Citizens fume after wind farm licence issued
BY RICHARD MAHONEY
Staff A group of citizens is angry after learning a permit has been issued for the construction of a St-Bernardin wind farm that had supposedly been scuttled.
Save The Nation is seeking answers from the Ontario Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, about an electricity generation licence awarded to the “cancelled” Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project.
The Ontario Energy Board issued the permit in December, even though the province had announced the “cancellation” of the Eastern Fields project on July 13, 2018.
“We were shocked to find out about this licence. We do not understand why or how a cancelled project can be issued a licence to produce electricity for a period of 20 years -- until 2038. We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation.
Eastern Fields was one of 758 projects identified by Minister Rickford for wind-down on July 13, 2018, following a promise to cancel unnecessary and wasteful energy projects in order to cut hydro rates.
“We’re asking Minister Rickford to confirm that this promise has been kept and that Eastern Fields Wind Farm LP is a dead project with no chance of ever moving forward,” says Ms. Leroux.
The group is asking the province revoke the “useless” licence issued for the wind farm that is slated to be constructed in The Nation Municipality and Champlain Townships.
The generation licence was issued December 6, the same day the Ontario government adopted the Green Energy Repeal Act.
In July, the government declared that Ontario ratepayers will benefit from $790 million in savings thanks to its decision “to cancel and wind down” 758 renewable energy contracts.
“We clearly promised we would cancel these unnecessary and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for families, farmers and small businesses,” said Mr. Rickford. “In the past few weeks, we have taken significant steps toward keeping that promise.”
The government said that all of the cancelled projects have not reached project development milestones and that terminating the projects at this early stage will maximize benefits for ratepayers.
Save The Nation is a grass-root movement that has been opposing the Eastern Fields project since it was publicly announced in June 2015. “Save The Nation is not against green initiatives, but is fiercely opposed to the process that was used for the approval of renewable energy projects in Ontario under the Green Energy Act,” the group says.
This is the second setback for an area citizens group trying to block wind power facilities.
A citizens group in North Stormont recently lost its appeal in front of the Environmental Review Tribunal against the Nation Rise Wind Farm that EDP Renewables plans to open later this year.
Following a hearing in Finch, the tribunal concluded that the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont failed to prove that wind turbines would adversely affect humans, animals, plants and the environment.
Wind farm opponents warn the facility would expose citizens near Finch, Crysler and Berwick to from huge, 3.2-megawatt wind turbines that would be located on a “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
The 100-megawatt Nation Rise Wind Farm would be built on about 22,000 acres owned by 40 landowners who have signed agreements with EDP Renewables.
A total of approximately 45 to 50 wind turbines will be erected; the number will be determined by the turbine model and its generation capacity.
A declaration that North Stormont was an “unwilling host” did not prevent the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) from approving the plan. The project received provincial approval just days before the writ for Ontario’s June election was dropped.