldair.blogspot.ca/2013/08/15-up-first-look-julys-electricity.html

A snippet:

Here’s a striking monthly change:  If you value the Ontario portion of the market as the hourly demand at the Hourly Ontario Energy Price plus the overall total for the global adjustment, you’ll find, based on the IESO’s estimate of a $593.7 million, that July’s total Ontario market value rose $10.2 million from June, while the total electricity demand rose 1.7 million MWh.

That makes the incremental cost of the additional supply required in July less that 7/10ths of a single cent/kWh.

 Which is nonsensical: the highest demand months are the lowest cost months only because of extraordinarily poor market design.

CBC: Liberals ‘stung’ in by-elections

This story from the CBC reports on the meaning of the results of the five by-elections held yesterday, and has links to actual election results.

Byelections are, in the words of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, both “unpredictable” and “tough for government.”
“They’re… a pretty risk-free way for people to send a message to government.”
It turns out Wynne was right on all counts. The byelections were tough and voters did send a message to the Liberals.
Wynne remains premier but her Liberal party — battered by the ongoing gas plant scandal and the misspending of millions of taxpayer dollars at eHealth and Ornge — is licking some new, though not necessarily fatal, political wounds.
Five Liberal strongholds and two wins to show for it: Toronto’s east-end Scarborough-Guildwood and Ottawa South.
Three losses: Etobicoke-Lakeshore, London West and Windsor-Tecumseh.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/08/02/pol-ontario-byelection-analysis-fisher.html

Kathleen Wynne is still Ontario's premier but her Liberal party — battered by the ongoing scandals — is licking some new, though not necessarily fatal, political wounds after Thursday's byelections.

400-plus fill Sarnia theatre to hear the bad news about wind power

August 1, 2013–More than 400 people gathered at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia last night to hear a panel of guests discuss the effects of the Green Energy Act on Ontario, and specifically, the damage done by the Ontario government’s rush to expensive, unreliable wind power.
    Organized by We’re Against Industrial Turbines of Plymptom-Wyoming (a WCO member group), the meeting featured wind power activist and former turbine neighbour Barbara Ashbee-Lormand, WCO VP Parker Gallant, University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick, SWEAR’s Dave Hemingway, and Middlesex-Lambton resident Esther Wrightman. Wrightman is being sued by U.S. energy giant NextEra for posting a video of staff removing a tree and Bald Eagle nest, and for repeating on her blogsite the community’s nickname of “NextTerror.”
    Parker Gallant told the crowd what’s really in their electricity bills, and how much Ontario’s rush to renewables–mostly wind–is costing everyone. Nuclear is responsible for 56% of the power we use and costs about 45% of Ontario’s costs, while wind produces just 3% (actually less) and costs 6%. Electricity bills have gone up dramatically, Gallant said, and the trend will continue as more solar and wind come online.
    Economics prof Ross McKitrick told the audience that Ontario’s Green Energy Act has cost 10 times what it would have cost to retrofit Ontario’s coal plants to provide cleaner power.
    Esther Wrightman recounted her legal battle with NextEra; at one point, she was having trouble adjusting the microphone and quipped, “I’m more comfortable with a bullhorn.”
    A story prior to the event appeared in the Sarnia Observer: http://www.theobserver.ca/2013/07/31/liberal-candidate-wants-municipalities-to-have-green-energy-veto

For more information, contact us at windconcerns@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at windconcernsONT