Ontario municipalities are calling for a moratorium on renewable wind and solar procurement.
In the run up to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario 2016 Conference in Windsor, mayors and municipal councillors from across Ontario, together with representatives from the Independent Electrical Systems Operator (IESO), gathered for a symposium on wind turbine development in the province.
“For the past few years, municipalities from across the province have repeatedly raised their concerns over the procurement process of Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT) to the provincial Liberal Government. To date, the government has taken no actions to resolve these concerns,” said Prince Edward County mayor Robert Quaiff who led the symposium.
In 2011, Prince Edward County asked the province for a moratorium on wind development in the municipality, however one was never granted. Protests and lawsuits soon followed after Gilead Power was granted ministry approval to build a nine turbine industrial wind farm on Ostrander Point. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists took Gilead to court and two years later the Environmental Review Tribunal agreed the area was environmentally sensitive for the project. A 27 turbine project by White Pines also planned for the southern portion of the County in South Marysburgh and Athol is currently before the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Quiaff said as a moderator he witnessed the level of anger and frustration that other municipal representatives are feeling because of this issue.
“The message from the symposium was crystal clear: municipalities have had enough,” he said. “Participants left with a unified sense of purpose and we are demanding immediate action from the provincial government. The provincial Liberals have been unwilling to budge on this issue; in contrast, IESO representatives were actually quite responsive and amenable at the symposium, expressing their interest in working with municipalities to find a middle ground, but their hands are tied by ministerial directives.
He explained a main area of contention is that municipalities would like to have a veto on proposed IWT projects in their jurisdictions, but the provincial government opposes this idea.
Quaiff said currently, 84 municipalities in Ontario have made it clear that they want municipal support to be mandatory for IWT projects to move forward.
“As a result, municipalities are asking the provincial government to impose a moratorium on the procurement of new renewable energy infrastructure until a compromise can be reached,” Quaiff added. “This would allow municipalities and the Liberal government to sit down and collaborate on a process that is acceptable to all involved. A moratorium would allow time for consultation on the issues that are most pressing to municipalities, including: community vibrancy allocations, community & stakeholder engagement processes, wind turbine placement, compensation for lost property value and the availability of funding for municipalities to manage implementation.Without a moratorium, we are headed towards increased conflict between municipalities and the provincial government and an even greater risk of litigation going forward.”