IESO announces plans for new wind power in Ontario

New procurement announced, but difference from Green Energy Act is that municipalities now have final say in approvals of siting for projects, and can create bylaws for siting

Turbines and transformer station at Nation Rise wind power plant [submitted photo]

December 12, 2023

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO has announced that it plans another round of procurement for new power generation, which will include “non-emitting” generation such as wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy.

The announcement also states that IESO will look at “options options to re-acquire, upgrade, or expand existing facilities”.

The news release came on the eve of the deadline for the most recent procurement initiative which, the IESO says, was intended to increase capacity. The next round will attract  “new supply will help meet the province’s overall energy needs, according to IESO CEO Lesley Gallinger.

A report in the Toronto Star framed the announcement as the Ford government doing an “about-face” on earlier policies about wind and solar. The Star said that Minister of Energy Todd Smith stated in a speech earlier this week that the Ford government approach would be different.

“Smith was quick to contrast this new round of renewable energy from the previous build out that took place under Liberal governments,” the Star said.

Wind and Green Energy Act was ‘fiasco’

“When we talk about this much renewables, many minds are immediately going to turn to the absolute fiasco that was the Liberal’s Green Energy Act … when wind and solar projects were forced on unwilling host communities,” he said, according to the Star.

“We’re doing it differently by competitively procuring these resources. Based on system need, we can deliver these projects for much lower costs. In fact, the IESO’s report today confirmed that we could get wind and solar for far less than the Liberals (did).”

The Star said “Smith highlighted how the Progressive Conservative approach of competitive procurement has already resulted in recontracting existing generation at 30 per cent below what was being paid before. The IESO estimates the next round of wind contracts will go for less than half of what the province paid in the mid 2000s.”

Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson expressed concern over the announcement.

“Everyone knows there has been nothing but problems with Ontario’s wind power fleet,” she explains. “Not only is wind an intermittent, unreliable source of power but it has also caused problems for many of the communities that were forced to ‘host’ these industrial power installations. They produce noise and vibration, and have had other environmental impacts such as disturbing local aquifers and affecting water supply. We know from tracking internal government documents created since 2006 that there are literally thousands of files of noise complaints. And, unfortunately, there are still, after all these years, wind power projects that do not have final audits completed verifying their compliance with regulations. That’s not acceptable.”

Any effects from wind turbines are regulated by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Regulations which include setbacks between wind turbines and homes as well as noise limits, have not been revised since they were created after the Green Energy Act in 2009.

Wind Concerns Ontario says experiences with wind turbines around the world indicate it is past time to review and revise the regulations.

Power is in municipalities’ hands

A critical difference between the current PC government and the previous Green Energy program, Wind Concerns says, is that support from the local municipality is required for renewable energy projects.  Municipalities also have been given back the power to pass zoning by-laws that regulate how turbines are sited in their communities.

These energy policies place Ontario’s municipal Councils at the centre of energy policy debates moving forward.

“At the end of the day, as citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers, we question the value of wind as a reliable source of power,” Wilson says. “Everyone wants to do the right thing for the climate and the environment—intermittent, invasive wind power that effectively industrializes communities, isn’t it.”

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

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6 Comments

  • Ed Engel
    Posted December 13, 2023 2:47 am 0Likes

    Are wind and solar contracts just a legal method of obtaining your tax money using an unjustified cost for the benefit of a very few people? Look at who has benefited in the past.

    • admin
      Posted December 18, 2023 7:06 pm 0Likes

      Our concern now is with the acceptance of battery storage then renewal of wind power contracts, wind is being supported, even rewarded, for its intermittency.
      Again, we’d like to see a solid, objective cost-benefit analysis.

  • Trackback: IESO announces intent to attract more wind power for Ontario | ajmarciniak
  • Matt
    Posted January 15, 2024 8:16 pm 0Likes

    > wind is being supported, even rewarded, for its intermittency

    I don’t know if this is a fair take. The idea isn’t to reward wind’s intermittency. The idea is to take it into account, and determine if after adding energy storage to it, it ends up meeting our needs better than energy sources that involve emitting carbon, like burning oil and natural gas. Also, to determine if it be better to go with them instead of options that would take too long to construct, like nuclear.

    It’s quite possible that after doing this analysis, wind plus energy storage won’t make the cut. If that were to happen, we’d see the province go with options that do make the cut. Time will tell, I suppose.

    • admin
      Posted January 18, 2024 5:36 pm 0Likes

      We shall see. As for nuclear taking “too long”, technology has advanced to where we can have smaller reactors, but also build the big ones faster. Refurbishments are coming in ahead of schedule, under budget—and at the end you get power you can rely on!

  • Trackback: NO - 155 Ontario communities are “Unwilling Hosts” for new industrial wind power sites - Wind Concerns Ontario

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