Unwilling host resolutions affected Ontario policy: research paper
January 29, 2016
In the paper published this past week in the journal, Nature Energy, authors Fast et al. reviewed the policy behind the Ontario government’s push toward industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power, and had this to say about the “Not A Willing Host” phenomenon among Ontario communities.
“The new government [the Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne] continued to pursue wind energy development but only for communities willing to be hosts. The move backfired as 89 municipal councils (around a quarter of the province’s total municipalities*) passed ‘unwilling host’ resolutions. The planned changes for the awarding of FIT contracts were therefore never implemented. Instead, in June 2013, faced with continued criticism, the FIT programme for large wind was disbanded. Two years later, the province once again began to offer wind contracts, this time in a competitive bid system, giving preference to bids that demonstrated agreements with local governments and signed support from at least 75% of land owners abutting wind turbine sites. This marked an extraordinary reversal of the earlier tenets of Ontario’s FIT programme…”
Early in 2016, Ontario’s rural municipalities undertook another important step in warning the provincial government of communities’ opposition to its energy policy. As of this date, five municipalities have passed resolutions at Council, referring to the recent report from the Auditor General on the cost of renewables as it contributes to Ontario electricity bills and the situation of a power surplus in the province, and demanded that Ontario NOT let any more contracts for wind power development.
The government, via the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO, began a bid process in 2015 for Large Renewable Procurement; it has yet to announce the successful bids for 300 megawatts of power, having moved its announcement date from November 2015 to February or March of 2016.
*the number of unwilling host municipalities may have been about a quarter of the total number of Ontario municipalities but the figure represented a significant proportion of rural communities vulnerable to wind power projects.