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Liberals blow it on wind energy

McGuinty tried to take a great leap forward, essentially imposing wind power on Ontarians, instead of nurturing it, with the Green Energy Act. It limits municipalities' powers to block wind projects. And an untendered $7-billion contract with South Korean firm Samsung to develop 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power in Ontario seems like an unseemly sweetheart deal.

If Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak follows through on his misguided promise to curtail development of wind energy should he become premier, the move will have been made possible by growing opposition fomented by the McGuinty government's handling of the issue. Wind power is at the centre of renewable energy initiatives around the world.

A report released last week compared the successful German renewable energy program with Ontario's fledgling efforts. Called Harvesting Clean Energy on Ontario Farms, a Transatlantic Comparison, it was prepared in collaboration with the Pembina Institute, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the United Church of Canada and Climate Action Network Canada.

It concludes that Ontario is the leader in Canada in developing renewable energy.

Yet in February, facing opposition to a plan by Toronto Hydro to build 70 turbines in Lake Ontario, the province placed a moratorium on offshore projects, citing the need for more study. In fact, resistance to wind energy is galvanizing in Ontario. On Manitoulin Island, Northland Power and a group of First Nations signed a joint venture for 33 turbines (since reduced to 24), yet elders and community members are fighting the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

If Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak follows through on his misguided promise to curtail development of wind energy should he become premier, the move will have been made possible by growing opposition fomented by the McGuinty government's handling of the issue. Wind power is at the centre of renewable energy initiatives around the world.

A report released last week compared the successful German renewable energy program with Ontario's fledgling efforts. Called Harvesting Clean Energy on Ontario Farms, a Transatlantic Comparison, it was prepared in collaboration with the Pembina Institute, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the United Church of Canada and Climate Action Network Canada.

It concludes that Ontario is the leader in Canada in developing renewable energy.

Yet in February, facing opposition to a plan by Toronto Hydro to build 70 turbines in Lake Ontario, the province placed a moratorium on offshore projects, citing the need for more study. In fact, resistance to wind energy is galvanizing in Ontario. On Manitoulin Island, Northland Power and a group of First Nations signed a joint venture for 33 turbines (since reduced to 24), yet elders and community members are fighting the project, citing the destruction of wildlife habitat and clear cutting on an island heavily dependent on tourism.

Wind projects proposed for the north shore of Lake Superior, including one offshore project, are also facing strong organized opposition.

Why has wind energy spawned such resistance in Ontario? Premier Dalton McGuinty overestimated Ontarians' commitment to alter their lifestyles to protect the environment and he underestimated the strength of the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) lobby.

Germany set the table for wind energy years ago. Small wind projects run by co-operatives and municipal ownership allowed people to get used to living with turbines. Climate change policies had gained support across the political spectrum, and government subsided rates for power generated by renewable resources have been around in Germany since early 1990s.

As a result, 17% of electrical power in Germany is generated by renewable energy. The industry employs about 370,000 people and there are plans to invest $275 billion in new projects in Germany. And while the rapid growth of wind power has spawned opposition in Germany -- there are more than 21,600 wind turbines in place -- it hasn't dampened the political will to pursue it, especially since Germany is backing away from nuclear power.

That reliable environment has attracted investment from major corporations and banks who see even small wind projects as safe bets.

But McGuinty tried to take a great leap forward, essentially imposing wind power on Ontarians, instead of nurturing it, with the Green Energy Act. It limits municipalities' powers to block wind projects. And an untendered $7-billion contract with South Korean firm Samsung to develop 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power in Ontario seems like an unseemly sweetheart deal, because it guarantees rates of 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour over 20 years, when rates this year have hovered between three and four cents.

The wind power industry sees Ontario as fertile ground for investment. Monday's announcement of 19 new wind farms (and several solar projects) in southwestern Ontario shows McGuinty is convinced Ontarians will embrace wind power. But opposition is firm enough that Hudak feels comfortable slowing growth in wind energy. If he does, billions of dollars of investment will move out of Ontario at a time when the province is in an excellent position to capitalize on a major boom in wind energy projects.


Source: http://www.thesudburystar.c...

JUL 7 2011
https://www.windaction.org/posts/31295-liberals-blow-it-on-wind-energy
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