By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Toronto Sun
Shortly after axing an offshore wind energy project near his own Scarborough riding, Energy Minister Brad Duguid has planted a wind turbine farm in PC Leader Tim Hudak’s political backyard.
The Niagara Region Wind Farm in Smithville is one of 40 new solar, wind and water “clean” energy projects unveiled by Duguid in an expansion of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program.
Duguid acknowledged that some of the wind projects have proven to be controversial — especially with the Liberals’ political opponents at Queen’s Park — but said they were important for the province’s future.
“Ontario could have taken the easy route and we could have not have made these critical investments — that was the advice of, frankly, both opposition leaders here in Ontario who have demonstrated a remarkable lack of leadership, fortitude and commitment when it comes to building a clean, reliable and modern energy system,” Duguid said Thursday.
“I know Ontario families are going to see right through these opposition leaders.”
However, the energy ministry issued a media release on Feb. 11 saying the provincial government would not proceed with proposed offshore wind projects, including one planned off the Scarborough Bluffs, while further scientific research is conducted.
Duguid represents the riding of Scarborough Centre.
Hudak said the McGuinty government accuses people of NIMBYism if they object to the arrival of a large wind or solar project in their communities, but was prepared to halt offshore wind farms when they threatened to derail their own election hopes.
“They’ve coined a new term called NIMSAR … Not If My Seat’s At Risk,” he said.
The Ontario PCs have called for a moratorium on FIT contracts.
“We have never supported and I would never sign these types of contracts — like 80 cents kWh — when the price is five cents in the marketplace,” Hudak said.
Asked if he supported the Smithville project, Hudak said he does not endorse any wind or solar farm that goes up without the clear approval of the local municipality.
These latest FIT contracts will create 7,000 direct and indirect jobs and pump an additional $3 billion worth of private investment into the Ontario economy while reducing the province’s reliance on smog-producing coal plants, Duguid said.
Of the 40 electricity projects announced Thursday, four are wind, one is water and the remainder are to be powered by the sun.
They are scattered throughout much of the province.