So-called “greens” keep saying going all “renewables” wind and solar will mean prosperity and jobs. Are they right?
Wind turbine at the Nation Rise installation in Finch-Crysler-Berwick: no employee parking lots [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]
March 2, 2023
In the February 25th edition of The North GrenvilleTimes is an Op-Ed promoting the notion of 100-percent “renewables” and criticizing the use of natural gas, which the writer, Steve Gabell, calls “methane” for extra punch.
But there is more to consider in the whole “Net Zero” approach. We wrote a response to the column but unfortunately, the editor advised us and several other letter writers that the topic is too hot for them to give any more space to it. In an email to us, editor Brandon Mayer said if he ran all the letters on this topic, they will fill the entire paper!
Here is our response to the original column.
Letter to the Editor, North Grenville Times
February 24, 2023
Re: OpEd Methane and Renewables, February 23
If writer Steve Gabell had honestly identified himself as president of the local Green Party Constituency Association, readers would have understood that he was writing from the Green Party playbook, not as a result of research and organized thinking.
He trots out the old anti-Ford government statement that the Ontario government “recklessly” cancelled “hundreds of renewable energy contracts” which is false: what got cancelled were over-priced contracts inked by the Wynne government for small projects that would have cost Ontario ratepayer millions for more intermittent unreliable power. Several large unnecessary wind power projects were also cancelled, saving Ontario hundreds of millions in weather-dependent, out of phase with demand power.
Mr. Gabell rages against natural gas which is really used in Ontario only to meet peak demand, and he proposes instead—Green Party policy—100-percent renewables. He says renewable wind and solar are lower in cost. Not true: an independent cost analysis by Power Advisory published in 2021 shows that the costs of wind and solar power were much higher than nuclear or hydro.
If Mr. Gabell were to take off his Green Party hat and do his own research he might come across eminent Canadian environmentalist professor Vaclav Smil who wrote that the notion of 100-percent renewables is “unbounded science and engineering fiction”. It is worth exploring what it would take to create an increasingly non-fossil global energy system, but rushing headlong into part-time power wind and solar won’t help.
One solution proposed is N2N, Natural Gas to Nuclear, but again, Green Party policy will not allow Mr. Gabell to even use the word “nuclear” despite Canada’s long and storied success with clean, reliable, emissions-free nuclear power technology.
The dream of “tens of thousands of jobs”? Wind power has been described as a “workerless” form of power generation. Just drive a few minutes down to the wind turbines in Crysler and look for an employee parking lot.
There isn’t one.
The dream I have is that political leaders could put aside their propaganda messaging on electricity issues and instead promote honest analysis of the best way forward. What we need is a reliable, affordable, emissions-free power grid that will improve life for everyone.
Jane Wilson is chair of Ottawa Wind Concerns; the community group is fighting a proposal by the City of Ottawa to build as many as 700 industrial-scale wind turbines in the city’s rural areas.
Overhead view of 8-megawatt battery storage facility in Tehachapi, USA-Wikipedia image
March 1, 2023
Green energy’s newest fad is Battery Energy Storage Systems or BESS, which is being promoted as an add-on to existing renewable power generation facilities to counteract intermittency and unreliability.
Lobbyist the former Canadian Wind Energy Association, now the Canadian Renewable Energy Association or CanREA is actively pushing BESS, and has even gone so far as to add storage to its corporate banner as in, Wind- Solar- Storage.
CanREA is pushing for TEN TIMES the amount of wind and solar we already have in Canada (won’t that look pretty? And cost us all, too) which they say will work with storage.
However, even the influential lobbyist points to concerns. First, there is a need to develop technical requirements for connecting and operating battery storage facilities CanREA says in its document, Laying the Foundation:
“In many jurisdictions, the technical details may be included in the operating documents of the crownowned utility. However, there are other elements, such as the scope of safety and environmental reviews, that will need legislated descriptions or will need to be included in the regulatory documents of the relevant ministry or government department.” (Page 10)
And, CanREA says, regulating authorities may need to get ready for BESS and develop new competencies:
“In most jurisdictions, the mandate and/or rules of the regulating authority (for example the Alberta Utilities Commission) may need to be enhanced. Regulatory authorities will need sufficient expertise to fairly evaluate proposed energy-storage installations.”
Most people don’t know what they are
In response to inquiries from members and the public, and because BESS is being proposed as an add-on to existing wind power installations, Wind Concerns Ontario undertook a review of experiences with BESS around the world, and reports of citizen concerns, as well as the current regulatory environment.
As one Ontario mayor said, most people don’t even know what they are.
Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a report, with the following conclusions:
Standards needed for emergencies – As BESS technology is relatively new, standards are rapidly changing in response to emergency situations encountered. Even projects developed by companies with extensive battery experience have experienced serious emergency situations.
Not enough information – The requirements for submissions to the IESO and to municipalities when requesting support for the project include few, if any, details on the actual project. The process appears to assume that once a company is awarded an IESO contract based largely on price, it will then proceed to develop the real proposal which will be submitted into an undefined permitting process or processes. Based on information submitted, it is not clear how the IESO will be able to distinguish between proposals with higher prices because they meet high standards for development and those with lower prices because the proposal includes the minimal safety standards.
Renewable energy or not? – BESS systems are neither defined as a Renewable Energy project by Regulation 359/09, nor are they included in the list of excluded projects. The intention may be to omit further provincial review of these projects and to proceed directly to the municipal permitting process but this would be a recipe for substantial delay as the building officials in each host municipality (many of which are small rural municipalities) individually develop the expertise needed to assess and approve these projects.
Safety regulations? – While Ontario Hydro has defined setbacks from BESS installations to protect their infrastructure, there are no setbacks for BESS installations established in Regulation 359/09 to protect other buildings and activities. Similarly, there are no noise standards for these systems which could create a new enforcement challenge for Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks field staff.
Potential for support to be withdrawn – As the submissions to municipalities have included minimal information, there is potential for municipalities to rescind their support resolution once they learn the risks associated with these projects and the municipal resources that will be potentially required to deal with emergency situations.
Clearly, there are significant issues to be addressed.
Ottawa area BESS
Here in Ottawa, a BESS facility was proposed for the recent Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Request for Proposals for new power generation. Located on Upper Dwyer Hill Road in the West Carleton-March ward of the city, the project is unheard of for most people. The company proposing the project held a public meeting in December but no one showed up. The IESO allows proponents to simply post a notice on their project website. If you don’t even know about the project, how do you know to check for announcements?
Here are the minutes for the “public” meeting:
MINUTES OF PUBLIC COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT City of Ottawa Public Meeting Location: Alexander Community Centre, 960 Silver St, Ottawa, ON K1Z 6H5 Time: 6-7 pm, January 12th, 2023
Long-Term Reliability Project Name: 548
Site Address: 650 Upper Dwyer Hill Road, Ottawa, ON K0A 1A0
Facility: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)
Size: 4.99-megawatt/19.96-megawatt hour
Proponents Name: 1000234763 Ontario Inc.
Attendance: • 0 community members •
Proponent – 1000234763 Ontario Inc., representative: o John Kozak, COO • Proponent’s Contractor, SolarBank Corporation (previously, Abundant Solar Energy Inc.) o Tracy Zheng, CAO o Mila Simon, Project Coordinator 6ii
6:00 PM: meeting called to order. Proponent and SolarBank waited for 45 minutes for attendees. No community members showed.
6:45 PM: Meeting adjourned.
Another BESS proposal is in development in Cumberland, that would be ten times the capacity of the Upper Dwyer Hill Rd facility. In response an email inquiry, developer Evolugen (a division of huge power developer Brookfield) replied:
We are still in the process of assessing potential sites for a battery storage energy system in the Cumberland area to respond to two announced procurements (expedited and long-term RFP).The two public meetings were held to gauge at a high level the type of reaction that this type of project would receive in this area. We don’t record public meetings because they are drop-in format rather than a presentation with a Q and A. But we are always available for one-on-one meetings.The IESO released the final RFP document in early December, but had released a series of documents (including a draft RFP) in preceding months to provide project proponents with a general idea of what public outreach requirements were required.
New zoning bylaws to be fast-tracked for 2023 in light of Ontario government’s current new power procurement plan
February 23, 2023
Ottawa City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a motion put forward by Ward 21 Rideau-Jock councillor David Brown, and seconded by West Carleton-March councillor Clarke Kelly, to hold off granting municipal approval for any new power project proposals that may come forward as a result of provincial government procurement plans. The motion directs staff to tell proponents that municipal support will not be granted until review by a Standing Committee; the Motion further stipulates that developing zoning bylaws for new power generation installation should be done in the Planning department’s 2023 “Workbook” ahead of 2024-2025 for the new suite of bylaws as a whole.
The deadline for the Independent Electricity System Operator’s first phase of new procurement, for 1,500 megawatts of power, was last Thursday, February 16. The IESO plans another RFP to be launched this spring or summer, for an additional 2,500 megawatts of new power.
The motion passed yesterday stipulates that staff be directed to inform proponents of any new power generation projects: “staff will not bring such requests to Council unless such requests are considered through the relevant Standing Committee, it being understood that the Standing Committee will act in accordance with the timelines provided in the LT1 RFP, furthermore, that Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates, shall be entitled to obtain any Municipal Support Resolution required per the LT1 RFP (or other similar processes), via bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa,”
“staff will bring forward an amendment to the City of Ottawa’s Zoning By-law that implements the intent of the policies in the Official Plan with respect to renewable energy generation facilities and storage by Q4 2023 that is in advance of the municipal Comprehensive Zoning By-law update“.
Ottawa saw only one submission in response to the most recent IESO Request for Proposals, a small Battery Energy Storage System proposed for Upper Dwyer Hill Road. Another, larger battery project is in development for the Cumberland area; the proponent is Brookfield’s Evolugen division. Both projects are supposed to have had public meetings to present project details; the Upper Dwyer Hill Road project meeting notice was only on the company’s website, and no members of the public attended the January 12th meeting.
Ottawa Wind Concerns made several presentations to city committees including the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee to warn that the IESO RFP was on the way, and that Ottawa needed to be ready with protective bylaws for large power generation projects such as wind turbines. Ontario’s regulations for noise levels and setbacks for noise and safety have not been changed since 2009, and are generally viewed as inadequate today.
The community group’s advice was rebuffed, however, with one rural councillor claiming in September that no such procurement was on the way. At that time, the IESO RFP process was in the final stages of “engagement.” The first RFP launched December 7, 2022.
Do wind turbines make noise? YES
Rural Ottawa has already experienced a proposal for a large wind power project when a proposal came forward under the Ontario government’s Feed-In Tariff program in 2009. It was for as many as eight 600-foot industrial wind turbines to be located in the North Gower area, to be built by Pro-Wind, a small company based in Germany. Residents rejected the proposal at the time, saying the power generating machines would be too close to homes and the village school. Residents signed a petition and presented it to City Hall; almost every property-owning resident of the North Gower area signed the document.
Interestingly, one of the proponent’s staff was interviewed by then radio host and journalist Mark Sutcliffe who asked, Do the wind turbines make noise?
“Of course they do,” said the project salesperson. “They’re power generators.”
Citizens of rural Ottawa are concerned that new power projects, no matter what the technology, will be located in rural areas. Noise pollution, vibration, loss of valuable farmland, risk to aquifers, and danger to wildlife are all important concerns.
We are trying to respond to community concerns, said Councillor David Brown, “That is really what this is all about.”
The motion, revised prior to Council, is here:
Re / Objet : Clarifying the process of approving new energy projects and infrastructure under the Requests for Proposals from Independent Electricity System Operator
Moved by / Motion de: Councillor D. Brown
Seconded by / Appuyée par: Councillor C. Kelly
WHEREAS the Independent Electricity System Operator has released an Expedited Procurement Process to procure 1.5 gigawatts of electrical capacity by mid-decade and has been engaging with municipalities with respect to Requests for Proposals for a significant number of new projects for energy generation, storage, and infrastructure; and
WHEREAS the Expedited Procurement Process (the E-LT1 RFP) closing February 16, 2023 includes three (3) of thirteen (13) Rated Criteria Points for municipal council support resolutions; and
WHEREAS after February 16, 2023 the Independent Electricity System Operator is planning two more procurement phases totalling 2.8 gigawatts of capacity to be available mid decade; and
WHEREAS the Independent Electricity System Operator requires a Municipal Support Resolution from the municipal council no later than sixty (60) days after the eighteen (18) month anniversary of the Contract Date; and
WHEREAS some Independent Electricity System Operator resources participate in the Ontario electricity market without contracts; and
WHEREAS it is not clear that the inability for a project to receive a “Municipal Support Resolution” will necessarily lead to the revocation of a proponent’s contract; and
WHEREAS Ottawa must decrease its reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting sources of energy, including by increasing local renewable energy generation and battery storage, to achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; and
WHEREAS the City has received a request for a Municipal Support Resolution for a 5-megawatt/20-megawatt hour battery energy storage system using lithium-ion battery technology at 650 Upper Dwyer Hill Road, Ottawa that is expected to occupy approximately 0.3 acres (0.12 ha) of land, including all required setbacks and spacing; and
WHEREAS municipalities, namely through land use policies in the Official Plan and provisions in the Zoning By-law, set their own priorities with respect to where energy generation, storage, and infrastructure may be permitted; and
WHEREAS increased energy generation, storage, and infrastructure can have significant impacts on local residents that are worth due consideration by Council under a framework in the Zoning By-law that reflects the City’s Official Plan; and
WHEREAS staff will bring forward an amendment to the City of Ottawa’s Zoning By-law that implements the intent of the policies in the Official Plan with respect to renewable energy generation facilities and storage by Q4 2023 that is in advance of the municipal Comprehensive Zoning By-law update;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor, on behalf of Council, write a letter to the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Electricity System Operator to formally request confirmation that projects approved through the LT1 RFP and future procurements shall not proceed without a Municipal Support Resolution from municipal council in the form of an approved motion; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff be directed, in consultation with Hydro Ottawa, to come forward with recommendations in advance of the new Zoning By-law to help inform City Council plans for energy generation, storage and infrastructure as a deliverable project in the 2023 Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department Workplan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the appropriate Standing Committees evaluate current and future requests for Municipal Support Resolutions, informed by the recommendations referenced above until amendments have been made to Zoning By-law 2008-250 in Q4 2023; provided, however, that projects proposed by Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates shall be entitled to obtain such Municipal Support Resolution through bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until such time as amendments have been made to Zoning By-law 2008-250 in Q4 2023, staff be directed to advise any proponents seeking a Municipal Support Resolution through the LT1 RFP that staff will not bring such requests to Council unless such requests are considered through the relevant Standing Committee, it being understood that the Standing Committee will act in accordance with the timelines provided in the LT1 RFP, furthermore, that Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates, shall be entitled to obtain any Municipal Support Resolution required per the LT1 RFP (or other similar processes), via bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this motion be sent to the Premier of Ontario, the Ontario Minister of Energy, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Ottawa has no new zoning bylaws to protect rural residents from environmental impacts from new power projects
View of a street in Crysler, south of Ottawa, with wind turbine 2 km away. There have been so many noise complaints that the local board of health is conducting a review. [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]
Two Ottawa city councillors have put forward a motion regarding new power generation facilities, demanding that municipal support be mandatory, and that any power projects be in the best interests of the people who must live near them.
Because Ottawa will not have new zoning bylaws until 2025, what the two rural ward councillors are saying is, rural area residents need up-to-date protection in terms of setback distances and noise limits from power projects, which are an industrial use of the land.
Ontario’s regulations for wind turbines, for example, were created in 2009 and remain unchanged, despite advances in knowledge about such negative environmental impacts as noise pollution, strobe effect, risk to wildlife, and danger from fire, ice throw or catastrophic equipment failures.
Community interests foremost, councillor says
Councillor David Brown submitted a notice of motion on February 1st, seconded by Ward 5 Councillor Clarke Kelly.
Here is what Councillor Brown wrote in the current edition of the Manotick Messenger about the motion.
“At issue is the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO and its ongoing efforts to procure energy projects across the province. Though energy projects generally receive support from municipal councils before proceeding, the authority is unclear; IESO could attempt to work with a project proponent without the approval of Council.
This means that an LNG power plant, a wind turbine, a solar farm, or any other project could arise without the support of the community.
Additionally, Ottawa is in the process of updating its by-laws. Once completed, these updated by-laws will hep future development better conform to the objectives of the city’s Official Plan. This includes energy infrastructure in general and wind turbines in particular. It is essential that new by-laws be finalized and approved before wind turbines are brought to Council’s attention for consideration and approval.
These are the issues that my motion seeks to address. The goals of this motion are to ensure that Council is able to act as the final authority on energy generation in our City and that new generating infrastructure respects our City’s soon-to-be-updated by-laws.
As new energy generation capacity is likely to be placed in the rural areas of Ottawa, it is vital that new facilities be well considered and respect residents’ needs and our communities’ interests.
No project should be advanced without being in the clear interest of those who live close to it.
By advancing this motion I am hoping to better protect our communities against potentially harmful overreach.
As of last December, the IESO process appeared not to allow municipalities final say in power project approvals, and energy minister Todd Smith recently wrote the IESO a letter asking them to be specific. Early in the current RFP process, municipal support could be “evidenced” by a letter from a planner, or by the issuing of building permits. Issuing building permits is an administrative process, and not an indication of Council support.
Ottawa lags in regulations for safety, health
Ottawa Wind Concerns has called for greater transparency on new power projects, and made several presentations in the past to the previous Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. Last year, the then councillor for Ward 21 said there was no need for Ottawa to act because there was no RFP process for new power projects, and sent emails in September to members of both the agricultural/rural and environmental protection committees. The truth was, at that point, the IESO documents were already in the engagement and revision phase, and well known to other jurisdictions.
The RFP commenced December 7, 2022.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has recommended a setback of 2 km from wind turbines to residential areas, based on the recommendation from Wind Concerns Ontario.
The City of Ottawa has expressed interest in promoting wind turbines. Ottawa’s $57B Energy Evolution plan calls for 3,200 megawatts of wind power, or more than 700 industrial scale wind turbines in the rural areas of the city.
RISK OF NOISE, FIRE, ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION FROM BATTERY STORAGE SYSTEM IS TOO GREAT, SAY RESIDENTS. FEW DETAILS AVAILABLE ON A LARGE ENERGY PROPOSAL: “A PIG IN A POKE”
January 24, 2023
Prince Edward County’s council voted to reject a proposal for a battery storage facility last week, responding to citizen concerns about safety and risk to the environment.
A Battery Energy Storage System or BESS was proposed by Compass Energy, a 250-megawatt facility that would require 15 acres of land.
Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO currently has a Request for Proposals for new power sources; the IESO is looking for 1,500 megawatts of power which can include new projects such as natural gas or wind, and battery storage. The proviso is that the power must be available immediately, and “can deliver a continuous amount of electricity to a connection point on a distribution system or transmission system for at least four consecutive hours,” according to the IESO website.
“When we first became aware of the Picton BESS proposal a few months ago, we thought the scale of the project warranted evaluation,” says APPEC president and County resident Orville Walsh.
“We anticipated that [the proponents’] community meeting in early December would provide many of the project details. That turned out not to be the case. According to the project website, they will only be designing or planning the project after obtaining a contract from the IESO.”
Walsh told Prince Edward County Council that on investigation of available information about the project, APPEC concluded that there is no information on the type of equipment that will be used, battery manufacturer, or other electrical components; no information on the HVAC systems to be utilized; no information on fire detection systems, fire suppression systems and equipment; and no noise studies or estimates of environmental noise, which can be significant.
“We can only imagine the noise that could be generated on a warm summer night by 250 HVAC units,” Walsh told Council.
There are few specifics about this project, Walsh explained, “not a single drawing or illustration that is reflective of the scale of the project.
“Giving support to a project lacking basic information is like buying a pig in a poke,” he said.
Residents of The County were also concerned about the loss of prime agricultural land to the power project, which contravened both the Ontario government’s statements and requirements of the local Official Plan to preserve valuable farmland.
Fire a significant risk
The danger of fire is an “unacceptable risk” from the lithium-ion batteries, say residents. Quoted in a report in the Picton Gazette, resident “Don Wilford spoke to council detailing the environmental devastation that would occur should a fire break out at a 250 megawatt BESS along with the immediate risk to the local population. ‘Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to fires. At the scale proposed, the fire would cause vast damage to wetlands, the toxic gas plume requiring evacuation of Picton only 5 km away and potential loss of firefighters’ lives,’ Wilford stated.”
Others wondered why the Prince Edward County location was chosen as it is not near major population centres, or power generation facilities. (We can tell you: willing landowners, nothing else.)
Company competence in battery storage
Citizens also noted that the proponent had no experience with battery storage facility construction or operation. Resident Don Wilford presented background information about proponent Compass Energy: it is owned by Irving, which in turn is a subsidiary of Icon Infrastructure, a financial investment firm based in the U.K., he said.
“None of these companies have experience with battery storage,” said Wilford. “It appears Ontario is not only ignoring safer zinc battery tech but outsourcing a key component of its electricity infrastructure to financial companies that will outsource the tech to a systems integrator, which will, in turn, repackage lithium-ion units from major suppliers in China.”
It was also noted that the developer admitted there would be “zero” long term employment opportunities for people in Prince Edward County.
Valuable farmland would be lost
Sophiasburgh Councillor Bill Roberts tabled an amendment to deny the request from Compass Energy, listing all the concerns expressed by community members, adding that the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture was also no in favour of the project.
“I’m opposed to the use of prime agricultural land for this purpose,” he said according to the story in the Picton Gazette. “I support the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture in their opposition to non-agricultural development on prime farmland. I hear convincing and alerting information from the audience,” said Roberts.
Roberts repeated the concerns about the risk of fire: “I find the potential fire and contamination risks compelling. Since 2017 there have been 50 such failures including five at large BESS installations. One in Australia required 150 firefighters and four days to extinguish,” decried Roberts. “I don’t get a sense the proponents have the experience to complete and operate such a giant BESS project. I was particularly struck by the IESO’s own connection site identification, wherein at least 166 sites were deemed preferable.”
Roberts amended motion was seconded by councillor John Hirsch and passed by council.
Battery storage proposals are popping up in various locations throughout the province, with varying degrees of success.
Other projects proposed include solar power facilities. One developer put forward a proposal to the council in Sault Ste Marie but declined to tell the elected representatives where the project might actually be located. At another meeting, the proponent claimed full support by local indigenous communities, which turned out not to be true: there had been some conversations including email exchanges, but there had been no formal expression of support.
In the U.S., energy commentator Robert Bryce says that community opposition to large wind and solar power projects is rising; people understand that wind and solar (and now, battery storage) do little to help the environment or alter climate change, but they do have significant environmental impacts, and cause electricity bills to rise. Bryce maintains a database of community rejections of large renewable energy projects.
Comment: frankly, we cannot understand why any company would want to take on the folks in Prince Edward County. They spent more than 10 years, and more than $1.5 million after-tax dollars to defend the County against four wind power projects, all of which would have endangered wildlife, wetlands, and the fragile topography of the area, as well as having a negative impact on tourism, for which the area is rightly famous.
*APPEC is a corporate community group member of Wind Concerns Ontario
REPOSTED FROM WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO with permission
The aim of the LT-RFP according to the IESO is to: “seek resources that can be in service between 2026 and 2028 to address global and regional needs.”
Energy Minister Todd Smith issued a directive on October 7th:
11. The Expedited Process, Upgrades Solicitation, and L T1 RFP shall be open to all resource types that meet the mandatory criteria established by the IESO, which may include renewable energy, energy storage, hybrid renewable energy with storage, biofuels and natural gas-fired generation.
The RFP has been in development for many months, despite the continued assertion by former Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt who insisted that there is no procurement process in Ontario.When he wrote to members of Ottawa’s Planning and Agricultural and Rural Affairs committees that there was no plans for new power procurement (to head off a presentation by Ottawa Wind Concerns), the IESO was in the final phases of implementing the RFP.
Now, Ottawa could see proposals for new power projects.
The process will be very quick: announcement of successful bidders will come in March of 2023, according to IESO documents dated mid-November.
But we’re not ready.
Ottawa has no new zoning bylaws in place to deal with new power proposals and in fact, the zoning bylaw process following the new Official Plan is stalled due to concerns about new provincial legislation.
As well, we know from the experience with wind turbines since 2009 and the Green Energy Act, there are lots of problems with these industrial-scale projects. Noise, damage to aquifers, and risk to wildlife including endangered species are impacts seen all over Ontario. But regulations for noise and setbacks have not changed.
When the Green Energy Act was revoked by the Ford government in 2018, planning powers were returned to municipalities, who are now able to set their own regulations for noise limits and setback distances.
But Ottawa hasn’t done that.
The solution? Recommended to us by our planning consultant, and as already done by several other Ontario municipalities, Ottawa could pass a motion that is a simple statement of policy intent, to the effect that until new zoning bylaws are approved, the City of Ottawa will not review or approve any proposals for power generation, including wind power.
City staff have already expressed concern about the speed of the LT-RFP process and the fact that municipal approval doesn’t seem to be mandatory, though the Ford government promised that it would be. Other municipalities are worried about this IESO process which, they say, doesn’t give enough time for proper public consultation, or for a full assessment of new power development proposals such as analysis of the effectiveness of the technology being proposed, and what impacts the project could have on the environment.
We met today with new Ward 21 Councillor David Brown, who shares our concerns about the IESO RFP. He is already taking action on it.
We hope that the new Council will act quickly to ensure that the City is not sandbagged by new power generation proposals that are not appropriate to our area, and specifically that Ottawa’s rural communities will be protected from industrialization by unreliable and noisy grid-scale wind turbines. We hope that any new power generation would be for power that is reliable and affordable, and actually does something for the environment and climate change. That’s not expensive, invasive, out-of-phase with demand wind power.
Planning committee co-chair responds with condescending, hostile messages; continues to deny Ottawa plans for wind turbines
October 11, 2022
While Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) prepares to launch new procurement initiatives for power generation, and wind power developers line up to apply for contracts, at least one councillor with the City of Ottawa denies the need for the city to issue protective bylaws for noise and setbacks for health and safety now.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has been updating the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) as well as city staff charged with developing new zoning bylaws on both the need for protective regulation and the fact that other municipalities have already taken these steps. We made a presentation to ARAC in April, detailing the need for protective regulations, emphasizing that current provincial rules are inadequate.
Recently, we submitted letters to both the Planning Committee and ARAC warning that if the IESO opens the door to new wind power proposals, it will be too late to create bylaws for noise and setbacks. Ottawa needs to take action now, before proposals are made.
Here’s what we told ARAC:
SUBMISSION TO CITY OF OTTAWA AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE Urgent need for protective zoning bylaws for wind power projects/wind turbines September 28, 2022 This is a follow-up to our submission and presentation on April 7th by Ottawa Wind Concerns board member Michael Baggott, requesting protective zoning bylaws and a setback distance of at least 2 km for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines. We have discussed this presentation with the Carleton Landowners and have their support in making this submission. What is new: The Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO is launching several Requests for Proposal, to acquire 3,500 megawatts of new power generation. (Reference: https://www.ieso.ca/en/Sector-Participants/Resource-Acquisition-and-Contracts/Long-TermRFP-and-Expedited-Process ) The IESO has released a list of Qualified Applicants, of which more than a dozen are wind power developers. One new contract has already been awarded (an extension to Melancthon I) and wind power developers have already announced their intention to propose new projects. (Capital Power, September 22, Windsor, Ontario)
The City of Ottawa confirms that it wants “predominately wind and solar” power to achieve climate action goals (reference: climate manager Mike Fletcher), repeated by climate manager Andrea Flowers to the environmental protection committee May 17th: “We have explicitly said [our plans] would include wind and solar.” The IESO has released a set of draft documents related to municipal approval and community engagement. Deadline for stakeholder comment is September 30. Problems: As documented previously, Ontario current setback for noise of 550m is inadequate and not aligned with regulation in other jurisdictions today. Setback from roadways, public pathways etc. not adequate for protection Once proposals are made, and officially submitted, a zoning bylaw cannot apply to those proposals. (Future ones, yes)
Ottawa citizens, particularly those in rural areas who would be forced to have these power generation projects, are very concerned about noise pollution, impacts on property value, effects on the aquifer and private water wells, as well as the risk to wildlife including endangered species. This was acknowledged by Ottawa staff Andrea Flowers on May 17 when she said the City would respond to concerns with appropriate zoning. This cannot wait. Protective zoning bylaws for grid-scale wind turbines are needed urgently, before any proposals for new wind power development come forward. We understand that the City is engaged in developing new bylaws connected to the new Official Plan, but this bylaw or set of bylaws cannot wait until second quarter of next year when the new draft bylaws could be presented. An option would be for a resolution to the effect that the CIty of Ottawa will not review or approve any proposals for new power generation until after the new bylaws come into effect. In a meeting we had with Councillor Eli El-Chantiry and ARAC chair on this subject in 2019, we were told that municipalities can act quite quickly if they have to. The time to “act quickly” is now.
Two days before the ARAC meeting, Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt ( a member of ARAC and also Planning co-chair) sent this message.
I’ll try to be direct so that your Twitter account doesn’t spin my words.
As it stands today, the City does not have an explicit zone that permits wind turbines. All we have is the pending Official Plan which seeks to prohibit their installation in the Agricultural Resource Area. You and I both know that the Province is not required to adhere to municipal policies and by-laws. Nevertheless, the City has committed to reviewing this matter as part of its upcoming Zoning By-Law process.
What you are seeking is a more immediate zoning setback. What you are not considering is that to apply a zoning setback, you need an explicitly permissive zone. I don’t believe the residents of Ottawa would appreciate a quick greenlighting of wind turbines on their properties just so that we can implement a setback that may or may not be respected by the Province.
My position on this has always been that we cannot bury our heads and assume that wind will never come. I’ve also said that there was no current application process for wind, which your Twitter account spun and mocked. Regardless of the recent IESO announcement, I still don’t foresee this current Provincial Government approving wind but they won’t always be in power. While the City will not be an applicant for wind power, we should ensure we prepare for what could come. That led to the OP inclusion and the future zoning discussion. For the sake of the communities you want to represent, I would not recommend rushing that process.
The message was copied to every member of both committees. Not one of them countered the inaccuracies in the message.
The City doesn’t need an “explicit zone” that permits turbines. True, the Official Plan says where they may NOT go, but it is absurd to say that a turbine zone must be described in order for there to be setback or noise regulations, or even a general policy statement. The City already has bylaws about where development may or may not be located, and bylaws governing noise in communities etc. The City has the option to create a resolution, as we suggested, to note its policy intentions, which would help protect in case any proposals come forward now.
“The Province is not required to adhere to municipal policies”—municipalities are free to create their own bylaws, which several have already done with regard to wind turbine noise limits, setback distances, and height restrictions. Yes, the province could enact something like the Green Energy Act which blatantly removed municipal powers, but the current government restored them in 2019. Not going backwards.
Protective bylaws constitute “greenlighting” of wind power projects???
“No current application process for wind”: that was exactly our point. One is coming. And it’s coming fast. We simply asked the City to take steps to protect the residents of rural communities BEFORE it becomes impossible to do so.
The City won’t be an “applicant” for wind power. Maybe not but the $57B Energy Evolution plan and statements by staff make it clear the city’s climate action plan is to increase electricity available which they intend to do by “predominately wind and solar” (City staff quote). So Ottawa may not be an “applicant” but it certainly intends at the moment to encourage wind power development. One of the “catalyst projects” is to have 20 megawatts of wind turbines by 2025. (We learned via documents obtained under Freedom of Information request that the project is “on hold” while the Province reviews requirements for net metering.)
Our Twitter account does not engage in “spin” or “mockery.” Our goal is to inform. The fact is, the City of Ottawa has been woefully unaware of, or wilfully ignoring, Ontario’s disastrous history with expensive, unreliable and ineffective wind power. Why? What’s the agenda?
We showed this response to colleagues who are or who have in the past been municipal councillors and their reaction was that this response was puzzling at a minimum, and disrespectful of community concerns. One commented that the purpose of the response could be taken to be an attempt to “throw you off the scent.”
We also consulted an urban planner who remarked that Mr. Moffatt’s response was “garbled and condescending.” The planner was surprised at the lack of understanding from a co-chair of the city’s planning committee, and additionally that Ottawa is not further ahead on this matter, as are other jurisdictions. “Not forward-thinking” was the planner’s comment.
Again, not one member of the Planning Committee countered the inaccuracies.
We can only hope now that the next Council is committed to a review of the problematic Energy Evolution plan, at least as far as the electricity generation proposals (written for the city by an activist group) are concerned, and that the next Planning Committee is more interested in awareness of current events and potential impacts on rural communities.
Election Day is October 24; next Advance Poll is October 14. Ask questions of candidates NOW and choose wisely.
List of IESO Qualified Applicants for new power contracts. Check the companies that are wind power developers. Conclusion: wind is coming.
Mayoral candidates pronounce the current climate action plan “unviable” and “wishful thinking” while proposing new ones
September 30, 2022
Ottawa’s municipal election campaign is shining much needed light on the city’s $57B climate action plan, named “Energy Evolution.”
It might even be dead.
We certainly hope so.
Work on the plan was started in the middle of the last decade including a series of “Pathway” studies released in 2017, and culminating in the Energy Evolution document passed by the city’s environmental protection committee and then Council in October of 2020. One Pathway study focused on wind power and acknowledged that Ottawa was a “low” wind resource area (translation: not enough wind to run turbines), the problem could be solved by offering developers more money to come here anyway. The result would be higher electricity bills, but not more reliable power.
While the city claims it conducted public engagement for the plan, it appears that a select group of “stakeholders” was contacted for their applause, and the plan was presented to Council within six months of official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A casual inquiry of Ottawa citizens will reveal that few people know about the plan and its very hefty price tag, which relies heavily on support from all three levels of government. (To compare, Toronto has a climate plan, too. TransformTO has a budget of $6 million a year.)
A report in today’s Ottawa Citizen says a mayoral debate focused on the environment held September 29th saw candidates presenting their own plans for climate action. Former mayor and now candidate for a repeat gig Bob Chiarelli said the current plan, (i.e., Energy Evolution) is “unviable” and based on “wishful thinking.”
He doesn’t say it is out and out crazy but he could have. The electricity portion of the document was written for the city by activist group Pollution Probe, and recommends that Ottawa turn up its nose at the provincial power grid, and create its own power supply. How? By using wind and solar power.
That is not only nuts it’s impossible. Both are unreliable, weather-dependent sources of power that even with the notion of battery storage, cannot possibly power a city of 1.1 million people.
The plan features a raft of other completely unworkable ideas. A half a million heat pumps is prescribed: interesting, but also impossible across the board. The units are large and do create noise; water source heat pumps need a lot of property to install the equipment.
On propane? No problem: switch to a wood pellet heating system. Because burning wood is better than burning propane, right?
There’s more, but we refer you to our earlier post on how the Energy Evolution plan will hit you, hard.
Candidate and former broadcaster Mark Sutcliffe had a few comments about a climate plan. He said he wouldn’t spend $250 million on bike lanes, which was a jab at fellow candidate Catherine McKenney. Sutcliffe talks about planting trees and other measures, but doesn’t say anything about power.
Catherine McKenney never mentions Energy Evolution but they (McKenney prefers the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’) were a councillor when Ottawa City Council passed the climate action plan, and is a member of the environmental protection committee to boot, which not only passed the plan before sending on to Council but was presumably the standing committee that had some oversight on the project. McKenney has made statements about renewable energy, but has also said they want to turn the Greenbelt into an urban national park.
That conflicts with Ottawa’s Official Plan which in Section 4.11 states that renewable energy facilities may be located in the Greenbelt as a principal use. The councillor may be thinking that means a few solar panels to power signs or lights, not 600-foot grid-scale wind turbines which would be an industrial use of the land.
Lots of views to choose from but it appears Energy Evolution might get a review under a new Mayor and Council, if not shelved altogether.
We’re betting few candidates are aware that Energy Evolution was used as “evidence” when the City opposed a customer pipeline replacement by Enbridge along St Laurent Blvd to serve Ottawa natural gas customers.
At an all-candidates meeting in North Gower, for Ward 21, all three of the candidates appearing that evening pledged to demand a review of Energy Evolution.
Roads, wind turbines, and City Hall arrogance: themes at North Gower all-candidates’ meeting
September 21, 2022
Planning staff and others at the City of Ottawa may have sensed their ears burning Monday evening.
That’s because participants at an all-candidates meeting in North Gower held September 19 complained bitterly about the lack of real “engagement” or “consultation” from staff regarding major initiatives, whether it the new Official Plan, individual zoning amendment cases, or huge expensive initiatives like the $57B Energy Evolution plan.
Comments were made about how hard it was to get information about city projects and plans, and to feel like comments were being taken seriously, residents said.
Staff put out their reports with their decisions on what actions will be taken, said one North Gower resident. By the time the process gets to “engagement,” it feels like the decisions have already been made, she said.
Mentioned was the city’s “engagement” on garbage collection, the Official Plan, and other policies in development.
City doesn’t “get” rural issues
Citizens spoke about some of the issues being reported in media about what’s important in the 2022 municipal election campaign, and said that the urban-rural divide was clear. The city quite simply doesn’t “get” rural issues.
Transit is a key topic now, as the city is pushing for better use of the multi-billion-dollar transit system and LRT. But Ottawa’s transit system is out of reach for rural residents, some said.
“I’d love to take transit,” said one resident. “But where do I get it? Where do I drive to from North Gower to get a bus or the LRT or whatever? And, I live on a farm and drive a truck—will there be a parking space I can fit into when I get there?”
Leigh-Andrea Brunet said that the mega-warehouse site, which was the subject of a citizen appeal, would have been a good place for a park and ride, where buses could pick up residents needing to go into the city. David Brown commented that work would have to be done on assessing the cost of rural bus routes but that the City-owned client services centre would be a good location for passenger pickup in North Gower.
Comments were made about one mayoral candidate’s proposal to spend $250 million on bike lanes while in rural areas, roads are literally falling apart.
Concern was expressed by several residents over the tone of the current Council, and how there seemed to be “gangs” of councillors as one person put it.
Kevin Setia said his goal would be to work collaboratively with all other councillors.
NO to expensive, unreliable wind turbines
As the questions asked covered various City initiatives and programs promoted by the current Council, the Energy Evolution plan came up repeatedly, particularly the part that calls for powering the city with wind and solar and would require more than 700 industrial-scale wind turbines, to be installed in Ottawa’s rural areas.
Residents recalled the Green Energy Act era in Ontario, which resulted in a loss of more than $30 billion to ratepayers and taxpayers because of expensive, above-market contracts, and asked why Ottawa hasn’t learned from that.
Every candidate agreed that wind power was expensive and unreliable and not appropriate for Ottawa.
In conclusion, all three said they pledged to demand a review of the Energy Evolution plan if elected.
Further all-candidates meetings include Richmond, October 5; ManotickVillage Community Association September 28th7 PM at the Community Centre/arena; West Carleton-March the OFAwill host a meeting Oct. 5 at the Kinburn Community Centre 7 PM; and the Huntley Community Association (HCA) will host an all-candidates debate for Ward 5 council candidates on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7 PM at the Carp Agricultural Hall.
Are Ottawa’s rural residents just collateral damage for City Hall’s $57B climate action plan?
September 14, 2022
With the municipal election campaign now in gear, candidates for council and the mayor’s chair are talking about ideas and platforms.
From the mayoral candidates in particular, we hear talk about “affordability” and “equality” and “accessibility.”
(How can we have “affordable housing” when Ottawa’s $57B Energy Evolution plan proposes actions, like installing 700 wind turbines, that will raise electricity bills significantly?)
The notion of “equality” is intriguing because in the rural areas, the sentiment is that rural voices don’t get heard much at City Hall. That was cited as an issue in the Rogers TV candidate debate held for Ward 21 Rideau-Jock.
So, when it comes to the city’s $57B Energy Evolution climate action plan, is there “equality” for rural residents?
When city staff revealed the plans for wind turbines (they didn’t say how many then, but we know now they think around 710 will be needed) in June 2021 during a discussion for rural residents about the new Official Plan, there was immediate pushback from those participating in the sparsely attended, poorly publicized online event.
When residents objected to having industrial-scale wind turbines, then Manager of Planning Policy Alain MIguelez said, in effect, the city wants renewables to provide power and “That power has to come from somewhere.”
Meaning you, you rural folk.
More recently, in a meeting of the Environmental Protection Committee, councillor (and chair) Scott Moffatt said he heard a lot of negative reaction to the prospect of wind turbines.
In response, city climate manager Andrea Flowers confirmed that the city “explicitly” said it wants wind and solar and that resident concerns would be met by zoning bylaws and “technology.”
The reality is that rural residents are already being regarded as collateral damage in the city’s plan to run a metropolis of more than 1.1 million people on “predominately” wind and solar power.
City climate manager Mike Fletcher spoke of Ottawa’s rural communities as “vast areas” for wind power development in a letter to the Ontario Energy Board … as if no one lives there.
Both forms of power generation are extremely land-intensive, gobbling up acres of valuable land for wind turbines, their access roads and associated infrastructure such as transformer substations, power cabling and more.
Wind turbines in particular add noise pollution to the environment, are a risk to wildlife especially
bats which are crucial to the ecosystem and agriculture, and, in areas of vulnerable aquifers wind turbines with their monstrous foundations also pose a risk to the water supply.
But to the Non Government Organizations (NGOs) advising the City of Ottawa (Pollution Probe actually wrote the electricity section of Energy Evolution), rural residents are simply inhabitants of a giant resource plantation.
Equality? For rural residents? Not in Ottawa.
A question for municipal election candidates during this campaign: what about “equality” for rural citizens? Where do you stand on protecting the environment and quality of life in Ottawa’s rural communities?