PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, ON – Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his provincial counterparts got into the holiday spirit by chopping down their own Christmas wind turbine.
Ford invited his friends and families visiting for the premier’s meeting to take home a sawed-off clean energy generator as a holiday gift courtesy of the Ontario government.
“This one is a little big, but if we trim 50 feet from the base, I should be able to fit it on the roof of my car,” said Ford to his colleagues, gazing at the towering structure ready to be harvested. “I usually get my wind turbines from a guy outside of a Canadian Tire parking lot, but this year was special.”
White Pines Wind Farm has nine majestic and recently decommissioned wind energy converters so young they didn’t even have the opportunity to produce electricity thanks to the Ontario PC government’s cuts.
“I always feel a bit guilty if I have to cut down a tree,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe holding a large hacksaw. “That’s a living thing that should be harvested for its lumber or burned for its low-efficiency energy, not tossed away January 1st.”
“Timber!” yelled New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs as one of the turbines fell crushing a barn and any opportunity to help stave off an impending climate change disaster.
Ford said that cutting down Christmas turbines was worth the $100 million price tag, and Ontarians will be amazed to see the colourful display of lights and decorations.
At press time, the leaders sang old favourites such as O Christmas Fan and Nuclear Energy is Coming to Town. SOURCE
The Ford government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars this year to tear down or cancel 751 renewable energy projects around the province, according to documents obtained by CityNews.
“Last year, this government insisted that there would be no cost to cancelling renewable energy projects like the White Pines Wind Farm,” NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said in the legislature Tuesday.
For the White Pines Wind Farm project in Prince Edward County, the Ontario government is on the hook for an estimated $141 million. The company had signed a 20-year contract to provide the province with renewable energy.
At the project, located two hours east of Toronto, cranes started arriving last month to tear down 100-metre-tall wind turbines that were just built and ready to be switched on. The project was more than a decade in the making and was expected to produce enough energy to power more than 60,000 homes over the length of its contract.
While planning for many of the 751 cancelled projects was well underway, they had not hit key construction milestones. The White Pines project is unique in that construction began in 2017 and the turbines are ready to go.
Outside the town of Milford, nine wind turbines — four fully constructed and five more partially so — are coming down. They are a casualty of the White Pines Wind Project Termination Act, a bill that was passed by Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government just weeks after coming into office.
The government won’t say how much this decommissioning is costing but based on publicly-available documents showing wind power rates, and the project’s generating capacity, CityNews has calculated the province would owe the provider more than $7 million per year of the contract, or just over $141 million over 20 years.
The total cost of all the cancelled renewable energy projects around the provinces is $231 million in 2018-2019, according to the Public Accounts of Ontario.
On Tuesday, associate minister of energy Bill Walker would again not confirm the figure in Question Period. Neither would Energy Minister Greg Rickford when he was asked by CityNews earlier this week.
However, an email obtained by CityNews shows that Rickford’s office did confirm to researchers at Queen’s Park that the $231 million was indeed to wind down wind projects. After Question Period on Tuesday, Walker confirmed the figure.
In a one-on-one interview with Rickford, the minister told CityNews that the government’s plan was on track.
“We’re making sure this is entirely consistent with the plan. Sometimes costs upfront will save us down the road — that’s the way we looked at the risks with the 750 projects in total,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, Tabuns likened the cancellations to the Liberal’s cancellation of gas plants in 2010.
“The similarities are striking,” he said. “We saw what the Liberal government did to hydro bills and now Premier Ford is doing the same thing at the same time as he’s letting hydro prices increase.”
Walker responded that White Pines and the other 750 renewable energy projects weren’t necessary.
“Our government has been very clear that it would act to cancel any unnecessary contracts. Ontario has an adequate supply of power right now,” he said.
The government also said the move will eventually save taxpayers money.
“Any of the projects that we cancelled were going to cost our system more money over the long haul than the ratepayer was prepared to pay,” Rickford said. “Extraordinarily high-priced projects, like wind power and solar, were not making us competitive. They needed to be dealt with.”
The government estimates the cancellations will save $790 million in the long term, but couldn’t tell CityNews how much had been spent to date in settling those contracts, despite repeated requests or how much the government was saving by cancelling the White Pines contract.
“Those costs are ongoing, the project is in the process of decommissioning. I don’t see any red flags there,” Rickford told CityNews.
CityNews has confirmed that a negotiated settlement has been reached with WPD Canada, the Mississauga company that owns the White Pines turbines. Company spokesperson Ian McCrae would not disclose details of the settlement between the government and WPD shareholders. In the past, company officials have confirmed that it is upwards of $100 million.
The opposition are also arguing that the PC government — which is currently fighting federal climate legislation in court — has another motivation for cancelling the renewable energy projects.
“The government needs to be honest with people about their politically-motivated campaign of literally ripping turbines out of the ground,” Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said. “It’s going to cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars. […] I don’t think tax payers want their money wasted.”
“I don’t believe that they don’t have the information about how much its going to cost,” Tabuns said. “But this is a government that never cares particularly about cost when it comes to pursuing their anti-climate change agenda.”
Tabuns believes that, like the Liberal gas plant scandal, this cancellation will result in an investigation by the auditor-general, something CityNews has heard from other sources involved in the file.
“It’s contrary to the interests of people’s pocket books, their lungs and the environment,” he said. “It’s hard for me to believe that the auditor-general won’t follow up.”
“This is heartbreaking.”
When asked about the cost of cancellations, Walker said the White Pines community never wanted the windmills and they were imposed by the previous Liberal government.
“We knew that from Day 1, they knew that from Day 1, and they continued to impose these on unwilling hosts like White Pines was,” he said.
The Milford windmills have been controversial in the community. However, locals whose land the turbines are on are upset to see the project scrapped.
“This is heartbreaking, this has been years and years of building a project that’s being cancelled for absolutely no good reason,” Jennifer Ackerman, who has a turbine on her property, said. “All those years of putting it up to say ‘Oh, its up, and let’s tear it all down.’ The environmental impact of that and nothing gained. Nothing.”
Ackerman is one of several area residents who were heavily lobbying for the turbines, which is located not too far from the shores of Lake Ontario.
“I believe in renewable energy. The science is there, it’s a fact Jack, that we’ve got to get away from fossil fuels and this is the way to do it,” added area resident Anne McIntosh.
Ackerman adds: “The amount hasn’t changed with the turbines being cancelled.”
She’s now getting paid in two lump sums — one when the turbines come down, and another when the decommissioning is fully complete. Removing the concrete, with winter on the horizon, could take upwards of a year.
According to terms reached with the government, the company has three years to fully restore the site. It is anticipated the wind turbines and towers will sit on the ground until next spring.
“I’m not saying I don’t appreciate some money and the revenue was looking great,” Ackerman said. “But given the choice between the money and the wind farm? I want the wind farm.”
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.
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
“…cranes started arriving last month to tear down wind turbines that were just built and ready to be switched on. The project was more than a decade in the making and was expected to produce enough energy to power more than 60,000 homes…”
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. 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.
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