WCO request to Ombudsman in “early stages of consideration”

QP Briefing
April 15, 2014
Grassroots group asks Marin to shine a light on wind power

A vocal anti-wind development group is calling on Ombudsman André Marin to investigate what it calls a “lack of transparency” in how renewable energy approvals are granted.

“Municipalities, in particular, are really getting fed up with being promised more say [over wind projects] but really things haven’t changed very much,” said Jane Wilson, spokeswoman for Wind Concerns Ontario.

By the time municipalities know about wind power projects coming to their region, many aspects of the build have already been determined, she told QP Briefing Monday. Couple that with a lack of full disclosure on projects approved by the Ministry of the Environment and municipal governments and citizen groups feel left out of decision-making, she said.

“When companies come in and start leasing land, there is no documentation, no engineering reports made available to anyone about where these projects are going to go,” Wilson said.

What’s more, she claims that projects “deemed complete” by the MOE often have not completed, submitted or made public all of the necessary documentation for where turbines or access roads will be located.

On April 8, her organization filed a six-page letter with Marin’s office suggesting he investigate the lack of transparency in the Renewable Energy Approval process. Marin received expanded powers under the new provincial accountability act.

The current permitting process is “placing many municipalities in an awkward situation relative to concerns being raised by their residents,” the letter stated.

Some of those concerns include:

The need for transparency and full disclosure in how projects are approved.
How renewable energy approvals are processed.
How the Environmental Review Tribunal conducts cases.

“We are requesting more stringent guidelines as to how companies should behave and in the case of documentation being provided by the developers, that complete really means complete,” Wilson said. “We are looking for the Ombudsman to say [to a wind company]: ‘The rules are the rules and here are the rules and what you should be doing.’ ”

And the rules governing renewable energy companies are changing. In a May, 2013, sop to anti-wind activists and angry municipalities, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli introduced measures to give municipal governments greater say over if and how renewable projects operate in their backyards.

The feed-in-tariff program for large-scale developments was replaced with a competitive bidding process based on the idea that any company looking to secure a contract for wind development now has to possess municipal support for its plan. This is an increasingly tough sell when many Southern and Eastern Ontario townships are declaring themselves “unwilling hosts.”

Ultimately, Chiarelli’s FIT changes fell short of a veto over future wind developments near residential areas, which is what many communities are after.

Marin spokeswoman Linda Williamson told QP Briefing Monday the request from Wind Concerns Ontario has been received and is in the early stages of consideration. “As with any complaint we receive, our staff will assess it to determine whether or not an investigation is warranted.”

Marin has received dozens of complaints regarding wind turbines — such as noise and siting — but determined in 2009 and again in 2011 the issue did not deserve a special investigation, such as the one being requested now.

The Ombudsman currently has a full caseload, including investigations into over billing by Hydro One, the de-escalation of lethal force by police services and the lack of accessibility services for adults with developmental disabilities.

Parker Gallant: New Ontario Council told to boost value of OPG and Hydro One

Are 11 years of active depressing value to end?

What spurred the decision by Ontario’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa to announce on April 11, 2014 that the Ontario Government is appointing a council to recommend ways to improve the efficiency and optimize the full value of Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO”? Was it a sudden realization that Ontario had undervalued assets? Or, was it an attempt to deflect attention from the gas plant scandal?

I’m betting the latter. Why? The shareholder value of the first two Crown corporations listed have been continually interfered with by this government.  Everything from “smart meters” to coal plant closures, multi-billion dollar tunnels, run-of river hydro and coal plant conversions (to biomass) have played a big role in the current value of both OPG and Hydro One.  Add that to above-market rates for wind and solar developments, and billion dollar transmission spending to hook them to the grid—the only reason OPG and Hydro One have any value is that electricity rates in the monopolistic electricity sector have been allowed to rise by over 100%.  Four Long-term Energy Plans in 11 years and several dozen “directives” on how the businesses should operate have done nothing to enhance the value of those two entities.

Under the benign governance of the Ontario Energy Board (whose role was eviscerated by the government),  electricity prices have increased at an average annual rate over 10%  and driven well paying jobs from the province, as a result.  Creating value seems to have been overlooked in the process. Is this another “Council” that will present a report that will simply be ignored as in the past?

What does Sousa expect?

Already, I see problems: Minister Sousa seems unaware the Auditor General in his 2011 report noted that  Ministerial (Energy) directives to contract for above market priced wind and solar generation were executed without a cost benefit analysis.

He is also either unaware or in direct conflict with his party’s Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, who, just two days before Sousa’s announcement said, “The government is not currently looking at the disposing of any of our energy companies.”  So, why “enhance value” if there is no plan to sell? Was Premier Wynne aware of this conflict or did she endorse both positions hoping that the new council would confuse the issue, and the electorate?   Perhaps the gambit is to gain credibility to reduce or freeze energy sector salaries, or force a change in the way pensions and benefits are paid, to enhance value?

As recently noted OPG, had 77% of their employees on the “2013 Sunshine list” and Hydro One 67%; both have unfunded positions in the pension and benefits programs.  A council isn’t necessary to figure that out!

So exactly what is Minister Sousa expecting from the council?  OPG and Hydro One are both taxpayer owned institutions with one (Hydro One) holding a monopoly on the transmission business and on distribution of electricity to one quarter of Ontario’s ratepayers.  OPG on the other hand has seen its share of the generation market fall since the PC government split old Ontario Hydro into five entities.

The final annual report of Ontario Hydro had this to say about their contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply: “ OPG facilities now supply about 85% of the province’s electricity demand. Under an agreement with the provincial government, that proportion will be gradually reduced so that by about 2010, OPG will control no more than 35% of the province’s total supply options.”

By the end of 2013 (three years later than planned) OPG had come close to achieving the “agreement” with 16,229 MW of installed capacity compared to total Ontario capacity (per recently “revised” Long-Term Energy Plan) reported as 38,374 MW giving OPG about 42% “of the province’s total supply.”   That OPG capacity of 42% produced 80.3 terawatts (TWh), equal to 57 % of Ontario’s demand in 2013 and in 1999 had produced 136.2 TWh equal to 85% of demand.

The bottom line

On the financial side, OPG’s first full year of operation (2000) generated a profit, net of PIL (payments in lieu of taxes), of $605 million; by 2013 their profit had fallen to $135 million.  So, OPG, based on history reflects itself as a business in decline.  OPG are also about to undergo costly retrofits of their nuclear plants which have traditionally gone over budget.  If Ontario sold OPG at, say, a 12 times multiple on earnings, it would net them only $1.4 billion.  The best the province could hope to generate in a sale of OPG would be its current book value of $8.3 billion, but any buyer would demand guarantees on pricing of generation of all capacity and a guarantee of grid rights to ensure production is purchased.  What is good for wind, solar and gas plant generators would be demanded by any new private sector owners of OPG!  One also suspects a buyer would seek to cover any anticipated cost overruns on existing projects including nuclear refurbishments, biomass conversions, etc.  In other words, it is likely the “Council” will recommend keeping OPG—it may not be sellable!

Hydro One, on the other hand looks like the star with Net Profit (after PIL) of $803 million for 2013 up from $378 million in 2000 (+112%), while Gross Revenue (net of Power Purchased) increased from $1,728 million in 2000 to $3,054 million in 2013 (+77%), despite a drop in terawatts (TWh) transmitted.  An increase in employees of 1,173 however is cause for concern in respect to the transmission and distribution businesses.   If, as suggested by Jan Carr in an article in the Toronto Star, Hydro One gets split into two entities—transmission and distribution—the breakout (2012 year-end) in Net Profit for the “transmission” business is $488 million and for “distribution,” $258 million providing a Return on Equity (ROE) on the former of 18.1% and 12.5% on the latter.  The Return on Revenue (RoR) would be 32.9% and 25.8% respectively and above the comparable at, say, Enbridge with an ROE of 12.8% and an RoR of 18.8%.

Assuming the Council will suggest the two Hydro One businesses be split and could generate say 12 times their earnings in a sale, Ontario might generate $9 billion.  That would come from approximately $3 billion for the distribution side and $6 billion for the transmission business.  The sale would generate a one-time gain of about $2.5 billion for the province, or less than 25% of the current budget deficit.  The sale would cause grief for the Liberal Party from the unions within the Hydro One family and so might prove unpalatable.

I am betting the Finance Minister’s appointed “Council” will deliver bad news but probably not until after an election. This is simply another exercise to deflect from the numerous scandals and the mismanagement of the energy file overall  that are sure to be the message from opposition parties in a provincial election campaign.

©Parker Gallant,

April 14, 2014

The views expressed here are those of the author and not Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Institute for Energy Research: Germany’s green energy experiment a failure

germany-flag

The Washington D.C.-based energy policy “think tank” the Institute for Energy Research (which receives no funding from either government or industry) has reported that Germany’s experience with “green” energy has been an economic failure.

The Institute reports higher energy prices, energy poverty for Germany’s citizens, and “lavish subsidies” for renewable power generators.

North America (including Ontario) has looked to Germany as an example of green power generation; we can only hope they now heed these lessons.

See the news story and report, here.

Eastern Ontario farmers oppose turbines

This news story is doubly interesting when you consider that the maps associated with the new large renewable power projects procurement process show a “green light” for Eastern Ontario.

Farmers not sold on wind turbines, survey says

By Brandy Harrison

Farmers’ Forum

OTTAWA — While farmers are among the few who can directly benefit financially from hosting wind turbines, Eastern Ontario farmers are more likely to oppose than support them, a Farmers Forum survey shows.

In a random survey of 100 farmers at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show from March 11 to 13, nearly half — 48 per cent — disapproved of wind turbines. Another 29 per cent approved and the remaining 23 per cent said they were neutral.

But positions on the issue weren’t always clear cut. Even when farmers threw their lot in with one side of the debate or the other, their reasoning was peppered with pros and cons.

It’s in stark contrast to a Farmers Forum survey of 50 Western Ontario farmers at the London Farm Show in early March, where 58 per cent were strongly opposed to wind turbines. Farmers opposed outnumbered those who approved by nearly three-to-one.

The number of turbines reveal the difference: Of the 67 wind projects representing more than 1,200 turbines province-wide, almost all the turbines dot the landscape of Western Ontario. Only two projects are in Eastern Ontario, an 86-turbine project on Wolfe Island, south of Kingston, and another 10 turbines near Brinston, south of Winchester, which were completed in January.

Wind power is so controversial that 13 farmers polled at the farm show wanted to remain anonymous, unwilling to come out publicly as a supporter or a critic.

Nearly three-quarters of farmers who disapproved liked green energy in theory but panned turbines — and sometimes the Green Energy Act as a whole — as a too-costly, inefficient electricity source that’s driving up their power bill.

Eric VanDenBroek doesn’t mind the look of the turbines that are only a short drive from his Winchester dairy farm but isn’t a fan of the way the program was rolled out.

“A financial disaster”

“Financially, it’s already proving to be a disaster,” said VanDenBroek, who turned down a chance to get in on renewable revenue. “It’s costing taxpayers money and we don’t have a say in it. Anytime the government gets involved in something, the costs inflate.”

Doug Armstrong agreed. But the North Gower crop farmer may put one up on his own land, particularly if neighbours are considering doing the same.

“I’m not allergic to money. But to be quite honest, as far as I’m concerned, they’re a total and complete waste of money,” said Armstrong.

Turbines are ugly, said Elwood Quaile, who joked that Wolfe Island may one day levitate out of Lake Ontario. But his biggest beef is the expense compared to the return. “Especially when you have a whole lot of gosh-darn water generators sitting idle,” said the Navan crop farmer.

Higher per kilowatt costs make even less sense when excess energy is sold south of the border for less than it costs to produce it, said Bill Seymour.

“It’d be like me buying a Lamborghini for my farm. It’s really nice and sharp, but do the cost on it. Why would I do that?” asked the Lunenburg crop farmer.

Other reasons farmers disapproved included their appearance, adverse health effects, conflicts between farmers, lost farmland, decreasing land values, and that people have little say in where they go.

Among farmers ready to give wind turbines the go-ahead, just over two-thirds reasoned that there is a need for renewable energy.

“The wind blows. It’s free. How else can we make power out of something that’s free?” said Ivan Petersen, who runs an Osgoode crop, dairy, and elevator operation. Petersen has solar panels and also likes the additional income.

It’s a good idea but there are challenges, said a Peterborough-area farmer, who didn’t want to be named.

“For the farmer whose farm they’re on, it’s a great thing. For the farmer who’s next to him and gets nothing, it’s a bad thing,” he said, proposing a tax rebate to homeowners based on distance from the turbine. “Everybody wins. Then it’s not neighbour-against-neighbour.”

The debate isn’t rational and people are misinformed, said a Dundas County farmer, who approves but requested anonymity.

“People are willing to fight wind energy and still have a solar panel in their backyard, which is kind of hypocritical. You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” he said.

Other farmers approved in hopes of additional income, seeing a break on their energy bills, or out of a feeling that people can do what they like on their own property.

Many of the 23 farmers who remained neutral on the issue said they didn’t have enough information to take a firm stance, but they’d definitely heard the pros and cons.

“If it was making me money, I’d love ‘em. If it was keeping me up all night, I’d want to knock it down,” said Scott Kinlock, a Martintown crop farmer and custom operator.

Wind power approval ratings were high, however, in another Farmers Forum survey three years ago, where just over half of 200 Wolfe Island (pop. 1,200 in summer) residents polled approved of turbines. But nearly one-third of respondents said community spirit had plummeted since the turbines went up in 2009.

Read the story here

MP Cheryl Gallant:Ontario Liberal energy policy disastrous

 

Cheryl Gallant, the MP for Renfrew-Nipissing, spoke about Canada’s nuclear power sector in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Here is a portion of her remarks, as they relate to the electricity situation in Ontario.

 

Those of us who believe that nuclear energy has a critical role to play to ameliorate the effects of global climate change were encouraged by a recent open letter to environmentalists, signed by such people as Dr. Ken Caldeira, senior scientist, department of global ecology, Carnegie Institution; and Dr. James Hansen, climate scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    These and other like-minded individuals are urging those individuals who are truly concerned about the environment to support the development of safer nuclear energy systems, such as Canada’s success story, the CANDU system.

    To quote their open letter to environmentalists:


    No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology. […] the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to develop an energy system that does not rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump.

    I have no doubt that the same radical environmentalists who recommended forcing rural Ontario to accept industrial wind turbines and the out-of-control electricity rates that are bankrupting Ontario hydro customers were the same individuals who convinced the Ontario Liberal Party to turn its back on the Canadian nuclear success story.

    The so-called Green Energy Act is forcing people in rural Ontario to have to choose between heating and eating.

     I mention this because one of the architects of the disastrous policy in Toronto is now the principal advisor to the Liberal Party in Ottawa. Gerald Butts, called the “puppeteer” by the media for the way he controls the Liberal leader, would like to introduce a new version of the disastrous national energy policy of the 1980s that is causing electricity bills to skyrocket in Ontario. Worst of all, the cornerstone of an updated Liberal NEP is a carbon tax.

    Ontario needs to cancel its high electricity rate policy. That policy is forcing our manufacturing industry and the jobs that go with it to flee to the American border states that benefit from Ontario Hydro paying them to take power from industrial wind turbines that nobody here wants.

    Liberal economic policy has turned Ontario from being the economic engine of Canada into a have-not province.

    The future is nuclear, for reliable, economic, greenhouse gas-free electricity, brought to us by the 70,000 Canadians that are employed in the Canadian nuclear industry, including the close to 3,000 people employed at the Chalk River Laboratories of AECL.

Ontario wildlife vs Big Wind and Ontario government: wildlife loses

The decision from the appeal of the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal to rescind approval of the wind power project at Ostrander Point is in. Gue$$ who won?

Court favours wind turbines over Blanding’s turtle

An Ontario court has ruled that an environmental tribunal erred when it rejected a proposed wind farm that threatens the habitat of Blanding’s turtles

An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the Blanding's turtle’s habitat. TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the Blanding’s turtle’s habitat.TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
By: Business reporter, Published on Thu Feb 20 2014

Blanding’s turtle is in trouble again: An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the turtle’s habitat.
The modest reptile had stood in the way of a wind farm at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.
But a divisional court panel ruled Thursday that the environmental tribunal made six errors of law in reaching its conclusion that the wind farm would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtle.
The court restored the decision by provincial officials, allowing Gilead Power to proceed with the project, which would erect nine big wind turbines on the site.
It was a bitter blow to local nature and conservation groups. They had argued the wind farm – and the increased traffic associated with it – would harm not just the turtles, but also birds, bats and the rare “alvar” ecosystem at Ostrander Point.
The court sided with Gilead.
“That’s very disappointing,” was all Cheryl Anderson of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists Club could say on hearing the news.

Read the full story here.

Suncor challenges Plympton-Wyoming

Plympton-Wyoming’s wind turbine bylaws challenged

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer

A court date has been set for Suncor Energy’s lawsuit against the Town of Plympton-Wyoming and its wind turbine bylaws.
Lawyers for the company and the rural community that sits next door to Sarnia are scheduled to appear in the Superior Court of Justice in Sarnia, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m.
It’s the first court date scheduled for the lawsuit Suncor launched a year ago to challenge town bylaws aimed at wind energy projects.
They include a requirement that turbines be built at least 2 km from neighbours, while Ontario only requires a 550-metre setback, and that wind companies pay a $200,000 deposit per turbine, to ensure they’re taken down at the end of their lifespan.
Suncor plans to build many of the 46 wind turbines proposed for its Cedar Point Wind project in Plympton-Wyoming. Suncor has a contract to sell power to the province and its project is currently working its way through Ontario’s renewable energy environmental approval process.
The province took planning approval powers for renewable energy projects away from municipalities but Plympton-Wyoming’s town council passed a series of bylaws in 2012 aimed at industrial wind turbine projects.
Suncor spokesperson Nicole Fisher said the legal challenge is a “rare step” by the company.

… Read the full story.

Take the poll! Should wildlife be endangered for wind power?

The poll continues!!!! Please vote!

In less than 1 day, we have over 600 votes, 98% say NO to endangering Ontario’s wildlife.

Many people don’t know that the Ontario government believes so strongly that the “overall benefit” of wind power is such that it outweighs any danger to at-risk and even endangered species of wildlife in the province.

What do you think?

Take our poll, here.

Tell me again: why are my electricity bills so high?


Any lights on in there?

Tell me again:  why have Ontario’s electricity rates gone up so much?
If you live in an Ontario city and just received your first electricity bill for the year, you are probably looking at it and scratching your head!   Wow, did we really use that much electricity for those lights on the Christmas tree? 
The answer is, no, you didn’t, but your electricity rates and your delivery rates have climbed a lot over the past several years, even though you may have used less electricity.  
Ontario’s electricity sector is very big with annual revenues of about $20 billion (approximately 4.5% of total 2012 Ontario primary household income).  The sector has been undergoing massive changes over the past decade as the current Liberal government, supported by the NDP, decided we should go “green” and save the world from global warming or its current iteration, “climate change.” 
So exactly what has caused the price of electricity in Ontario to rise at a level we haven’t seen in our lifetime?   Here is a list of the principal changes that have affected our electricity bills during the past decade. Many will continue to push our bills even higher over the ten years.   They are in no particular order and remember, they all cost you money.
§     $230 million for taxpayers and almost $900 million for ratepayers to move the gas plants.
§     $60-$70 million annually—the Ontario Power Authority or OPA’s budget. One of our “energy ministers” created the temporary (OPA) instructing them to develop a Integrated Power System Plan.  It’s no longer temporary even though it has never produced an acceptable plan.
§     $300 million plus annually for the OPA to run the province’s “conservation” program, to pick up your old fridge, provide coupons for purchases of lightbulbs and thermostats.
§     Rate increases: when you actually conserve electricity the program allows your local distribution company (LDC) to apply to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a rate increase on their delivery rates because they lost revenue.
§     More: the same program supports local municipalities to convert their street lights to LED bulbs.
§     $20 billion, now reduced to $13 billion, for the OPA to sign that Samsung contract to pay them for putting up wind turbines and solar panels and (maybe) produce power over the 20-year contract.
§     70.2 cents per kilowatt for the OPA to develop the feed-in tariff (FIT) program which pays various school boards to put solar panels on school roofs, or for IKEA, Loblaws and Canadian Tire, etc. to put them on their stores, and then charge them 8 or 9 cents to buy back the power.
§     $11 billion because the energy minister(s) instructed Hydro One (transmission & distribution monopoly) to spend on both transmission and distribution assets, including a big chunk just to hook up solar panels and wind turbines.
§      $700.54 for each of Hydro One’s 1.1 million smart meters—a lot more than other LDCs spent. The total cost of smart meters for the province is around $2 billion .
§     Despite all that spending on smart meters Hydro One is continually messing up their distribution customer’s hydro bills due to faulty meters and a billing system that doesn’t work very well.(One radio commentator said it’s in constant “FAIL” mode.)
§     1,700 employees at Hydro One up 39% since 2005, but they actually distribute less electricity now than they did then.
§     $4.8 billion, as of spring 2013 for pension shortfalls at OPG and Hydro One. Ratepayers are on the hook for and must pay for through their monthly bills.
§     $600 million: the amount OPG went over budget on the Big Becky tunnel under Niagara Falls.
§     $2.6 billion because OPG was directed to move forward with the Mattagami project, for run-of-river hydro which will produce power principally in the spring when we won’t really need it.
§     $6 billion, the amount the Energy Minister recently said we made in “profit” selling our excess power but ratepayers subsidize those exports at a cost of over $1 billion every year.
§     We now pay wind turbine developers to not produce power and we also pay solar farm developers for not producing power because it might put Ontario’s grid at risk for blackouts or brownouts.
§     We now pay for meteorological stations to be erected at wind developments to measure how much power they might have produced, but we can’t use, and pay for it anyway.
§     Five: the top five executives at Hydro One earned almost twice as much as Hydro One paid out under the LEAP (Low-income Energy Assistance Program) grant program which was developed to alleviate “energy poverty.”
§     $7.7 billion: in 2005 when the Global Adjustment was called the Provincial Benefit it actually was a benefit and reduced electricity bills by $53.1 million, but for 2013 it was a charge on ratepayer’s bills that exceeded $7.7 billion.
§     $1.2 billion: on July 1, 2010 the Province started collecting the provincial portion of the HST and that 8% tax increase now costs ratepayers at least $1.2 billion annually.
§     140%: the amount the “Off-Peak” time-of-use rates have risen since they first appeared, moving them closer to “On-Peak” rates—so much for encouraging power consumption to off-peak hours as a conservation measure.
§     Discounts to big industry: because Ontario has added so much generation our Energy Minister has directed the OPA to start two new industrial incentive programs that will allow big industry to pay for electricity at huge discounts similar to what we are paid for our exports which ordinary ratepayers will subsidize.
§     3,600 megawatts of wind and 1,200 MW of solar: what the OPA has contracted for which will all be paid for at above market prices, and will push that Global Adjustment pot up much further than it was in 2013.
§     The “renewable generation connection” charge: what we pay for Hydro One to connect wind and solar projects to the grid.
§     $12 billion: what Ontario’s ratepayers have handed over to pay off the residual stranded debt of $7.8 billion but here’s the bad news—there is still $3.9 billion to be paid.
§     $1.5 billion: the cost for the Province via the IESO to develop a “smart grid,” some of which is now appearing on our bills under the “regulatory” line.
§     $200 to 400 million a year, we pay to subsidize electricity consumption for large industrial users.
§     $1 billion a year: what we pay gas generators through a “net revenue requirement,” so they can be at the ready when the wind’s not blowing or the sun is not shining.
§     $ 1 billion a year and more: what taxpayers have been paying for the past four years to provide ratepayers with a “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” of 10%. It expires in one year, meaning electricity bills will jump by 10% more.
So, no, it wasn’t your Christmas lights that jacked up your bill.  Here’s hoping a light goes on somewhere in the halls at Queen’s Park, and the government takes action to stop this madness.
©Parker Gallant
February 3, 2014
The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Ostrander Point appeal:the MoE will go to any lengths to aid wind power

Here from Rick Conroy of the independent Wellington Times, his wrap of the appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision to rescind approval of a wind power project on Ostrander Point.

The Times

To harm, harass and kill

Blanding-Small

Appeal hearing considers who shall condemn endangered species in the name of green energy
By the time Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright concluded that the risk, posed by a proposed industrial wind project at Ostrander Point upon the Blanding’s turtle, was simply too great, and the damage likely permanent, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT or Tribunal) panel had heard more than 40 days of testimony. More than 188 exhibits had been entered into evidence. Their decision ran 140 pages.
That decision, to revoke the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) granted to Gilead Power by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), rocked the wind energy sector in this country. It sent government bureaucrats scurrying for cover.
If the fate of a turtle could block the development of an industrial wind project—the precedent could be a formidable roadblock to similar projects across the province and Canada. There are other turtles and endangered species that deserve the protection this panel afforded the Blanding’s turtle of Ostrander Point. The implications are profound.
Wright and Gibbs must have known their words, their actions, and their decision would be attacked, pulled apart and recast as naïve or simply mistaken.
An appeal to the Ontario Superior Court was the only door left open to the developer, Gilead Power Corporation, the wind energy lobby and their large team of lawyers.
So it was that the latest battle, played out in a courtroom over three days last week at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, was fought over what Wright and Gibbs said. What they wrote. What they did. And what they didn’t do.
Did Wright and Gibbs make an error in law? Or procedure? This was the narrow lens with which the three justices—Maria Linhares de Sousa, Ian Nordheimer and Kevin Whitaker—heard arguments in courtroom number three last week.
NEW EVIDENCE DENIED
Even before the appeal began, the developer’s attorneys attempted to change the ground rules by urging the justices to hear new evidence. The talented and able lawyers from McCarthy Tetrault argued that their client, in the intervening months since the Wright and Gibbs had delivered their decision, had undertaken steps it believed would address the Tribunal’s concerns.
Their argument failed to persuade the appeal court. The justices refused to widen its scope beyond whether or not the Tribunal had conducted themselves correctly and in accordance with the rules by which they are governed.
THE SETTING
Courtroom 3 is located on the west side of the ornate and grandly decorated centre square of Osgoode Hall. Ceilings soar to about 40 feet. The length and width are only a few feet greater—forming a giant cube. The three justices, cloaked in floor-length robes are perched upon a raised platform before a thick hewnwood bench. The only marker of the current century is the laptop computer each judge keeps before them—though scarcely used.
Arrayed below them are rows of lawyers. Eric Gillespie and Nathalie Smith argued the bulk of the appeal for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).

Read the full article here.