Doug Ford government spent $231M to scrap green energy projects

PCs had said cancelling wind turbine project in Prince Edward County would not cost taxpayers


The Ford government’s decision to scrap green energy projects in Ontario is costing taxpayers $230 million, according to newly revealed research by the opposition New Democrats. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Provincial documents show the Ford government spent more than $230 million to cancel renewable energy projects that included a partially-built wind farm in a cabinet minister’s riding.

The spending was revealed Tuesday in question period by the opposition NDP, who accused the Ford government of throwing away money on scrapping energy projects as the Liberal government did earlier in the decade.

The province’s public accounts for 2018-19 show spending of $231 million by the Ministry of Energy on unexplained “other transactions.”

Inquiries by an NDP researcher uncovered that these “other transactions” were “to fulfil a government commitment to wind down renewable energy contracts” including the White Pines wind farm in Prince Edward County.

Premier Doug Ford promised that electricity ratepayers would not be on the hook for scrapping the wind farm, which was one of the first acts of his government after taking power in June 2018.


Bill Walker is associate minister of energy in the Ford government. (CBC)

“Wasting $231 million to cancel hydro contracts is the sort of thing the previous Liberal government did during the gas plant scandal,” NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said on Tuesday.

The associate minister of energy, Bill Walker, said the province didn’t need the power from the White Pines project but didn’t deny the cost of the cancellation.

“This municipality was an unwilling host from day one, they did not want the turbines, we did the right thing,” said Walker in question period.

Walker pointed to actions of the previous Liberal governments, whose moves to cancel gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville ended up costing upwards of $1 billion, according to the province’s auditor general.

The NDP researcher had to resort to a roundabout way of confirming that the $230 million listed on the 2018-19 books was spent cancelling energy projects. When government officials did not reply to his queries about the “other transactions,” he asked legislative library staff to find out.

“Costs associated with the wind down and subsequent termination of renewable energy contracts (including the costs associated with the termination of the White Pines Wind project) are not anticipated to exceed $231 million,” a ministry official said in an email to the library staffer.

“Total compensation for the termination of the White Pines Wind project is within the above amount and is still to be finalized, as there are a number of activities, such as decommissioning, that need to take place.”  MORE

RELATED:

Residents Tell PEC Council Cancellation of White Pines Windfarm Is Folly

Council declared a Climate Emergency and then did nothing

Last night several Prince Edward County citizens protested Council’s lack of progress in developing a plan to help mitigate the effects of climate change and protested Council’s stance as an ‘unwilling host’ for renewable energy development in the County in a climate emergency.

Here are their presentations:

“We will persist and we will continue to grow in numbers. We will never give up on the vision of one day having a wind farm in the County; and someday in the future to be able to boast proudly that we are a part of the movement forward.”— Jenn Ackerman

Ontario to compensate White Pines wind turbine developers for cancelled contract

One of nine wind turbines at White Pines Wind Project in Prince Edward County.One of nine wind turbines at White Pines Wind Project in Prince Edward County. Mike Postovit / Global News

The Ontario government has introduced a regulation laying out the plan for decommissioning the White Pines Wind Project in Prince Edward County, which promises the company contracted by the previous Liberal government to build the wind farm compensation.

READ MORE: Cancelling Prince Edward County wind project could cost over $100M, company warns

Last year, Ian MacRae, president of wpd Canada, the developer behind the project, told The Canadian Press that reneging on the contract would cost the government more than $100 million.

Wpd Canada had worked out a deal with the Liberal government in 2009, but in early July 2018, within a month of being elected, the Progressive Conservative government announced it would be backing out of the contract.

Although the White Pines Wind Project Termination Act came into effect in July 2018, on July 3, 2019, the provincial government passed a regulation that entitles wpd to receive compensation for “eligible costs.” MORE