Ian and Nancy Baines fall on hard times

Ian Baines, Wolfe Island developer

Couple blown away
By Paul Schliesmann, Whig Standard

Opponents and supporters of the $1.35-billion wind turbine project in Lake Ontario off Kingston agree its cancellation last week by the provincial government was a purely political decision.

“It has nothing to do with science and it has everything to do with an election year and they’re afraid of losing votes,” said Jeff Garrah, CAO of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

Late Friday afternoon, a press release from the office of Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the application for Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. would be “suspended” while “further scientific research is conducted.”

Headed by Ian and Nancy Baines, who have ties to Kingston and Queen’s University, the project would have involved the installation of 60 to 150 turbines producing up to 300 megawatts of power.

“It was a very suspicious time for a decision to be made,” said Garrah. “Friday at 4 o’clock when there’s a major story developing in Egypt.”

KEDCO had invested 100 to 150 hours of staff time over the past year helping Windstream make contacts with local contractors for everything from underwater archeological assessments to general contracting and marine support services.

Construction was to begin in 2013.

Nancy Baines said they were “surprised” by the announcement.

“It could be a better day,” she said when reached by the Whig-Standard yesterday.

She and her husband had conceived the 86-turbine project now operating on Wolfe Island and finalized all the lease agreements before selling it to Canadian Hydro Developers in 2005. It is now run by TransAlta of Alberta.

Last year, Windstream was awarded a Feed in Tariff from the province to install turbines in the relatively shallow waters west of Wolfe Island.

“We worked on this for several years. We still have a contract with the Ontario Power Authority. We do have a contract,” said Baines.

“All I can tell you is we were made aware of that announcement on Friday and we are assessing our options,” Baines said.

Windstream hired a consulting firm to analyse the economic benefits of the project and the resulting report estimated there would be 1,900 jobs created over the five years of construction and 175 ongoing jobs for 20 years of operation.

“This was a tremendous possibility for Kingston,” said Baines. “I don’t even want to put it in the past tense. The opportunity to create jobs is huge.”

Both Garrah and Baines said it appeared the only issue that needed to be decided was the setback from shore.

Garrah said the consensus among bureaucrats was for five kilometres.

“To my mind that was the main environmental issue people were grappling with,” he said.

Garrah wondered why, if there were still environmental concerns, the government issued the contract to Wind-stream in the first place.

“To do it after a contract is issued, it’s purely a political manoeuvre,” he said.

The government release said Ontario would monitor findings coming from the only freshwater turbine project in the world, located in Sweden.

Mark Mattson of the environmental group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper said the Liberal government had a number of environmental unknowns to deal with.

“The announcement suggests the government is going back to reassess its energy policies. It’s chaotic,” said Mattson.

“They politicized the energy policies in Ontario. Energy decisions used to go through independent panels and reviews. Now it’s straight from the politicians. They pushed these wind projects too far.”

Mattson welcomed the announcement even though five years ago he admitted having “wholeheartedly endorsed the government’s move to green power.”

Environmental groups began to get shut out of the review process, he said, as land-based wind projects were placed in the middle of environmentally sensitive areas such as Wolfe Island.

Mattson also believes the cost of offshore wind power convinced the government to back out.

“My information said it was going to be very expensive and difficult to build offshore,” he said. “They were going to need a lot of government subsidies.”

Mattson noted that Energy Minister Brad Duguid, MPP for Scarborough Centre, had a conflict — a proposal for an offshore development near the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto.

Garrah said Environment Minister John Wilkinson also bowed to a “predominant lobby” fighting an offshore project in his riding of Perth-Wellington.

“They should recuse themselves from the file so they’re not affected by the wind lobby,” said Garrah.

19 thoughts on “Ian and Nancy Baines fall on hard times

  1. Ian & Nancy,

    The Ontario government unleashed hell on rural Ontario and Wolfe Island. Did you really think we would take it lying down??? There are so many falsehoods about wind power that it is hard to address them all…but we will and we do! Oh.. by the way, Take Rob Fords advice and “Get a Job!” better yet Get out of town.

  2. Bright side to McGuinty’s policitical
    indecisiveness is that he is doing
    a good job in pissing off the entire
    electorate.

  3. “The opportunity to create jobs is huge”

    Really!? “175 ongoing jobs for 20 years of operation” is considered “huge” these days?

    Furthermore, based on the REAL numbers coming out of REAL wind farms, I’m guessing even THAT number is likely wildly exaggerated because it works out to more permanent jobs then there are turbines in this proposed wind farm!

    Can we say “FANTASY”!

    These greedy bastards obviously went to the “Dalton” school of economics!

    I’m with Melodie on this one!

    R.R.

  4. The biggest job killer in the past few days were the cancellation notices to MicroFIT applicants. That pretty well finished a solar industry that was actually booming*

    *Your taxpayer dollars at work.

  5. John:

    If Solar power is economic and offers a payback this will be only a minor setback. People will figure out how to finance their arrays, and sell the power at the current free market rate.

    But I do agree with you that constantly changing rules is bad for business.

    It goes to show that the government did very poor research on what would be tolerated by the citizens of Ontario. You can read my comments on the value of studies elsewhere on this site….

    In the meantime there are lots of opportunity to sell Wind and Solar in the right circumstances. I know that because I have researched wind and solar for resource companies. It looks like it could be the cheapest alternative for many remote sites. Also, it is far safer than hauling large quantities of fuel. The opportunity came about because I presented my paper on Wind Energy to them — they agreed with me that it was foolish for grid power — but ideal for them…

    Quit moaning and look for opportunities. They are not going to come quickly but they will come… Unless the greenies all kill mining and forestry and mineral exploration industries and remote camps of all types.

    I do understand, but I am not sympathetic to over-priced under-planned efforts to go green.

    In other words — I empathize — but I do not sympathize in any way.

    Just remember that every fluffy white or silver cloud has a black lining — but the converse is true too.

  6. “Bright side to McGuinty’s policitical
    indecisiveness is that he is doing
    a good job in pissing off the entire
    electorate.”

    And while playing dmage control, he seems to be pissing off an entire industry. Seems to be trying to save his own hide while biting that hand that feeds him sorta speak.

    It’s dog eat dog out there. It’ll be entertaining to watch who gets thrown to the wolves as this unfolds.

  7. Do you think this couple sounds worried at all? They were probably already assured by McGuinty prior to the announcement that as soon as they were re-elected they would be able to go ahead as planned. Do we seem that gullible?
    Right on Melodie!

  8. The people promoting IWTs in Ontario all went to the European Union school of economics and decided EU energy policies would be just great for Ontarians.

  9. No disagreement, Dave, but you start your argument with a preposition.

    I would love to invest in solar power, but as long as I can buy electricity from the grid for less than it costs to produce myself, it makes little sense. It does make sense if you can sell your solar at a highly subsidized price and then buy what you need back at a (lower) market cost, but then you operate at the whim of whatever political or social imperative holds.

    What we have created is a process that guarantees a fixed rate of return to every and all “stakeholders” irrespective of the basic laws of supply an demand. Hence we bribe out of province utilities to take excess supply while pensioners are finding it cheaper to burn second hand books to keep warm. We bill occasion customers a few pennies for minimum use but hundreds of dollars for distribution charges, thus demonstrating the futility of conservation efforts. To keep this whole process from disintegrating, we now offer tax credits and special rebates, thus ensuring that energy cost are the responsibility of all taxpayers. I guess this must be good public policy, because when the idea to tie internet billing to actual internet use was suggested, it was met with a storm of protest.

    My comments on MicroFIT were meant as sarcasm. I have observed somewhat anecdotal and with no disrespect that farmers tend to follow the leader. If one goes for the latest seed crop, planter, whatever, everyone around has a tendency to follow. One solar array in our township has created demand for several more. That industry seemed to be growing quite well, albeit based on exaggerated performance expectations and a generous fixed price contract. But it will only take a few bad rumours to burst the bubble, which is why I say MicroFIT and the jobs surrounding it are dead. Solar has future but not on the barn roofs, not now.

    “Green job” per se is purely a political term with no technical definition. If the mandarins in Toronto though we would not notice, they would paint all OPP cruisers a mix of blue and yellow and add every patrol officer and duty sergeant to the green roster. Oh wait.

  10. John:

    “No disagreement, Dave, but you start your argument with a preposition. ”

    This is the sort of criticism up with which I will not put! 🙁

    Missed the sarcasm sorry!

    But I like what you wrote. 🙂 Nor arguments.

  11. So Dave and John…

    Are you two done saying the same thing only using different words?

    Now don’t get mad at me, it was VERY WELL said! Both times!

    And I happen to agree 100% 🙂

    R.R.

  12. It is so sad when someone with a little extra money can invest it in a project that promises enormous profits off the backs of the taxpayers, and the project falls through. Why couldn’t our government throw our tax dollars at research to make coal power clean? There has to be a balance between saving the planet and bankrupting the public.

  13. I can only hope the voters remember the lies from Dalton the first time he was voted in. Remember the health tax. Then his promises round two. I wish the conservatives were more concerned about opposition to the GEA than they were prices of beer. I believe its not who wins the next election but who loses. I fear the next few months of politics because the concervatives have no plan. If anyone knows an MPP what will it take to open some eyes of what the people of Ontario want

  14. “Why couldn’t our government throw our tax dollars at research to make coal power clean?”

    No research required Peggy! All they had to do was continue with an already existing plan to do just that! By cancelling this plan, they actually produced far MORE pollution then would have been the case. As a result, one of the largest coal fired plants in all of North America; Nanticoke, is also one of the dirtiest!

    You can thank no one but the Liberals for that!

    R.R.

  15. I know Ian and Nancy from a previous life and believe me, it is all about contacts – not competence.

  16. You have environmental groups providing information to your children and educators..most of Canada is SOLD on renewable energy.

    ” I don’t want windturbines”….for whatever reason , birds , noise , health.

    The sooner we realize this the better..they Don’t care.
    They don’t care about studies , they don’t care about shadow flicker or if your property values are Zero.

    Because it doesn’t affect their lives or wallets.

    If you want any chance of mass support you need to show people that the cost is great , and that you have better options in adopting renewable energy.
    For Profit should be made to be EVIL and that everyone is being scammed cheated , ripped off ..you call it.
    Wind is expensive , costs someone 2x as much.
    The energy sector should not dump extra energy…scam needs to be revisited and finally you have another plan a better plan , a plan that saves the world..you don’t have to believe it.
    That is to provide those people a means to get on board with renewable energy.
    They are sold on renewables…Microfit plans are the only answer

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