Ontario Wind Turbines – The Good the Bad and the Ugly – an update

The following is from a presentation by Anne Dumbrille, Chair of CCSAGE at the Annual General Meeting held at Bloomfield Town Hall, Saturday, May 5, 2018

 
Welcome everyone, special welcome to our MPP Todd Smith, Acting Mayor Dianne O’Brien and Councillor Steve Ferguson.
I am giving an update on what is happened in Ontario regarding turbines in the last year.   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – not always in that order.
Good
Slide 3

  • In 2017, the media has been more outspoken about adverse impacts of turbines e.g.,
  • Two major networks, Global News and Radio-Canada, carried multi-part investigative reports this past year. The three-part Global News feature spurred questions in the Legislature and forced the then-minister to act on noise complaints for several Huron County families.
  • Fraser Inst. Publication Mid- April. They published Understanding the Changes in Ontario’s Electricity Markets and Their Effects criticized the GEA, speaking to it causing high energy costs, losing manufacturing jobs, and not improving the environment.
  • Auditor General criticized Liberal accounting practices re energy costs, fair energy plan; it was well covered in major newspapers

Slide 4
Noise from turbines consists of audible and low frequency noise/ infrsound –these affect brain waves but may be inaudible.

  • A team at University of Waterloo has created a special chamber in which infrasound can be produced, in the hopes that health researchers can determine unequivocally effects of infrasound at levels produced by turbines on people.
  • Australian Court (similar to our ERT) linked wind turbine generated LFN and infrasound noise with possible diseases including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, possibly mediated in part by disturbed sleep and/or psychological stress/distress – it found an established association between annoyance (used as a medical term) and some diseases that result from prolonged stress. They say effects of LFN include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus -like symptoms.

It was also established that the current method adopted by windfarms to measure noise (including in Canada) — the dB(A) scale, is not suitable for the task, as it does not measure the lower frequency range. The dB(A) scale averages out the sound levels, masking the highest levels and rate of change of noise that could be causing harmful health side-effects.
This is consistent with what the UK noise association said in 2006. 12 years ago.
MOECC still will not address infrasound.
Slide 5
The Environmental Commissioner’s office wrote a report criticizing the government for approving 100% of turbine company permits to kill harm and harass endangered species.
Slide 6
But – BAD they followed that up with one that makes superficial and false statements on the health impacts of wind turbines. She says there is no link between wind turbine noise and health effects — based on ERT conclusions. She does not say that it is next to impossible to win an ERT appeal on health. She said that noise impacts are controlled through setbacks and noise limits in the REAs.
What of the over 4500 records of health/noise complaints filed by people living near turbines in Ontario with the government since 2006? And the out-of-compliance turbines. This is important as if the local turbines are built, they may not be noise compliant.
Slide 7
Bad-Turbines have been out of noise compliance with poor-to-totally lacking government response:
Port Elgin has one (Unifor) turbine – and have been complaining for years about the noise. Finally MOECC said that noise testing did show that it was out of compliance. A noise abatement protocol has to be put in place. The engineering report was filed with the MOECC in January, and then to the wrong Municipality in March – and finally to those affected. There is to be repeat testing in June–if it is out of compliance again -then what? Unknown.

Complaints regarding the Huron-Bruce Turbines in K2 Wind power project led to noise testing a year ago. Turbines were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations (April 2017). Since then, MOECC has done nothing.

Kincardine area has made multiple noise complaints over years, have been told testing is ongoing, but somehow, the tests are never completed, and the problem continues. In December they were told by MOECC that nothing was being done. And MOECC will not respond to complaints during an audit. The audit process started in December 2011 and is still not complete.

Slide 8

  • Last summer, a Brinston area resident wrote to Minister Murray about the complete lack of response to her reports of excessive noise (she has had to sleep in her basement on occasion because of the noise and vibration). An officer telephoned her and said:
    • Ministry staff were completely unprepared for wind turbine noise complaints.
    • They still don’t really know what to do.
    • They “lost” her records — even though she had so many reports that the MOECC actually installed equipment and did noise measurement for several days.
    • Last, it was too bad they lost everything pertaining to her situation and reports but it didn’t really matter, she was told because “You’re the only one complaining.”
    • With thousands of noise complaints recorded with the government unresolved, MOECC still refuse to acknowledge the problem, and refuses to look for causes.

Slide 10

  • Good: The MOECC finally admitted previous guidelines resulted in underestimating the noise at nearby homes – the modelling used to predict these impacts was wrong.
  • Last April 21, MOECC released a new protocol intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.” And compliance documents are to be publically available.
  • The result of non-compliance is: 1 – Remodel turbines; 2 – conduct a receptor audit at worst affected receptor from that turbine –or mitigation is required

Slide 9 Bad: However:

  • Still no recognition of low frequency noise. And, it hasn’t resulted in any effective changes.
  •  Still – when WCO complained about the lack of response regarding noise and lack of a posted compliance report, they were told that the report cannot be posted as the turbine company’s documents are incomplete. (The turbines had been running for 3 years)

Slide 11

  • Although the government knows the modeling done by wind companies is wrong, they are allowing 5 new large-scale wind projects to follow the old guidelines. If they followed the new guidelines, about 3/4 of these turbines would have to be relocated or removed as they are predicted to be out of compliance with the new noise guidelines. At one project 11 of 12 would be out of compliance.
  • So in January, 5 affected communities filed a JR application against MOECC as surely, Ontario regulations and directives that limit the amount of noise any residence in the province should have to be followed. The claim is – transition provisions were put in place by the ministry to allow those wind turbine companies to use the old regulations without having to provide evidence that they were unable to comply with the new noise modelling guidelines (Dutton Dunwich, North Stormont, La Nation, and Wallaceburg)

Slide 12
Brilliant:

  • Wind Concerns Ontario taking Minister Murray to court May 18 for violating the Environmental Protection Act for permitting noise that causes adverse health events. According to WCO Access to information requests, of 4500 complaints noise/sleeplessness and other health-related effects received, few were followed up – only ~7% in 2015-16.

Slide 13
Ugly

  • In SW Ontario, in an area with sedimentary rock similar to that here, during and after IWT construction, well contamination has been reported – such that some wells are completely clogged, some failed simultaneously from pile-driving during construction. Some have not used their well for 4 years.
  • Before and after tests sent to Laboratories in Michigan show an exponential increase [in] turbidity among the affected wells, including [a] large proportion that can be attributed to black shale particles that are known to contain heavy metals, including uranium, arsenic and lead.
  • An ERT had warned that water wells in that area could be damaged.
  • A professional geologist said: the relationship between the installation of wind turbines and the contamination of wells is obvious. When you have a [pure] water source for years and [transforms] a few days after the construction of an industrial facility. You do not have to be a genius to see that there is a link of cause and effect.
  • He had agreement from geoscientist and geological engineer.
    The project’s owner claims it has nothing to do with the problem.

MOECC’s response — While there’s been an admission that wells have indeed been contaminated, contamination can only be attributed to “unidentified factors.” They maintain that pile-driving activities associated with wind turbine development are not to blame. This conclusion was based on evaluations prepared by the power developer’s consultant.

MOECC say that you should only test your water for bacteria.

Quinte Region Proposed Source Protection Plan Version 8.1 Aug 2012: Section 2.4: “Due to the shallow soil conditions, the entire Quinte area was identified and mapped as a highly vulnerable aquifer. This designation was a direct result of the ease with which a contaminant can move into the underlying fractured bedrock aquifer.” 

Slide 14

  • In 2017 alone, reported in the media:
  • 181 accidents.* Note that there is massive underreporting. RenewableUK confirmed that of 1500 wind turbine accidents and incidents in the UK alone between 2006 and 2011, only 9% are on the global report. So there may have been more like 1800 accidents.

*  http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/fullaccidents.pdf

But it gives information on a cross-section of accidents: –

  • Of the 181, there were 17 fatal accidents, 13 injury accidents, 16 blade failure (blade or partial blade throws, travelling up to 1 mile), 24 fires, 14 structural failures (storm damage, tower collapse), 19 transport – related (biggest cause of public injury/fatalities, e.g. ram through a house, turbine parts falling off).

Slide 15

  • Turbine collapse in Chatham-Kent January
  • And in Germany, bits of blade travelled over 500 m –yes, the distance to neighbouring houses by Ontario regulations.

Slide 16
CONCLUSION

  • MOECC, MNRF – Apparently – still blind, deaf and dumb regarding turbine effects and violations
  • All rules and regulations can be broken for the precious GEA
  • Compliance is only met only if citizens fight (and pay) for it
  • Feds (Health Canada, Environment Canada) – no better
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Justice refuses to give CCSAGE protection from costs and will not compel the government agencies to produce records of their decisions regarding White Pines Wind Development

As members will be aware, CCSAGE, through our lawyer, Alan Whitely, filed motions at the Superior Court in Ottawa last June 14 and 15 regarding our Judicial Review Application. Our motions sought to protect CCSAGE from costs, and to compel the government agencies to produce the records of their decisions regarding the approval of wpd White Pines and the transmission lines. A motion was filed by OEB regarding their removal from the case.
In his decision on these Motions, issued on January 9, 2018, Justice Labrosse essentially denied all of our requests but did allow OEB to be removed from the case.
CCSAGE has studied Justice Labrosse’s decisions and found them to contain numerous errors and misunderstandings. Consequently, we are appealing all the negative decisions to the Divisional court. Both the Labrosse decision and our appeal are posted here. The appeal is actually called a “Notice of Motion to Vary”
We believe our arguments are sound and that our Judicial Review application is more important than ever given the recent political events which make it less certain that the next provincial government will repeal the Green Energy Act.

Anyone who wishes to read Justice Labrosse’s decision and the reasons for our lawyers appeal of that decision will find them on the Legal Issues page on this site.

OPINION: You call this ‘independent’?

Special to Toronto Sun

Hydro One box that provides wireless link between smart meter and the power grid. (Ian Cranstone/Postmedia) Ian Cranstone, PostmediaIan Cranstone / Postmedia

BY JIM McPHERSON, SPECIAL TO THE SUN

To many Ontarians, the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is clearly not truly “independent.”

Not when its political masters won’t allow it to make electricity more affordable for Ontario ratepayers.

Rather than serving the citizens of Ontario, the IESO appears to be serving the political interests of Ontario’s Liberal government and multinational corporations.

Consider these controversies:

The IESO’s “Demand Response” program needlessly forked over $100 million to a small group of large energy consumers, as reported in the Financial Post on Aug. 15.

The IESO’s lack of oversight allowed a Japan-funded private gas plant in Brampton to inappropriately bill Ontario’s electricity system for another $100 million, according to the Ontario Energy Board, as reported by CBC News on Dec. 5.

According to Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s annual report, released Dec. 6: “The IESO has not implemented some important recommendations made by the Ontario Energy Board’s Market Surveillance Panel over the last 15 years that could have saved Ontarians millions of dollars on their hydro bills.”

Ontario Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, releases special report on the Fair Hydro Plan at Queens Park in Toronto, Ont. on Tuesday October 17, 2017.

Overall, Lysysk found, as reported by the Toronto Sun, that between 2006 and 2015, the IESO paid out up to $260 million in ineligible expenses to natural gas and coal power generators of which only $168 million has been recovered.

Progressive Conservative Energy Critic Todd Smith has asked the Ontario Provincial Police to probe the circumstances surrounding these inappropriate billings although the police have not specified whether they will do so.

On its website, the IESO says it manages Ontario’s electricity system to make it more efficient and cost-effective.

Really? A more efficient and cost-effective electricity marketplace presided over by the Liberals’ wasteful, inefficient and dictatorial 2009 Green Energy Act, the government’s administration of which has been repeatedly criticized by two Ontario auditors general?

PC MPPs Todd Smith and Lisa MacLeod say billing hydro customers for scuba gear and raccoon traps is wrong.

For example, the truth is Ontario does not need any more high-cost, inefficient and intermittent wind energy, because we have a huge energy surplus.

Nevertheless, the IESO has not welcomed opportunities to avoid long-term commitments to more expensive and unreliable wind energy, which frequently displaces cheaper and carbon-free hydroelectric power and nuclear energy.

Why, for example, won’t the IESO simply cancel a 20-year contract with wpd Canada in Prince Edward Country after a provincial Environmental Review Tribunal downsized its 29-turbine White Pines project to a mere nine turbines last spring, because of its potential impact on local wildlife?

Why are the IESO and Wynne government continuing to commit Ontario electricity ratepayers and taxpayers to paying for expensive wind power we don’t need?

Unlike its scandalous gas plant cancellations in Oakville and Mississauga, which the auditor general has estimated will cost the people of Ontario up to $1.1 billion over 20 years, termination of the White Pines contract would be fiscally prudent.

It might even boost the Liberal government’s credibility, which has been sorely damaged by the  Green Energy Act and its handling of the entire renewable energy file.

Wind factories are not wanted by many local residents and  local governments across Ontario.

The Liberals’ answer to that was to take away the planning powers of local municipalities under the Green Energy Act.

Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault talks hydro prices on the release of the Ontario Long-term Energy Plan 2017, on Thursday October 26, 2017.

Two auditor generals have reported Ontario’s Liberal government failed to conduct proper cost-benefit analyses, or draw up proper business plans for its renewable energy program, including industrial wind farms.

Scores of rural municipalities have declared their unwillingness to host them.

Encumbered by the Liberal legislation that severely limits local planning rights and grounds for appeals, one citizen’s group has now asked for a judicial review of the entire process in federal court.

It challenges the constitutionality of processes by which the Liberal government has forced wind factories upon rural residents and alleges serious violations of civil rights.

For now, the Wynne government and the IESO should terminate the White Pines deal.

Let Prince Edward County be the final battleground in the war against Ontario’s wasteful and unneeded wind energy.

Bulletin No. 13 – Fall 2017

No. 13 Fall 2017

WPD White Pines

Since the ERT decision in April to remove 18 turbines from the project, our initial euphoria has turned to dismay. At the end of July, WPD announced they would start construction and, indeed, in September began clearing land around the 9 remaining turbine sites in contravention of the terms of the REA which prohibit work in Blanding’s turtle habitat until October 15.
CCSAGE representations to MNRF and MOECC resulted in brief stoppages of work, but WPD convinced the government officials to allow work to continue using a very narrow interpretation of what is habitat.
Also in September, WPD asked County Council to amend the previously agreed Road Users agreement, to reduce their liability given the smaller scope of the project. CCSAGE made representations to Council against such an amendment and Council unanimously refused WPD’s request.

Now, at the end of November, WPD has accomplished a lot with access roads in place, turbine bases excavated, cement poured, and massive turbine base rings transported into the County. Again, WPD broke the rules by failing to obtain oversize load permits from the County. They have apologized, and the work goes on. WPD has announced that they expect construction on 8 of the turbines to be concluded by April 15, 2018 and have been granted permission to finish the ninth one somewhat later in 2018.

Letter writing campaigns to the Premier and the relevant Cabinet Ministers has produced no useful replies and no results. A pointed effort to persuade the IESO to terminate the project based on WPD’s failure to produce electricity by contract dates, has not produced a result as yet.

APPEC has filed a legal case in Superior Court which seeks to have WPD’s FIT contract declared null and void as well as an immediate injunction of further construction. WPD and the IESO have delayed hearing of this case twice and there is no new date set as of this writing.

The Picton Rally
On a more positive note, following 2 well attended town hall meetings run by Councilor Steve Ferguson, a rally was organized for October 15 and was a great success. After marching down Main Street, about 300 people nearly filled the Regent Theater and listened attentively to presentations by a panel of eight speakers. Todd Smith called the GEA “the biggest scam in Canadian history”. Norm Hardie got major applause when he expressed our collective determination that “This project will not be built”.

 

CCSAGE Fundraising dinner
On September 15, a very successful dinner and art auction was held at the Waring house. Thanks to the generosity of many art donors and buyers at the auction, Over $11,000 was raised to assist in the legal expenses of our Judicial review of the Green Energy Act. There will be an ongoing need for donations to finance this effort.

Support for our Judicial Review Application.
Eight municipalities, including Prince Edward County, have adopted resolutions supporting the principles of our Judicial Review Application. All are rural either with or threatened by wind turbine factories and together contain a population of almost 78,000. In addition, ten Community Groups stretching from Lake Superior via the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara district to Ottawa have done the same. Very much appreciated and will add conviction to our Application.

Progress of our Judicial Review Application.

On June 15th, 2017, we applied to our Case Management Judge, Justice Marc Labrosse, for a protective costs order and for an order directing the Attorney-General to file a complete record of the decisions of the Director in the wpd White Pines matter.

We still await his decision. Meanwhile, our pro bono counsel, Alan Whiteley, is proceeding with the assembly of affidavits which will form the evidence when our case is heard by the Divisional Court. To date, over 40 individuals from across rural Ontario have provided affidavits with attached exhibits covering all aspects of the allegations in our Application.

Wind factory on neighbouring Amherst Island.

Construction is proceeding, facilitated by the transfer of aggregate from Picton Terminals by barge. On Amherst island, the aggregate is moved by trucks owned by a subsidiary of the owner of Picton Terminals. Much of the aggregate is mined on the Picton Terminals site with the balance trucked in from elsewhere over sub-standard County roads.

One of the barges sank at dockside, causing the nearby intake of Picton’s water supply to be shut down for a period, thus depriving residents and businesses of water for a number of days. We have been unable to obtain any information about damages which should be recoverable by those so affected.

In a last ditch effort, residents of Amherst Island have applied to the Minister of Energy to cancel the wind turbine factory, citing the overwhelming damage to the island and to its avian and endangered species populations and noting the excess of power being produced in Ontario into the foreseeable future, sold to others at considerable cost to Ontario hydro bill and tax payers.

 

Liberal Candidate nominated for Bay of Quinte Riding.

This new riding was created federally and provincially in 2015 from two other then existing ridings. It includes Prince Edward County and Belleville south of the 401.

The Liberals recently nominated County Mayor Robert Quaiff as its candidate, who will go up against the existing PC sitting member, Todd Smith. The candidate for the NDP is not yet known.

Mayor Quaiff has been consistently against establishing industrial wind turbine factories in the County and critical of the removal of municipal powers by the Green Energy Act.

He has indicated that when the election writ is dropped in May, 2018, he will appoint a deputy Mayor. Should he win the election, he will resign as Mayor; if he loses he will return as Mayor and run for re-election at the next municipal election.

 

PC Party’s election platform.

As promised, The PC Party has addressed the Green Energy Act and wind projects in it election platform released on Saturday, including:
Repeal the Green Energy Act;
Restore local planning authority over renewable energy projects;
Force wind project operators to track bat and bird deaths.
Enforce every GEA contract to the letter, using any contract breaches as leverage to renegotiate or terminate.
Walk away from committed capacity contracts that have cancellation provisions — e.g contracts that are pre-Notice to Proceed.

The Environmental Commissioner’s Office (ECO) Report of October 2017
Diane Saxe’s report addressed the MNRF “Overall Benefit” Permit  process stating the following:
·                     Instead of individualized permits that require an “overall benefit” to species, the MNRF now allows many harmful activities under a permit-by-rule system that requires proponents only to minimize (not eliminate or compensate for) harm. To make matters worse, the MNRF turns a blind eye to whether proponents comply with these weakened rules and to the impact of the new system on species at risk. Meanwhile, the MNRF keeps the public in the dark about what activities it allows to harm species at risk, making it difficult to hold the ministry to account for this critically important program.
·                     “The MNRF has never denied an ESA permit to any applicant.”
·                     “This is particularly troubling because the MNRF is not tracking the cumulative impact of harmful activities on species. …. This potentially puts many species in a “death by a thousand cuts” situation that could cause irreparable harm, especially since the MNRF does not deny ESA authorizations.”
·                     “…neither the Regional Operations Division nor the Enforcement Branch is conducting routine compliance monitoring of activities regulated under the ESA……The MNRF staff stated that none of this essential compliance and enforcement information is tracked…..MNRF claims it has no legal authority to conduct routine on-the-ground compliance monitoring of registered activities.”
·                     “MNRF has no plans to evaluate the effectiveness of its permit-by-rule system, which would be necessary to determine whether species are receiving adequate protection under the rules.”
·                     “The MNRF is failing to not just protect species at risk as intended under the law, but also to lead effective recovery programs. In the best case, the MNRF has created a system that leaves itself with a minimal role to play; in the worse case, it has a created a system designed to fail.”
·                     “The massive shift from overall benefit to minimizing harm — a much lower standard of protection — now authorizes harm to most species at risk across Ontario,” Saxe concludes. “Meanwhile, the MNRF relies on blind faith and on public complaints instead of an effective compliance and enforcement strategy. It makes no attempt to ensure routine compliance, to prevent cumulative impacts, or to monitor the effect of its permit-by-rule system on species at risk.”
·                     “…members of the public cannot seek leave (i.e., permission) to appeal the MNRF’s decisions to grant an ESA permit under the EBR. 2…No ESA approval has been successfully overturned by judicial review. As a result, there is no effective oversight, and no legal remedy for the MNRF’s failures to effectively protect species at risk” [Note: Exception is via ERTs].

The Driver/Rouse Heritage Case hits a dead end
Liz Driver and Edwin Rouse’s court case against the WPD White Pines project appears to be at an end as their appeal of the Divisional Court decision failed at the Superior Court. This leaves APPEC’s Superior Court case as the only remaining legal avenue to stop the project.

CCSAGE Naturally Green is a not-for-profit membership corporation, originally formed in 2009 and incorporated in 2014.  Currently, our Board of Directors is comprised of Anne Dumbrille (Chair) and John Hirsch (Secretary).
Memberships are available at $20 per year, single or family, and donations are welcomed (neither is tax deductible.)  You can safely use the Donate button on the website OR mail a cheque payable to CCSAGE Naturally Green:
538 Morrison Point Road, Milford, ON, K0K 2P0.  Make sure to include your email address.
Please browse the site and comment on posts that interest you.  If you would like more information, please email our Directors at annedumbrille@fastrackconsulting.com or jg.hirsch@xplornet.com .

Guest column: Why is Ontario addicted to wind power?

Special to Postmedia Network

Wind turbines.Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Opinion: Whither wind energy?

By Jim McPherson, Guest Columnist: The Toronto Sun, October 28, 2017

An incorporated group of citizens in Prince Edward County has applied for a judicial review (JR) of the process by which 60 industrial wind turbine projects have been approved by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

This is a serious action, comprising thousands of pages of testimony in dozens of affidavits, from deponents who live not only in Prince Edward County, but in rural communities across Ontario.

In these already-approved projects, there are at least 1,200 giant wind turbines, of which about 1,000 are already operational.

Many additional wind energy proposals are in the MOECC approval process, awaiting government decisions.

The wind industry today is a multi-billion-dollar business in Ontario.

It will be up to the courts to decide the merits of this citizen-inspired request for a judicial review of the government decision-making process which led to the approval of these wind projects.

But in preparation for the day when the case from Prince Edward County’s incorporated group is completed, there are things people should be thinking about now.

Suppose the court rules in favour of the appellants.

Suppose it finds the process by which these 1,200 wind turbines were approved — with more in the pipeline — was improper?

What will happen to these 1,200 monster machines that already populate rural landscapes across Ontario?

Will they continue to operate? Should they be demolished?
What will be the status of the “feed-in tariff” contracts under which they supply intermittent and heavily-subsidized electricity to the grid?

Who will act as trustees in the event a court ruling forces existing turbine projects into bankruptcy?

What will be the rights of landowners upon whose properties turbines have already been built?

How will the public, municipalities and local businesses be compensated for their losses in terms of health, livelihood, property values, quality of life and economic vitality due to wind turbines?

What will be the future of wind energy in Ontario?

These are complex questions.

For governments, citizens, and multinational wind energy corporations, the issue is huge.

It’s potentially bigger than the Ontario Liberal government’s decision to cancel two natural-gas fired power plants at a cost of $1.1 billion.

It’s potentially bigger than the recent VW Canada payout of $2.1 billion to owners of Audi and Volkswagen vehicles due to the emissions scandal.

Answering these questions will be much more complex than addressing the legality of the processes that led to the approval and construction of wind turbines in Ontario.

For these issues, there are no precedents to provide guidance.
The personal, social, corporate and political consequences could be profound.

The people who caused the proliferation of industrial wind turbines across the province are not only multinational wind power corporations.

The main perpetrator is Ontario’s Liberal government.

It took away the planning rights of municipalities with regard to the location of industrial wind turbines through its 2009 Green Energy Act.

It turned neighbour against neighbour as communities were divided between those who opposed industrial wind farms and landowners who agreed to lease their properties to wind developers.

Whatever the outcome of the judicial review, it is time for Ontario to learn from its sorry past with regard to wind energy.

It is time to prepare an imaginative, productive and socially acceptable way to exploit wind energy, in light of the fact that given our current state of technology, the electricity it generates is today unpredictable, unreliable and expensive.

If these questions can be properly addressed with the skills and imagination that Ontario citizens are capable of mustering, then, perhaps this judicial review could be the needed opportunity, to get Ontario back on the right path to a greener and healthier future.

AUDITOR-GENERAL’S BOMBSHELL.

As published in the Wellington Times, Wednesday October 25, 2017.
Under the enabling statute, the Ontario Auditor-General (A-G) is non-partisan, reports to the Legislative Assembly and protects the public interest. Thus when the current government does not present financial information fairly and transparently, she must speak out.
And that’s exactly what Bonnie Lysyk, the current Auditor-General, did in her devastating Special Report released on October 17th, 2017, dealing with the so-called Ontario Fair Hydro Plan which became law on June 1st, 2017. To say that she was concerned about fiscal transparency, accountability and value for money under that Plan would be putting it mildly. Here’s a summary.
The A-G cannot question the government’s decision to reduce Ontarians’ electricity bills, it being the government’s prerogative to set policy. Her valid concerns were that the planned accounting for the budgets and consolidated financial statements was incorrect and that the government knew beforehand that its scheme would cause significant unnecessary costs for Ontarians.
The government’s deliberate intention was to avoid the costs associated with the hydro rate reduction affecting its fiscal plan, to avoid showing a deficit in budgets and consolidated financial statements for 2017/18 to 2019/20 and to show no increase in the Provincial debt.
It created a needlessly complex accounting/financing structure to achieve that deliberate intention, utilizing officials and staff from eight ministries and organizations and hiring private sector accountants, lawyers, bankers, broker-dealers and investment advisers. Those outside advisers cost Ontarians a minimum of $2 million, one law firm receiving a retainer of $500,000.
Senior civil servants involved warned in advance that the design planned by the government would result in higher costs for Ontarians, that it was doubtful if the Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards would permit the accounting treatment planned and that the A-G would likely disagree and express her concern about the additional cost planned to be incurred.
Indeed, the A-G found as facts that the complex accounting rules applied are NOT in accordance with the Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards and that in essence the government was making up its own accounting rules.
Under the government’s plan, money will have to be borrowed to fund the hydro bill reductions and from 2022 on, Ontarians who pay hydro bills will be charged more than the actual cost of producing electricity to repay that borrowing. That amount plus interest will be at least $39.4 billion.
A future government could decide not to charge this just to ratepayers but to all Ontarians generally.
The increase in the Province’s net debt overall will be $26.2 billion.
The complicated scheme involves both Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), both controlled by the Province. In addition, the government will direct another of its creatures, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to approve rate changes as required.
In 2017, the A-G gave the government a “qualified” audit opinion, that is an opinion that the financial statements contained one or more material misstatements or omissions resulting from the misapplication of Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards. Specifically, she found that the net debt and the accumulated deficit were understated by $12.429 billion for 2016/17 and by $10. 985 billion in the previous year.
The A-G ended her Special Report by recommending that the government record the true financial impact of the Fair Hydro Plan’s electricity rate reduction on the Province’s budgets and consolidated financial statements; and use a financing structure to fund the rate reduction that is least costly to Ontarians.
The above is just a summary of the basic, important, points. The A-G was extremely thorough in explaining the various requirements and actions involved in straightforward, understandable, language. She certainly spoke out as her mandate requires and is to be congratulated by all Ontarians who care, irrespective of party. Her Special Report was indeed a bombshell, devastating in its logic and conclusions.
The government’s reaction? In effect “we disagree with the Auditor-General and it’s just a question of accounting discussion”.
The government has borrowed money to fund the reduction in hydro bills, incurred incredible cost in so doing and pushed the repayment of that cost down the road beyond the election scheduled for June, 2018, and with deliberation broken accounting rules along the way.
What the A-G’s Special Report does is continue the criticisms of herself and her predecessor of many aspects of the undemocratic Green Energy Act, the scam imposed by a combination of this government and the wind industry particularly on rural Ontario. Every day, more power is produced than Ontario needs and every day the excess is sold to neighbouring States and Provinces at a loss while wind and solar proponents are paid NOT to produce. All these costs are paid by Ontarians in their hydro bills and Provincial income tax.
Thank you Auditor-General Lysyk. A ray of hope and decency in the swamp that the current government has become.
Garth Manning

 

 

 

Ontario’s wind dictatorship

The province’s Liberal government continues to impose unneeded turbines on rural communities that don’t want them

 JIM MCPHERSON, GUEST COLUMNIST

FIRST POSTED: | UPDATED:

Wind turbine
A wind turbine. (Postmedia Network file photo)

Why? The project has been dramatically scaled down over the years due to various agreements and environmental rulings.

It could have simply been terminated, but now its huge cost will be paid over 20 years by all Ontario ratepayers, who will be charged above-market prices for electricity generated by these nine unneeded turbines and many others.

Neighbouring residents and wildlife will suffer as well.

This is an example of the disdain demonstrated for rural Ontarians by the Wynne government, and before that, the government of her Liberal predecessor, Dalton McGuinty.

Since the Liberal government’s enactment of the Green Energy Act of 2009, Ontario, in many respects, has become an energy dictatorship.

Last Sunday, an angry crowd of locals braved 50 km/h winds as they marched to the county’s 446-seat Regent Theatre to demand this project’s cancellation.

Ontario’s energy dictatorship is so disdainful of its rural residents, it forces them to accept industrial wind factories near their homes and favours large, foreign corporations over its own citizens.

To illustrate, let’s compare how wind energy is managed in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, versus Portugal’s autonomous region of Madeira, where I was recently on vacation.

Madeira is an island community, with 10 times Prince Edward County’s population, on 20% less land.

But Madeira is similar to the county in several ways:

Both are islands.

Both have bucolic natural environments.

Both are highly dependent on tourism.

Both have widely recognized wine industries … Madeira for several centuries, the county for a decade.

Both have abundant wind energy that can be harvested by giant turbines.

Both have environmentally-conscious governments.

But there are major differences:

Madeira has a shortage of electricity.

The province of Ontario, in which Prince Edward County is located, has a surplus.

Madeira needs wind power to reduce fossil fuel imports. Ontario exports surplus wind power at a loss, but approves and subsidizes more and more wind projects.

Madeira’s wind energy supplier is owned and operated by a local public corporation, having a mission of domestic benefit.

Many of Prince Edward County’s wind energy proponents are multinational corporations motivated in large part by subsidies that yield profits for foreign investors.

In May, 2009, through the Green Energy Act, the Ontario legislature, ruled by the governing Liberals who have been in power for 14 years, made itself the authority over all energy-related industrial wind turbine developments.

Individual property rights were expropriated and local

planning authority was transferred from municipalities to the province.

In effect, Ontario proclaimed itself an energy dictatorship.

Madeira, by contrast, treats its citizens with respect.

In energy-hungry Madeira, there are only two wind farms, both far from dense urban communities where people live. One is on a mountain top near the centre of the island, the other on the island’s industrially-zoned eastern peninsula. Additional turbines are located on a small nearby island.

Prince Edward County residents have been fighting for 17 years to keep unsafe industrial wind turbines away from their tranquil, rural neighbourhood.

This fight has cost them over $1 million in legal fees.

But Ontario’s energy dictatorship expropriated their rights and their freedoms.

It stripped their municipalities of their historical authority to regulate electricity-related development.

Instead, it teamed up with multinational corporations.

It is subsidizing the operation of unwanted and unneeded industrial wind turbines located as little as 550 metres away from private homes

In a 2012 referendum, Milford area citizens were 90.2% opposed to industrial wind turbines.

Last Sunday, they rallied to stop this highly disruptive and unpopular form of industrialization, forced upon them by Ontario’s energy dictatorship at Queen’s Park.