OP ED: Who deserves fairness and equity?
By Gary Mooney|The Times|July 25, 2018
Since 2007, County groups and individuals have been fighting wind turbine projects in PEC on environmental, human health, cultural heritage and economic grounds. We are grateful that the PC government has taken decisive action to cancel wpd Canada’s White Pines wind project.
In a recent open letter to Premier Ford, Dr. Hartmut Brosamle, CEO of wpd AG, asks for reconsideration of the government’s decision to cancel White Pines, because the cancellation is causing the company “serious damage through no fault of its own”. Some comments are appropriate regarding fault.
wpd Canada and, by extension, its German parent wpd AG, have exhibited major failings or faults with regard to their pursuit of the White Pines wind project:
wpd originally chose a location that is the last stretch of undeveloped land on Lake Ontario, on a major bird migration route, much of it within an Important Bird Area. This area is home to multiple endangered species, including Blanding’s turtle and little brown bat. As well, the South Shore is an area of significant cultural heritage value, dating back to UEL days.
wpd instructed its sales agents to sign up landowners to host wind turbines secretly, with no notice to the community, and required those landowners to agree to nondisclosure of contract terms.
wpd hired consultants who provided it with incomplete and flawed reports to legitimize the project, especially with regard to environmental issues and cultural heritage concerns. Citizens’ groups and individuals had to hire their own lawyers and consultants and launch appeals costing about $700,000 to present the other side.
wpd ignored the results of a 2012 plebiscite in South Marysburgh Ward, where the project is located. Ninety per cent of those who voted (turnout similar to that for municipal elections) rejected wind turbines in their ward.
wpd never engaged in a real two-way dialogue with the community; instead it proceeded most of the time as if the County was unpopulated.
wpd ignored the position of PEC Council, which declared itself in 2013 to be an unwilling host to wind turbines.
BREACH OF CONTRACT
wpd failed to deliver 75 per cent of the contracted capacity required by its FIT contract, and failed to meet contract deadlines.
wpd underestimated the resolve of local groups to protect County residents, the natural environment and cultural heritage, and the many County residents who funded their efforts.
wpd ignored the fact of a coming provincial election and an anticipated change of government to one opposing the Green Energy Act and wind turbine projects.
wpd made a reckless decision to proceed with construction of the downsized project without final approval by IESO. Wpd is the author of its own misfortune.
Via the Green Energy Act, the Liberal government suspended democracy as regards renewable energy development and, for nine years, completely ignored the wishes of citizens and municipalities. The PC government was elected in part because of its willingness to listen to the people.
Despite all of the failings listed above, Dr. Brosalme asks for “fairness and equity” for wpd. How many such failings are necessary to disqualify wpd from reconsideration of the government’s decision: only one? maybe three? even all ten?
We in the County have been seeking fairness and equity regarding wind turbine projects for more than a decade, involving many thousands of hours of volunteer time. It’s the government’s choice, and we are grateful that it has made a choice “for the people”.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge the strong support that Todd Smith has provided to our community and our cause since he became MPP in 2011. It’s been good to know that he’s had our back at Queen’s Park.