Wind farm siting fans opposition in Ontario
Wind energy is stirring controversy in the North Country, and the situation is similar to what has been happening in Ontario for several years. In March, NCPR’s Lauren Rosenthal reported that a 100-megawatt wind turbine project is set to go ahead in Parishville and Hopkinton. There are residents who oppose the project, but a New York state law blandly titled Article 10 gives state officials the final say on approving these projects, and not local towns, as is usually the case with development decisions.
Just north of the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, a similar law has been on the books since 2009. The Ontario Green Energy Act does not allow municipal governments to approve—or reject the construction of renewable power generation facilities. If a company planning to build wind turbines or solar panels in a farm field has signed contracts with property owners and has the consent of the provincial government, they can go ahead.
The Ontario law has weakened the general peace between neighbors that usually exists in rural areas. Property owners who signed contracts are unpopular with their neighbors who oppose wind turbines. Property owners who sign contracts have often regretted it, once they saw how much tension it was creating in their communities. A situation exactly like this happened in 2013-2014 near my hometown in southwestern Ontario. Citizen groups against wind turbines formed and protests were held. The company that wanted to build the turbines ended up backing down and cancelling the project, but that usually does not happen.
Wind Concerns Ontario is one of the most vocal groups opposing the Green Energy Act and the approach the Ontario government has taken to approving renewable energy projects. According to its president, Jane Wilson, the Ontario government also changed 21 other provincial laws, including the Heritage Act and Clean Water Act, in order to prevent citizens and municipal councils from challenging renewable projects based on concerns they would interfere with historical or environmental conservation. Wilson said 116 municipal councils, including large cities like Ottawa and Hamilton, have passed resolutions asking the provincial government to give them control over renewable power land use and zoning, but she said the government has refused to grant that control and considers that doing so would be giving towns and cities veto powers.
Right now in eastern Ontario, wind turbines are set to go up on Amherst Island in Lake Ontario, west of Kingston. Last week, a barge in nearby Picton Bay leaked fuel and contaminated the water supply for two area villages. The barge was being used to transport supplies to Amherst Island for wind turbine construction. The turbine company and barge operators are also planning to use another nearby site for fueling. The Association to Protect Amherst Island, a citizen’s group, has appealed to Premier Kathleen Wynne to order a halt to the wind turbine project due to what is happening with barges and the local water supply. It’s one of the more recent attempts to stop a wind turbine project in Ontario in the era of the Green Energy Act.
Tags: New York, Ontario, wind turbines
There is nothing attractive about these things. They look like the invaders in the War of the Worlds.
We are not to compare them to a tree, or a pasture full of deer, or a fine old house…that would be comparing apples and oranges. A more useful comparison would be between a wind farm and mountaintop removal for coal, or a field covered in pumpjacks, or a whole state covered with frack wells.
In Ontario the for-profit developers have donated heavily to the provincial liberal government so anything they want, goes!!!