Big Thunder a no-go; Horizon wind loses

A report from Thunder Bay via The NetNewsLedger says that Horizon Wind has not been successful in its attempt to force the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to approve its application for the Big Thunder wind power generation project atop the Nor’Wester escarpment.

The Big Thunder application was filed well over a year ago, and the Ministry has not made a final decision on it.

The project is the subject of numerous legal actions, including one from the Fort William First Nation which has said it was not consulted properly on the wind power generation project.

Big Thunder has been controversial since its beginning: the project was to have required the razing of hundreds of ancient sugar maples in what is the northernmost stand of the trees in Canada, and significant alteration to the landscape.

See the NetNewsLedger report here ; and the Thunder Bay News report here —more news as we receive it will be posted.

 

Enniskillen Mayor: don’t talk to wind power developers

ENERGY

Mayor urging township residents to not speak to wind developers

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer

Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:48:34 EDT

Enniskillen Township residents should feel free to exercise their right to remain silent when wind energy companies come calling, says Mayor Kevin Marriott.

EDF EN Canada has reportedly been approaching residents and groups about its Churchill Wind Project proposal, a 100 to 150-MW wind farm it wants to build in Enniskillen and neighbouring Plympton-Wyoming.

Marriott said he turned down a request from the company to meet with township council, and urged others in the community to do the same.

“We’re unwilling hosts,” Marriott said. “We’re not interested, end of discussion.”

Enniskillen was among approximately 80 Ontario municipalities declaring themselves unwilling hosts for wind turbines after the provincial government said it was changing how it awards renewable energy contracts.

The 2009 Green Energy Act took away municipalities’ planning powers for wind projects, leading to an outcry from many rural communities and municipal councils. Last year, the province said a new system of awarding renewable energy projects will require companies to work with municipalities.

“It will be very, very difficult for a developer to be approved without municipal engagement, in some significant way,” Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said last June.

But, Marriott said that until the province clarifies what it means by municipal engagement, “We’re being vigilant.”

He advised the anti-wind turbine group, Conservation of Rural Enniskillen (CORE), against meeting with the company.

“I said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t consult with them because they may be able to use that as a check mark,'” Marriott said.

“Who knows what could be construed as public consultation.”

Read the full story here.

Can government end “green” contracts? YES, says Queens law prof

Killing green energy contracts

Hudak’s Ontario Conservatives can easily and legally negate the giveaways the Liberals had lavished on renewables developers

Tim Hudak says the Ontario Conservatives, if elected, will cancel lucrative wind and solar contracts put in place under the Liberals’ green energy program. Can he do so without racking up huge compensation costs?

The answer is yes – if he does it the right way.

The wrong way is to direct the Ontario Power Authority to simply terminate existing contracts, which have robust compensation clauses. The liabilities would dwarf the $1.1-billion paid out by the Liberals for cancelled gas plants.

The right way is to legislate: to enact a statute that declares green contracts to be null and void, and the province to be free from liability. The compensation clauses in the contract will be rendered inoperative if the statute says so.

Statutes can override iron-clad provisions in a contract because that is the nature of legislative supremacy: Legislatures can pass laws of any kind, as long as they are within their jurisdiction and do not offend the constitution. Legislating on electricity production is clearly a provincial power, as are “property and civil rights.”

Since the Canadian constitution does not guarantee property or contract rights, there are no obvious constitutional limitations on a provincial legislature’s ability to change any contract as it likes. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, in Canada there is no constitutional right to compensation for property expropriated by government.
Courts interpret ambiguous statutes as implicitly requiring compensation be paid to the owner of expropriated property. But if the statute is clear that no compensation shall be paid, the words of the statute govern. Where a statute and a contract are in conflict, the statute prevails. Although unilateral and retroactive changes to established contracts might seem to offend the rule of law, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that prospectivity is not a constitutional requirement for legislation.

What about NAFTA? Could a U.S. or Mexican firm with a cancelled green energy contract in Ontario seek compensation for discriminatory expropriation under Chapter 11? If government action singled out a specific party’s contract for termination, it could well be characterized as discriminatory. But if Hudak’s statute cancelled large numbers of contracts for a public policy objective and treated domestic and foreign firms similarly, then NAFTA protections are unlikely to apply.

So, done the right way, a new PC government could indeed rip up green energy contracts with no liability. …

Read the full story and comments here.

Bruce Pardy is Professor of Law at Queen’s University.

Editor’s note: This is one approach to the idea of whether the contracts can be cancelled; another is that they are simply not fulfilled. Under the Environmental Protection Act (section 47), it is clearly stated that the Director of the Ministry of the Environment has the power to choose NOT to approve a Renewable Energy project, and even to rescind an approval, if it is in the “public interest.”

Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to the Minister of Energy Mr Bob Chiarelli some months ago on this topic, citing legal precedents; we received an acknowledgement but have received no response to our questions on this issue

WCO: MPAC study a “self-serving” exercise

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

STATEMENT ON MPAC 2012 ASSESSMENT BASE YEAR STUDY: “IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY ASSESSMENT IN ONTARIO”

April 25, 2014

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation or MPAC, the independent property assessment body which reports to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, released its long awaited report on the effect of industrial wind turbines on property assessment in Ontario in mid-April.

Anyone waiting for this report, which was more than a year late in coming, was disappointed: despite studies done by real estate appraisers in Ontario showing significant loss in value for properties near wind turbines, MPAC said it “cannot conclude any loss in price” due to proximity to a wind turbine.

Wind Concerns Ontario consulted with several individuals including real estate appraisers and finance professionals about the MPAC report.

“It’s just a self-serving, bureaucratic  exercise in mathematics done by MPAC for their government masters,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “The study was done by assessors, not appraisers—this was not a real-world study using on-the-ground valuation techniques such as direct comparison to property sales.”

In fact, Wilson said WCO’s advisors point out that the MPAC study actually does show a property value loss of 25%. “They claim there is no value loss, but then they present a chart that shows there is, and the effect extends out as far as five kilometers,” Wilson said.

What they left out

What MPAC left out of the study is more interesting than what’s in it, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

Here’s a summary:

-MPAC studied areas near turbines 1.5 megawatts or larger in capacity—this excludes areas with older, less powerful but still large-scale turbines; these are areas where studies by independent real estate professionals have indicated significant property value loss.

-MPAC used only sales after 2008, which means for areas like Kincardine and Ripley, the damage was already done, and is reflected in the data they are using for comparison

-MPAC chose not to include properties that are now vacant, such as those that have been purchased by wind power developers as they have become uninhabitable

-MPAC left out the sales that would have been most informative, i.e., those that sold for significantly less than their assessed values and surely demanded some further investigation before being dismissed.

-MPAC as assessors study sales data only—there is no data on houses listed for sale that do not sell, or which are on the market for extended periods of time

U.S.-based real estate appraiser Mike McCann examined the study and concluded that the assessors went against their own professional standards for assessment methodology: “the IAAO (International Association of Assessing Officers) standards discourage regression analysis and instead recommend the use of paired sales methodology, with direct, detailed comparisons of individual sales data, near and far from the environmental disamenity in question,” he said. MPAC’s regression studies actually show a loss of property value, he explains, when the raw data is sorted by distance, yet the authors somehow concluded there was no impact on value.

The real meaning of MPAC’s report

Prior to the Green Energy Act being passed in 2009, countless municipalities asked the Ontario government for economic analysis of the impact of wind power projects on their communities. “They never got that,” says Jane Wilson. “And the Auditor General in his 2011 annual report said Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for the impact of wind power generation projects on Ontario’s economy—we never got that either.

“This government doesn’t want the public to know the true impact of its decision to rush into large-scale industrial wind power on Ontario’s small towns and rural communities—property value loss would be one metric of just how badly this decision has harmed our economy.”

Instead, Wilson says, “ MPAC obliged its government masters by coming up with this flawed and self-serving study that was designed to produce a specific result, which will doubtless now be used by the government and its wind power industry partner to put a ‘chill’ on requests for re-assessment, and on legal actions based on lost property value.”

CONTACT

Jane Wilson WCO.president@gmail.com

MPAC study available here.

MPAC sales chart showing loss of value: http://www.mpac.ca/pdf/AppendixD2.pdf

 

 

 

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Institute for Energy Research: Germany’s green energy experiment a failure

germany-flag

The Washington D.C.-based energy policy “think tank” the Institute for Energy Research (which receives no funding from either government or industry) has reported that Germany’s experience with “green” energy has been an economic failure.

The Institute reports higher energy prices, energy poverty for Germany’s citizens, and “lavish subsidies” for renewable power generators.

North America (including Ontario) has looked to Germany as an example of green power generation; we can only hope they now heed these lessons.

See the news story and report, here.

Power bill costs turning political opinion on wind power

Wind power costs turning the political tide

Posted on

This is from today’s Toronto Star. While Martin Regg Cohn still doesn’t “get it” (he still think resistance to wind power plants is “NIMBYism”) he at least has opened his eyes to the numbers and the economic cost to Ontario.

Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs spiral: Cohn

Economics, more than politics, is causing the greatest drag on wind power as Liberals look for light at the end of the wind tunnel.

Resistance to wind turbines in Ontario emanated mostly from rural residents and was quickly exploited by opposition politicians eager to steal Liberal seats.
VICTOR BIRO / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Resistance to wind turbines in Ontario emanated mostly from rural residents and was quickly exploited by opposition politicians eager to steal Liberal seats.
By:  Provincial Politics, Published on Tue Dec 10 2013
Who would have imagined Ontario as Ground Zero for the global anti-wind movement, pitting people power against wind power? Instead of a low-carbon environment, the governing Liberals generated a highly toxic political environment.
Yet it is economics, more than politics, that is causing the greatest drag on wind power today. Diminishing returns have prompted the Liberals to tilt against wind turbines.
The pace of future wind expansion will be scaled back over the next 20 years, according to the Long Term Energy Planreleased this month by the government. The latest plan is a belated admission that previous energy plans were off target.
To understand how much the Liberals miscalculated, it’s worth looking at another report that preceded this one. Prepared for influential clients in the energy industry by global consulting firm IHS-CERA, the title of this private study says it all: “Too Much, Too Fast — The Pace of Greening the Ontario Power System.”
It treats our wind turbines as a case study on how greening the power system can plunge it into the red. A cautionary tale for international clients, the report would have been essential reading for provincial energy planners as they looked for the light at the end of our wind tunnel:
“What happened in Ontario . . . provide(s) universal lessons regarding how a simple, appealing, but unrealistic idea can intersect with the political process and set in motion environmental policies that run counter to the underlying costs and complexity of the electric power sector.”

Read the full story here.

Green energy: not playing the role it was supposed to

Here from the Lucknow Sentinel, an opinion on what is being done to our fair province…and its fortunes.Lucknow is the location of the ongoing Drennan appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval.

Green energy not playing the role it was meant to

Tracey Hinchberger
By Tracey Hinchberger, Kincardine News Freelancer

A Wind Concerns Ontario 'STOP' sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)
A Wind Concerns Ontario ‘STOP’ sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)

Is this what “green energy” is supposed to look like? This is a question I keep asking myself, and would like to pose to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.
As a writer of an environment-themed column I should be pleased to see the fruits of the provincial government’s Ontario Green Energy Act sprouting up all over our municipality.
Instead, as yet another wind farm project has been approved for the area, I find myself dismayed. I am also heartsick for the residents who have fought so hard to oppose these developments and who will be impacted the most by their presence.
While I realize wind turbines utilize an unlimited resource and produce energy that does not create pollution (at least the operational turbine itself) I have never been convinced they are the Holy Grail of clean energy. There are too many cons, such as unstudied health risks, environmental impacts and effects on energy costs.
But some of the biggest concerns I have with the “green energy” the provincial government has been installing in Ontario are the unquantifiable costs.
What I think Queen’s Park has been ignoring is the impact this program is having on Ontarians’ lives.
By denying municipalities the right of refusal in their jurisdictions, and seemingly disregarding opposition to wind projects, an environment of distrust and anger has been created. Unwilling host communities have lost trust in the process, in the government and the corporations who are developing these installations.
By not giving a meaningful voice to individuals who are impacted by neighbours’ decisions to option land, animosity and distrust have been created between former friends.
Communities have been divided.
Too many reports of ill health effects and lives disrupted have come to the forefront. Too often these same families are left unable to escape because of their inability to sell properties that fall within the boundaries of wind developments.
Pro-wind agents will argue that no health effects have been proven. However, even if no physical impacts truly exist (which I’m not convinced is the case) what about the emotional and psychological effects on these families? What about the anguish people have faced, the feelings of helplessness as massive mechanical structures are erected around their properties, and the stress in knowing their homes are now largely unsellable?
The Kincardine area is already inundated with wind development. To the south there are the 38 turbines of Ripley Wind, to the north 115, when combining the towers of Enbridge Bruce and the handful from Huron Wind. From some vantage points in the municipality there are turbines in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
The recently approved Armow Wind project will see another 92 towers erected in the north east of the municipality, almost doubling the number of turbines already in existence north of town. Compounding this is the fact that these towers will be markedly bigger than those already in place.
What the government refuses to acknowledge is that these benignly labelled “wind farms” are in reality large industrial installations, huge pieces of machinery being erected in great numbers across our rural landscape, amongst people’s homes. The province is essentially turning our municipality into a big factory.
Lives in host communities are being impacted significantly, whether it is health-wise, financially or socially.
If I could, I would invite Premier Wynne and Minister Chiarelli to actually stand amongst the turbines, take it all in and attempt to comprehend the impact of masses of towers sprawling off in every direction, with scores more to come.
I would then ask them to look at every one of the lives that have been so wrongly disrupted, imagine their own loved ones in the same position and ask “is this really what green energy is supposed to look like?”

Not a Willing Host communities voices grow

Posted here on the London Free Press website, the online version of a feature for this weekend.

This blows: Growing list of Ontario municipalities declare ‘unwilling hosts’ to wind turbines

18

By ,The London Free Press
First posted: | Updated:
wind turbines
Wind powered turbines spin on a wind farm in Port Burwell, a town near London, Ont. (Derek Ruttan/QMI Agency files)

LONDON, ONT. – Enough. Dozens of Ontario municipalities say they don’t want wind turbines.
Heavily pushed by the provincial Liberal government, the electricity they produce deeply subsidized by taxpayers, giant wind energy projects have sprouted across rural Ontario — often pitting neighbour against neighbour and community against community.
With local control over where the highrise-sized towers can be built taken away by the province, many communities — especially in southwestern Ontario — were already fuming about wind turbines long before Premier Kathleen Wynne took office in February, vowing not to impose such projects any more on places unwilling to take them.
Now, a list of unwilling hosts is circulating — with 61 of the province’s 444 municipalities already on it.
That number will only rise, observers warn, as the “Not a Willing Host” movement grows and pressures the government to bar the industrial turbines from rural Ontario, where 1,200 have already cropped up.
Wind Concerns Ontario, an organization upset at the province’s aggressive promotion of wind power at the expense of local control, compiles and maintains the list of unwilling hosts.
“It was important for someone to keep this list and say, ‘You are not alone,’” said Wind Concerns president Jane Wilson.
“Wind power can work,” she conceded, “but plunking them (turbines) down, right next to communities and next to homes and schools, is not the right idea.”
Ninety municipalities — in favourable zones, located mainly in southwestern and eastern Ontario — “are vulnerable to wind power,” she said.
“That’s where the wind companies have been prospecting.” As the list stands now, two-thirds of those “vulnerable” municipalities are effectively saying no more.
Wind Concerns has dubbed the seven years of wind power development under the Liberals “a disaster for rural Ontario.”

Read the full article at the London Free Press site.