They Stoop to Intimidate

Wind power developer uses threat to influence environmental agency Ottawa Wind Concerns

“Power developer announcement it is about to clear land which is habitat for an endangered species is an attempt to force the Environmental Review Tribunal to issue a decision on the Prince Edward County wind power project, and proposed “remedies” for species at risk”

“The Environmental Review Tribunal determined the Blandings Turtle was endangered by the wind farm; the company is proceeding with construction in the absence of a final decision.”

Turbines are industrial sites, not idyllic farms for tourists

The title of this post is borrowed from a letter to the editor of the Sun Times (Bruce Peninsula) written in May 2012 by Lorrie Gillis, Grey Highlands.

IWT’s (aka Industrial Wynne Turbines) are industrial sites, and not “re-purposed” agricultural land. The Wynne government first tried to make this possible by amending legislation that protected (past tense) natural resources and endangered species by way of an Omnibus Bill in 2012. The public outcry and Opposition objections frightened MPP’s enough to have the amendments withdrawn. But, not to be deterred, the Wynne turbine government went around this roadblock by amending the Regulations to the legislation. Read about it here [re-blogged from WAIT]. in a letter to the Sarnia Observer:

Letters to the Editor, the Sarnia Observer, Feb 9, 2016
Perhaps you missed it over the holidays, a TV ad showing wild but photogenic animals clapping in appreciation for the “protection” received by the provincial government. But what exactly has the government done for Ontario’s threatened or endangered species?
The government attempted to include amendments to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act in the 2012 omnibus budget bill, Bill 55, which would have avoided the public comment and scrutiny otherwise required by Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights.
The 2012 budget passed, but due to public pressure and MPPs’ objections, the amendments were withdrawn. Yet the government subsequently made the changes through regulatory amendments. This did require a mandatory public comment period, and despite over 10,000 mostly negative comments posted on the Environmental Registry, the amendments were enacted.
They exempt almost all industrial projects from the core protections of the Endangered Species Act. None of Ontario’s more than 150 endangered or threatened species now have the full protection they originally had under the Act. Not one.
Once considered the benchmark for the protection it offered, the act has been eviscerated. An example can be seen in the saga of the Ostrander Point wind energy project in Prince Edward County.

The author of the letter, Santo Giorno, illustrates his point by quoting the offending party: “Gilead Power Corporation has applied for a permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) to kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will as well as damage and destroy the habitat of Whip-poor-will for the purpose of the development and operation of Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park in the Township of South Marysburgh.”

The issue has been through four judicial hearings, final arguments were heard in January, a decision will emerge sometime this February.

The Industrial Wynne Turbines deserve their name: the Wynne government has legalized the industrialization of protected lands to allow the slaughter of protected species , surely a Wynne-lose deal for all creatures great and small.

SHUT UP!

And mind your own business, the Ontario Government’s latest policy on electricity: The Toronto Star report (by Brady Yauch) states, Ontario’s desire for total control over all aspects of the electricity sector is nearly fulfilled. [also blogged at Ontario Wind Resistance].

“Strengthening Consumer Protection and Electricity System Oversight Act,” denies funds to independent intervenors, effectively blocking any citizen action in Green Energy proceedings: Prior to this legislation, any individual ratepayer or organization representing ratepayers — ranging from big, industrial groups to cottage associations or low-income organizations — could apply for funding and act as an intervenor in any rate application. The government would instead replace the independent intervenors with a new government-appointed consumer representative. This is probably an attempt by the Government to reduce its deficits!

Not so fast, In other jurisdictions where this has occurred, the direct cost of this new bureaucracy has been far more expensive than the cost of reimbursing intervenors for their lawyers and consultants. The indirect costs of losing the ability to hold the utility monopolies to account by forcing them to justify their proposed rate increases before the OEB could be much greater still.

Why do this, you might ask, is the Government trying to help by appointing consumer representatives? NO! One study found that intervenors have been highly successful at paring back the monopolies’ rate requests, their lawyers and consultants costing ratepayers just 2 cents annually while helping to reduce rate increases by $28 per customer. Other studies found that intervenors account for 1 per cent or less of overall regulatory costs, which themselves are a small amount of total electricity costs borne by ratepayers.

So, saving money, reducing the deficit are not motives for this new legislation, but squishing and shutting the citizenry up are:
The province’s new legislation also ensures that any new transmission line can be deemed a “priority project” by the ministry of energy and automatically approved by the OEB. In the past, the OEB would analyze such projects to determine whether they were necessary or cost-effective. Furthermore, the province is considering more legislation that will exempt all government-directed energy plans or projects to be exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act.
Did you get that last bit, Green does not include environmental protection! Anymore than the costly waste of the Smart Meters did.

Here’s the bottomline: In the end, the OEB and the intervenors were the last voice of criticism that wasn’t on the payroll of the province. By replacing them with a government-led consumer advocate, the province will control every step of decision-making on electricity policy and spending, those pesky checks and balances eliminated at last.

Let’s hear it for the Wynne-lose crew!  Where’s the Charter of rights?   Blowing in the wind? It is clear that the corporate constituency enabled by Green legislation in Ontario is also a lobby strong enough to move the Government to act in a totalitarian manner for the protection of profit and corrupt policy.  The new legislation governing this should have “Overwrite” in its title.

Noise By-Law

Plympton-Wyoming stands behind new bylaw aimed at wind turbines, blogged by OWR.

“Suncor Energy and the Town of Plympton-Wyoming are at odds again over a wind turbine bylaw.” [report by Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer]. Suncor stated that it intends to build and operate its Turbines pursuant to Provincial noise limits without regard to municipal by-laws.

“Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper said the noise bylaw was written in consultation with a lawyer, and added that it follows the province’s regulations.
“But, we added the low level sounds,” Napper added.
“We’re fairly confident about it. We think that it’s something that needed to be addressed.”
Napper said council asked the Suncor representative to put the company’s concerns in writing and to return to council at an upcoming meeting.
“We’ll look at it at that time, and see what the concerns are.”
Napper said he hopes the municipality and company don’t end up in court over the bylaw.”

Obviously, the Municipality hopes to reach a working agreement with Suncor on noise levels. Other municipalities need to be looking to passing similar by-laws that regulate Noise, Set-backs, Construction etc, all of which are intended to protect health and safety. The Wainfleet Set-back test case proved such by-laws are valid within the limits of the Municipal Act but need to be framed within Green Energy and other Regulations.

There is room for creativity in By-law enactment with respect to environmental and natural resources law. Limits on bird and bat kill comes to mind with fines for destruction over the limit, why not? And so on, and so forth.

If this is done consistently and continually, a critical mass will be reached eventually, enough to get the government thinking about citizens and its voter base.

Turbine Hearing begins Friday

InPort News report by Allan Brenner

Parents and grandparents concerned about the potential impact large industrial wind turbines could have on children will have an opportunity to discuss those concerns during an Environmental Review Tribunal, starting Friday.

A preliminary hearing looking into plans of Niagara Region Wind Corp to build wind turbines in west Niagara communities begins at 10 a.m. at the Wellandport Community Centre.

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner launched the tribunal in response to an appeal by Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc. filed Nov. 26, two weeks after the Ministry of the Environment granted renewable energy approval for the project.

The hearing will focus on community concerns about the project to build 77 wind turbines in the communities of West Lincoln, Lincoln, Wainfleet, Haldimand and on Region of Niagara property, with a total capacity of generating 230 megawatts of electricity.

Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs said she may stop in during the hearing depending on her schedule, since six of the wind turbines being proposed are planned for her community.

“Three (turbines) are going in the Wellandport area in the northwest, and another two or three will be down here along the lake on the Haldimand border.

“I’m sure there will be residents of Wainfleet attending,” Jeffs said, adding several members of Mothers Against Wind Turbines live in Wainfleet.

The organization says the turbines will be up to 135 metres tall, and the blades of which will have a diameter of 101 meters.

“These will be some of the largest turbines to ever be introduced so closely to people and their homes in North America,” the organization said in a media release.

The full hearing is scheduled to start Jan. 19.

Calls and e-mails to Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc., as well as Niagara Region Wind Corp. to discuss the hearing were not returned, Thursday.

allan.benner@sunmedia.ca

Court Will Hear Ostrander Point Appeal

Wind Farm Appeal (OWR)

by windaction

CBC Article  A group fighting a controversial wind farm development south of Picton, Ont., says its final appeal will be heard in December. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists says it has been told that the Court of Appeal for Ontario will hear the case in Toronto on Dec. 8 and 9. The group will explain… [click links for full story]

No Fit After FIT?

Plans to build wind farms in England and Scotland are being scrapped in the first sign that the Government’s proposed cut to subsidies is taking effect

That’s the headline in the UK Telegraph newspaper (Ref. from NA-PAW):

Developers are abandoning plans for new wind farms in Britain because they are “no longer financially viable”.
The decision to scrap the wind farms is the first evidence that the spread of turbines across the country is being halted. It follows a radical overhaul by the Government of the consumer subsidy, worth more than £1 billion a year to wind farm owners.

Will Ontario get the message?  The PC Opposition in the province has promised to ditch the Feed-in Tariff programme “that allows homeowners, business owners and private developers to generate renewable energy and sell it to the province at a guaranteed price for a fixed contract term”.  The unpublished addendum to that gov’t blurb is, and pays them NOT to generate power. BUT, let’s hope the promise of no fit for FIT will not mean the same in Ontario as it does in UK:

Wind farms facing the axe are likely to be ones completed after 2017 when owners will be forced to bid for subsidy from a limited pot of money. The successful bids will win subsidies at reduced rates.

Let’s hope Tim is not so dim as to fall for this work-around.

Tell Andrea Horwath Where to Get Off!

Here’s the chance to tell the NDP what you think of its job of keeping Wynne-lose in power!  With a straight face and a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth smile, Andrea Horwath is appealing to Ontarians to get angry about high Hydro rates, as if we haven’t been screaming about them for more than a year.

Quixote’s Last Stand says, Go ahead. Tell them what you think by providing a link to an NDPee petition page on the issue of Hydro Rates and power sell-offs. Don’t be fooled by the smiling face that says, “It’s because of people like you that we are making a difference in Ontario.” Oh, really? Hadn’t noticed anything except your continuing support for the perpetrating Government!

Here’s the link: Save On Hydro. Yes, that’s the title, and here’s the sub-title:
Say yes to making electricity more affordable for families and businesses. Tell Andrea Horwath what you really think!  Go ahead, make her day.

Wainfleet By-law Side-effects

Both sides are seeing hopeful signs in an April Ontario Superior Court ruling that considered the validity of a municipal bylaw that enacted greater restrictions on wind turbines than those outlined in the provincial Green Energy and Green Economy Act. [Ontario Wind Resistance].

For a report on the Court’s Decision, go to Law Times:

For De Vellis [developer’s lawyer], the changes are generally positive. “You really do need local buy-in to make green energy successful,” he says, adding he’s not in favour of a municipal veto over wind turbines.

DeLorenzo [Township’s lawyer] also sees hope in the province’s moves. “It’s clear to me that the province is now aware of the fact that municipalities are being trodden upon by these regulations,” he says. [they are both referring to changes in Fitt legislation].

[Justice] Reid later added: “The enactment of the bylaw was not outside the township’s municipal authority.”“I would have had no difficulty in finding that the bylaw frustrated the purpose of the GEA if there had been evidence to establish that the effect of the bylaw was actually to prevent entirely the construction of IWTs anywhere in the township,” he wrote.

This last point, IMHO, is debatable.

Justice Reid is clearly on the side of the Developer here. If the By-law did indeed prevent the erection of IWT’s in Wainfleet, this fact by itself would not frustrate the purpose of the GEA; it may be the geography of Wainfleet that does that, something the legislation cannot change. And finally, there is nothing in the GEA that says alternative energy generation sources must be built, it implies only that they may be built.  And they may be built where there is room for them.  A municipality that has plenty of room for them (that is, where setback distances do not prevent the erection of IWT’s) cannot enact by-laws to block construction by imposing unreasonable restrictions, for example, a setback distance of 15 kilometres, unless there are environmental concerns to support such a setback.  In the end, I believe, the issue of Adverse Health Effects will determine where construction of turbines can take place.

Wynne-lose, Will she?

Is she the real deal? asks Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein. Will Premier KW have the guts to admit McGuinty’s Green Energy “experiment” is “an unmitigated disaster for Ontario”. The gas plants scandal she apologized for (but not in the legislature) is the direct result of this “unmitigated disaster”.

And yet the reality is that what went on in Oakville and Mississauga — before the Liberals flip-flopped for crass partisan reasons — is nothing compared to what happened in rural communities across Ontario, where the Liberals literally rammed industrial wind turbines down the throats of protesting citizens. If she has rejected the gas plant fraud, will she do the same for the Green Illusion Machine called the GEA of Ontario?

Wynne has already broken with McGuinty on the cancelled gas plants, as well as on McGuinty’s plan for casino gambling in Ontario, for horse racing, and on the operation of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., as evidenced by recent events at Queen’s Park.

Will she cut the green web spun by McGuinty or will she cut and run:
Indeed, what Wynne does on the green energy file will be the acid test of whether she’s a real leader, or a mere follower of a leader who failed.