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Smith gains EBR extension on Gilead wind project

It’s an issue that has monopolized his first three months in office but Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith has managed to move the needle on the Gilead Project scheduled for the south shore of Prince Edward County. The public consultation deadline scheduled for Jan. 29 has been extended three weeks to Feb. 19.

“Any extension is a good start. But the Liberals are only paying lip service to the idea of more local input. We had to fight to get these three weeks and we’re going to make use of every day to add more names to the hundreds already on petitions in my office,” said Smith. “There’s no rush, no immediate need for this project so the Liberals have no compelling reason aside from partisan politics, not to grant the full extension to April 1st. Ontario doesn’t need the extra energy. In fact, it’s this gold rush mentality that they’ve always had about these projects that has forced this province to sell power to Quebec and New York at a loss.”

Noting the Liberals have stated they want to do more thorough public and local consultations in the process of installing Green Energy Act projects, Smith took issue with the duration of the consultation period and requested an extension, to April 1. He noted his Christmas gift to the County might have come a little late, but on Friday, his office received notice from the MOE that the public consultation deadline was being extended.

The Gilead project was posted to the EBR on Nov. 30th for a usual 64-day public consultation period. Given the consultation period coincided with the holidays, and the specific ecological and economic circumstances involved in Prince Edward County, Smith lobbied the ministry to extend the deadline to the start of the government’s new fiscal year. This would have allowed the MPP to present petitions from the people of Prince Edward County in the Legislature when the House resumes sitting on Feb. 21st.

“The people of Prince Edward County have been vocal in their opposition to these projects. They’ve made me aware of those feelings and I’m going to make the Ministers of Energy and Environment aware of it. If these turbines go up, over the expressed wishes of Prince Edward County’s citizens, the Liberals will have violated one of the most sacred trusts of our democracy,” said Smith.

The public is invited to sign the petition at Smith’s office or visit http://www.toddsmithmpp.ca/petitions/GILEAD%20POWER%20PETITION.pdf   to print off and gather signatures

The Ostrander Point project in Prince Edward County is posted to the Environmental Registry.
The proposal is a Class 4 Wind Facility with a total expected generation capacity of 22.5 megawatts, located in the area of Helmer and Babylon roads in southern Prince Edward County.
Questions or comments should be submitted by Feb. 19, 2012 to be considered part of the decision making process by the Ministry of the Environment. Comments submitted in writing or electronically using the website form must reference EBR Registry number 011-5239.
EBR details here:  http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTE1MDIx&statusId=MTcyMzgx&language=en

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  1. Rob Williams says:

    Richard,
    Let’s get back on track here. To quickly recap, the arguments I put forward and that stimulated your response were:
    a) that David’s statement “These windmills are uneconomical and are otherwise not required.” was not justified. I provided supporting information. You offered no information supporting David’s assertion but instead chose to attack the credibility of one of my sources and change the subject to the AG’s criticism of government process and policy.
    b) the fact that Todd Smith’s entrenched position on wind energy is likely to compromise the credibility of his public meeting as an unbiased gauge of public opinion. You did not challenge this message, but instead chose to criticize the messenger.

    Now let’s examine the assertions in your latest comment. It opens up new cans of worms and begins with your personal interpretations of the AG’s report and of results from unspecified “independent analysts”. With no supporting references they are less than persuasive.
    I found a graph in the AG report (Fig. 2) that showed electricity prices rising over 5 years by around 40% but no information on how large that price rise would be in an alternative no renewables scenario. We need to know the difference between the two in order to assess how much of the price rise is attributable to renewables. There’s no doubt that grid modernization and nuclear refurbishment are significant drivers of rising prices in both scenarios.
    I am aware of the AG’s statement on jobs in other jurisdictions. I am also aware that unfortunately he appears to have recycled conclusions from invalid jobs studies (see http://environmentaldefence.ca/blog/did-ontario-auditor-general-rely-discredited-exxon-funded-study) that have been discredited by the U.S. gov’t. among others. (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/46261.pdf ).
    Your criticisms in reference to hydro generation of electricity are baseless, misleading and unwarranted. The focus is on the clean electricity generation opportunities that exist in the County.
    Instead of responding to my enquiry as to the source of your information on County voting, you quoted details from Elections Canada but again omitted to provide your source reference.
    I think that brings us up to date.

    I regret that your “shoot the messenger who bears unwelcome news” comments (your paras 3 & 4) do not encourage or add value to what should be a respectful free exchange of useful well supported fact-based information. They introduce a hostile tone indicating that the potentially helpful and informative part of our exchange has come to an end.
    I wish you well.
    Rob

  2. Richard Allen says:

    Okay, let’s try this again.

    The AG attributed the government’s sale of power at a cost of $2 billion over four years to the priority access given to the grid by wind and solar. The AG also stated that where similar strategies to the one utilized in Ontario have been tried, they’ve been at a cost of 2-3 jobs in other sectors. Independent analysts have stated that the priority access given to the grid for wind and solar projects is going to increase hydro bills by 46%. The AG’s report includes a graph showing relatively the same cost increase.

    That’s really about all I need in terms of knowing the economic impact of this frankly failed policy.

    As to the use of biased starting points, one who cites a study by a think tank whose goal is to advocate for wind and solar is a person in a glass house who should hardly take up the practice of throwing rocks.

    Why, oh, why are the advocates of renewable energy so vocal in their support of what are frankly, boutique and luxury power sources in wind and solar and so much less vocal in thier support of hydroelectricity? Hydro is far more reliable, just as renewable and just as emissions free as wind and solar and it doesn’t require unsustainable FIT subsidies in order to attract investment.

    As to the question of votes. According to Elections Ontario, 9,859 votes were cast in Prince Edward County in the fall election. Between Todd Smith and Treat Hull, the two candidates most stridently opposed to the Ostrander Point project, they pulled in roughly 54.17% of the vote.

    Now, yes, this represents only roughly half the voters in Prince Edward County, however, it’s disingenuous for either side to claim membership from the other half. Without a tangible measure of their opinion, which neither side possesses, the only thing that either side can ascribe to that 50% (while maintaining a degree of intellectual honesty) is indifference. Those who expressed a political opinion on the issue in the County during the last election – where it was without question the #1 issue having a whole All Candidates Meeting dedicated to it – voted, in a majority, for candidates who opposed Ostrander Point.

  3. Rob Williams says:

    Richard,
    You implied without evidence that the Ontario Auditor General’s report somehow discredited the conclusions that I extracted from the Pembina Institute report. With all due respect, having read the section of the report dealing with renewable energy I saw no assertion that wind power is uneconomical compared with the alternatives, although he certainly criticized the government for not doing a comprehensive business case evaluation to better investigate that.
    Unlike the Pembina study, the AG did not attempt to compare the cost of the scenario including wind power against the cost of the scenario which excluded it. That’s not a criticism since he did not have available to him the alternative costs that would have arisen in a no wind energy scenario.
    Whether you believe wind energy is or is not required, primarily comes back down to whether or not you believe we need to reduce CO2 emissions to avoid runaway climate change. The primary requirement for clean renewable energy arises from the need to reduce the amount of energy and associated emissions that we generate by burning fossil fuels. At any given moment every kWh that we can get from wind or solar energy is a kWh that we don’t need to generate by burning gas. The fact that wind energy is not always available has no bearing on its undeniable value in reducing emissions when it is available.
    Finally I’m afraid you missed my point when I highlighted the anti-wind energy bias already built into Todd Smith’s public consultation process. The point is that if you attempt to assess public opinion using a biased process, your claim that your findings are unbiased and representative lack credibility. I didn’t imply that wind energy supporters will not show up and I encourage them to do so.
    By the way, where is the evidence to support your assertion that “…the two candidates who most stridently opposed the wind turbines received the majority of votes cast in the County in the recent election.”? It seems far from obvious, given that the majority of the almost 90,000 eligible voters in Prince Edward Hastings did not live in the County.

  4. Richard Allen says:

    Okay, Rob.

    First, you can’t cite a study by a think tank who’s sole purpose is to advocate for “renewable energy solutions” and then complain about others’ neutrality. The Ontario Auditor General, someone who has actual objectivity and no vested interest in the success or failure of Green Energy Act policies has said that this policy fails a basic economic test. So, when forced to choose between a biased think tank and the unbiased AG, your think tank loses.

    Second, claiming “intimidation” and all other manner of hyperbolic reasons for people not showing up is a poor excuse. Go to the meeting and make your voice heard, you’re being given a free opportunity and if you’re so sure you’re right, you should have no problem going and standing up for what you believe right. It is my experience that that remarkable minority in favour of wind turbines, claim they represent the majority but that those they represent are simply too tame or afraid to speak up. This is a convenient excuse no doubt. It’s an excuse for the loud to explain why they lack support. It’s also an excuse for those who want the Ontario government to do their dirty work for them, not to engage in a real debate with those who are of the opposing view.

    If Smith says he’s representing the majority it could be because his office has received correspondence either solely or almost entirely from those in opposition to the project. Or it could be because the two candidates who most stridently opposed the wind turbines received the majority of votes cast in the County in the recent election.

    Which once again, would highlight the flaw in your theory. Politicians cannot be expected to be mind readers. If people are too afraid – though I suspect it is closer to being too lazy – then they can hardly blame a political representative for acting in the interests of those constituents who have taken the time to make their views known. That’s actually supposed to be the practice of democracy.

  5. Donna says:

    Thank you, Rob, for giving voice to the majority who support renewable energy and want Prince Edward County to be part of the climate change solution.

  6. Rob Williams Ph.D. says:

    To Mr Smith:

    I fear that you are not speaking for the majority of residents of the County on wind turbines but for the few hundred or so people who very actively and loudly voiced their opposition during your campaign and who continue to do so. It seems that the squeaky wheel principle is alive and well.

    If you were sincerely interested in the majority view you would seek input from all residents while starting from a neutral position. Unfortunately you are starting from an entrenched anti-wind energy position leading into your February public meeting. You are not exactly giving the impression that you‘re interested in hearing from residents who don’t already share your views or that you are keen to provide a safe and respectful forum for all participants. Consequently don’t be surprised if many residents conclude that it would be a waste of time making their views known and subjecting themselves to the disrespectful intimidating tactics that we have seen from some overzealous anti-wind energy campaigners. Given the above, it is hardly credible for you to claim that you represent the views of the majority of PEC residents on the wind turbine issue.

    To David:

    You stated that “These windmills are uneconomical and are otherwise not required.” but you provide no evidence to support your opinion.

    It is contradicted by the findings of a detailed analysis published in 2011 by the Pembina Institute. Some of its key conclusions are summarized in “FAQs about Green Energy in Ontario” (http://pubs.pembina.org/reports/re-in-on-faq.pdf)

    Re “uneconomical”:
    They show (see Q. 3) that current FIT rates for wind power (which are currently under review and expected to fall) are only marginally above those for recent contracts for new small hydro plants and new natural-gas fired electricity and much lower than the rates for new nuclear power.

    Re ”not required”:
    They also find (see Q. 5) that the situation of occasional oversupply will not last long.
    “Building electricity infrastructure takes time and Ontario is building up its clean electricity capacity in order to be able to keep the lights on in the next few years when its dirty coal plants are retired and its nuclear fleet reaches the end of its design life.” Wind power will play an important part in meeting the need for new clean electricity generation.

  7. David Butler says:

    These windmills are uneconomical and are otherwise not required
    David Butler P.Eng.
    Nepean

  8. Mark says:

    I don’t think the issue is how learned Smith is in industrial wind turbines. He received huge concerns from the County electorate in rergards to the introduction of these massive machines in a sensitive environment. Prince Edward County residents told him they have real concerns. He is doing his job in taking that fight forward for the people who put him in office. It may take some by surprise to have their elected MPP actually walk the talk.

  9. virginia says:

    John is correct. Politics is a largely cynical endeavour. Say what you think people want to hear. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t for one moment believe that Todd Smith cares a whit about the wind power debate, or even knows that much about it. It’s just sheer opportunism—ie politics.

  10. John Thompson says:

    My main point is that it is not ethical for politicians to spin tall tales which they either know or should know to be false in order to gain votes. It is done though because it works.

    Democracy would work better at all levels of government if we were able to have run off votes whenever the leading candidate gets less than 50% support. The political landscape would change but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  11. Richard Allen says:

    John,

    Todd won more votes in the county than anyone else by saying that he was going to do exactly what he’s doing. Now, I know that’s foreign to councillors here in the County, but that’s the standard practice of a democracy. I’m with Mark, the fact that you’re no longer on council should be proof enough for the rest of us that you don’t quite get how this democracy thing works.

  12. Mark says:

    Minority! Little respect for the democratic process. Smith is doing exactly what he promised the electorate he would do. I know that is foreign to some because we are not accustom to someone keeping their promises. Quite unlike the County council or it’s former one’s that were tossed.

  13. John Thompson says:

    I see the MPP as representing a minority of the minority in the County who actually voted for him. Shameless repetetion of the baseless anti wind retoric reminds me of the candiates mtg where we heard a tall tale of the school children on Wolfe Island getting nosebleeds from the wind development. Or maybe politicians today are allowed to make it up rather than checking for facts.

  14. PEter says:

    Sounds to me like politics as usual.

    Mr. Smith, I applaud your efforts. It seems clear to me that you understand who you work for. Politics can be a nasty game, especially as a rookie backbencher. Be careful when prodding on the energy portfolio as you may get a call from one or more of the conservative heavyweights – they know what’s really going on with the file. They, along with “The Powers That Be” may not appreciate your efforts to ‘light’ the way.

    I should add… I think it was your party who dismantled Hydro some years ago. We must eliminate partisan politics from this file. The stakes are high.

    Now, with regard to energy in Ontario, perhaps we should start talking about the following entities and how they impact/influence energy policy in Ontario.

    National Energy Reliability Corporation
    http://www.nerc.com

    Northeast Power Coordinating Council Inc.
    http://www.npcc.org

    The Independent Electricity System Operator (Ontario)
    http://ieso.ca

    Mr. Smith, can you ask the legislature, for the benefit of the voting public, if Ontario agreed to legally binding electricity generating commitments via the North America Electric Reliability Corporation? And, if so, is that what’s really driving the decision of the Ontario government to move ahead with IWT projects in PEC despite the incessant push back? In other words, is it fait accompli?

  15. Gary Mooney says:

    We have gotten more support from Todd Smith in 3 months than we got from Leona Dombrowsky (a Liberal cabinet minister!) in 4 years. This demonstrates the good sense of County voters in supporting Todd at the polls.

  16. Dave Bartlett says:

    Thank you Todd Smith, for representing your riding and it’s constituents. Every riding deserves an MPP who can bring ethics back to government. I hope your efforts will bring success for the peoople who voted for you. I like the words in the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group’s web site http://windaction.wordpress.com/ “Our goals should not be blind opposition to progress but rather opposition to blind progress.” –John Muir–

  17. Doris Lane says:

    Good Work Todd–you understand that we do not need the power–why doesn’t McGinty know that
    Lennox sits mostly idle–it is to be used only in an emergency said former MPP Ernie Parsons–It has been sitting there like that for over ten years
    All the best to you and yours

  18. Gil Charlebois says:

    Thank You Mr Smith,
    You stated during the Fall Election you would help “The County” to get the Wind Power Message to the Liberals and you are doing as Promised.
    Wow, what a treat,an Elected People Representative that pushes/does what he promises!!
    A super Big Thank You Todd,
    A very Happy New Year to you and yours,
    beach182

  19. Marilyn says:

    Time for McGinty to slow down and smell the roses!!! He acts to hastily.. we need to do some homework to make sure it will work for everyone in Prince Edward. Good work Todd and keep your stand and make them show we need this!!

  20. Richard Allen says:

    Attaboy, Smitty!

  21. Eric Jelinski P. Eng. says:

    The government needs to be brought to its senses.

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