Wind power developers dangle financial inducements in return for municipal support FOI docs reveal

February 29, 2016

Bon Echo Residents Against Turbines (BEARAT)  has published the documents its lawyer received under a Freedom of Information request, pertaining to communication between wind power developers (the very litigious) NextEra and RES Canada and the municipality of Addington Highlands.

Addington Highlands, you will recall, was where Council allowed an online poll to ascertain support from the taxpayers, got a vote of 81% AGAINST the power projects … and went on to approve it anyway.

From BEARAT:

Last fall, through our attorney, BEARAT submitted two sets of freedom of information requests. The first was to Addington Highlands (AH) Council with regards to their communications with the proponents. The second was to the Province of Ontario and was also focused on their communications with the proponents.

All material received to date can be found on the Resources page on BEARAT.org (Please note the FoI document is a large file, it may be slower to load than usual.) There is a lot of material to go through, and we have. The following is a summary of observations we note from the communications.

“Get the deal done”

COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN COUNCIL AND PROPONENTS

  • All comms between Council and Proponents came via the Township Clerk. There were no direct communications between individual Councillors and the Proponents.
  • It is clear that the Clerk was instructed to expedite the deal with the Proponents. The comms show a clear tone of getting the deal done.
  • With one exception, there is no content concerning due diligence, risks or negative impacts on Township.
  • AH Township asked NextEra who they should contact regarding other area’s experience with NextEra and turbines. AH Township was referred to a NextEra-owned company.
  • Council did consult with another Township on their experience with NextEra, but they did indeed contact a NextEra-owned company in Chatham Kent: not exactly an unbiased source of information.
  • 2015-04 Confirmation that AH was prepared to sign off in early April (before any public consultations or due diligence). Curiously, there is no record of what communications transpired before this email.
  • For both Proponents one can surmise from reviewing the Proposed Agreements that funds for AH were explicitly tied to Municipal support for the projects.
  • The Municipality accepted a survey that indicated 81% of area residents and property owners were opposed to the proposed project, and had agreed to a criteria to review proposals before voting on whether to support them. At the urging of Proponents, who made clear that inducements were in jeopardy if official acts by Council were not completed on their timeline, Council ultimately disregarded their own motion and acted in the best interests of the Proponents, instead of the public interest. 
  • Reeve Hogg has stated repeatedly his position for supporting wind turbines was directly the result of financial inducement from the proponents, as opposed to general support for the actual proposals. There is no link between Reeve Hogg’s championing of a motion of support and renewable energy. Hogg made plain he was voting in favour of having access to community vibrancy funds.
  • Council was divided 3-2 on the issue. Councillor Yanch, a supporter of the municipal support motion, is in an apparent or real conflict of interest as a result of being a part owner of an aggregate business. This business could be expected to benefit directly or indirectly, either by an order related to wind turbine installation or as a result of increased local demand due to other companies winning contracts from proponents. Yanch refused to declare a conflict. If she had, the vote would have gone 2-2 and lost on division.
  • NextEra and RES Canada officials are seen repeatedly in emails to leverage the community vibrancy funds as inducements to cause municipal officials to undertake official acts with their power under the Municipal Act in exchange for those inducements.
  • It is clear and reasonable from what went on in Addington Highlands that the ‘municipal support’ materials being used to justify the projects in the community are tainted and should be discredited from positively impacting the approval process of any of the projects proposed for the community. 

 

See the documents on the BEARAT website here.

Comments

Barbara
Reply

Went through the documents and think I read all or most all of the e-mails.

Get the job done and get all the needed documents signed to meet the August deadline.

Barbara
Reply

There were some negative comments on the project received by the town and sent to the developer.

Maybe those who sent negative comments to the town would have something further to say about this issue but only if they want to?

————————————————————————

The laws on conflict of interest by elected officials are weak in Canada and the U.S. But then who gets to write these laws?

ScepticalGord
Reply

It appears that the Clerk of the Township of Addington Highlands, now outed as Chief Liaison / Negotiator with Big Wind, and Important Person Wannabe, didn’t bother or want to review the links provided on the performance of NextEra.
Maybe the truth was inconvenient:

Sent: July-03-15 7:21 PM
To: henryh@sympatico.ca; ehyanch@gmail.com; tonygailfritsch@sympatico.ca; kbthompson04@hotmail.com; katkleen.cox@sympatico.ca; clerk@addingtonhighlands.ca; pgray@addingtonhighlands.ca
Subject: NextEra Information

Good evening North Addington Reeve, Councillors and Staff,

You were looking for information on NextEra and their business relationships with various communities.
Maybe the links below will be helpful.

http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2015/06/14/nexterror-strikes-again-wind-company-threatens-elderly-leaseholders/

http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/?s=nextera

It has been my experience with all municipalities that It is customary and respectful for a township clerk to acknowledge receipt of emails.
I would appreciate it if the clerk of AH would follow through on this request.

Regards,
Gord

Please be advised that your e-mail has been received and included with the feedback received with respect to the proposed wind energy projects.

Christine Reed
Clerk-Treasurer
Township of Addington Highlands
P.O. Box 89
Flinton, ON K0H 1P0
(T) 613-336-2286
(F) 613-336-2847

ScepticalGord
Reply

It’s all coming back to me now …

At the Flinton meeting on July 6, 2015, I couldn’t help but notice that the AH Clerk, whilst sashaying around the room, tended to ignored anyone who opposed the wind projects. However, she appeared to be more than happy to chat it up with the on-side reeve and councillors.

I also noted that the wind company reps, sitting immediately to my left, paid no heed to nor seemed remotely concerned about the rather hostile anti-IWT crowd that filled the room.
Wow, could the “not a willing host” vote allegedly have been possibly already determined?

What really sticks in my craw is this:

If you have read my email above, you will see that I had to prompt the AH Clerk to admit to having received this particular email, just one of many that I sent that were never acknowledged.
By contrast, the competent and polite Clerk from North Frontenac emailed me back every time with greetings and thanks.

After reading most of the emails in the FOI docs, I can certainly see that, in the eyes of the AH Clerk and Planner, by comparison to Ben and Derek, I’m an unloved nobody who’s sticking my nose in their agenda.

What hurts the most is reading those gushing emails, the fawning love fest twixt the municipal staff and wind wankers.

I never got as much as a “have a nice day”, let alone a “thank you”.

ScepticalGord
Reply

A wind company executive was once heard to say that viewing the Ontario Wind Resistance website was better than watching porn.

I can go one better: reading the FOI documents could be even better than the doing the real thing.

Excerpt, page 122:

“Patricia,

Thank you again for meeting with Jason and I earlier this week to review our proposed Community Vibrancy Agreement. It is encouraging to see that this opportunity has been met with a great deal of enthusiasm from within the Addington Highlands community and I’m really looking forward to watching our relationship grow over the coming weeks” …..

Respectfully,
Ben Faiella
Project Manager
Wind Development – Canada
NextEra

Hey Ben, is that a roll of greenbacks in your pocket or are you just glad to see us?

And respectfully Ben, just how great is that enthusiasm from the community?
What do we have: the reeve, a deputy reeve, a councillor, two municipal staffers, a few landowner leaseholders?
Well, I guess it’s unanimous.
Never mind the 81% of the Addington Highlands residents that told you what to do with your bankroll.

Somethings growing all right Ben, but it’s not your relationship with the community. It’s your nose.

ScepticalGord
Reply

Not so Fast …

And look on pages 194 and 195 of the FOI docs:
There’s that Stewart Fast guy again!

Looks like his paper “Attitudes Towards New Renewable Energy Technologies in the Eastern Ontario Highlands” is being referred to, by AH planner Patricia Gray, as a “formal survey conducted to gage (sic) public reaction to IWTs”.

It also appears that this document is being flogged about by NextEra’s Derek Dudek as some kind of “proof” of public acceptance of wind turbines.

Barbara
Reply

The Fast paper was included. But town sending objectors communications/comments to the developer without redacted names could be an issue.

Finger certain people in the community who objected to the project?

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