Did the Ford government renege on power project promises?
Residents ‘blindsided’ as licence granted for ‘cancelled’ power project
March 3, 2019
In July 2018, citizens of rural and small-town Ontario communities breathed a sigh of relief when energy minister Greg Rickford announced that the Ford government was cancelling more than 700 renewable energy projects. Many had had concerns about the impacts of these projects on the environment, on their own lives, and about the restrictive approval process for the projects which offered no opportunity for input from citizens or municipalities.
The projects were gone.
Or, so they thought.
Now, two renewable energy projects appear not only not to have been cancelled at all, but are proceeding full steam ahead.
CBC News reports that a solar project near Port Hope is actually now under construction despite local residents believing it had been “cancelled.” The project is located on prime agricultural land and will need hundreds of trees to be removed, despite being inside the protected Oak Ridges Moraine greenbelt area.
And, community members in The Nation, just east of Ottawa, were shocked to learn that a wind power project, “Eastern Fields” received a licence from the Ontario Energy Board to generate electricity a few weeks ago, in December. The licence is good for 20 years, and doesn’t expire until 2038.
In an email to both Wind Concerns Ontario and community group Save The Nation/Sauvons La Nation from Environment, Conservation and Parks staffer Sarah Raetsen confirms that the Eastern Fields project is under “technical review” towards achieving a Renewable Energy Approval.
“We were shocked to find out about this licence,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation. “We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement.”
Save The Nation sent an urgent letter to Minister Rickford on Friday demanding clarification.
“The approval process for ‘green energy’ projects is very limited in terms of community input and favours the corporate power developers,” says Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario. “Now, by believing what the Ford government promised, all these citizens have lost seven very valuable months they could have been working to gather important data on environmental impacts in case they want to appeal a formal approval. They have been blindsided.”
Wind Concerns Ontario has government records of thousands of reports of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, Wilson says, which remain unresolved to this day, despite the change in government.
Jane Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Leroux Save The Nation: email@example.com
News Release from Save The Nation follows:
For immediate release
March 3, 2019
How Can a Cancelled Wind Turbine Project Receive a Licence to Produce Electricity?
ST-BERNARDIN – Save The Nation is seeking answers from the Ontario Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, regarding the issuance of an Electricity Generation Licence to the ‘cancelled’ Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project. The Ontario Energy Board issued the licence on December 6, 2018, even though Minister Rickford had announced the cancellation of Eastern Fields project on July 13, 2018.
“We were shocked to find out about this licence. We do not understand why or how a cancelled project can be issued a licence to produce electricity for a period of 20 years – until 2038. We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation.
Eastern Fields was one of 758 projects identified by Minister Rickford for wind-down on July 13, 2018, following a promise to cancel unnecessary and wasteful energy projects in order to cut hydro rates. “We’re asking Minister Rickford to confirm that this promise has been kept and that Eastern Fields Wind Farm LP is a dead project with no chance of ever moving forward. We also ask him to revoke the useless Electricity Generation Licence EG-2018-0213” adds Leroux.
The Electricity Generation Licence was issued on December 6, 2018. Incidentally, on that same day, the Ontario Government adopted the Green Energy Repeal Act, which will affect other acts and regulations, namely the Environmental Protection Act, the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation 359/09 and the Planning Act when fully enacted.
Save The Nation is a grass-root movement that has been opposing the Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project near St-Bernardin in The Nation Municipality and Champlain Township since it was publicly announced in June 2015. Save The Nation is not against green initiatives, but is fiercely opposed to the process that was used for the approval of renewable energy projects in Ontario under the Green Energy Act.
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Link to July 13, 2018, Ontario Media Release: https://news.ontario.ca/mndmf/en/2018/07/ontario-to-cancel-energy-contracts-to-bring-hydro-bills-down.html
Save The Nation Society
Letter to Minister Rickford: Honorable Greg Rickford-March1-2019