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Last week, Energy Minister and former Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli announced that Ontario would in future increase “local control” in renewable energy development. This was in reaction to the fact that in recent weeks, almost 40 municipalities took the step of formally passing a resolution to say they are NOT a “willing host” to wind power projects, picking up on remarks made months earlier by Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Mr Chiarelli announced that a new process will “replace the existing large project stream of Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program and better meet the needs of communities.”
A new “competitive procurement process for projects over 500 kW” will be announced in the fall.
What does it all mean?
In fact, things may even be worse for communities who don’t wish to expose their residents to the health impacts, property value loss, and social divisions that come along with large-scale wind power generation projects.
Note the wording: “meet the needs of communities.” What the province is saying it will now do is develop Regional Energy Plans and the new process will “require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify appropriate locations and site requirements.”
We’re not sure who the “energy planners” are but take this scenario: a regional energy plan for Ottawa and area is developed and the province says there must be a mix of power sources. Therefore, a wind power project, and guess what? There’s already one in process in North Gower-Richmond*, or countless other communities across Ontario near large urban centres, so, carry on! And we know that siting wind power projects has NOTHING to do with health or the environment and everything to do with a few willing landowners.
And the Liberal government’s continuing policy of forcing wind power projects on rural and small urban communities.
Premier Wynne confirmed this in an interview last Friday when she said Ontario is continuing its goal of securing the province’s clean energy future, and that siting decisions will be made for the “greater good.”
That means, too bad for you North Gower and Richmond. Hundreds of families, young children, people with existing health problems, young families with everything invested in their homes suddenly forced to live with a power project? Too bad for you: it’s for the “greater good.”
This announcement was the Ontario government at its most cynical.
Scott Stinson wrote in The National Post, referring to the government’s earlier decision to pay power developers even if we don’t need the power: “So now Ontario will pay wind generators for energy that it isn’t even using, produced by turbines in communities that didn’t want them, and were installed under a set of rules that it has since admitted was a mistake.” http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/06/02/scott-stinson-rural-communities-not-blow-away-by-changes-to-ontarios-green-energy-act/
Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs today wrote a letter to Premier Wynne on behalf of the 20 some municipalities that met earlier this year and formed a working group. While Mr Chiarelli claims that the province is unable to cancel, or not proceed on, projects with FIT contracts, Mayor Jeffs reminds him that this is not true: “the recent court decision in the lawsuit brought by Trillium Power indicated that this concern does not apply to projects that have not received REA approvals. FIT contract holders have only been granted permission to enter a ‘complex regulatory process’ that might lead to approval to build a wind project. A FIT contract is not a guarantee of a REA approval.”
In other words, with all due respect, Minister, you are lying.
For more on this we invite you to read Parker Gallant’s excellent column at Wind Concerns Ontario, The truth, whole truth, so help me Ontario. http://freewco.blogspot.ca/2013/06/the-truth-whole-truth-so-help-me-ontario.html
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Middlesex-Lambton, Listowel, Prince Edward County, Haldimand, West Lincoln, Bluewater, Kincardine, Collingwood… for a list of wind power projects pending go to ontario-wind-turbines.org