Rural councillors demand more say in wind power contract bids

No way for citizens to express concern in current process, Ottawa councilor says

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston, south of Ottawa. No way to express concern. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston, south of Ottawa. No way to express concern. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
CBC News, may 5, 2016

As the Ontario government prepares to open a second, more ambitious round of bidding on large-scale renewable energy projects across the province, some Ottawa city councillors want more local control over where wind farms go.

“There’s no way for a municipality to express concerns about location, or if and when these projects would happen in our municipalities,” said Scott Moffatt, who represents the rural ward of Rideau-Goulbourn.

In March Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator awarded contracts to 16 renewable energy projects, three quarters of which had support from the local municipality, the government said at the time.

Five of the contracts were awarded to wind projects, including the 100-megawatt Nation Rise Wind Farm in North Stormont Township, a municipality which had previously declared itself an “unwilling host” to wind farms.

A motion approved Thursday by councillors on Ottawa’s agriculture and rural affairs committee urges the province to strengthen legislation to require municipal buy-in before contracts are awarded.

Communities want a voice, councillor says

Moffatt said communities want a voice in the planning process.

“This isn’t just for Ottawa. We’ve had this issue in the past in Ottawa, specifically in North Gower, but you look at Nation, you look at South Dundas and Brinston,” said Moffatt, describing proposed wind farm locations.

“Are those municipalities able to respond adequately or is the IESO just going to run roughshod over them? That’s the concern.”

In an email, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Energy Ministry said the government is proud of the 75 per cent support rate from municipalities for its first round of contract offers, and noted 60 per cent of neighbouring landowners also supported them.

“By putting emphasis on price and community support, we believe the right balance has been struck in early community engagement and reduced prices for consumers through the procurement process for renewable energy projects,” wrote the spokesperson.

930 megawatts sought in 2nd round

The IESO is gathering feedback on its first competition, and could use that information to fine-tune the process the second time around.

The Ontario government intends to issue a request for qualifications by August for projects that can generate a total of 930 megawatts of renewable energy, two thirds of which will go to wind farms.

That’s more than twice the size of the initial contract offer.

The ministry’s ultimate goal is to have 10,700 megawatts of wind-, solar-, and bioenergy-powered projects feeding the grid by 2021.

Municipal support must be mandatory for wind power contract bids, says WCO

Communities have valid reasons for objecting to huge power projects but government is not listening [Photo: Prince Edward County]
Communities have valid reasons for objecting to wind power projects. Government is not listening [Photo: Prince Edward County]
May 4, 2016

Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) as part of the “engagement” process on the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process on May 3rd.

In a letter to IESO CEO Bruce Campbell, WCO president Jane Wilson wrote:

WCO has been involved supporting individuals and community groups dealing with wind turbines imposed on communities since before the Green Energy Act was enacted. We saw the government’s commitment in 2012 that it would only place wind turbines in communities willing to host them as a positive first step toward addressing the concerns of rural Ontario.  The results from the RFP I process, however, made a complete mockery of this policy. The Minister of Energy stated as recently as March 7 that it would be “virtually impossible” for a contract to be awarded without municipal support.  Yet, three of the five successful bids for wind turbine contracts in LRP I were awarded to municipalities that did not support the project.

The wind power contracting process shows no respect for Ontario citizens and communities, Wilson said.

The key issue is: neither the government nor participants in the procurement process have listened to valid community concerns or displayed any learning from problems created by the existing projects. Most people in rural Ontario seem to know more about the impact of wind turbines (economic, environmental, societal) than the people proposing projects, who continue to use outdated and limited information to support their proposals.  Far from streamlining the process, the Green Energy and Economy Act has created a confrontational environment.  Based on local activities such as municipal resolutions, public demonstrations and media stories, it is clear this situation is not going to change until provincial government agencies deal seriously with the problems that have been created by wind turbine projects to date.

WCO recommendations: let communities choose

The recommendations to change the RFQ and RFP process as well as the generic contract are driven by four objectives.

  • Activities within the process need to be consistent with the high levels of openness and transparency that the provincial government expects of agencies and municipalities.
  • Full disclosure of project information is needed to allow the community to provide meaningful feedback.
  • Mechanisms need to be included within the process to measure the responsiveness of proponents to input from the community.
  • The process needs to place value on and respect for community views on proposed projects.

Among the recommendations was the need for municipal support to be mandatory. “More than 90 municipalities have declared themselves ‘unwilling hosts’ to wind power projects,” says president Jane Wilson. “They have good reasons for that. But this government has no respect for Ontario citizens and their elected governments, who want to plan what is appropriate and sustainable for their own community.”

 

Highlights of WCO Recommendations:

Qualification of bidders

Failure to deliver past projects on time should result in disqualification of bidders

Inappropriate behaviours or actions such as clearing land that is habitat for endangered species while a project is still under appeal, should result in disqualification as a bidder

The qualifications of proponent team members should be evaluated: “experts” in noise and health impacts for example, should have appropriate training/education and proper professional credentials

 

Community engagement

“Engagement” should not be confused with “support”

Public meetings should be more accessible and greater in number, and take place before a municipality is called upon to determine whether it supports a wind power project bid

Communities need much more detail about projects than they were given under FIT or LRP I

Proponents should disclose and have available the full range of documentation on impacts of the proposal including impacts due to environmental noise (potential for adverse health effects), and effect on property value as well as other economic considerations (e.g., airport operations, tourism)

Municipal support must be a mandatory requirement in contract bids

Proponent engagement with Aboriginal communities should be subject to the same disclosure requirements as for other communities

Site considerations

IESO needs to do an independent technical review of proponent submissions

Municipal support

Full documentation should be provided to municipalities prior to bid submission, so that local governments can review the information and comment as to completeness and accuracy

Again, a resolution of support from a municipality must be a mandatory requirement for a bid in the RFP process

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

No means NO, London-area municipality tells Wynne government

Community ‘engagement’ just means meetings, says Dutton Dunwich mayor: municipal support of wind power bids should be mandatory requirement for bids

84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway.
84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway.

London Free Press, April 28, 2016

By Deborah van Brenk

An Elgin County community that stands to gain a wind farm it doesn’t want has told regulators they should count native endorsement of a project only if the bands have claims near the planned site.

Dutton Dunwich says any future renewable-energy rules should also require municipal support before any contract can be awarded.

Still steamed by a 20-turbine project awarded to Chicago-based Invenergy this month, Dutton Dunwich wants the province to do more than just tweak rules for Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) for wind, solar and water power. The Independent Electricity Systems Operator has asked for corporate and municipal feedback for the next two LRP rounds.

Under current rules, a company needs to prove it has engaged the community if it wants to win a contract. But that doesn’t mean what Dutton Dunwich thought it meant. “They talk about community engagement. All that means is public meetings,” said Mayor Cameron McWilliams.

His council has unanimously passed a resolution saying a municipality’s no should mean no and only a municipal ‘yes’ can place a project in the running.

In Dutton Dunwich, in a referendum answered by 56 per cent of voting-aged residents, 84 per cent said they didn’t want turbines.

NCC Developments — a green-energy partnership among six Northern First Nations groups — has a 10% ownership interest in the Invenergy Strong Breeze project in Dutton Dunwich.

In a letter to The Free Press NCC chief executive officer Geordi Kakepetum said the proximity of native partners should have no bearing on a project’s value.

NCC’s revenue from this project will help First Nations develop remote solar microgrids and reduce dependence on diesel, it says.

Dutton Dunwich also wants to know why some projects were selected and others rejected. “As elected officials, we are supposed to be transparent . . . but it doesn’t seem to work at a provincial level,” McWilliams said.

The six northern First Nations are hundreds of kilometres northwest of Dutton Dunwich.

But there is precedent for green-energy contracts with aboriginal support far from where the power would be generated: A solar project in Ryerson Twp west of Algonquin Park is backed by Missanabie Cree First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie; a hydro-electric project on the Trenton Locks near Belleville has backing from Dokis First Nation west of North Bay; and Invenergy’s solar contract at Lake Simcoe Airport also has support from the NCC in Ontario’s northwest.

NCC says Dutton Dunwich should be proud to be part of the greening of Ontario.

And, it notes, Dutton Dunwich will see economic benefit from the $150-million development: 150 construction jobs, plus local suppliers providing many of the materials; and tax revenue in excess of $4 million during the 20 years of the contract.

McWilliams said the province limits tax assessments of turbines to about one-fiftieth of their actual value. “I’m not disputing there’s some tax revenue but it’s not significant.”

Neighbouring Malahide Township offered to be a host site to turbines but the bidder there was unsuccessful. …

Read the full story here.

NO wind turbines: Ontario municipality tells Wynne government (again)

…because the government clearly doesn’t get that No means NO.

Lucknow-Sentinel, April 28, 2016

IESO’s designation of Huron-Kinloss as potential host for green energy projects forces township to reaffirm its no wind turbine stance

IESO map of power development capacity for LRP II
IESO map of power development capacity for LRP II

The Township of Huron-Kinloss has reaffirmed its stance as an unwilling host for wind turbines.

The decision was made during the April 18, 2016 council meeting, following notification of Huron-Kinloss’ designation as a potential site for future projects by Ontario’s electricity market regulator, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

During the regular council meeting Monday night, Huron-Kinloss was informed that the IESO had designated the municipality, along with all of Bruce and Huron counties, as ‘Low Area Capability’ for large-scale renewable projects.

It had previously been labeled a ‘No Area Capability’ by the IESO. The change in designation was mentioned by the regulator as part of an April 12 webinar concerning the second phase of its competitive process to find locations for a total of 930 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy sources.

The change in designation was brought to the attention of Huron-Kinloss through a motion by the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group (MMWTWG) to support its demand that the IESO necessitate municipal approval and involvement in the selection process.

“We’re low, but we were right out of that,” said Deputy Mayor Wilfred Gamble during discussions on the motion. “… So that’s why [the MMWTWG] is recommending that we start screaming.”

The IESO is looking to contract upwards of 600 MW of wind capacity, or the equivalent of 300 2MW turbines. The Request for Qualification process will launch Aug. 1, according to the IESO website.

Huron-Kinloss has long been an opponent to wind turbines, passing a resolution in May of 2013 blatantly stating it is not a willing host for wind projects. Also, in 2011 it passed a motion prohibiting the municipality from issuing developers building permits, unless they adhere to Huron-Kinloss’ own wind turbine rules.

However, its declarations of being unwelcome to this green energy is of little use, said Mayor Mitch Twolan.

“We can say that we are not a willing host, but what does that mean at the end of the day? Nothing because the contracts are let out by the IESO,” Twolan said, following the council meeting. “We’ve always said we’re not a willing host. We passed that a long, long time ago, but the new map that came out, it changes all the time and we had no input into that. And it doesn’t matter that we passed that we’re a non-willing host, they can still put that in there.”

Generally motions passed by municipalities on the siting of turbines are symbolic, as the IESO is the ultimate arbiter under the Ontario Green Energy Act.

Chuck Farmer, the IESO director of stakeholder and public affairs, said the change in designation was to indicate that there is room on the transmission system for more projects and not a reflection of community or municipal support.

“I do understand their concern and I do want to stress that this is an assessment of transmission capabilities — so an assessment of the system ability and not a statement of any community stance,” Farmer said in a phone interview on April 27.

He said the redesignation occurred because previous projects slated for the area are now no longer moving forward, which freed up space on the system.

“That creates an indication there maybe room on the transmission system to connect some more projects in the area,” he said.

Farmer said he couldn’t elaborate on the disbanded wind projects previously set for the area.

The slide from the IESO presentation also states that the designation is the result of preliminary results and is subject to change.

As part of the second phase of its process, called the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP), to construct large-scale energy projects, the IESO is asking stakeholders, including municipalities, for opinions on how the project can be improved.

“Right now we are in the middle of collecting feedback and comments from people about the first LRP process,” said Mary Bernard, the IESO media relations manager.

With a IESO deadline for feedback of May 3 (which Bernard called a “soft deadline”), the motion was added to the agenda the day of the April 18 council meeting. Many councillors had not seen the motion prior to it being announced as new business during the meeting.

After having several minutes to read the motion and its accompanying powerpoint presentation by anti-wind turbine group Wind Concerns Ontario, council raised concern that …

 

Read the full story here.

Council seeks more clout in denying wind power projects

North Frontenac Council requests municipal support be a mandatory feature of the bid process, and ask other municipalities to support them

KIncardine area house w turbine

Kingston Whig-Standard, March 25, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

PLEVNA — A municipal council opposed to wind energy projects is calling for the province to make local government support for such projects a mandatory requirement.

North Frontenac Township council, which last year declared itself an unwilling host to a pair of wind energy projects proposed for the area, passed a resolution asking the Independent Electricity Systems Operators (IESO) to change the way municipal council consideration is viewed in companies’ requests for proposal for the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program.

Under the current rules, municipal support for a renewable energy project strengthens a project proposal but is not needed to ensure a successful bid. Likewise, municipal opposition does not prevent a project from being approved.

The resolution called for the IESO to make a municipal support resolution a mandatory requirement rather than one of many rated criteria.

The resolution also called for municipal councils and communities to be given the full details about proposed projects before any support resolutions are considered.

“The current process does not meet the government’s standards for openness and transparency because municipal councils are asked to support power projects based on little or no detail,” the resolution stated.

“The province has not demonstrated that renewable energy projects are of sufficient strategic importance in meeting Ontario’s electricity generation requirements and/or carbon emission reduction targets to warrant the province taking action to override municipal decisions.”

The resolution from North Frontenac council came more than a week after the province announced the projects selected as part of the first round of the LRP program earlier this month.

North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins noted that four of the projects selected are to be located in municipalities where councils did not provide supporting resolutions to the companies.

On March 7, three days before the projects were announced, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said during a visit to Kingston that municipal support would be critical to the success of any project.

“It’s almost impossible [now] for a proponent to win a [wind or solar] contract without having some kind of agreement with the municipality,” Chiarelli said.

Higgins is calling for other municipalities in Ontario to …

Read the full story here.

Make municipal support mandatory for wind farm contracts, says Ontario municipality

North Frontenac missed the wind farm bullet this time but the community is taking no chances–it wants the unwilling host status to mean something to the Wynne government

logo

Press Release – Renewable Energy

March 24, 2016, PLEVNA —

The Council of the Township of North Frontenac passed a resolution on March 18 2016 that will request that the Independent Electricity Systems Operators (IESO) rate an unwilling municipality for renewable energy to be a mandatory requirement versus a rated criteria in future requests for proposals (RFP) for the Large Renewable Procurement  (LRP) program.

Currently RFP has the Proponents bid submission as a points system rated criteria for municipality support. North Frontenac is proposing that this RFP requirement needs to be a mandatory requirement. Four of the six contracts announced on March 10, 2016 did not have municipal support for the renewable energy project. Although the Minister of Energy indicated on March 7 that it would be ‘almost impossible’ for a contract to be granted under the current process without municipal agreement it has happened.

Mayor Ron Higgins stated that he wants all Ontario Municipalities, who object to Industrial Wind Turbines and/or Solar Farms, to support this resolution and to provide additional input to the IESO on their thoughts for improving the LRP RFP procurement process for future projects.

Mayor Higgins knows this is but one step but this one needs to be done before the end of April as per IESO deadlines. He states that his focus on now on the government policies and directives related to renewable energy in rural municipalities.

To view the resolution please go to the following link http://www.northfrontenac.com/news/IESOletter.pdf

For more information please do not hesitate to contact:

Cheryl Robson, AMCT, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

6648 Road 506, Plevna, ON K0H 2M0

(613) 479-2231 or 1 (800) 234-3953 Ext 221 [email protected]

Critics blast Ontario wind farm contract process

“A slap in the face for rural Ontario” says Dutton-Dunwich Mayor

84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway. (Maybe)
84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway. (Maybe)

 

London Free Press, March 16, 2016

By Debbie Van Brenk and John Miner

A new process to select sites for renewable energy projects was “open, fair and transparent,” says an evaluator hired to ensure selectors followed all the rules.

But critics are furious the same rules let wind firms with low bids trump municipal objections and the “transparent” process doesn’t yet let them know why.

“We were involved in the process of the initial guidelines . . . and we said there had to be co-­operation and support from the community (for a successful bid),” said Cameron McWilliam, mayor of Dutton-Dunwich. “And we didn’t get it. We got ‘community engagement,’ which is what we’d have with any development . . .

“That’s not what we were led to believe were the terms.”

A week after Invenergy got the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with the province for 20 to 25 turbines in Dutton-Dunwich, the municipality is still awaiting word on why it’s getting a project opposed by 84 per cent of the residents who voted in a referendum.

“We don’t have any information as to what the criteria were and what criteria they met,” McWilliam said.

The green energy contract selection process was designed and run by the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO), a not-for-profit corporation overseeing Ontario’s power system.

Previous rounds of wind energy contracts drew allegations of political interference, including a NAFTA lawsuit by U.S. energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens against Canada. Pickens’ suit, claiming $650 million in damages after his company was denied a contract for a wind farm near Goderich, awaits a NAFTA tribunal ruling.

For this latest round of wind farm procurement, an outside firm was hired as a “fairness advisor.”

The firm, Knowles Canada, in a March 9, 2016, letter posted on IESO’s website, said the procurement in their opinion “fully met provincial standards of an open, fair and transparent process.”

Under the old process of the 2009 Green Energy Act, Ontario set rates it was prepared to pay wind, solar and hydro producers per kilowatt-hour generated.

Under the new process, developers had to submit a price they were willing to accept. Their bid would be weighed along with other ­factors, including community support from municipal ­councils, nearby landowners and First Nations.

An energy developer offering a lower price, but no community support, might still win a contract offer; a developer with community support, but a higher price, might not.

In Malahide, just east of Dutton-Dunwich, for example, council backed Capstone Power Development’s plan to expand its Erie Shores Wind Farm, but the bid was unsuccessful.

“A lot of very, very positive things were working in that project’s favour,” said David Eva, a ­senior Capstone vice-president, ­noting “very strong support” of host municipalities and other features made it “very viable.”

Meanwhile, McWilliam said he’d like to see the numbers now. “IESO is making a big deal about the (open) process, but why can’t they share that? It’s taxpayers’ money.”

His municipality sent a terse email to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, noting council had met him “on numerous occasions” to make the ministry aware residents had “clearly stated they did not want an industrial wind turbine project.”

McWilliam maintains if a municipality doesn’t support a proposal, that should be a deal-breaker.

“It’s a slap in the face for sure for rural Ontario,” he said. “Everybody is scratching their heads.”

Read the full article here.

 

Ontario wind power policy failed rural communities, says university research team

“Top-down” policy ignored community concerns, health impacts, research team says

3-MW turbine south of Ottawa at Brinston: Ontario. Communities had no choice. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

3-MW turbine south of Ottawa at Brinston: Ontario. Communities had no choice. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

Ottawa Citizen February 3, 2016

By Tom Spears

Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand, says a University of Ottawa study.

The 2009 Green Energy Act gave little thought to the transformation that wind farms bring to rural communities — problems that even revisions to the act “will only partially address,” writes a group headed by Stewart Fast.

Fast personally favours wind energy, “but only if it’s done right.”

In Ontario, he says, much of it wasn’t.

Read the full story here, including comments from Wind Concerns Ontario president, Jane Wilson.

Unwilling host resolutions affected Ontario policy: research paper

not-a-willing-host

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.

wind contract banner

“No veto” on wind power for Ontario communities says Wynne

Give you a CHOICE? Like, you know, democracy? I don't think I said that...
Give you a CHOICE? Like, you know, democracy? I don’t think I said that…

Eastern AgriNews, October 2015

by Nelson Zandbergen

Finch- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will not intervene to quash proposed wind turbine projects currently being evaluated for the Township of North Stormont and the Municipality of South Dundas, despite her earlier stated position that communities not wanting such developments shouldn’t be forced to receive them.

The councils of both municipalities have declared themselves unwilling hosts to wind projects in recent months.

But the premier, in reply to a question posed by The AgriNews at the International Plowing Match September 22, made clear that she won’t veto the projects in officially unwilling communities.

“We’ve been clear, it’s not a veto… but what we are seeing is that there is a much more collaborative process going on between proponents and municipalities,” said Wynne, explaining that her government does put “an emphasis on the municipality being willing.”*

Said the premier, “You will know that the process, as it has been changed by our government, is that now there is much more weighting toward the municipality. In terms of procurement, there is much more of an emphasis on the municipality being willing, we have already changed the process, and I think that has changed the way turbines are sited.”**

Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal then jumped in to highlight how the Wynne government has imposed restrictions on the siting of solar projects. …

“I never use the term solar farms because it’s the wrong term to use, they are solar generating entities.”***

Editor’s notes:

*False. Municipal support is just one factor in the bid process. Proponents simply find other strong sources of points such as First Nation support, or a lower bid price.

**This is false. Municipalities in the 2015 bid process often DIDN’T EVEN KNOW where turbines were to be located, and the proponents were not obligated to provide that information or anything else such as environmental impact studies, before being asked to say yes or no.

***So wind “farms” are now “wind power generating entities”?