Prepare for battle: Ottawa residents get opportunity to learn about city planning processes next week

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Mega-warehouses, truck centres, new subdivisions approved: it’s time Ottawa residents, especially rural citizens, knew more about the planning process in Ottawa. Here’s your chance…

A large distribution centre was the subject of a zoning amendment in Ottawa. Citizens appealed. What do we need to know about this process?

November 25, 2021

The news in Ottawa is full of reports about new developments that may, or may not, be what citizens want. A new truck distribution centre was approved just off the south end of Merivale, despite a jam-packed road system and nearby homes; a developer wanted to remove trees from a site near Hunt Club and Riverside to accommodate a new car dealership; the quiet village of North Gower might see a huge truck distribution centre and warehouse in an area people thought was “highway commercial” off the 416, and might only see a gas station and convenience store.

In all these cases, the proposed developments went through the planning process at City Hall. Citizens learned about the approvals afterward (in one case, the Merivale area truck centre, the City councillor was sandbagged, too) and were told, it’s done.

The new Official Plan was recently approved in Ottawa but most people had no idea what was in it, particularly not the echoes from the City’s “Energy Evolution” strategy, which called for massive amounts of wind power in one of its “models.” (And still has a target of 2025 for 20 megawatts of wind power.)

The City is now sponsoring a “primer” on planning to be held December 2nd and 6th via Zoom presentation.

It’s time we were better informed, more aware of what changes are being proposed at City Hall, and how to get involved in the process because surely, there is more to come.

See the details and registration information here.

Because, you can fight City Hall.

Join our mailing list: ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

 

Ottawa Official Plan amendment now protects prime farm land

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farmnotfarm

Earlier draft failed to include statement on protecting prime farmland from industrial uses like wind turbines

November 1,1021

Ottawa City Council approved the draft Official Plan last week, on October 27th, and included a new paragraph relevant to wind power development in the rural areas of the City.

Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt acknowledged last week in his constituent newsletter that the change had been made. The new paragraph in Section 4.11 of the Official Plan reads:

“6)  Large-scale provincially regulated wind turbines are not permitted on lands designated Agricultural Resource Area.  This policy does not apply to small-scale wind generation associated with a permitted principal use.

Ottawa Wind Concerns (OWC) noted previously that there appeared to be no express intent to protect prime agricultural land in the Plan, dealing with “renewable energy facilities” which would include large-scale wind power. The community group had consulted a municipal law specialist lawyer who confirmed the group’s concern.

OWC filed a 30-page submission to the Joint Planning and Agricultural Affairs Committee, of which Councillor Moffatt was Co-chair, in advance of the Official Plan being submitted to Council. A motion requested that protection of prime agricultural land be expressed in the Plan (as is directed by Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement).

When Councillor Moffatt put forward the new paragraph at the Joint Committee meeting reviewing the Official Plan, other councillors said they had had many calls and emails about wind turbines, and welcomed the new addition.

“This is an important step forward,” says Jane Wilson, chair of Ottawa Wind Concerns. “The previous version of Ottawa’s Official Plan stated that large-scale wind turbines could go in Ottawa’s rural areas, including our best farm land. Power generation from wind is an industrial land use, and not appropriate for valuable food-producing land.”

But it’s not the end of the fight for Ottawa’s rural communities.

“Turbines or wind power generators are not an appropriate land use near homes, either,” Wilson said. “That will be addressed next.”

The community group has asked specifically that the Plan include a requirement that any form of renewable energy generation undergo a full cost-benefit and impact analysis. That was not included in the addition to the Official Plan but will be important in the development of zoning bylaws, Wilson said.

Councillor Moffatt claimed in his newsletter that

“… there are no planned industrial wind turbines within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa at this time.

In the Ottawa climate action strategy focused on energy use, however, there is a list of 20 projects to be worked on before 2025—Table 7 in the document states that the City must install 20 megawatts of wind as well as new hydro, solar, and electricity storage.

Also in the document is a statement that the energy “model” should include 3,218 megawatts of wind power as part of “minimum results” to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

 
 

Why wind power is not the right choice for Ottawa

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Wind turbines: not efficient, not effective against climate change or to help the environment [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]

Intermittent, unreliable, weather-dependent wind power is not the best idea for a city that says it is serious about acting to help the environment

Below is an excerpt from our submission to the City of Ottawa for its new Official Plan on why industrial-scale or grid-scale wind power is not a good choice. Our chief concerns are: reliability of the power source; cost; safety; and, impact on the environment.

Reliability of power source

We are unaware of any review of the Ontario experience with wind power as part of the electricity supply since 2006 and, significantly, since the Green Energy Act in 2009. This is an important omission as the experience has been problematic, and resulted in multiple recommendations from Auditors General as to the sort of analysis that ought to have been done, but was not.

As part of the necessary review of the Ontario experience with wind power since 2006, it is essential to do a cost-benefit analysis for wind power, and to prepare a full and honest estimate of what the costs would be for the people of Ottawa, and the taxpayers of Canada who are apparently going to be asked to help pay for these plans.

The fact is, wind is not a reliable source of power. In a Commentary prepared for the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, author Marc Brouillette said this:

“Wind generation output is inherently intermittent as it depends on Mother Nature. For example, in 2015 Ontario’s wind farms operated at less than one-third capacity more than half (58%) the time. That means 70 per cent of wind energy was produced in the remaining 42 per cent of the time…Indeed, wind output over any three-day period can vary between zero and 90 per cent of capacity.”

He went on:

“Seasonally, Ontarians’ energy use is highest in winter and summer and lowest in spring and late fall. This is almost a mirror image of wind [power] production patterns”.

In short, wind might be somewhat useful as part of a mix of power supply, but it cannot be relied upon. Although there is a popular statement that wind replaced coal as a power source in Ontario, that is completely false: coal was replaced by the refurbishment of nuclear plants with natural gas being used to meet short-term, peak power needs.

Wind turbines are intermittent sources of power that are not aligned with grid requirements.

Again, a cost-benefit analysis that justifies this in terms of actual effectiveness in climate action will be mandatory.

We ask, has the City carried out any investigation that would allow it to plan for power outages and power shortages? This situation is occurring now in jurisdictions in Europe and the UK, where a move to mostly wind and solar has resulted in a severe shortage of power, such that the outlook for the coming winter is nothing short of grim. Can Ottawa not learn from these situations and conduct proper planning so as not to endanger its citizens?

Ontario’s power grid is designed for a stable supply of power, not intermittent surges and shortages.

A recent court decision in the State of Minnesota was the result of a cost-benefit analysis. In ruling that the proposed wind power project should not proceed. In her decision, Judge Louise Dovre Borkman relied on information from the state’s public utilities analyst coordinator, who said that “wind and solar capacity does not always translate into available energy because those resources are unpredictable and uncontrollable—the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining.”

A critical factor in the decision was a statement in Minnesota Statute §216B.2422, subsection 4(3)  saying that due to the “intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities” there could be an impact on the cost of energy.

“In fact,” the Judge wrote, “as Minnesota Power illustrated in its EnergyForward , the output from those resources can ebb significantly even over the course of a single day. When that happens, or customer demand increases, Minnesota Power must increase output from more reliable resources, like coal or natural gas generators, or purchase power on the regional market.”

The Judge noted testimony from a consulting expert on energy who said that adding more wind power would leave the power company “doubly vulnerable to market pricing, both to sell surplus energy into the market when prices are low and to buy energy when prices are high.”

The final conclusion was that a “wind or solar alternative is not in the public interest because the costs are higher.

In short, Ottawa’s choice of large-scale, or grid-scale wind power will be a high impact on the environment and electricity consumers for little benefit.

Cost

In a recent article in the Financial Post, economist Dr. Jack M. Mintz emphasized the need for honest accounting of the costs of climate policy, and he used the Ontario example:

“Despite implementing various cost-reduction measures the Wynne government was saddled with expensive sole-sourced contracts for wind and solar electricity awarded by the McGuinty government. Those subsidies were put on the backs of Ontario ratepayers who saw their electricity bills jump.”

As for the choice of wind power, Dr. Mintz noted:

“Governments generally do not understand and certainly cannot predict the evolution of technology so should not try to pick the ‘winning’ technologies themselves. They should instead put a price on environmental damage”.

In the Pathway Study on Wind Power in Ottawa, the author stated that because the Ottawa-area is a low wind power resource, financial encouragement would be needed to attract wind power developers. That means subsidies; that means higher electricity bills.

In a Commentary for the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy on energy costs, author Marc Brouillette stated that “Renewables-based DER systems in Ontario could cost 60-percent to 230-percent more than an alternative nuclear-based DES option. These higher costs have the potential to increase ratepayer bills by 10 percent to 20 percent.”

In its 2016 annual report, the Ontario Association of Food Banks wrote about energy poverty and connected poverty to Ontario’s electricity bills:

“Since 2006, hydro rates have increased at a rate of 3.5 times inflation for peak hours, and at a rate of 8 times inflation for off-peak hours. Households across Ontario are finding it hard to keep up with these expenses, as exemplified by the $172.5 million in outstanding hydro bills, or the 60,000  homes that were disconnected last year for failing to pay. In rural Ontario, the effects of the rising cost of hydro can be felt even more acutely. According to a recent report, rural Ontarians can expect current hydro bills to increase by 11.5 per cent by 2017, on top of their current hydro costs, which are already higher than those in cities or larger urban areas.”

 

In short, wind power generation cannot withstand any cost-benefit or impact analysis (which is why the developer proponents never want them done). If Ottawa wants to take action against climate change and to benefit all aspects of the environment, fostering wind turbines throughout our countryside is not the right choice.

OTTAWA WIND CONCERNS

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

 

Public health investigation launched into noise, health effects at Nation Rise wind farm

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Turbines at Nation Rise: despite their size and power rating, they were approved under old rules by the Wynne government [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]

October 8, 2021

The complaints started even before the wind “farm” did.

While turbines were being constructed and tested, residents of North Stormont filed complaints with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks about construction noise, dust, vibration and then, the noise from the actual turbines once they were running.

By the time the project was formally commissioned—despite dozens of citizen complaints—there were many indications that the Nation Rise wind power project was causing problems for some people.

Now, the Ontario government is conducting an investigation into the noise complaints and allegations of adverse health effects, according to a news report yesterday. In Ontario, it is a violation of the Environmental Protection Act to cause adverse effects including disturbing quiet enjoyment of property and causing health to be affected.

The problem is, the “investigation” will likely (we hope not) follow Ontario’s outdated and flawed noise protocol for wind turbines. Prescribed measurement use only dBA and calculates the averages, but doesn’t punish exceedances for individual days or nights, or even a small range of dates.

Complaints from residents include reports of not being able to sleep, which as anyone knows, will cause long-term health effects.

The people of Nation Rise were shocked when the Wynne government awarded the Renewable Energy Approval days before the 2018 election began, and surprised again when it got a Notice To Proceed (the last step) after concerns about the environment, wildlife and health.

Now this.

Ontario needs to conduct a complete overhaul of all the regulatory processes related to wind power. With the City of Ottawa proclaiming its wish to have industrial-scale wind, the same old rules and lack of enforcement will not do.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Never seen a 60-storey wind turbine? Take the tour

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Just two of the 29 turbines in the Nation Rise power project Finch-Berwick-Crysler [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]

October 7, 2021

With Ottawa discussing encouraging wind power development in the City’s rural areas, it’s important to know exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to wind turbines.

First, they are not “windmills,” they are Wind Turbine Generators or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).

They are not “wind farms,” they are power generation facilities.

And, they are BIG. Very very big.

Here’s a suggested driving tour of the nearby Nation Rise wind power project

Embrun South to Cannamore via St Marie Street/County Rd 32

County road 13 into Crysler,

County road 12 to Berwick,

west on County road 9 to Goldfield road,

south to County road 43, turn west then south on the Stormont-Dundas Boundary to Concession 1-2. 

East toward County road 12 (south of Finch), then back north on County road 12 into Finch, through Berwick, then Crysler north on County road 12 (to the 417) or turn west at (Harvex), concession 10-11 to Cannamore. 

This route should give people an idea of the industrialization impact and the number of homes involved. You may not hear any noise, especially in this season when the turbines are not turning, or barely moving. You really have to stay in one of the homes over a period to experience the noise, sound pressure and vibration.

OK, so they’re big and unsightly, what else is wrong with wind power? It doesn’t work. Wind turbines are weather-dependent and thus, intermittent and unreliable. Today, Ontario’s power demand is over 15,000 megawatts while wind has produced 250-300 megawatts of power.

That’s not good enough.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Want a sign? Email us. Contributions to the cost welcome.

Ottawa’s Official Plan widens urban-rural divide

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Produce stand in North Gower: a REAL “on-farm” activity, not industrial wind turbines [OWC photo]

October 5, 2021

The City of Ottawa is strangely devoted to the idea that industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines are just an ordinary on-farm activity.

When the final draft of the new Official Plan was presented at last week’s public meeting, City staff maintained their position that the large wind power generators were an activity just like any other in the countryside, like corn mazes and produce stands.

“We know there are concerns,” said planning staff member Melissa Jort-Conway, adding that the City will be conducting consultations and that the community will have input when the situation gets to the zoning bylaw stage.

That’s not very reassuring when you consider that the process for new bylaws allows for ONE comment period.

That’s it.

Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt said at the recent Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management committee meeting, which he chairs, that decisions aren’t always seen as fair by rural residents who are in the minority. They feel like they don’t get any say, he noted.

That is what happened south of Ottawa when the Ontario government under Kathleen Wynne approved one last wind power project, the 100-megawatt Nation Rise or Crysler project that encompasses hundreds of acres of land in North Stormont including the communities of Finch, Berwick and Crysler

Although the Wynne government had cancelled further wind power procurement in 2016, saying Ontario had enough power and it was more than 90-percent emissions-free, Nation Rise was approved in the Liberals’ last days. The community fought hard through an appeal which pointed out the risk of environmental noise, wildlife deaths and potential harm to the fragile aquifer. The communities remain divided after the bitter conflict.

In the recent heat wave in Ontario, wind power throughout the province failed to provide any significant amount of power during the days when demand was high to power air conditioning.

Now Ottawa is calling for as much as 3,200 megawatts of wind or more than 700 turbines by 2050.

Most Ottawa residents have never seen a modern wind turbine; their experience might be to see the turbines on Wolfe Island near Kingston which are some 18 km from highway 401–those are under 2 megawatts while turbines today are well over 3 megawatts in power rating, and stand 600 feet or more. The ExPlace turbine is downtown Toronto is less than one megawatt but works well as a backdrop for political and industry photos.

The facts: wind turbines do not fulfill any of the promises made for them by their promoters. They do not produce reliable power, they are highly invasive to the environment, the produce environmental noise pollution, and they do not contribute much toward any environmental action. They will use up valuable prime agricultural land, and they are most definitely NOT an on-farm activity, contributing to agriculture.

Yet Ottawa City Council seems to want them as highly visible “climate action” beacons.

Have your say by submitting a comment to the joint Planning and Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee meeting on October 14. Deadline October 13. Details here: https://engage.ottawa.ca/the-new-official-plan

Not an “on-farm” agricultural activity [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]

Ottawa says industrial-scale wind turbines not “industrial”

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Huge turbines would be 60-storeys high, and produce noise and vibration—but not industrial?

Ottawa’s rosy and completely unrealistic vision of wind turbines in the countryside [Shutterstock image]

September 30, 2021

Ottawa’s planning department had its one and only “legally mandated” Public Open House on the new Official Plan via Zoom last evening.

Manager of Planning Policy Alain Miguelez was the prime presenter, assuring participants that “We the planners care very much about our city.”

The team covered the “five big moves” featured in the new Official Plan or OP, specifically growth management, mobility, urban and community design, climate, energy and public health, and economic development.

The city is focusing on intensification to accommodate their forecast of growth of almost a half million people, while at the same time protecting “our cherished neighbourhoods.” The City is all in on the :”15-minute neighbourhood” concept which holds that everyone should be able to walk to essential services such as food shopping, pharmacy services, parks, etc.

The rural areas of Ottawa are “prized, sensitive areas,” Miguelez said.”We have a beautiful countryside in Ottawa.”

Any development would be in keeping with goal to “keep things away from homes such as noise and dust.”

REALITY: giant steel noisy industrial power generators [Wind Concerns Ontario photo by D. Larsen, Nation Rise, North Stormont]

The City wants to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to meet energy needs locally, staff said. Large-scale projects such as solar would be employed.

When it came time for Question & Answer, our question on how Ottawa could justify allowing industrial-scale wind turbines in the rural areas when this contradicts provincial policy, planning staff responded that wind turbines “shouldn’t be in the category of industrial use.”

“We recognize there are concerns, and there will be opportunities for input,” said Melissa Jort-Conway. “We want to get it right.”

A question was asked about small-scale nuclear power, but no Ottawa staff was able to respond.

Another staff person commented on development in rural communities and said that development would be restricted to 300 square metres, maximum, within a boundary of 1 km.

The City’s statement about wind turbines being an “on-farm diversified use” contradicts the Provincial Policy Statement which says: “uses that are secondary to the principal agricultural use of the property and are limited in area. On-farm uses include but are not limited to, home occupations, home industries, agritourism uses and uses that produce value-added agricultural products. Ground-mounted solar facilities are permitted in prime agricultural areas…”

That is not grid-scale or industrial-scale wind turbines.

The City’s stance also appears to contradict policy from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

While City staff appears to have worked hard on the Official Plan, their knowledge of rural communities

is scant and their perception of industrial-scale renewable energy facilities is completely uninformed.

Today’s turbines are 60-storey noise and vibration-producing behemoths that completely alter the character of a community and do produce adverse effects for some people. There also seems to be no provision whatsoever for any kind of cost-benefit analysis for wind power. Wind is high impact on the environment and communities for very little benefit. It is a major factor in increasing electricity prices which can result in energy poverty and negative impacts on business and agriculture.

We will continue to try to provide information to the City at every opportunity but we remain disappointed that Ottawa has not chosen to be a leader and use innovative technology for reliable and affordable local energy generation.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Changes to Ottawa Official Plan to be presented today

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September 29, 2021

Wind turbines are an industrial use of the land, says Ottawa Wind Concerns

The City of Ottawa’s planning department will present the changes to Ottawa’s new Official Plan at 6:30 p.m. today, in a virtual presentation.

At issue for rural residents is Section 4.11 which allows for “renewable energy facilities” in “agricultural resource areas.”

In an earlier draft, the renewable energy facilities were described as “Large-scale wind” and solar, and the placement included “prime agricultural land.”

The Current draft reads:

Renewable Energy Generation

3) Renewable energy generation facilities that are subject to Provincial approvals will be permitted as a principal use within the following designations:

a) Rural Countryside;

b) Greenbelt Rural and Greenbelt Facility; and

c) Natural Environment Area sub-designation, subject to the policies of Subsection 7 .3.

4) Renewable energy generation facilities that are subject to provincial approvals and are subordinate to a principal use will be permitted within the following designations:

a) Agricultural Resource Area, only as an on-farm diversified use; and

b) Rural Industrial and Logistics.

5) The following considerations will be used to establish zoning by-law provisions for such renewable energy generation facilities:

a) Limiting nuisance impacts. such as through siting and screening requirements;

b) Limiting impacts on significant natural heritage features and agricultural resource area lands; and

c) The ability to access the electricity transmission network and arterial roadways.

You must register to attend the event; you may also submit a question or comment in advance. Go to the City of Ottawa Engage site here: The New Official Plan | Engage Ottawa

Ottawa Wind Concerns has submitted several comments related to the apparent acceptance of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind power projects as an “on-farm diversified use.” Wind turbines are an industrial use of the land and not related to agriculture as is required in Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement.

While City staff have denied that there will be wind turbines in Ottawa’s rural areas, the statements in the Official Plan are clear, as were statements made by the Manager of Planning Policy as a presentation in June. In the city’s Energy Evolution document, it is stated that a “project metric” is to have 20 megawatts of wind power installed by 2025. (See the link below for the Energy Evolution strategy.)

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Boom in home generator sales a sign of the times

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Reliable: what’s not to like?

September 24, 2021

One of the hottest stocks these days is a company called Generac, which makes whole-home power generators, fueled by natural gas.

After the power failures in Texas and the current crisis in the UK (the latter a desperate situation due to poor energy planning and reliance on wind power), people are worried about the reliability of the power grid.

It’s happening here too and will escalate if cities like Ottawa engage in planning based on intermittent “unreliables” like wind and solar.

Here’s a comment from one of our readers, a long-time experienced power worker:

Breaking news!!!!
I just got off the phone with another contractor from Rockland Ontario asking me to help them get caught up with residential generator installs. Most new construction includes a gas fired backup generator along with an 80 amp electric vehicle charging plug legislated by government code.
Yup, the same people that are discussing phasing out gas fired generation.
Oh, and by the way, for anyone interested, the 3 baseload gas plants that do operate daily are right across the river from Detroit and are privately owned by international consortiums supplying industrial operations that employ thousands.
Most of the other gas fired electrical generating stations are on standby as backup to the Ontario windfarms which drop out of production many times a day, except for the Milton station which provides peaking power usually twice a day for the local industries.
Get rid of that one, no big deal, BUT, you get rid of more Ontario industries and you get rid of more Ontario jobs.
Move in Industrial Wind Turbines and move out industry, hey, it has been proven, the data is everywhere, Ontario windmills don’t work plus they are built using gas fired and coal fired power generation, just not in Ontario.
Lucky for us China has gone in the opposite direction.
Ok, enough new old news for today, gotta go hook up another generator.

Stan the power man

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Ottawa environment committee approves motion to phase out Ontario natural gas power plants

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September 21, 2021

The Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management committee for the City of Ottawa has just approved a motion calling for Ontario to phase out its natural gas power plants by 2030.

Speakers at the meeting supported the phase out and a move to “alternate” or renewable forms of power generation. A speaker for the Ontario Clean Air Alliance erroneously said that Ontario has too much power which is why the province sells it to other jurisdictions at a loss—this is not correct. Often the surplus power comes from wind power which is generated in Ontario out of phase with demand. He also said that wind turbines in the Great Lakes could produce 80% of Ontario’s power, which is also not supported by the facts.

Speakers also referred to extreme weather events as a reason to phase out the natural gas power generation; in fact, at present, natural gas provides peaking capacity so in times of high demand due to weather extremes, gas is there to provide power whereas renewables like weather-dependent wind and solar cannot.

A spokesperson for Canadians for Nuclear Energy, Al Scott, commented that if the City of Ottawa wants to proceed with decarbonization, the choice is nuclear. Wind and solar cannot meet demand, he said, adding that wind power in Ontario had been an “unmitigated disaster.”

One councillor asked if there was any information on exactly what the impact would be on Ottawa’s power supply should the gas plants be phased out. This was not available.

Committee Chair Scott Moffatt commented that the City does not have plans to develop wind power itself and it would deal appropriately with any proposals; a staff member confirmed that the Energy Evolution document does mention the use of wind power to get to its Net Zero goal.*

Staff also commented on the detailed information received from Ottawa Wind Concerns.

The Committee voted and the motion carried.

OWC made a submission to the Committee as well as a copy of the Ontario Society for Professional Engineers comment on natural gas phase-out.

*See page 17 of the Energy Evolution document

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com