WIND RUSH A Look at the Wind Turbine Controversy

This is a press release for an upcoming program looking at industrial wind issues
An article by Paul Morden, in the Sarnia observer, quotes the program’s writer/director as stating “…obviously there is a problem,” and notes, “While wind energy is the subject of the film, it’s really about science.

WIND RUSH A Look at the Wind Turbine Controversy on CBC TV’s Doc Zone, Thursday, February 7, 9PM 
Driving by a wind farm, looking at the rural houses, it’s easy to be skeptical about the talk of wind turbines making people sick. We’re told that wind turbines are good and green. So how could those people living by them have an issue?

But there is a problem—and it’s there because some governments and wind companies didn’t do their homework before installing megawatt after megawatt of huge industrial machines. And as a result there are people living among the turbines who are suffering.

In the new documentary film WIND RUSH, produced for CBC Doc Zone by Toronto’s 90th Parallel Productions, the battleground for the pro and anti wind forces is southern Ontario. The government there pledged to wean the province off coal fired generation plants and replace them with green wind energy. WIND RUSH will be broadcast on Thursday, February 7 at 9PM (9:30PM NT).

But as soon as the turbines went up in places like Wolf Island, Amaranth and Bruce County, people realized they could hear them. Sometimes it was like a whisper, but other times it sounded more like a jet taking off.

And then it got worse.

New turbines started coming in at two and three times the size of the old ones. And they were even louder. It led to chronic sleeplessness for many people living close by—and that can lead to diabetes, depression and heart disease. Others were affected in their inner ears by low-level sounds that set off their equilibrium. Doctors started seeing patient after patient complaining of the same sets of symptoms. And then people started to realize that no one had done any significant human health studies before giving the green light to the turbine farms.

WIND RUSH takes viewers to southwestern Alberta, where wind has been an energy staple for more than twenty years. There is plenty of room for humans and windmills to coexist—a stark contrast to Ontario, where the same prairie technology was installed in a dramatically different landscape. The film then moves to Denmark, a country long considered the poster-child for the wind energy movement. But as WIND RUSH reveals, the relationship between the Danes and turbines has soured.

WIND RUSH talks to people on either side of the turbine divide, and then turns to scientists to try and determine what has gone wrong. In the next several years the turbines will double in size again—bigger, louder and more powerful. But without sufficient research have the people who live among the wind farms been forgotten?

WIND RUSH is produced by 90th Parallel Productions of Toronto. Gordon Henderson is Executive Producer. WIND RUSH is produced, written and directed by Andrew Gregg.

For further information, etc. please contct:

David McCaughna,
Publicist, WIND RUSH
David.mccaughna@cbc.ca 416-250-3030

Writer and director Andrew Gregg’s blog

Wind Wise Radio has posted a trailer for the program on their YouTube Channel

Ontario Spin Week

Did we all miss some parliamentary declaration that created an Ontario focused Spin Week?

With the bulk of the MSM (main stream media) focused on Spence, of hunger strike fame (not the Spence of Toronto District School Board plagiarism fame) and Bill 115, Ontario’s charter busting affrontry dealing with the various teacher’s unions/federations/associations “right to strike”, it was hard to keep up with the rest of the news coming from the Liberals and the energy sector.  Much of that latter news was simply skimmed or ignored by most of the press.

One item that gained a fair amount of traction with the media was related to the erection of several wind turbines in rural Ontario and the damage they will or could cause. The story wasn’t connected to either human health, the negative effect on property values or the economic effect of industrial wind turbines on our electricity bills, it was about nature. One of those large foreign companies (NexTera) that rushed to Ontario to get those lucrative contracts handed out under the Liberal’s Green Energy Act received permission to cut down a tree containing one of only 57 bald eagle nests in Southern Ontario.  They got permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources where the reigning, career Liberal politician and Minister Michael Gravelle is in charge.  A few years ago Gravelle was really excited about his riding attracting a 99 MW industrial wind farm which is owned by Enbridge.  The uproar on the granting of approval to remove the eagle’s nest was considerable throughout rural Ontario and received wide coverage in their media. Another event that also garnered some media attention for the past couple of weeks was the granting of the approval to erect nine wind turbines at Ostrander Point, a sensitive environmental and important migratory bird path in Prince Edward County.  Those industrial wind turbines with a capacity factor of 22.5 MW are not needed but despite that, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources blessed their erection.

The eagle’s nest removal, to allow an access road for the erection of industrial wind turbines, wasn’t picked up by the MSM however other events were, including the announcement by Premier McGuinty on the closure of the last two remaining coal plants in the Province. The Premier spoke to that issue to the media when expounding on the expansion of the Green Belt, despite the media getting him off topic by raising the upcoming planned illegal “action” by two of those teachers unions.  Those unions had supported the Liberal party in the last three provincial election campaigns via “Working Families” and supported the Green Energy Act.  In 2011 those two unions (ETFO & OSSTF) donated almost $100,000 to the Liberal Party, just over $100,000 to the NDP and zero to the PC Party. The Working Families coalition reputedly spent millions on media advertising during the 2011 and prior election campaigns.

McGuinty’s announcement and a January 11, 2013 press release from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) were enough to intrigue two of the Toronto Star’s “reporters” in the form of John Spears and Tyler Hamilton who within hours of the release of IESO’s annual mid-January media missive (pinpointing how much electricity Ontario consumed and how it was produced) had written about the events. Hamilton wrote on the issue of how anti-wind people fail to understand how, as a generation source, wind fits into the grid and reduces fossil fuel use from coal plants but he does admit that “wind isn’t perfect”.  For Hamilton that latter admission is a big step forward.

The McGuinty announcement about the coal plant closures failed the “union” test as the only quasi-union I could find that spoke out on this issue was the Society of Energy Professionals who lashed out “over planned coal plant closures.” Ironically the newly appointed President of the Society, Scott Travers is a “Senior Analyst” with IESO.  The Society didn’t appear to contribute to any political party from a search conducted by the author.

The IESO missive disclosed that for the first time ever (in Ontario) electricity produced by industrial wind turbines (4.6 terrawatts-TWh) surpassed production from coal plants (4.3 TWh) and the Star reporters jumped on the news.  Spears obtained quotes from a CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) officer and headlined his article as; “Wind out-produces coal”! What Spears failed to note in his article is that wind gets “first to the grid” rights and coal generation gets “last rights” (actual and metaphysically speaking) for the past several years. He funnily quotes how the numbers “delighted” the CanWEA spokesperson. The “delight” expressed by the CanWEA spokesperson is akin to a runner of a 100 yard dash starting 50 yards behind ”the starting line” and told they must hop on one foot for the first 50 yards.  Obviously your opponent will win the race hence the “delight” from the winner who in this case is represented by the CanWEA spokesperson.  Somewhat amusingly Spears suggests the price of electricity “crept up by 2.9%”. In the process he ignores the elephant; the actual “wholesale price”; referred to as the “hourly Ontario energy price” (HOEP) fell by 23.5% ($7.10 per MWh) from 2011. He also failed to note that the price of the Global Adjustment Mechanism (GAM) had risen 23.7% ($9.50 per MWh) over 2011. The GAM pot is where the difference between the HOEP and the “contracted” rates are dumped before allocation. Combining the two brought the increase to the 2.9% Spears says “crept up”!

The creep, ascribed by Spears, only affects Ontario’s consumers. The IESO report disclosed that Ontario demand was 141.3 terrawatts (one TWh is equivalent to 1 billion kilowatts), a slight reduction from 2011. It also disclosed Ontario exported 14.6 TWh.  The foreign buyers of those 14.6 TWh are not required to pay for anything in the GAM pot nor do they pay for the stranded debt, or regulatory charges. They pay only market prices.

The 14.6 TWh exported generated about $352 million @ $24.1 million per TWh in 2012. That power cost Ontario’s ratepayers ~$1,076 million (14.6 TWh @ $73.7 million per TWh) for a direct hit to ratepayers of $724 million as that money went into the GAM pot. The foregoing hit to ratepayers is without factoring in the weighing of production from wind and solar.  It also doesn’t reflect costs of nuclear steam off, the shift (about 5%) from Class A to Class B of the GAM, the revenue loss to OPG to spill hydro, NRR (net revenue requirement) for the gas generators, or even the HST on the GAM allocation.

The actual subsidized cost of those 2012 electricity exports using the average 2.41 cents per kWh measured against the average of 8.2 cents that Ontario’s residential ratepayers paid under time of use (TOU) rates indicates the subsidy was 5.8 cents per kWh or about $850 million for the 14,6 TWh exported; up considerably from the 4 cents per kWh ($420 million) estimated subsidized costs of 2011. That subsidy caused more than the Spears creep and had those exports not occurred, ie demand and production were matched, ratepayers may have actually experienced a small decline in the cost per kWh.

More spin came from the Environment Commissioner, Gordon Miller on January 8, 2013 when he released Volume Two of his 2011 Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report to the Ontario Legislature (which is prorogued) and castigated all Ontarians for not conserving enough and in the process claimed that it only costs us 3 cents per kWh to reduce our consumption.  An article I had penned a week before his release indicated that the cost of conservation was in fact closer to 14 cents a kWh based on the $4 billion that had already been dedicated to get us to conserve.  His media event received scant attention due to all the other issues deemed more important and as the Legislature wasn’t sitting the opportunity for say, Peter Tabuns, the NDP Energy Critic to castigate the Energy Minister, Chris Bentley, for not spending more to conserve didn’t present itself.  With our outgoing Premier, Dalton McGuinty, heading off on his China junket there also wasn’t any opportunity for the media to seek him out for his views on the report.

I think most Ontarians were insulted by one of the Commissioner’s comments when he said; “In the past, Ontarians were very conscious of the cost of heating their homes but that’s no longer the case.”  Only moments before he claimed we were all “fascinated by the price of electricity”.  Did Commissioner Miller appreciate the dichotomy of his statements to the media, or is he simply pushing his own agenda which in this writer’s opinion is very confusing.

Commissioner Miller’s media event presented a perfect opportunity for him to speak out about that eagle’s nest being moved or the Ostrander Point industrial wind project but he chose to remain silent. So just what is important to the Environment Commissioner is clearly not the harm that wind turbines are causing to nature or the environment but it is tough to figure out just what is!

What this province now gets is too much spin and not enough transparency or honesty from our politicians and bureaucrats.

Parker Gallant,
January 13, 2013

Conservation or Consternation: A Reflection of Ontario’s Energy Policy

Parker Gallant’s latest – may also be downloaded/printed as a .pdf file

An article in the Ottawa Citizen on Boxing Day indicated Ontario was the only place in North America forecasting negative growth in demand for electricity for 2013-2022 and carried quotes from an Ontario Power Authority (OPA) spokesperson on the reason. Chuck Farmer, director of planning policy had this to say about Ontario’s position: “It’s really because the growth is being offset by energy efficiency in one form or another and I think that’s quite a success story.” Ontario’s ratepayers know that “energy efficiency” is another way of saying “conservation” and it is impossible to open up your hydro bill without finding coupons or energy efficient rebate offers or an offer to pick up your old fridge for free. In Ontario we hear ads on the radio, see them on TV and find them in newspapers and webpages and they all all aimed at helping us save energy.

Ontario also has “smart meters” which were touted by our Liberal government as energy savers when introduced by then Minister of Energy, Donna Cansfield in 2005. Minister Canfield said: “By helping Ontarians make smart choices about how and when they use electricity, we’re helping them save money and making the most of our electricity supply.” Ms. Cansfield promised to couple that “with a pricing structure that reflects the cost of power production at certain times of day and year, allows consumers to make informed decisions about their electricity use. This will save money for Ontario consumers and reduce the strain on the power system at peak periods.”

The “pricing structure” referred to by Minister Cansfield, begat time-of use (TOU) pricing reputedly to allow us all to save money. Just prior to that announcement the OPA had been created and Minister Cansfield in the November 3, 2005 press release indicated that they would appoint Ontario’s first “Chief Energy Conservation Officer.” Almost exactly one year later the appointee to that position; Peter Love, (part of the Bruce Lourie circle) delivered a speech to the Empire Club about conservation and opined on how it would all save us money. Included in his speech were the words; “When it comes to being of benefit to the economy, electricity conservation has a multiplier effect. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.” The OPA has led our publically owned energy sector companies in spending billions of ratepayer dollars to entice us to save energy as Minister Canfield envisaged and as so persuasively stated by Peter Love.

Several years have passed since our Liberal politicians first began pushing “conservation” so lets have a look at what we have achieved, the money we have saved, and if it is the “success story” that Mr. Farmer says it is and the gift “that keeps on giving” as Peter Love said. Lets examine a few facts;

  • Smart meters cost ratepayers about $2 billion with the principal purpose; to allow our local distribution companies (LDC) to bill on a TOU basis. The Liberal government told us TOU pricing would allow ratepayers to choose when to do our laundry or cook our meals to “save us” money. 
  • In 6 years (2006-2011) the OPA budgeted spending on conservation initiatives of over $1.6 billion and have developed over 30 programs aimed at getting us to conserve energy. 
  • Our 75 LDCs have also spent several hundred million dollars in the 6 years on conservation initiatives. NB: In 2011 alone they spent about $94 million over and above the OPA initiatives. 
  • The conservation initiatives were started in earnest, by our current Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan when he occupied the Energy Minister’s chair. He issued his first directive on conservation matters to the OPA on May 2, 2005 and issued a definitive one July 13, 2006 that took the initative province wide. These directives always mentioned the reason behind the conservation initiatives was to allow Ontario to close those coal plants. 
  • Minister of Energy, Brad Duguid on April 23, 2010 issued a directive to the OPA to continue the conservation program to the end of 2014 (beginning January 2, 2011) after having issued one to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) March 31, 2010 instructing them to reduce peak demand by 1330 Megawatts. 
  • Millions of dollars have been spent by the OPA advocating conservation by advertising on radio, TV, in the print media and the internet all due to the issuance of Ministerial directives. 
  • When LDCs demonstrate they have met conservation targets they can freely apply for rate increases to the OEB to cover the loss of revenue from ratepayers conservation efforts. 

So after spending $4 billion or so in six years to get us to conserve how did the ratepayers respond was the question that needed an answer!  Was the money well spent so that the ratepayers of Ontario got value for those billions of dollars and was it the “success story” Chuck Farmer said it was?

The OEB annually, since 2005, has produced a report referred to as the “Yearbook of Distributors” which is a compliation of data, of an economic/actuarial nature.  The report also contains all relative data in respect to the client base, annual consumption of electricity, number and class of customers and a myriad of other facts of each LDC on an individual and consolidated basis. Needless to say all of this data is beneficial in analyzing the effectivness of both the LDCs (individually and collectively), the programs initiated by their political masters and the oversight of their policy directives.

Co-incidentially the OEB just released (December 20, 2011) what they refer to as their; “Conservation and Demand Management Report – 2011 Results” (CDMR). This appears to be the first and only report from the OEB that deals with the “history” of the programs instituted to achieve what the Liberal political masters decreed so the data available is limited to just 2011. Each LDC was required to file a report and needless to say they vary in both size and achievements. In reviewing the Yearbook of Distributors from the OEB and the data presented in this Conservation and Demand Management report however one can extract certain key elements on the outcomes of that $4 Billion spent. Some of those facts follow:

  • Comparing the Yearbook of Distributors for 2005 total consumption with that of 2011 show the drop in consumption was 2,733,000 MWh (megawatt hours) or enough to power 289,000 average homes. That drop in consumption over those 6 years represented a 2.2% decrease. 
  • The foregoing drop does not include “industrial users” (consumption of 5,000 MWh or more per month) whose population at the end of 2005 numbered 172 and had dropped to 144 by the end of 2011 for a decline of 16.3%. 
  • Big Industry presumably showed a significant decline in consumption helped out by the change in how the Global Adjustment Mechanism (GA) is now calculated allowing them to reduce their GA costs by picking the top five peak hours to reduce consumption which commenced January 1, 2011. 
  • The OEB’s CDMR report makes no mention of the effectiveness of “smart meters” and the move to TOU pricing in respect to ratepayers changing their habits despite it’s cost of $2 billion. 
  • The OEB’s CDMR report for the 2011 year indicates 2011 total “incremental energy savings” of 605,000 MWh which would represent 21.8 % of the consumption drop of 2.2% so one must assume the other 78.2% came in the prior 5 years. 
  • Using the $4 billion estimate of spending on conservation against the MWh saved (2006-2011), the 2,773,000 decreased consumption indicates each MWh saved cost ratepayers $1,442. 

As noted above each LDC was required to file a report with the OEB in respect to their conservation efforts and those reports are available for viewing on the OEB website. A quick look at some of the reports shows the average length to be about 60 pages with some stretching to almost 100 pages so in total the OEB sorted through approximately 3,800 pages to produce their 20 page report. This writer intentionally took some time to review the reports from the two largest LDCs to uncover what their success was in getting their ratepayers to buy into the conservation sales pitch. The two examined were Hydro One Networks and Toronto Hydro (TH) who together are responsible for electricity distribution to approximately 40 % of Ontario’s households and businesses. I discovered some interesting facts about their individual conservation “success stories” which follow:

  • In 2005 Hydro One had 24 large industrial users (see above) and in 2011 had none (zero) whereas, Toronto Hydro had 47 large industrial users in 2005 but in 2011 had 52. 
  • Hydro One’s customers consumed 500,000 MWh less in 2011 than 2005 representing a drop in percentage terms of 2.1% or less than the average of 2.2% whereas Toronto Hydro showed a drop in consumption of 1,688,000 MWh representing a drop of 6.4%. 
  • Toronto Hydro in their CDMR complained that the OPA didn’t provide them with “any evaluations of savings from TOU pricing” for allocation to the LDCs meaning TH could not “provide any verified savings related to” their TOU program. 
  • TH indicated “incremental energy savings” of 173,000 MWh for 2011which represents 29% of the overall “conservation” savings reported in the OEB’s 2011 CDRM report. 
  • Hydro One reported “incremental energy savings” of 126,000 MWh for 2011 which represents 20.8% of the overall “conservation” savings reported in the OEB’s 2011 CDRM report. 
  • TH spent in excess of $1.5 million on 8 conservation programs with no (zero) participants and Hydro One spent $220,000 on 3 programs with no (zero) participants. 
  • TH spent an average of $127 to pick up that old fridge or freezer and claimed that each one resulted in conservation of 385 kWh per annum whereas Hydro One spent $120 and claimed conservation of 420 kWh for each. 
  • Energy savings from retiring or replacing old fridges or appliances seems to be an arbirtrary decision by each LDC without common standards and appear to apply even if the appliance or the old RAC was simply gathering dust in the garage. 
  • TH spent an average of $186 each to remove and decommission room air conditioners (RAC) which is about the price of a new Frigidare 5000 BTU RAC. It cost Hydro One $125 each. 
  • TH spent an average of $443 each to provide and install a load control device for customers who enrolled in the “peaksaver PLUS” program but the cost for Hydro One was $348 each. 
  • TH performed 60 energy audits for owners and lessees of commercial, institutional, multi-family buildings at a cost of $8,402 each and these audits cost Hydro One $7,743 each for the 3 they conducted. 

The individual LDC’s reports frequently highlight faults with a number of the programs and with incompatibilty of some of the devices installed (eg; load control devices and programmable thermostats etc. were mentioned) and with the failure to have a comprehensive plan for roll-out of some programs. With no standards applied to “energy savings” for say, decommissioned appliances; each LDC seem able to pick what they think they should be in order to meet goals set by the OEB under the Minsterial directives.

Monies spent on program administration seems consistently more than any benefit to the participant in most cases. From all appearances the Ministerial directives have resulted in LDCs creating another level of bureaucracy driving up operations, management and administration costs (OMA) that are recovered from ratepayers using money that should have instead gone to replacing or refrubishing infrastructure.

So the burning question is, was there “real” value in spending $4 billion dollars to achieve a reduction in consumption of 2,773,000 MWh? A reduction that appears to have been caused by the economic downturn and the flight of large industrial customers from the province?

Interestingly enough the 2,773,000 MWh in reduced consumption from 2006-2011 could have been achieved by simply buying each of the 4.5 million Ontario households five (5) LED 16 watt bulbs (equivalent to 100 watt incandesent) each at a cost of about $1 billion or $361 per MWh of the reduced consumption. I suggest LED bulbs because they do not use mercury (a poison) in their production and will last 20 years.

On another note the 2,773,000 MWh could have been supplied by one 400 MW gas plant with a price tag of about $400 million in capital costs (developers expense) and supplied the power at $70/90 per MWh meaning it would have taken almost 20 years to spend the $1,442 that Ontario ratepayers have paid to conserve those same MWh. I am confident that the Auditor General of Ontario, had he examined the “conservation” issue in his 2011 report, would have reached the same conclusion as he did on the push for renewable energy—the monies were spent without any consideration of a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis.

From the evidence presented in the reports noted above the only conclusion one can draw is that the spending on “conservation” has been a waste of ratepayers monies to achieve nothing substantial. Couple that spending with the new initiative to attract “industrial” consumers to the province to soak up surplus electricity production recently announced by Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley, and it is obvious that the push/pull of the Liberals confused policy directions on the energy sector show they are trying to push the rope up the hill.

The gift that Peter Love saw as one “that would keep on giving” and that Minister Cansfield saw as a spending program to “save money for Ontario consumers” has cost Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers billions of dollars that could have created meaningfull jobs.

In the end we are all conservationists and left alone Ontarians would have done a more efficient job at conserving without the Liberal government telling us they knew what we should do, and in the process throwing away billions of our hard earned dollars.

Parker Gallant, 

January 3, 2013

Streaming Away Ratepayer Dollars: Liberal Energy Policy on the Fly

“This program will help create new jobs for Ontarians through incentives that attract significant new industrial investments and encourage existing companies to expand their operations. This is not only great news for Ontario’s industrial sector but will strengthen local economies across the province.”

Stream 1:

The foregoing quote was made June 12, 2012 by Minister of Energy, Chis Bentley, when the Liberals announceda program to utilize some of Ontario’s excess electricity by trying to attract new industry to Ontario. This initial announcement was referred to by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) as “Stream 1”. The concept was meant to attract “new” industrial users to Ontario that would invest $250 million in a facility over a period not exceeding 5 years.   That commitment would get the investor an “all-inclusive” electricity price of 5.5 cents per KWh.  It was referred to as the “Industrial Electricity Incentive Program (IEI).  So far, this has not produced one single press release announcing new investments of the magnitude envisioned and instead what we have seen is an announcement that GM will be shutting down the production line for the Camero and moving it to Michigan, a U.S. state that buys Ontario’s cheap electricity.  One wonders about the influence of electricity prices on GM in respect to that move!

While not specified in any of the press releases or other documents, the presumed objective of Minister Bentley’s announcement was to soak up some of that surplus energy that Ontario had been exporting at a significant cost– a cost to both ratepayers and the Liberal Party.  It was the Liberals who created the surplus base load caused by “first to the grid” rights granted to industrial wind and solar developers along with reputed “conservation” efforts of the OPA from directivesout of the Ministry of Energy offices.

Stream 2:

The OPA got busy designing the documents applicable to “Stream 1” but before they released the documents on December 12, 2012, Minister Bentley was in Chathamand on December 3, 2012 announced yet another IEI but was light on details to the media.   Why he didn’t have details is questionable as by that time he had issued a comprehensive “directive” to the OPA dated November 1, 2012 instructing the OPA to develop “Stream 2” for existing Ontario based industrial users providing they agreed to increase consumption by at least 7,000 MWh (enough to power 730 average homes) per year.


The directive states; under this “Stream” the OPA “shall rebate charges for Global Adjustment, the variable component of incurred transmission charges, the IESO Administration Fee, the OPA Administration Fee, the Rural and Remote Rate Protection Charge, and Renewable Generation Connection Rate, in connection with all IEI eligible load (“IEI Eligible Load”). The participant shall also receive an offsetting payment in an amount equal to the Debt Retirement Charge in connection with all IEI Eligible Load.”

What will be left to pay by participants will be the cost of the HOEP which so far in 2011 has averaged 2.4 cents per kWh. Residential and small commercial ratepayers of the province will pick up all of the forfeited costs of 8 to 10 cents a kWh. The directive does not require the participant to create new jobs, only to commit to the consumption. Minister Bentley has limited the “fire sale” to 5 terawatts (TWh) or 5 million megawatt hours (enough to power 520 thousand average Ontario households). To sell off the 5 TWh Minister Bentley wants about 700 industrial companies in Ontario to agree to increase their consumption by 7,000 MWh per annum.  The cost to those 700 companies would be approximately $120 million at the current HOEP per kWh. If the 5 TWh are committed to; the average ratepayer will be billed with the extra costs and if the HOEP remains at 2012 levels (2.41 cents per kWh) it will mean costs of about $375 million per annum or $85 per household added to ratepayers bills.  Of course, this $85 doesn’t include the additional costs of Stream 1, in the event Ontario ever sees any new industry actually take up this “all-inclusive” offer.

Opening the Floodgates:

So, exactly how can Ontario afford to be so generous and why do we have all this surplus electricity that we are giving away to industry?

In 2011 Ontario exported 12.9 TWh (terrawatt hours) and if we received the average hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) of 3.15 cents per kWh that applied that year, it would have generated about $400 million dollars. If that energy was produced by wind or solar and backed up by gas plants it would have been billed out at over $1.7 billion, meaning a loss to Ontario’s economy of $1.3 billion! That $1.3 billion was paid for by Ontario’s ratepayers and included in the electricity, regulatory, delivery or debt retirement lines of our bills.

What Minister Bentley is now attempting to do with these two “Streams” is to somehow attract industry to Ontario which might create jobs. With those jobs would hopefully come additional taxes and help to reduce welfare and other payments to attempt to reduce Ontario’s deficit sooner rather then later. Unfortunately it will be on the backs of Ontario’s ratepayers and for the start of the 2013 year the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is forecasting exports of 2,000 megawatts per hour, equivalent to 17.5 TWh per annum so ratepayers should brace themselves for more rate increases.

The Liberals have told Ontario’s ratepayers (without including the bad news in their press releases), we must be prepared to pick up the costs of attracting new jobs even though we have been picking up the costs of the subsidies for renewables for several years!   Minister Bentley may have realized we are already paying for those costs for the electricity we are exporting and this “streaming” will make it better and may create actual jobs rather then those nebulous ones promised by the GEA.

Ontario’s surplus base load energy supply has been partly created by the subsidies we paid, and continue to pay, for wind and solar developers under the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA). We were told that these subsidies would create 50,000 jobs. We were also told that our electricity rates would rise by only 1% per annum by George Smitherman; the Minister of Energy who ushered in the GEA, but neither of these Liberal forecasts entailed a cost/benefit analysis as noted in the Auditor General’s report of last year and neither of those forecasts had any validity.

These moves by Minister Bentley to create these “Streams”, in my humble opinion, are an admission by the Liberals that those promised “green” jobs haven’t materialized, nor have the costs of our electricity risen by the promised 1%–he just won’t admit it!

The reputed conservation we have achieved along with its benefits to Ontarians is also touted as the reason for our surplus electricity and another wonderful Liberal creation that they have falsely told us has and will continue to, save us money, but that would turn this rant into a tome so I will save that story for another day.

Parker Gallant, 
December 28, 2012

McGuinty and Infrastructure Ontario “PPPing” our tax dollars away Part II

On November 27, 2012 Dalton McGuinty delivered a rah, rah speech to the Canadian Council of Public Private Partnerships (CCPPP) at their National Conference in Toronto. Public private partnership (PPP) describes a government service or private business venture which is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies.

McGuinty’s speech wasn’t long, however, in his opening remarks he managed to castigate Mike Harris, indirectly, by citing the usual drivel to justify driving up Ontario’s debt. He did this by speaking about the state of Ontario’s infrastructure when his government came to power by saying;

And in 2003, when our government came to office, infrastructure in Ontario was reaching that turning point. It was overstretched, under-maintained and showing its years.”

He then goes on about how when he grew up in a family of 10 kids they “made everything last, The cars, the washing machine, the clothes.”, and goes on to say; “Families are careful with their money. And they expect their government to invest wisely when it comes to buying or building anything new.”. He then follows this up with [French Translation] [This goes beyond a partisan issue. For more than 20 years, governments of all stripes put off spending on infrastructure. But in 2003, we were the government. And we had to fix it.]

The balance of the speech brags about how his government went about “fixing it”; stating they ”invested in 23 new hospitals”, “built over 500 new schools”, “built 7,500 kms of transmission and 10,000 MW of generation”, “built jails”, “courthouses”, “sports facilities and information technology projects.” He also provides the total infrastructure spending number which he claims is $75 billion. In his speech he attempts to justify the spending by stating it “adds up to about 100,000 jobs per year that our government keeps creating in construction.”


If one does the math on the foregoing the spending on infrastructure equates to about $83,000 per person year per job. This spending was achieved with borrowed money so doesn’t include: the interest costs on the $75 billion, the billions in dollars required to pay the thousands of teachers that now occupy those 500 new schools, or the costs of electricity that has more then doubled in the Province and driven jobs and tax dollars away. It also doesn’t account for the fact that most school boards now are forced to close schools, for lack of enrollment, nor the increased wait times at the emergency rooms of those 23 new hospitals. He fails to indicate if they (the Liberal Party) demonstrated any foresight or completed any cost/benefit studies that taxpayers would expect to justify this spending?

Most of the spending on infrastructure that McGuinty referenced has been done under the auspices of a McGuinty creation; Infrastructure Ontario (IO) which until the summer of 2011 was headed up by David Livingston, McGuinty’s current Chief of Staff.  McGuinty’s speech brags about the current “79 capital projects valued at $30 billion using the AFP [Alternative Finance & Procurement] method.” by IO and commends David Livingston “for so capably translating our government’s vision into reality.” He refers to IO as “an extraordinary organization” and that “IO has proven to be respectful, resourceful, results driven and responsible.” He goes on to say to his audience “And thanks to your hard work, the program has consistently come in under budget.”

Now when one is complimeted for coming “in under budget” it is always appropriate to compare the results with a budget that had been set; but no evidence exists (to the writer’s knowledge) that a budget was set or that a “proper” cost benefit study was actually done on the concept of public private partnerships as envisaged by the governing party and utimately created under IO.  It is my belief that any and all, calls for tenders on the IO managed projects were and still are, based on the PPP model using the AFP method.  It is beyond belief that a courthouse, such as the one being built in Belleville would cost $1,600 per square foot or almost triple what was recently paid for Scotia Plaza at the corner of King & Bays Streets. Likewise the costs to build the Humber River Regional Hospital New Acute Care Facility as compared to, say, new US hospital builds where costs are $250/$400 per square foot should be $1,094 per sq. foot (current dollars) or from two and a half (2 ½) to four (4) times more to build in Ontario.

How the Premier of what once was the “engine of Canada” can brag openly about the wonders of Infrastructure Ontario shows the vacuum he and the Liberal Party of Ontario have been operating in.

Based on Premier McGuinty’s comments about the austerity practiced by his parents it appears as if they were disciplined and understood the value of money.  Their son appears to have learned nothing from them. Armed with the Ontario taxpayers to pick up the costs, he hasn’t hesitated at buying, metaphorically speaking; that “new car” or “new washing machine” on the backs of Ontarians. Hopefully for the sake of the McGuinty household it is his wife that manages the Dalton McGuinty family budget!

McGuinty has not been careful with our money and he certainly has not “invested wisely” in our health system, (e-Health plus Ornge plus longer wait times), our energy system (useless wind turbines and gas plant moves and doubled electricty rates), our schools (striking teachers and school closings) or our infrastructure (Toronto is still waiting for the airport rail line and the cancelled Ontario Northland Railway).

Premier McGuinty’s closing remarks in his speech thanks his audience by saying; “You’ve left a great legacy and I thank you for that.” The taxpayers of Ontario unfortunately will not be saying that of the Premier as they will be left with the accumulated legacy of debt for which he will not receive any thanks from Ontario’s taxpayers.

Parker Gallant
December 7, 2012

McGuinty brags about “PPPing” our tax dollars away! Part 1.

Parker Gallant’s latest looks at Public Private Partnerships, Infrastructure Ontario, transparency and accountability . 

McGuinty brags about “PPPing” our tax dollars away! Part 1.

The 2012 Canadian Council of Public Private Partnerships (CCPPP) National Conference was held November 26th and 27thin Toronto and had an illuminating list of speakers including the current Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty as well as Infrastructure Ontario (IO) participants.

The Conference handed out awards and one of the “Silver Award Winners”, was an Ontario project; the “Humber River Regional Hospital New Acute Care Facility”. Humber River Hospital has three locations and two emergency centres and is to be a 1.6 million sq. foot facility. The award was shared with the Fort St. John Hospital and Residential Care Project (B.C.) for “Project Finance”. The IO project made the B.C. project pale in respect to overall costs at $1.75 billion versus $301.8 million. Now if one delves further into the benefits of that $1.75 billion spent to improve the services (and win the “Silver” Award) of the Humber River Regional Hospital you note some interesting side stories! The actual cost is $2.59 billion over the term of the contract and the $1.75 billion is in “today’s” dollars. The new hospital will contain 1.6 million sq. feet so in today’s dollars it is costing Ontario’s taxpayers $1,094 per sq. foot to build and over the terms of the contract the cost jumps to $1,744 per sq. foot and that is for 656 beds increasing accommodations by 107 beds or over $16 million for each additional bed. The Humber River Hospital also falls short of the Ontario average in respect to emergency wait times so as an outsider looking in I am at a loss to understand why a project still under construction and above average emergency wait times, should win the “silver” award.


A couple of other Infrastructure Ontario projects that haven’t won any awards and are unlikely to win any awards (except perhaps for highest costs) would be the Belleville Court House which is costing taxpayers almost $1,600 per sq. foot. The new MaRS Discovery District building “Phase 2” (a stone’s throw from Queens Park) is reputedly only costing Ontario taxpayers $344 million or about $460 per sq. foot which seems cheap by comparison to the “Taj Mahal” like costs of the Bellville Court House. The costs of the MaRS building also don’t include what is a further advance from IO of about $75 million to build out the top 4 floors of the 20 story building at a cost of $450 per square foot for “Public Health Ontario” (PHO). PHO was an outcome of the SARS outbreak founded by the Liberal’s in 2007 and now has a staff of 950 located at 26 sites throughout the Province. So from the top floors of MaRS Phase 2, PHO’s staff will be able to look down on Queens Park in space that cost taxpayers over $900 per sq. foot whereas workers in the Scotia Plaza (in the heart of Toronto’s financial district) will be sitting in space that has an apparent value of only $635 per sq. foot. Scotia Plaza with 2 million sq. feet sold for $1.27 billion in May 2012. It is not clear why the self described “most expensive real estate in Canada” on Bay Street should be cheaper then the MaRS Phase 2 building or the Belleville Court House but it is.

While the Phase 2 expansion of MaRS Discovery District appears cheaper then the Humber River Regional Hospital or the Bellville courthouse one must realize that MaRS is a charity and since its inception in 2005 has received: starting capital of $70 million from the Province of Ontario, the Federal government and the City of Toronto and since then has received a further $177 million in taxpayerfunds mainly from the Province of Ontario. With liquid securities of only $32 million as at March 31, 2012 it is unclear where MaRS will come up with the required funds to cover the full cost of their new building as IO are reputedly providing only $230 million in financing leaving them short by over $80 million.

If one searches through the IO website the only reference to MaRS is in respect to the above mentioned financing for the PHO 4 floors in the list of projects file where the costs are estimated to be $50/100 million. If you go the “Loan Program Stats” you discover that there is no “charity” category so it was impossible to determine why or how IO can provide the “repayable loan” referenced in the MaRS press release of July 26, 2011 or the press release by Glen Murray, Minister of Research and Innovation.

As a result of the foregoing I reviewed the “Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation Act 2011” and under section 4.2 of that Act was unable to discern how Infrastructure Ontario could lend money to a charity as the Act clearly identifies the Eligible Public organization(s) that would qualify and “charities” are not on the list. That led me to inquire directly with a spokesperson with IO who replied:

Mr. Gallant,
Infrastructure Ontario does not have a separate Sector Category for the MaRS loan in our Loan Management System, from which all of our loan statistics are retrieved. Therefore, the MaRS loan has been placed in the “Municipal Corporation” category on the Loan Program Statistics page on our website (http://www.infrastructureontario.ca/Templates/Loan.aspx?id=2147489551). Infrastructure Ontario is currently upgrading our Loan Management System and we hope to be able to provide a more appropriate breakdown of the sectors in the future.
With respect to your question about the loan terms, Infrastructure Ontario treats the identity of individual loan clients and information regarding their loans as confidential. [Writer’s Note: Why,if these are all taxpayer owned institutions?] General information about Infrastructure Ontario’s lending rates is available on our website.
Finally, here is some information that outlines where in the act MaRS is identified. Section 4(2) of the current Act defines who an eligible public organization is. Then subsection 10 of section 4(2) says that any organization that was prescribed under section 28(1)(a) of the old Act is also an eligible public organization. Section 28(1) of the old Act allows the lieutenant governor to make regulations under that Act specifying what public bodies may receive financing from IO.MaRS is listed in Ontario Regulation 220/08 under the OIPC Act as a public body that may receive financing from IO. See section 10.1 of that regulation:”

So once again when it comes to spending taxpayers dollars the “transparency” of the McGuinty Liberals gets shrouded in regulations that create opaqueness meant to hide the original intent of the Act.
If that intent was to give MaRS special treatment within the Act originally created to allow IO to become the financing arm of “public” infrastructure projects why didn’t the Liberals simply complete the process by declaring MaRS a Crown Corporation instead of a “charity” –  or would that have resulted in scrutiny that may have highlighted the fact that MaRS is nothing more that a means to push forward an agenda that is miles away from medical science and closer to a real estate venture.

In a review of the 38 projects on the IO list it is interesting to find that 18 (47%) of them are in the GTA and another 4 (11%) are in Ottawa. By dollar value ($10.225 billion) the GTA gets 58% and Ottawa 18%. Both Ottawa and the GTA are Liberal strongholds. As noted above the breakdown of the lending activity ($5.1 billion) in the IO website does not allow a similar analysis.

IO has been a consistent money loser since its inception (an accumulated loss of $196 million to March 31, 2010) as noted in an earlier article and the Province forgave $200 million of their debt as a “remission” under their then CEO, David Livingston. Livingston was subsequently appointed McGuinty’s “Chief of Staff” in the summer of 2011, while also being McGuinty’s ‘go to’ guy to resolve the Oakville gas plant move and the threatened law suit from TransCanada Energy.

To this taxpayer it sure looks like the McGuinty Liberals are doing a great job of p-p-p-ing away our tax dollars via the McGuinty Bank of Ontario.

Parker Gallant,
December 5, 2012

NB: Part II of this short story series will detail just how proud McGuinty is of IO’s record!




Green Buttons: Cutting Edge Technology or Greening MaRS Discovery District

The Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley choose a friendly venue to launch his cutting edge “green button” campaign-well not a campaign more of a “we have an app for that” chat; although they don’t really have the “app” yet! What Minister Bentley was announcing was that the MaRS Discovery District would work with some of the local distribution companies (LDCs) to develop an application that will allow you to turn your air conditioner up or down from your smart phone.

Smart phones are not be be confused with “smart meters” whose capabilities in Ontario appear to be limited to being able to bill you on a time-of-use (TOU) basis and not much more. Personal experience in trying to report a power outage in our neighbourhood confirmed an admittance from the emergency call in number that my LDC didn’t have the capability to detect outages.

The press release from Minister Bentley announced we have 4.7 million smart meters installed on all Ontario households. Those smart meters cost Ontarians a lot of money. In the case of Hydro One the estimate was $700.54 for each of their meters but in the case of other LDCs the price was much less (as low as $200 each). The full cost of the installations and the software to allow the LDCs to bill us for TOU may never be known but its probably north of $2 billion with Hydro One representing over $800a million of that cost alone. In the case of Hydro One they have recently asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to grant them an indefinite extension for conversion of 150,000 of their smart meters as they reputedly can’t get them to report on a TOU basis. If Hydro One can’t even read the units remotely it is difficult to see how an “app” will work for those households.

Minister Bentley said some interesting things in his video appearance including; its “time we gave the consumer of energy and electricity more choice” and went on to say; “most people will choose to save energy and save money.” He spoke as if he is convinced that the green button app will allow us to do that and by doing so we will conserve energy and save ratepayers money. He made those statements as if he truly believed them! Perhaps he is unaware that if the Ontario ratepayer actually conserved energy their local LDC would simply apply for a rate increase to cover off the lost revenue (from our lower consumption) and the OEB would bless their application to increase the rates.

Ontario isn’t the first jurisdiction to launch the “green button” as Minister Bentley pointed out. In the US Pacific Gas & Electric launched their green button 10 months ago with 2.2 million of their customers. In that 10 months their green button app has been used just 100,000 times. If those 2.2 million customers had downloaded the app just once per day the number would have been 66 million rather then the small amount they experienced. Why does our Energy Minister think Ontario will be different? PG & E have 9.4 million smart meters installed and their customers are in California one of only a couple of US states currently with higher electricity prices than Ontario.

Now the fact that MaRS Discovery District has been allocated the responsibility to develop this app may have something to do with the way this charity has been treated by the Liberal government. Since 2005 MaRS has received in excess of $170 million of the Province’s tax dollars and in the most recent year ended March 31, 2012 they received over $27 million from the Provincial coffers. MaRS are also in the process of expanding their real estate presence. A visit to Queens Park will disclose that looking south on University Ave. will bring your eyes to a 20 story office tower being erected. This building will be owned by MaRS and is being financed by Infrastructure Ontario (another McGuinty creation where his current Chief of Staff, David Livingston held the position of CEO) with a $230 million dollar loan. Now MaRS will need to come up with the balance of the costs ($110 million) but based on their financial statement they are about $80 million short. One has to wonder if the deal worked out with the Ministry of Energy will see them get paid that kind of money for development of the app.

Another issue that strikes one as odd is that the LDCs are currently offering any number of devices to help you conserve and they are “free” or at least the promotional material says they are. Hydro One are offering “free” programable thermostats and Toronto Hydro “free” Energy Display units each supposedly valued at $250 each. Those units are also intended to conserve energy so why the sudden rush to create this “cutting edge” technology that doesn’t seem to be working in California.

The green button app could have been developed by a private company without any cost to the taxpayer/ratepayer but that doesn’t appear to have been considered by the Minister. One wonders why?

Perhaps this “cutting edge” announcement is meant to take the heat off of the Energy Minister who has been castigated for the gas plant moves from Oakville and Mississauga and faced the contempt of Parliament Motion that, most believe, caused the McGuinty government to prorogue Parliament.

Parker Gallant
November 21, 2012

WCO President awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

We are delighted to share with you the good news that our President Jane Wilson was awarded the Jubilee Medal for her great work in fighing for us all.  Congratulations Jane and keep up the good work!

WCO Board of Directors.

November 22, Ottawa

Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in Ottawa as a “Champion” of rural communities. Presenting the medal was the Member of Parliament for Nepean-Carleton Pierre Poilievre, who has been very supportive of constituents’ fight against a large wind power development which will be close to hundreds of homes.

“Jane is a registered nurse and the current president of Wind Concerns Ontario,” he said. “She has been a powerful advocate for health and safety in the rural communities when it comes to the development of industrial wind turbines.”

“I am very honoured to receive this award,” Wilson said, “and it has been my privilege to speak on behalf of the communities and people whose lives are being altered by these huge power projects. There are many, many people working to protect our homes and families, and quality of life in Ontario. We will continue.”

Other recipients at the ceremony was a past-president of the Ottawa Federation of Agriculture, the former Mayor of Rideau Township and member of Ottawa City Council, and a teacher who advocated the Agriculture in the Classroom program in Eastern Ontario.

Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health Nissenbaum MA, Aramini JJ, Hanning CD – Noise Health

A new study study on sleep disruption due to Industrial wind turbines, by Michael A Nissenbaum (Northern Maine Medical Center), Jeffery J Aramini (Intelligent Health Solutions – Guelph), and Christopher D Hanning (University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust)

Abstract
Industrial wind turbines (IWTs) are a new source of noise in previously quiet rural environments. Environmental noise is a public health concern, of which sleep disruption is a major factor. To compare sleep and general health outcomes between participants living close to IWTs and those living further away from them, participants living between 375 and 1400 m (n = 38) and 3.3 and 6.6 km (n = 41) from IWTs were enrolled in a stratified cross-sectional study involving two rural sites. Validated questionnaires were used to collect information on sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index – PSQI), daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Score – ESS), and general health (SF36v2), together with psychiatric disorders, attitude, and demographics. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were performed to investigate the effect of the main exposure variable of interest (distance to the nearest IWT) on various health outcome measures. Participants living within 1.4 km of an IWT had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had worse SF36 Mental Component Scores compared to those living further than 1.4 km away. Significant dose-response relationships between PSQI, ESS, SF36 Mental Component Score, and log-distance to the nearest IWT were identified after controlling for gender, age, and household clustering. The adverse event reports of sleep disturbance and ill health by those living close to IWTs are supported.

Continue Reading at Noise and Health

Bats in the Belfry, Part lV: Environmental Review Tribunal—Industrializing Rural Ontario

This is the fourth and final in the series that examines some of the members on the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). As noted in earlier articles the members of the ERT should be unbiased in order to qualify for their positions. We have previously examined two of the twelve members of the Tribunal who may have been appointed to the ERT with a bias and this article will look at two others. Those two are Maureen Carter-Whitney and Marcia Valiante who both were previously employed by the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy or CIELAP. According to an announcement on their website here CIELAP and CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) have merged with the Board Chairman blaming it partly on “a changed funding landscape”. The most recent annual report posted on the CIELAP site for the year ended June 30, 2010 showed meager income of only $ 185K with a big chunk coming from Friends of the Greenbelt, a McGuinty creation that has doled out almost $25 million over the past few years. With a staff of 6 at CIELAP the $185K wouldn’t go very far. As noted in a prior article CELA and CIELAP used to share premises so this simply puts them back together.

CIELAP strongly endorsed the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) but they did note and support the rights of objectors to appeal licences that the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) might issue on environmental grounds, with this caveat:

“However, anyone who applies for a hearing relating to an approval for a renewable energy project would be required to show that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life, human health or safety, or the natural environment. This is a very difficult test that may be nearly impossible to meet.”

CIELAP obviously believed that the government would take over local democratic rights and then abide by a commitment to honour the effects on the community through appeals as long as the appellant had strong evidence. Getting two of CIELAP’s former employees on the ERT means that those particular individuals may carry that bias into any of those appeals despite the need to have an “Aptitude for impartial adjudication” requirement that the Public Appointments Secretariat emphasizes.

One year after submission of their endorsement of the GEA, Maureen Carter-Whitney of CIELAP together with Ecojustice and CELA submitted a brief to the MoE expressing concern about how they were streamlining the approval process for “Certificates of Approval”. Their brief noted their concern by including issues that they felt raised “serious concerns about environmental equity considerations regarding the siting and operation of industrial facilities in the province.” In this writer’s opinion the endorsement of the GEA by CIELAP and the others failed to recognize the consequences of what would happen to rural Ontario though the licencing of those “industrial” wind turbine developments, or perhaps CIELAP and the others simply didn’t consider 400/500 foot industrial wind turbines as “industrial facilities”. Much like Ontario’s Auditor General noted in respect to the economics of the GEA; that no cost/benefit analysis occurred; it would appear that CIELAP and the other supporters from the environmental non-government organizations (ENGO) also failed to consider a cost/benefit analysis in respect to the environment.

The other former CIELAP employee, Marcia Valiante is now a Professor at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law where she teaches courses in Canadian Environmental Law.  Ms Valiante left CIELAP many years ago but clings to her past as evident by a review of her biography and list of publications on the University of Windsor site.  Her bio includes a reference to how her research and publications include a range of issues on “environmental law” including “citizen access to environmental decision-making.

Ms. Valiante’s list of publications includes collaborative efforts with Gerry DeMarco (covered in Part III of this series), to produce “Opening the Door for Common Law Environmental Protection in Canada”, Bruce Lourie (see earlier articles) and Mark Winfield, (current Associate Professor at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, former Program Director of Pembina and former Director of Research for CIELAP) with others to produce a book titled, “Canadian Environmental Policy and Politics”.  The writer’s opinion, based on Ms. Valiante’s position and her publications, make her an ideal candidate to interpret Ontario’s legislation dealing with matters associated with the environment but her past affiliations with avid proponents of “renewable energy” and the Green Energy Act make one wonder if some of those prior associations allows her to be unbiased in any of the rulings she is called on to adjudicate in respect to the ERT hearings.

Reviewing some of the ERT hearings it is noteworthy that dismissals occur in every appeal submitted in respect to industrial wind development. The dismissals are based on the rule of law and the regulations that apply. Those rules are applied rigorously by the likes of Muldoon, DeMarco, Carter-Whitney and Valiante.

To cite one example an appeal by a group of 21 individuals (appellants) in Chatham Kent against South Kent Wind LP was filed June 29, 2012 and the ERT served notice to those individuals that they must present certain information to the Tribunal by July 3, 2012. Specifically that information was:

“Clarification as to whether each person listed in the notice of appeal was appealing the REA, and contact information for each Appellant pursuant to Rule 29.(a), which requires the Appellant‟s name, address, telephone number, facsimile number and email address and the name and contact information of anyone representing the Appellant; 

Pursuant to Rule 29.(d), a description of how engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the REA will cause:
Serious harm to human health, or
Serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment;
 

Pursuant to Rule 29 (e), a statement of the issues and material facts relevant to the subject matter of the appeal that the Appellant intends to present at the main hearing;
Pursuant to Rule 29 (g), an indication of whether the Appellant will seek a stay of the REA; and
An affidavit of service confirming that the notice of appeal was served on the MOE and the Approval Holder pursuant to Rule 30.”

Needless to say the appellants were unable to present the information in the 3 to 4 days allotted but the Tribunal did grant them additional time extending the date to July 16, 2012 and more information was submitted.  In the end though the appeal was dismissed because the ERT Member, Maureen Carter-Whitney, ruled that the information did not satisfy the rules. Appeal dismissed!

The Chatham Kent group were fighting the joint venture, Pattern Energy/Samsung 230 MW (name plate capacity) that would see the erection of 124 industrial wind turbines with a height (including blades) of almost 500 feet. As a resident of Toronto I would note that we don’t have nearly that many buildings of that height in the city, yet here is Ms. Carter-Whitney dismissing the appeal after standing so adamantly behind the environmental aspects of “the siting and operation of industrial facilities in the province.” So the ERT simply bless this joint venture of two foreign owned companies who have come to Ontario, attracted by our subsidized prices, and industrialize rural Ontario because of the “rules”. Those two companies will earn revenue of about $76 million per year while promising to create 20 permanent jobs or $3.8 million per job per year.

The writer could cite many other examples but the foregoing makes the point that the GEA has made a mockery of Ontario’s democratic process and as noted in the above mentioned brief submitted by CIELAP, CELA and Ecojustion will cause “serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life, human health or safety, or the natural environment. This is a very difficult test that may be nearly impossible to meet.

The latter point has now become obvious and it is partly because the proponents of the above are now in the position to ensure that the “very difficult test that may be nearly impossible to meet.”, is impossible to meet.

It is time for Gord Miller, Ontario’s Environment Commissioner to recommend changes to the Acts governing the process of licencing industrial wind developments or there soon will be no bats in the belfry or anywhere in the province.

Parker Gallant,
October 20, 2012

The opinions expressed above are those of the writer.