by Gary Rennie, Windor Star
The “noisy activists” being targeted by a campaign aimed at keeping Ontario government subsidies flowing to renewable energy projects are ticked off, but not surprised, by the tactics leading into the next provincial election.
They say the public should be alarmed that the big increases in hydro bills from the Liberal government’s green energy policies are still to come.
“People are going to open their hydro bills and they’re going to be shocked,” says Mick MacCorquodale. “The only thing green about wind turbines is the money. This is big business.”
MacCorquodale is suing the Town of Amherstburg for issuing building permits for the $25 million, five-turbine wind power project now under construction near his home. The case comes up in court next month.
A document leaked to Ontario Conservation Party Leader Tim Hudak outlines the campaign being organized among industry, labour and environment groups to support continued subsidies for green energy projects and defuse the growing concern about the rising cost of electricity.
The campaign outline put together by the Sussex Strategy Group says: “In this, it will be critical to ‘confuse’ the issue in the political/public/media away from just price to include key value attributes such as jobs, clean air, farm income, etc.”
The document adds: “In order to talk past the ‘noisy activists,’ and editorial positions, there needs to be a co-ordinated, paid, earned and social media campaign.”
Hudak immediately labelled the campaign an effort to “dupe” the public when he released the “privileged and confidential” document earlier this week.
Hudak has been pressing the Liberal government to clearly calculate the cost of its green energy policies, and found predictions in the leaked document that hydro rates could go up by 36 per cent in 2012, although for a broad range of reason.
“I guess I’ve been called worse (than a noisy activist),” jokes Colette McLean, a farmer and housewife who’s been vocal about her opposition to the $110-million International Power wind turbine project near Harrow.
“What really alarmed me about the document was that it had such a diabolical tone,” said McLean. “I’m just a regular person, a taxpayer.”
McLean says those who live closest to wind turbines have a right to protection of their health and quality of life, and every taxpayer has a right to know how much green energy is costing.
“I guess we’re the target,” says Maureen Anderson. She also lives near the wind turbine project MacCorquodale is contesting in court.
So many wind and solar projects are under construction right now — in Essex County and across the province -that the full impact of the 20-year, heavily subsidized contracts isn’t going to hit for a year or two, Anderson said.
While not totally opposed to renewable energy, Hudak says his party will cut back on the subsidies and get the cost of electricity under control.
Hudak’s position was mentioned in the leaked document as part of the problem the campaign would address.
Sussex was soliciting $300,000 to mount a pro green power campaign into early 2011. More money would be needed to continue the effort right up to the Oct. 6 provincial election, the document says.
The company has offices in Toronto and Ottawa. According to its website, many of its principals are former advisers and staff of prominent Liberal and PC politicians in the federal and provincial governments. A company spokesman couldn’t be reached Wednesday.