January 15, 2020
EDPR, the Portugal-based power developer for the Nation Rise wind power facility planned for, and partially constructed, in North Stormont, south of Ottawa, will appear in court in Toronto February 14th, with an application to “render without legal effect” or quash the recent revocation of the Renewable Energy Approval by environment minister Jeff Yurek.
Minister Yurek issued his decision in response to a direct application to his office by the local community group, filed early in 2019.
Minister Yurek revoked the Renewable Energy Approval on the grounds that there was a significant risk to endangered bat species, which are critical to the eco-system, citing the fact that Ontario also does not need the power from the proposed 100-megawatt project.
The wind power lobbyist Can WEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is seeking status in the legal proceedings as an intervenor, which would mean their lawyers could cross-examine witnesses.
Community group the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS), which filed the direct application, may also participate. CCNS had appealed the original approval before the Environmental Review Tribunal but the appeal was dismissed.
While statements have been made that the cancellation is unprecedented, the fact is, several power projects have been cancelled in Ontario historically. The Ostrander Point project in Prince Edward County was also revoked due to danger to the Blandings Turtle, and the White Pines power project, also in Prince Edward County, was reduced from 29 to 27 and eventually 9 turbines over multiple environmental concerns. That project was ultimately cancelled by the Ford government.
Statements have been made that the Nation Rise project was mostly constructed when the approval was revoked. In fact, of 29 turbines, only eight were approaching completion. The company’s target date for completion and providing power to the grid in Ontario was near the end of March or this year. That deadline has now been extended because of legal actions.
The power developer has also claimed that the community will suffer because of the cancellation, because the project would have brought jobs to the area. The usual case, however, is that there is one technical job per 10 turbines in operation; other jobs are short-term, construction-related positions that end with the construction phase.
North Stormont was one of the original unwilling host communities in Ontario, and was also one of 116 municipalities that demanded a return of local land-use planning powers removed by the Green Energy Act.
The Wynne government did not respond.
The Ford government returned planning powers to municipalities last year.
Almost every wind power project has been appealed on the basis of environmental concerns in Ontario since 2009; prior to that date, communities appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.