This story has been updated to include comments from WPD Communications Manager Kevin Surette.
The mayor of Prince Edward County said he’s ‘over the moon’ with Tuesday’s announcement that Ontario’s energy ministry is cancelling plans to sign solar and wind contracts. However it doesn’t affect wind projects like WPD White Pines that are currently before the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said the decision to cancel contracts for up to 1,000 megawatts of power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources is expected to save the province up to $3.8 billion in costs from its 2013 long-term plan, and will keep about $2.45 a month from being added to hydro bills.
Mayor Robert Quaiff said he is very pleased, adding it’s been a long time coming as the County declared itself an unwilling host in 2011.
The president of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, Orville Walsh, who is one of three applicants involved in the case before the ERT against WPD Canada said Tuesday’s announcement should cancel projects in the County and Amherst Island. WPD is proposing to build 27 industrial wind turbines along the County’s south shore in South Marysburgh and Athol. The $200 million 20-year project was approved by the Ministry of Environment in July 2015. Appeals were quickly launched by three individual parties, local businessman John Hircsh; APPEC and the South Shore Conservancy. They claim the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to the environment, wildlife and habitat.
Walsh told Quinte News remedy hearings commence in Toronto Wednesday morning following a month-long period of written submissions from witnesses.
Environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie who is representing all three parties told Quinte News that he plans to put Tuesday’s announcement front and centre through the rest of the hearing.
“We don’t need any more of these projects,” said Gillespie. “They (the ERT) have already said green energy doesn’t trump the environmental protection act. Now it doesn’t even compete at all. It should have zero weight. The environmental protection act should trump everything.”
Gillespie said he plans to tell the ERT that ‘the hearings are unnecessary because the project is unnecessary.’
“Wind companies have been oblivious to the realities as has the government,” he said. “It’s been known for years we have ample amounts of energy and have been dumping it in the United States at a reduced rate. This confirmed the sad reality that this course of action has had no merit for what Ontarians have been put through by these policies and the actions of these wind companies.”
WPD Communications Manager Kevin Surette told says they were looking to participate in the round of bids that the province was seeking or 2018 but now they won’t be proceeding so WPD will continue with the business that they have.
Surette said due to the fact the province signed off on the White Pines contract in 2010, he doesn’t think this recent announcement will have any bearing on the hearing.
Wednesday the court will hear cross examination of the applicants’ witnesses. On Thursday Gillespie will cross examine WPD ‘s witnesses.
In Tuesday’s announcement Thibeault said the Independent Electricity System Operator’s planning outlook determined Ontario has a robust supply of electricity for the next decade and won’t need the additional power it had planned to purchase.
He’s also looking for ways to reduce costs in the province’s next long-term energy plan, which is scheduled to be released in 2017.
Thibeault said the government’s investments in the electricity system over the past decade mean Ontario has “a strong supply of clean power.”