The no-win situation created by the Green Energy Act

By Susan Hundertmark, Huron Expositor

Huron East councillors face a tough decision at their next council meeting on April 5.  As they consider giving third reading to a wind turbine development policy bylaw that would follow the lead of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW) in creating setbacks of 2,000 metres between industrial wind turbines and their receptors (such as places where people live and work), they are all too aware that the province’s Green Energy Act sets a much shorter setback of 550 metres.

Councillors who are in favour of the ACW bylaw want to do something to protect the health and wellbeing of their constituents. After spending time doing their own research and being lobbied by affected ratepayers, councillors aren’t content that the provincial setbacks will ensure that Huron East residents don’t have to move from their homes as others have had to do near wind projects close to Ripley and other locations throughout Ontario.

Even councillors who are wary of the ACW bylaw are not convinced the health of their constituents will be unaffected by the proximity of industrial wind turbines. Every municipal politician who ran in the November election for a spot on Huron East council spoke about the need for an independent study in Ontario about the health effects of wind turbines. They are, however, concerned about the financial costs of taking a stand against a government that has taken away their right to control the citing of wind turbines in their community.

“We are in a no-win situation,” said Brussels councillor and former Mayor Joe Seili, as he expressed his worry about court costs and the potential need to compensate wind development companies for loss of income.

Municipal politicians have known since before it was passed that the Green Energy Act would severely restrict their ability to regulate industrial wind energy projects and in Huron East, council has been consulting with its solicitor for months to find a way to respect the law while responding to the concerns of its constituents. While Huron East councillors have passed a cost recovery bylaw that will compensate the municipality for any damages done to roadways and municipal property during the transportation and installation of these huge 40-storey towers and their massive blades, it’s the human cost that council has been so far, powerless to respond to.

Despite continued and plentiful requests for an independent health study on wind turbines from 76 municipalities across Ontario, the province has failed to launch such a study whose costs and required expertise are beyond any one municipality to finance or administer.

Huron County council has formed a committee to study low frequency noise, which is identified by many complainants as the source of their health problems. But, because low frequency noise is mostly unstudied, the committee could take years to come up with appropriate regulations.

In the meantime, a number of local wind development projects continue to sit on a list awaiting approval for connection to the grid, a waiting room that is expected to begin to clear once the Bruce to Milton transmission line is complete in 2012. And, local ratepayers and their councils feel an increasing amount of pressure to protect themselves from perceived threat as time counts down.

It is a shame the provincial government painted municipal councils into a corner where councillors feel they must either ignore the health and safety of their ratepayers or make the potentially expensive choice of committing what, in the face of the Green Energy Act, has become an act of civil disobedience.

6 thoughts on “The no-win situation created by the Green Energy Act

  1. Here’s a simple and rather naive solution to this whole issue of Councils being afraid to challenge McGuinty’s GEA and massive legal fees that “could” be levied ” on their Township from the massive reserves of $$$ the Wind Lobby has accrued from our pockets .

    Pick up the phone, call other Councils in your immediate area and get them to do the same thing with their neighbouring Councils and form a group of like minded Councils who will all challenge this , presently, one sided battle that is forming which puts the owness on a single Council to fight a massive Lobby Group like Horizon and CANWEA and OSEA among others.

    Call it whatever, a “Class Action Suit”………..a “Coalition of Honest Councils”, whatever……….and don’t tell me that the AMO would be that venue because they have literally “sold out to the Wind Lobby.”

    This has to be done on the phone and in person by responsible Councilors who are fighting for the very existence of their constituents who they asked for their votes just a few months ago…………..or in other words ….DO YOUR JOB THAT YOU WERE VOTED IN FOR!!!!

  2. No win is right…

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028063.300-wind-and-wave-energies-are-not-renewable-after-all.html

    He concludes that it is a mistake to assume that energy sources like wind and waves are truly renewable. Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels, he says, and we could seriously deplete the energy available in the atmosphere, with consequences as dire as severe climate change.

    Using a model of global circulation, Kleidon found that the amount of energy which we can expect to harness from the wind is reduced by a factor of 100 if you take into account the depletion of free energy by wind farms. It remains theoretically possible to extract up to 70 TW globally, but doing so would have serious consequences.

    …and the walls come a tumbling down…

    oh those models again…

  3. Thankyou, Susan Hundertmark for your clarity. I have been pushing for collective action by our elected and paid leaders since I first realized this predicament.

  4. Apparently Ontario’s plan is to have renewable energy make up 50% of it’s energy source that would be 20,000 windturbines.
    Unseat your Liberal ridings is a start.
    The GEA wouldn’t hold up in a Federal constitutional challenge, a provincial one is hard because it is an Ontario court.
    I came across this site you may find interesting leading to how we got here
    http://www.ontariotenants.ca/electricity/ontario-hydro.phtml

    These developers will lie at the meetings , misrepresent health issues , and will walk all over you if you don’t stand .
    Did you know that we don’t have an energy crisis…when this statement is made it is talking about 25 years in the future.

  5. Quixote had a very workable solution. Drag your councillors kicking and screaming if need be from their homes , and get them to band together and stand as a whole and just simply say NO as a unit.
    Game over.
    Ontario would have a huge problem taking the people of Ontario to court.
    The GEA opposition is winable on a Federal Constitutional Challenge .

  6. Huron East councillors need to read this post: Chatsworth won’t issue permits for wind towers (04/07). Huron East council needs to stand up & protect the health & well-being of their constituents who just voted them in a few shorts months ago!

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