Saturday, December 21, 2019

Ontario tries to kill yet another wind farm for spurious reasons

Ontario's renewables-killing government is at it again, this time attempting to cancel an almost-completed wind farm on flimsy and spurious grounds.
The Nation Rise Wind Farm, just southeast of Ottawa, was approved by the previous Liberal government, after a full environmental assessment completed in January 2019, and construction began this last May. 16 of the planned 29 turbines are fully or partially built, and the project owners, EDL Renewables Canada, have already spent or committed $230 million to date.
Now the Ford government is calling for the entire project to be summarily cancelled, their stated reason being - wait for it - that it poses a threat to endangered bats in the region. So, Doug Ford has suddenly developed a concern about wildlife and endangered species? Well, no, but that is the stated rationale for the challenge. This is despite the fact that EDP's approval noted that the company had gone "far beyond industry standards amd provincial requirements" in this respect, including a requirement to monitor bird and bat deaths, with additional measures to be taken if bat deaths exceed 10 per turbine annually. They have also pledged to shut off turbines in low winds during the bats' migration period.
Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek now says that this is inadequate, despite advice fron bat experts who maintain that EDP is doing a pretty good job of protecting the relatively fee bats which do call the area home for at least part of the year. And this is the government, remember, that recently amended and weakened the Endangered Species Act to allow developers to pay a fee instead of implementing mitigating measures to protect an endangered species... And the government whose first action in power was to cancel 758 renewable energy contracts at huge cost to the taxpayer, and then another wind farm in Prince Edward County at a cost of $231 million.
Cancelling the project at this stage could cost the province's taxpayers as much as (another) $200 million, to say nothing of weakening investor confidence in the province (again!) The company is taking its case to the courts. But, really, what a government this is!

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