Wynne government: keeping truth in the dark (or disguised)
Randall Denley writes in the Ottawa Citizen about the current ad campaign by Ontario Power Generation (started in advance of the latest increase announcement). Eliminating coal was done in the most expensive way possible, Denley says. But here’s the kick: with wind and solar needing backup by natural gas, Ontario is still producing greenhouse gases (we’ll produce more with wind and solar, Ontario’s engineers say) but it’s done by private companies, so the government’s hands are “clean.” Read the story here.
Community engagement in wind power siting is a myth, says columnist and veteran journalist Peter Epp in the current edition of Ontario Farmer.[Not available online]
Here is the column:
“Unwilling”or not, it’s a go
Peter Epp, for Ontario Farmer
The Ontario government is spouting fiction when it suggests that the renewable energy projects it approves are welcomed within the communities in which they are to be developed.
In the most recent round of approvals [WCO editor’s note: the projects are not “approved” they have contracts, but …] announced in early March, three of the five wind projects were approved for municipalities that have been consistent in their formal rejection of such projects, each of them adopting status as an “unwilling host.”
They include the Town of Lakeshore in Essex County, the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich in Elgin County, and the Municipality of North Stormont in Eastern Ontario. [Editor’s note: the Municipality of Nation also got a contract and is also an unwilling host.]
Yet Ontario Energy Minister Chiarelli continues to pretend that these projects are welcomed. Earlier this year he said the government has changed the way in which it consults with communities, “and ensures that only the most cost-effective and locally supported projects get built.”
But that can’t be the case when 60 per cent of the most recent round of approved wind projects were awarded to jurisdictions that don’t want them.
Chiarelli used the same line on April 5 when his ministry announced it would be launching its next round of wind, solar and other renewable energy contract bids [procurement] this summer. A request for qualifications for 930 megawatts of renewable energy …is to be issued by August 1. The contracts for successful bidders are to be issued no later than May 1, 2018.
“By putting the emphasis on price and community support, the next phase of renewable energy procurement will save customers money by putting further downward pressure on electricity prices,” Chiarelli said in a press release.
Planning for renewable energy is in Toronto, and continues to reside there
This is again fiction. There has never been any emphasis on community support. When the Ontario Green Energy Act was approved in 2009, municipalities were purposely excluded from any participation in the approval process. Planning authority was concentrated in Toronto, and that authority continues to reside there.
The government did give a small concession to local governments three years ago, allowing them to contribute to the planning discussion, while suggesting that municipal support for a renewable energy project would contribute to its approval.
But at no time has the government ceded its real authority.
It still makes the final decision: even if that decision doesn’t have local support.
That Chiarelli would continue in this charade is curious, given the strong opposition that some municipalities continue to provide…Dutton Dunwich even held a referendum on wind farms, in which 84 per cent of its residents cited their opposition.
90 communities opposed–and they’re not going quietly
Like Dutton Dunwich, Warwick Township in Lambton County is one of almost 90 “unwilling hosts” in Ontario, and yet there are nine wind turbines within its boundaries. Its mayor on April 5 said it would continue to remind Chiarelli and his ministry that Warwick doesn’t want any more turbines.
“We were very strong sending that message during the last phase, and we’ll continue…”
Editor’s note: Last month North Frontenac passed a resolution demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement in the procurement process, not just a means for bidders to get more points and a higher price. Other municipalities are expected to join in.