To the editor:
Just over four weeks ago – September 27, 2016, to be precise – our provincial government made a somewhat unexpected and startling announcement which was of great interest to all of those who have been closely following the industrial wind turbine debate in The Nation Municipality, as well as to those who are concerned about the ever-rising costs of producing and delivering electricity to Ontario customers.
“Ontario will immediately suspend the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II) process and … halting procurement of over 1,000 megawatts of solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and …” as indicated in the News Release. To clarify what this decision means to local citizens, in March of 2016, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) gave the go-ahead for 12-15 industrial wind turbines (IWTs) to produce up to 32MWof electricity at Parc éolien Gauthier now renamed “Eastern Fields”, in the St. Bernardin area. Thankfully the larger wind project proposed by Électricité de France /EDF in St. Isidore, was not approved by the province in the 2016 round. Both proposed Industrial Wind Parks were within The Nation Municipality.
This drastic change in “wind direction” by the Ontario Government, is explained in part in the recent September 1st report that the IESO provided to the Minister of Energy titled, “The Ontario Planning Outlook”, in which the IESO assured the government that Ontario will benefit from a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demands, (without additional renewable energy). This conclusion mirrored the admittedly less rigorous analysis of conservation, supply and demand, which was presented to The Nation’s Municipal Council by the Save the Nation citizens group at a council meeting in August 2015. Following the presentation by the local citizens group, and recognizing that the majority of citizens were not in favour of the wind projects, Nation Council reversed its endorsement of the two proposed wind energy projects.
There is also a second aspect to the province’s turnabout – fear of losing votes. Across Ontario, (and in other jurisdictions world-wide) there has been significant opposition to existing wind farms, and especially to the lack of consideration for input by municipal councils and local residents, which has resulted in numerous presentations and repeated demands from similar citizens’ groups throughout the province and especially by the representative group, Wind Concerns Ontario. WCO has clearly shown a direct link between the rising costs of electricity in Ontario, especially in rural Ontario, and the present stampede by so-called “green energy” companies towards the province’s coffers – all of this despite repeated pleas for “due diligence” in the application of some of the dictatorial rather than democratic processes outlined in the 2009 Green Energy Act, which guaranteed “renewables” priority on the grid (although existing hydro electricity (from water) is not recognized as “green energy”, so wind and solar energy displace it.
For the local Save the Nation group, efforts to stop the unnecessary awarding of Industrial Wind Contracts when they are clearly not needed, and the building of wind parks where they are not warranted or wanted, will continue. In our view our local municipal council has reluctantly and insufficiently done what it has the power to do to oppose the local projects. It is now time to take our concerns directly to the province, so we are looking for all citizens to write letters to our provincial government, outlining our request for cancellation of the Renewable Energy Systems (RES) contract, “Eastern Fields”, in St. Bernardin and all wind contracts announced under the LRP 1 process in March of 2016. (See the following website for sample letters: www.savethenation.ca).
All hope is not lost, as the province is in the process of reviewing all its options, including comparing the cost of cancelling a contract in these early stages, versus continuing with the much costlier twenty-year (plus) business deal after the turbines are built. There could be many disruptions, expenses (e.g. costs for putting up the required substation along Cassburn Road, widening roads to 16m to accommodate delivery of component parts, etc.) and other changes that it is hard to imagine all this commotion in the quiet lives of people from this peaceful little town in the east end of the Nation Municipality. Over a dozen or so IWTs, which taken together do not even amount to the glow of a lone candle in the total output of the provincial grid. Is the potential “drop in the energy bucket” worth it or is the whole process a drain on our time, energy and resources?
St-Bernardin (Save The Nation)