On Friday, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals decided to put a moratorium on offshore wind projects. I thought a lot about this over the weekend and commented to friends that it is possibly the beginning of the coming landslide in the green energy kybosh which may be the only thing that saves the provincial liberals from a rout in the October 2011 elections.
Then I read this article in the Toronto Star.
In particular this section.
Offshore applications to date make up only a handful of the many hundreds received so far, and the government’s terse news release pointed out that none have been built. Queen’s Park is pulling the plug until “further scientific research is conducted.”
But the reality is that public opinion research, rather than scientific research, is driving the government’s agenda these days. A number of Liberal ridings are being buffeted by wind turbine troubles, notably the Scarborough seat held by Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
The premier likes to boast in his speeches about Ontario’s groundbreaking renewable energy policies and his focus on good government. He has long resisted NIMBYism, and his ministers are known to mock them as BANANAs — Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. But with an election coming, his new priority is putting out political fires — most recently by nixing the gas-fired power plant in Oakville that threatened another Liberal seat.
The opposition is profiting from the anti-wind movement, with many MPPs stirring it up in their ridings at every opportunity. Most of the huffing and puffing is directed against onshore wind farms, which face a 550-metre setback. Offshore turbines, by contrast, faced a five-kilometre setback — virtually out of sight, but by no means out of mind.
So what does this mean?
Well it means that they cancelled a tiny portion of wind, primarily on Lake Ontario, to save Brad Duguid’s Scarborough seat by cancelling wind turbine projects that have to be 5km from shore but it leaves the countless wind farms that only have to be 550 meters from a neighbour’s property. If health was truly the cause of the cancellation, then they would have cancelled the ones that are potentially closer to people. But a) this would affect the bulk of the programs and b) it would not help save Brad Duguid’s job. And since Duguid is now the face of Green Energy in Ontario, it would be a devastating loss and hit to the Green Energy Act if he was unseated.
So rural farmers who make up the bulk of the current wind farms (and their neighbours who make up the bulk of the neighbours of wind farms) get the shaft.
Sound familiar? Well it should. You see back on July 2nd, McGuinty also cut the rates for lucrative 10kW MicroFIT solar projects that were ground based from 80.2 cents per kWh to 64.2 pretty much making them unviable. Yet he left the rooftop installations at 80.2 cents per kWh. The reason they sited was that the ground based installations were cheaper. But they were wrong. The ground based systems need heavy ballasting, far longer trenches, potentially new hydro poles, transformers etc depending on the location. Whereas rooftop systems have all that readily available. and simply connect up to the power near your home meter.
So he slaps the rural community on July 2nd and tells them they can’t really take part in solar and now he slaps them again by telling them Scarborough resident’s health is in jeopardy when they are 5km from an installation but farmers that are potentially 550 meters from a windfarm are not at the same risk. Can we say OfficiallyScrewed?
The ONLY thing that would make this windfarm situation right is if he puts a hold on all ONSHORE windfarm projects as well.