It’s too bad Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government didn’t have its epiphany on the pointlessness of subsidizing any more expensive, unreliable and unneeded wind turbines before it tore apart rural Ontario.
It’s too bad Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government didn’t have its epiphany on the pointlessness of subsidizing any more expensive, unreliable and unneeded wind turbines before it tore apart rural Ontario.
The Liberals’ treatment of rural Ontarians has been a disgrace.
They overrode local planning rights by passing the Green Energy Act of 2009 under Wynne’s predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, then rammed industrial wind factories down their throats.
Sometimes, it was hard for people in these communities to believe they were living in a democracy.
Rural communities were torn apart — neighbours cashing in by leasing land to wind developers for turbine construction, against neighbours forced to live in the shadow of the mega-structures.
The province received hundreds of complaints about health problems which people believed were being caused by the turbines and suppressed them.
During the 2011 election, the CBC reported government documents released under Freedom of Information legislation showed environment ministry staff had issued internal warnings the province needed stricter rural noise limits on turbines, that it had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them and that computer models for determining setbacks were flawed.
Ontario Provincial Police showed up at the homes of middle-aged women in one rural community who had never been involved in any form of law-breaking, warning them to keep their demonstrations against wind turbines peaceful.
As we reported, these visits were made at the request of a wind developer. (The government denied any involvement.)
While the Liberals dismissed wind protesters as NIMBYs, they simultaneously cancelled two unpopular natural gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga due to local opposition, at a public cost of $1.1 billion, in what the Tories and NDP dubbed the Liberal seat saver program.
When local residents wrote to Liberal MPPs asking for help in fighting the industrial wind factories imposed on them, they received form letters in reply.
For many rural Ontarians, the Liberal blunder into green energy, launched without any meaningful business plan according to the Auditor General of Ontario — and which wasn’t needed to eliminate coal-fired electricity — wasn’t just a case of their government wasting billions of dollars and sending their electricity bills skyrocketing.
It was a case of their government robbing them of fundamental democratic rights.
While Manitoba is bending over backwards to foster cooperation and benefit for both rural and urban communities, the Ontario government is doing the opposite, says PostMedia writer Jim Merriam. In fact, the Wynne government has made it very clear what it thinks of rural/small-town Ontario –you’re there to supply our power and bury our garbage.
Although Manitoba and Ontario are neighbours, their differences far outnumber their similarities.
One of these differences is the way their leaders treat the rural-urban divide.
Brian Pallister, recently elected Conservative premier of Manitoba, has coined two new words: “rurban” and “urbal,” according to the Western Producer.
The Manitoba premier is trying to create a new reality in Manitoba, wherein his urban members of the legislature care about rural areas and vice versa. He is trying to convince legislators that, “You do not think about yourself. You think about your team.”
The new boss went on to say “there are rural situations that many people in the city don’t fully appreciate.”
In contrast, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has been all over the map on the same issue.
As recently as two years ago she denied the divide even existed. Then last November, she told a rural audience “the issue of bridging the rural-urban gap” has been on her mind since she was first elected in 2003.
The reasons for the divide are various, but some stand out.
No. 1 is the way this government has shoved industrial wind turbines down the throats of rural dwellers. The province is still approving new developments over the strongest objections of municipal leaders in a wide area of the province.
During the last provincial election, the Liberals told rural Ontarians their voices would be heard on wind farm developments.
Yet, in April, just weeks after awarding controversial contracts for five wind farms, Ontario said it’s opening bidding for double that amount of wind energy.
Recent approvals included a development in Dutton-Dunwich in southwestern Ontario where 84 per cent of residents who voted, didn’t want such developments.
In November 2013, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli testified before a legislature committee that municipalities wouldn’t be given a veto over projects but it would be “very rare indeed” for any to be approved without local backing.
NOTE: The City of Ottawa does not presently have any wind power projects under contract, but the IESO is set to begin its new Large Renewable Procurement process later this summer. Eastern Ontario has a “green light” in the wind power expansion process. Earlier this month, Ottawa City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking that municipal support of power projects be a mandatory requirement for new bids.
Higher electricity bills, manufacturing being driven away, social costs of huge wind power plants
Shoreline Beacon, February 8, 2016
By Jim Merriam
Photo Toronto Sun
It’s to be hoped the Fraser Institute didn’t spend much money on its recent study of the fiscal performance of Canada’s premiers.
Every resident of Ontario able to sit up and take nourishment — probably including Wiarton Willie last week — has known the study’s conclusion for a long time: Premier Kathleen Wynne is doing a lousy job of managing Ontario’s economy.
Wynne, with the help of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, has reduced Ontario from a powerhouse to an empty house.
On almost every file Wynne’s government is found wanting if not severely under water, to borrow a phrase from the mortgage industry.
The worst is energy. The cost of power in the province has forced industries to close and some families to choose between heat and groceries.
A columnist in a Toronto newspaper recently suggested the heat-vs.-food statement is an exaggeration. He should spend a few minutes listening to clients at food banks in rural areas. But I digress.
Much of the high cost of power is associated with renewable energy production.
A new study from the University of Ottawa confirms what we’ve been saying all along: Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand.
Stewart Fast, who headed the study, said, “It was a gold rush, basically.” Since those involved kept details secret to avoid giving their competitors an edge, residents didn’t know what their neighbours were planning.
“That is really the worst way to go about something that you know is going to have a big impact on landscape and people,” he said.
In defence of renewable energy, we keep hearing from our urban cousins how much money farmers are earning by allowing turbines on their land. Although true on the surface, there’s much more to that equation, said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
Just one question is the impact of the presence of a turbine on the farm owner’s financing.
Is Ontario’s rush to wind power killing the green energy movement?
TORONTO, CAN, September 2, 2015
Ontario’s stance as an environmental activist province in Canada and would-be leader in climate change action is taking a beating after the government approved two controversial wind power projects, and continues to fight environmental groups and citizens on a third.
Last week, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change approved a 75-megawatt power project on tiny Amherst Island in Lake Ontario. The island is home to several species of wildlife declared endangered or at-risk by the same government, and is also a resting place for migrating birds. The birds attract eco-tourists from all over the world.
The threat of the wind power project to the heritage environment is so great that Heritage Canada’s National Trust named the island one of Canada’s Top Ten Endangered Places.
“There are some places where wind power projects shouldn’t go,” says Michele LeLay, spokesperson for the community group the Association to Protect Amherst Island. “This is one of them.”
Abundance of birds at risk
Also on Lake Ontario, is Prince Edward County where the province recently approved another large wind power generation project for the South Shore. The environmental danger is undeniable, says Cheryl Anderson, of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists: “Data gathered over 20 years confirms the South Shore is a major migratory pathway for an astonishing diversity and abundance of birds. This unique blend of ecosystems supports numerous varieties of rare plants, eight species of at-risk turtles, Monarch butterflies and many amphibian species. Because of its unique biodiversity, the value of Prince Edward County’s South Shore is unparalleled as an ecotourism venue.”
The Ontario government heads back to the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal in September, to hear the appeal of a wind power project at Ostrander Point, also in Prince Edward County, halted by the Tribunal in 2013 due to the danger to a rare species of turtle. After several sessions in court, the decision has been returned to the Tribunal where community groups are in the unusual position of spending hundreds of thousands to protect the environment from the Ministry of the Environment.
Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff is outraged at the approvals and has been trying to see the Premier of Ontario, so far with no luck. In a letter to her he said “efforts to implement the Green Energy Act [legislation pushing wind power] are becoming counter-productive through resulting negative impacts to endangered species, as well as the prosperity and well-being of rural Ontario Communities.”
The concern about Ontario’s pro-wind agenda and resulting environmental damage is not limited to the southern parts of the province. Canada is known around the world for its iconic landscapes in the Algoma region around Lake Superior, now also the site for unbridled wind power development. Hills and valleys made famous by Canada’s Group of Seven artists are now scarred by clear-cutting of trees, flattening of ridges, and the construction of roads and turbine foundations.
George Browne of Lake Superior Action Research Conservation (LSARC) says the devastation to the wilderness is immense. Wilderness, he says, “is a rare and unique feature, understood by many to represent the grandeur of nature; vastness is an essential part of the aesthetic appeal of the landscape. It is worthy of conservation.”
Approval of projects in fragile areas will tarnish green energy industry
Nature groups believe that Ontario’s inappropriate choices for wind power development will actually harm the green energy movement. Ontario Nature and Nature Canada jointly stated: “We sincerely believe [approval of the Amherst Island project] will further tarnish Ontario’s green energy industry, and ultimately undermine future projects in less controversial areas. The opposition of this project in the naturalist community is palpable. The risks of killing large numbers of raptors, swallows and bobolinks is high. Approval will further alienate a segment of Ontario’s population from the green energy agenda and tip an already fragile balance.”
Ontario is guilty of hypocrisy says Ontario’s premier community coalition, Wind Concerns Ontario. “The government’s recent decisions show they have lost their way,” says President Jane Wilson. “Killing birds and despoiling wilderness is not the way to save the environment.”
<!OTTAWA, Aug. 11, 2015 /CNW/ – More than 90 communities have now declared themselves to be unwilling hosts to huge power generation projects using wind turbines.
The municipality of Nation, east of Ottawa, yesterday reversed an earlier statement of support, and the Town of Essex declared it wants no more wind turbines.
“The Premier promised not to force power projects on communities,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “But we still can’t say ‘no.’ Making the unwilling host declaration is a powerful statement to this government.”
Ontario citizens are increasingly aware that large-scale wind power brings potential environmental damage, harms wildlife, is linked to health impacts due to the noise and infrasound, and is causing electricity bills to climb beyond affordability.
Despite a surplus power supply and the high cost of renewables, Ontario is contracting for more wind power this year. “The people of Ontario are saying ‘We’ve had enough,'” says Wilson. “The current procurement program should be abandoned immediately.”
Ontario ratepayers on the hook for Ontario deficit
“Building Ontario Up”…to a huge disappointment
A letter directed to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, dated April 1, 2015, suggesting how he might stop the climb in electricity prices remains unanswered.
The budget preview posted on the WCO site April 19, 2015, however, has been verified. The Ontario Budget, “Building Ontario Up,” released by Finance Minister Sousa April 23, 2015 has lots of bad news for Ontario ratepayers.
Prior to the release of the budget, Sousa released a 191-page report: “Ontario’s Long-Term Report on the Economy,” which got no media attention. The report speaks to the wonders of how the current government plans for Ontario’s future will look, but with a caveat: “It is beyond the scope of projections of this nature to quantify the risks of global political disruptions, extreme weather due to climate change, major health emergencies such as pandemics, disruptive technologies or an increase in international conflicts. Any of these factors, in addition to other unforeseen risks, could significantly impact the long-term outlook for the Ontario economy.”
With respect to electricity, it had this to say: “This will mean pursuing lower-cost options to meet energy needs when and where they are needed and other initiatives to reduce the cost increases in electricity now and in the future. Compared to the previous plan, the 2013 LTEP is expected to reduce projected cost increases by a cumulative $16 billion in the near term (2013–17), and $70 billion by 2030.”
The take-away from the lack of a response from Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli is that the Liberal agenda, as it relates to the electricity sector, is written in stone and ratepayers are now regarded as a “revenue tool.” Ratepayers are needed to pay for the agenda, to help balance the budget, and eliminate the deficit, despite the dishonest comment in the preceding quote.
The budget confirmed most of the preview forecast and included areas that extracts after-tax ratepayer dollars, despite the rhetoric in the “Long-Term Report on the Economy.” Non-budget Items, Reduced Spending and Increased Revenue from Ratepayers are three categories reviewed as follows.
►Non-budget Items affecting ratepayers
The budget claims the province is making “investments” falsely by extracting monies from ratepayers as the following quote about the “Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program” (NIER) notes: “the government is committing to ongoing support for northern industrial facilities beyond March 2016, with continued investment of up to $120 million annually.”
The $120 million referenced will be paid by ratepayers, not taxpayers. It’s just one example. The rest include: the newly announced Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) for “low-income” households of $225 million (see below under “Reduced Spending”); the Class A to Class B shift for industrial consumers with peak demand of 3 Megawatts costing an estimated $200 million; the recently approved rate increase by the Ontario Energy Board for the OPG which increased electricity costs $600 million; and the anticipated increases in delivery charges for LDC (local distribution companies) of $600 million. Collectively the foregoing represent over $1.7 billion. This additional cost to ratepayers attracts the Ontario Portion of the HST (see below under “Increased Revenue”).
The Ontario Clean Energy Benefit will officially end December 31, 2015 meaning the forecast in the budget reduces this cost by $220 million; it will be followed in the next budget by a further reduction of $900 million. This reduced spending will than be paid fully by ratepayers and include the HST, raising costs another $145 million putting $90 million into Ontario’s sales tax revenue slot. The budget also shows a cut of $243 million in “Social Service” spending reflecting the advent of the OESP. Total reduced spending next year will be $450 million and in two years, will be reduced by $1.4 billion!
►Increased Revenue from ratepayers
The budget anticipates increased Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PIL) of $315 million. That means the province is anticipating huge profits being generated by LDC that will be directly taken from ratepayers’ pockets. In addition, the province’s portion of “sales tax” (forecast to increase $1.2 billion) on HST revenues will produce another $160 million for the 2015/16 year and in excess of $230 million in 2016/17. Increased Revenue will be $550 million.
Eliminating the double counting on LDC revenue (PIL of $315 versus forecast “Non-budget Item” of $600 million) and “Social Service” spending ($243 million) will saddle ratepayers with costs in excess of $2.1 billionfor budget year 2015/16 and $3.1 billion the following year—that’s without including the costs of the additional industrial wind and solar generation now in the contracting process!
The ratepayers in Ontario should be grateful the reduction in those “projected cost increases by a cumulative $16 billion in the near term (2013–17), and $70 billion by 2030” have been tackled by our incumbent government, or the excesses we have seen, past, present and future from the proliferation of industrial wind turbines and solar panels, would have driven all industry from Ontario and have us freezing in the dark and unable to buy groceries.
As it is, the budget claims: “Ontario remains the leading destination in North America for FDI”(Foreign Direct Investment). That particular claim fails to mention that as much as $25 billion of the “FDI” came from foreign companies rushing to Ontario to sign those lucrative ratepayer-backed wind and solar contracts, guaranteeing them 20 years of subsidies!
The current Liberal government has brought Ontario to the brink of the whirlpool. Unless they change their push for more wind and solar generation “Athens-on-the-lake” (a.k.a. Queen’s Park) and Ontario will be sucked into the abyss.
Here from Ottawa economist Robert Lyman, a review of Ontario’s debt situation: it isn’t pretty.
ONTARIO’S DEBT – THE STORY ONTARIO VOTERS REFUSED TO BELIEVE
Several pundits have commented on the reasons for the major victory by the Liberal Party in the Ontario provincial elections held on June 12. Many have judged that voters were simply unwilling to believe the Progressive Conservative message that fiscal responsibility required reductions in spending, including where necessary reductions in the number of public service positions and programs. Voters said that the debt was not a problem that they wanted to worry about.
Even after the event, it is may be a good idea to examine exactly what the facts are with respect to the financial situation of the provincial government and what this may mean to the people who live in Ontario in future.
According to the Ontario Financing Authority, the consolidated provincial debt as of June 14, 2014 is $295.8 billion.
The debt has grown significantly over the past generation. In 1990, Ontario’s debt was $38.4 billion. It grew to $115 billion by 1998, and has almost doubled again since then.
Ontario has only been able to sustain this increase in debt because of interest rates that are at all-time historic lows. Even so, in 2013-2014, annual debt service costs to the provincial treasury were about $10.6 billion, the fourth largest expenditure item after health, education and social services.
The 2014 budget that was defeated projected that debt service costs would rise to $12 billion by 2015-16 and $13.3 billion by 2016-17. This is by far the fastest growing item in the provincial budget, growing twice as fast as the health budget.
The Liberals are committed to increasing program spending for at least the next four years. This year the $3 billion increase in program spending will increase the annual deficit to $12.5 billion from $11.3 billion last year. The deficit will be much higher if the Liberals’ projection of a 4 % annual economic growth rate turns out to be too optimistic.
There are very few reasons to believe the optimistic growth forecasts. Ontario’s productivity growth lags behind that of the United States, as does business investment. The province’s cost competitiveness has eroded, due to higher taxes and fees and much higher energy costs.
In the short term, the debt service cost could be increased further if the various investors’ services downgrade the province’s credit rating. Ontario has $250 billion worth of bonds rated by Moody’s Investor Services. The province’s ability to pay back those bonds, known as the debt-to-revenue ratio, is 237.7 %, the worst rating among all Canadian provinces.
Premier Kathleen Wynne spent the early part of the Ontario leaders’ debate apologizing for her party’s “mistakes” in the billion-dollar gas-plant scandal, as an election issue that has largely been overlooked in the month-long campaign quickly returned to the forefront.
Responding to the first of six questions submitted by viewers in the only debate of the six-week campaign, one that asked how the Liberals could be trusted, Ms. Wynne said the decisions made “were wrong” and “public money was wasted.” Rather than pivot away, the Premier said that there had been “a breach of trust,” but “I have apologized for that.”
It was a perfect opening for NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who was able to begin her remarks in the 90-minute televised debate by saying “the Liberals have betrayed you.” How the Liberals could be trusted, she said, was “the actual question of the evening.”
Ms. Horwath, as did PC leader Tim Hudak later, pushed Ms. Wynne to explain why, as a member of Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet, she didn’t “say no” to the decision to cancel two gas-fired power plants at what turned out to be a $1.1-billion cost to the public.
“I am so sorry that public funds were wasted,” the Premier replied. “I have taken responsibility for being a part of a government that made mistakes.”
It was an impossible start for Ms. Wynne, and a subject for which there is no good answer, but even still she struggled to not sound guilty. “I’ve said that the decisions weren’t right,” she said. Mr. Hudak responded by saying that if the Liberals are re-elected after having apologized for getting caught, “they’re going to do it again.”…
How important are Ottawa ridings in this provincial election?
The leader of the Ontario Liberal Party Kathleen Wynne, and the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives Tim Hudak will be in the Ottawa area today. (NDP leader Andrea Horwath is in the Toronto area, and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner is participating in a debate in the riding of Guelph.)
June 4 at 1:40 p.m. — Orléans
Premier Kathleen Wynne will deliver remarks at the campaign office of Marie-
France Lalonde, PC candidate for Orléans, at 5929 Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard
June 4 at 5:45 p.m. — Ottawa
Premier Kathleen Wynne and federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will meet
with local Liberals at 1000 Byron Avenue.
June 4 at 6:00 p.m. — Toronto
June 4 at 7:00 p.m. — Nepean
PC leader Tim Hudak will hold a town hall public event with Lisa MacLeod, PC candidate for
Nepean—Carleton, Jack MacLaren, PC candidate for Carleton—Mississippi
Mills, and Randy Denley, PC candidate for Ottawa West—Nepean. The event
will take place at Nepean Sportsplex, Hall “A” , 1701 Woodroffe Avenue.
The week before Charles Sousa tabled the Ontario budget that failed to pass, triggering a provincial election, the man who preceded him as Ontario Finance Minister came to Queen’s Park with a warning.
“Ontario is faced with a staggering debt,” Dwight Duncan said, and he called for public services to be contracted out. Government, he said, would have to “fundamentally re-evaluate its role.”
It didn’t escape notice that his warning was akin to a Kardashian tut-tutting someone about overexposure: Ontario’s debt rose from $154-billion to $281-billion during Mr. Duncan’s own time as Finance Minister. But he had warned about debt issues, he said, before he left office.
That much is true. Seemingly emboldened by the fact that it wasn’t his problem to solve anymore, Mr. Duncan went on an anti-debt crusade in his last months at the legislature. Given the province’s debt levels, he said in January, 2013, low interest rates were a “ticking time bomb.” He warned contenders for the Liberal leadership that spending cuts would have to be doubled if the government was still going to reach a balanced budget by 2017-18.
Kathleen Wynne won that race, of course. There is little indication she was listening.
The 2014 budget fattened the deficit, leaving Ontario with an annual hole of $12.5-billion this fiscal year. Total debt is now forecast to reach almost $338-billion by 2016-17.
It is a staggering number. But perhaps just as surprising has been the Liberals’ disinclination to do anything too rash in trying to reduce it.
Consider that the generally accepted blueprint for disastrous economic management was provided by the Bob Rae NDP government of the early 1990s. In 1993, a deficit that was anticipated to be around $10-billion came in closer to $12-billion.