President of CFFO: Time for A Review of Ontario’s Green Energy Act

By Lorne Small
The Ontario Green Energy Act is a courageous move by the Ontario government to kickstart a new vision of sustainable energy. You have to applaud a government that is prepared to tackle a global issue like climate change even if serious debate remains regarding whether climate change is caused by normal global cycles or by human contributions.

Many farm families have benefited from the Green Energy Act by participating in the Micro FIT (Feed-In- Tariff) solar panel program. They have been able to diversify their farm business into an enterprise that guarantees a fair return for the next 20 years. Outside of supply management these types of opportunities seldom are available to farmers. However many other farm families have real apprehension with the introduction of wind turbines into their neighbourhood. They must live with some of the potential problems while not sharing in the rewards.

Ontario farmers and the Ontario Auditor General, Jim McCarter, share some of the same concerns. Mr. McCarter expressed concern that the Green Energy Act overrides existing legislation to approve wind and solar projects without the normal planning and oversight process. The government hoped that 50,000 jobs would be created. But the auditor notes that studies in other jurisdictions show that for every job created up to four other jobs may be lost.

He also questioned the $7 billion Samsung deal which was signed with no formal economic analysis. When completed, this project will cover large acreages of farm land with fields of solar panels. This concerns many farm communities when food-producing farmland is in high demand.

Ontario has had a history of providing electricity that was both reliable and cost competitive. Unfortunately, wind and solar does not meet either objective. When the wind does not blow, or the sun does not shine, energy generation is minimal. To replace the green electricity that is not being generated, fossil fuel generators must be on standby and quickly activated to maintain reliability. Frequently, green electricity is generated when demand is low, creating an oversupply.

The rates paid for green electricity are substantially higher than conventional electricity, adding $220 million annually to the cost of electricity. Both urban and rural consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the escalating cost of electricity. It may not be fair but the Green Energy Act is being singled out as part of the problem.

Now is the time for the Ontario Government to undertake a sober re-evaluation of the path to a greener energy system. Serious long term thinking is required. Options on the table should include using waste materials, conservation as well as renewable and non-renewable sources.

Thoughtful consultation with energy feasibility professionals and a wide range of citizens will inject a high degree of common sense as we move down the road to a sustainable energy system. 

Lorne Small is the President of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario

55 thoughts on “President of CFFO: Time for A Review of Ontario’s Green Energy Act

    • Agree. The concept that the benefit of the few to the detriment of the many is a legitimate and ethical perspective is somewhat nauseating. However, at least people are getting the fact correct in their heads that the majority of this stuff is just a big scam.

    • Not legitimate when people are being injured by IWTs. No one has the right to injure other people.
      Nor to place people’s safety in danger.

  1. This gives the Liberals a way out and is more Christian than what some would like to do to McGuinty.

  2. I’d like to add a couple of exerpts from a commentary recently posted by OFA. “Stand together for green energy” by Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

    “Green energy remains a high priority for OFA. We will continue to take a strong stand, on behalf of our members, for viable options to support the production of green energy from renewable resources while protecting the interests of farmers as consumers of energy. This stand includes working to protect the health and well being of rural Ontario.”
    (I am a member and have made it clear to OFA in the past that I have grave concerns about IWT’s, to no avail so far.)

    “OFA fully recognizes the controversy of wind turbine developments. We have not advocated for or against their inclusion in our green energy mix but have strongly advocated for measures to ensure, if they are built, that they do no harm.”
    (Many, many OFA members have requested that OFA support a moratorium on more IWT developments until the many issues, including health, stray voltage, noise, etc., be addressed. This has not been followed up on. I believe that the powers that be at OFA have been drinking the red KoolAid.)

    Read the full commentary on http://www.ofa.on.ca.

    The ducking and weaving done by the farm organizations is astounding to me. What would it hurt if either or both, and oh heck let us throw the National Farmers Union into the mix as well, would jointly push for a moratorium until the issues get sorted out?

    A healthy community is NOT just physical health. A healthy community is where neighbours get along and people can depend on their neighbours. This is no longer the case. Neighbours, families and people who used to be friends are feuding about the IWT issues, because many have grave concerns about their physical health, which many landowners ignore, and continue to sign up for IWT leases. It is all about the money. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I used to be proud to say that I was a farmer, no matter where I was. I now find myself (depending on where I am) saying “I am a farmer, but I did not sign up for turbines”. If I don’t, I sometimes feel that people are judging me. I guess automatically assuming that I am one of those greedy farmers who has no concern for the well being of my neighbours – nothing could be further from the truth.

    • I posted a comment to that article on the OFA website titled “We Must Stand Together For Green Energy” http://ofa.on.ca/media/news/We-must-stand-together-for-green-energy . Instead of posting my question and a response (I guess it was too hot for the OFA to debate publicly lol) Mr. Currie, General Manager of the OFA chose to respond me by email you can read the thread below. I strongly urge any OFA members reading this to write a reply to Mr. Currie detailing your concerns for wind turbine development. If the OFA doesn’t receive feedback they will only continue their policy supporting industrial wind turbines while ignoring the legitimate farm concerns and remember money talks, if the OFA doen’t give you a satisfactory reply join the NFU or CFFO or ask for your money back as farrm legislation allows . Neil Currie’s email is Neil.Currie@ofa.on.ca
      ________________________________________
      From: no-reply@ofa.on.ca [mailto:no-reply@ofa.on.ca]
      Sent: December-27-11 12:50 PM
      To: Lynne Dyson
      Subject: [OFA] New Comment on News Item

      Name: Dan Wrightman

      “Assisted with Bruce Milton powerline purchases and expropriations affecting 300 members and we expect to assist more than 2,500 members with five new powerlines in the London to Sarnia expansion” Will the OFA be assisting the farmers who wish to fight unwanted powerline expropriation or will the OFA be assisting the goals of the GreenEnergy Act Alliance and the multinational wind companies?

      Manage Comments
      ________________________________________
      From: Neil Currie [mailto:Neil.Currie@ofa.on.ca]
      Sent: January-03-12 10:51 AM
      To: dwrightman@golden.net
      Subject: RE: [OFA] New Comment on News Item

      Hello Mr. Wrightman

      Thanks for your enquiry. Current capacity is constrained by several factors and Ontario requires additional transmission capacity for many reasons, including the need to handle increased power imports at peak usage periods. Distributed generation through biogas or other dispatchable sources of power will effectively reduce the transmission requirements.

      OFA has always worked to ensure fair treatment in cases or expropriation or easements for transmission lines. We also work to ensure the transmission lines are required with minimal disruption (and preferably the last option).

      Kind regards,

      Neil Currie,
      General Manager
      ________________________________________
      Thanks for replying to my question Mr. Currie.
      It’s regrettable that the OFA didn’t emphasise the positives of reliable, dispatchable biogas energy production over unreliabl,e nondispatchable wind energy when the GEA was drawn up.
      Wind turbine energy generated from the FIT contracts west of London area will be transmitted for distant urban needs instead of local use.
      This will as you acknowledge, require 5 transmission lines in this area. While the OFA may hope that transmission lines are the last option , the FIT contracts signed with the wind companies leave no doubt that transmission lines will be the first option. The required public meetings the wind companies have held in this area have made this point quite clearly.
      If the OFA doesn’t make a stand with the farmers against the multinational wind corporations that want to expropriate and cut up farm fields with unneeded and unwanted transmission lines, OFA members will question whether the OFA has abandoned farm advocacy for industrial scale energy production .
      Respectfully,
      Dan Wrightman

      • Hey Dan Wrightman,

        OFA response to you:
        ‘[excerpt] Thanks for your enquiry. Current capacity is constrained by several factors and Ontario requires additional transmission capacity for many reasons, including the need to handle increased power imports at peak usage periods.’

        What’s wrong with the response?
        It appears – the OFA is assisting in the privatization, and dismantling – of a crown corporation, Hydro One. Ontario citizens own the transmission lines.

        Question: The OFA collects a membership fee, and what is their job?

        Where’s the outrage?

      • The OFA’s job is to look after the interests of farmers. Why is the OFA aligning itself with energy companies while refusing to protect farmers and agricultural land? .

  3. I’ll use my ‘indoor voice’.

    Farmers ‘sold out’ rural Ontario – in most cases – with absolutely no regard for their neighbours. [emphasis added]

    Now – the issue:
    ‘[excerpt] However many other farm families have real apprehension with the introduction of wind turbines into their neighbourhood. They must live with some of the potential problems while not sharing in the rewards.’

    N.B.
    – double up on antiseptic mouthwash! – it’s the ‘only’ Christian thing to do!

  4. Farmers and their neighbours have to get along. For some farmers the false allure of $$$ seems like a life saver, but instead it’s a killer. There are those who farm with turbines on their property, but they don’t live there. There is nothing Green about turbines: they need conventional power to keep running; they are not made or re-cycled materials; the blades are made of a non-degradable material and require changing after a certain number of years; when they catch fire, there’s no way to put the fire out; at the end of their 20 yr. lifespan, they will stand as repellent reminders of the GREED Energy Boondoggle. If you’re a farmer, think solar but not wind.

  5. A re-evaluation of the GEA is not needed.. Nothing short of a total repeal of this heinous piece of legislation will do !!! and that also goes for the backroom bureaucrats that dreamed the thing up !!!

  6. When an organization like the OFA becomes infiltrated by less than honest people like they have now then it becomes “redundant”…..”useless”, whatever name you want to apply to it. Here’s an idea for all farmers involved in this struggle. START YOUR OWN NEW GROUP! I’m sure you could come up with a great name. I’m sure you could organize an honest and well written group of fellow farmers who are way more honest and willing to help other farmers with all the struggles being thrown at you!
    If a new group was formed with true intent to put forward the truthful issues facing farming communities today then the OFA would basically just fold up and disappear!
    Juts a thought folks!!!

    • Hold your horses!!!
      “The FUTURE of farming is in ENERGY”.
      Embrace grasshopper, or you’ll be left behind.

  7. Ontario farm organiations are NOT running the renewable energy scam here but are being used by the parties who want to promote and perpetuate this scam.These “green” energy promoters thought that rural Ontarians would not be smart enough to discover who the parties are that are involved here in the renewable energy scam at least until after these projects were completed and the promoters already had their money.

    • Barbara,
      To my knowledge –
      no one has said the Ontario Farm Organizations
      are running the ‘renewable energy scam’ – as you put it.

      • A rich prize! – Ontario’s got ‘baggage’ – and ‘friends’.

        Part of Global Greenbelt – Ontario
        Think globally – Act locally

        [1] As a farming and environmental grant-making organization –
        [2] The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation, with specified objects, and is a registered charity.

        From late 2003 through early 2005, the Ontario Government consulted on establishing a Greenbelt that would wrap around the Golden Horseshoe. The consultation involved the expert Greenbelt Task Force and Committee hearings at Queen’s Park.

        The outcome was a package of results: Greenbelt legislation and regulations, the creation of a Greenbelt Advisory Council, and the creation of this Foundation. The Greenbelt Act, was passed on February 24, 2005 and the final Greenbelt Plan was released on February 28, 2005. The Foundation was announced on June 16, 2005.

        The Province provided a grant of $25 million to support the Foundation’s grant-making and operational activities. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation, with specified objects, and is a registered charity.

        As a farming and environmental grant-making organization, we have granted over $16 million in innovative grants and leveraged another $60 million resulting in over $76 million for the sectors. Together with our grantees, we are successfully building sustainable food systems and economies, improving environmental farm practices, protecting essential services and resources, and encouraging local tourism and healthy outdoor activities for all Ontarians.

        http://www.greenbelt.ca/about-us/foundation-history

        p.s. for our collective good!
        p.p.s. Seriously now – U-turn please

      • Perhaps – a playground for the rich – some say

        ‘[excerpt] The province doesn’t plan to substantially review the legislation until 2015,
        but Hodgson (mayor of Lincoln) said that’s not soon enough for struggling farmers.’

        Greenbelt challenges up for debate at summit

        “The first five years of the greenbelt have been some of the most difficult for the industry in Niagara.
        It’s a little tough to feel like celebrating,” said Lincoln Mayor Bill Hodgson,
        who will join a local “summit” of politicians and industry players March 31 to debate the pros and cons of the greenbelt.

        Hodgson doesn’t chalk up all of the agricultural industry’s problems to the greenbelt, but noted the legislation is a
        “lightning rod” for farmers who feel the province is ignoring the plight of those trying to survive on increasingly regulated farmlands.

        The mayor said he expected the biggest concerns to be aired at the summit will be focused on “the viability of agriculture” in the greenbelt.

        He said some farmers fear real agricultural will be squeezed out of the greenbelt, “turning it into a playground for rich people.
        “http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2499988&archive=true

        Greenbelt not saving farms, summit hears
        AGRICULTURE: Land-use rules a challenge for agriculture

        Rural planner Margaret Walton said there is plenty to like about the greenbelt, “but realistically, it’s an environmental preserve, not an agricultural preserve.”

        What farmers need most is provincial flexibility, said Bill Hodgson, mayor of greenbelt-bound Lincoln.

        “What the province has to acknowledge
        is that there are big chunks of the greenbelt that have a priority land use, and in Niagara, that is horticulture,” Hodgson said during a panel discussion.

        The province doesn’t plan to substantially review the legislation until 2015, but Hodgson said that’s not soon enough for struggling farmers.

        Beamsville tender-fruit farmer Torrie Warner fears real help for farmers won’t come “until we start dropping off the face of the planet.”

        “There’s always hope, but I’m not holding my breath,” said Warner, who watched interest rates on his farm loans climb after the greenbelt legislation passed.

        “I don’t think (provincial planners) care whether we’re here or not. They don’t want farmers or farms, they just want greenspace.”

        Not everyone agreed with the bleak assessment of greenbelt farming.

        Friends of the Greenbelt president Burkhard Mausberg argued
        agriculture is “one of the single most important issues” for his foundation, which was created to promote the protected area.

        He pointed to $8 million in farming-related grants doled out over the last five years,
        as well as a list of local food promotions and farm tourism programs.http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2517511&archive=true

        p.s. Pick your friends wisely – who’s kidding who?
        p.p.s. Farmers have worked hard, all of their lives – and for what?

      • Bright idea! –
        higher taxes – on-farm green power generation – and candy apples

        – for added value – of course.

        ‘[excerpt] That’s another topic that should get plenty of discussion at the meeting, said Patrick Robson,

        Niagara Region’s commissioner of integrated planning.

        “We have to look at taxation tools and whether they’re helping create a vibrant greenbelt or actually working against it,” he said.

        “I’m sure it will be a lively discussion.”

        Robson will make a special presentation on “value-added” policies for farmers,

        with the goal of making farm operations in the greenbelt more sustainable.

        Examples of value-added operations could include on-farm green power generation,

        or an apple farmer who also produces and sells candy apples on-site.

        Representatives from the revamped Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

        will give an update on progress to expand the facility and the president of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation,

        Burkhard Mausberg, will join a question-and-answer panel session.

        Hodgson is hoping provincial representatives will be at the summit to hear concerns and suggestions to improve the greenbelt,

        even though the legislation isn’t scheduled for a review until 2015.

        “It shouldn’t be all negative; I think we can still make the best of the greenbelt,” he said.

        “But there is no good argument in favour of (having) rules written in stone for 10 years.”]’

        from lost link http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2499988&archive=true

        Why is OFA supporting this [intentionally blank] ?

      • From One Wisconsin Farmer to Another:

        This is an open letter to Wisconsin farmers who are considering
        signing a wind lease to host turbines on your land.

        Before you sign, I’d like to tell you about what happened
        to our family farm after we signed a contract with a wind developer.

        “By signing that contract, I signed away the control of the family farm,
        and it’s the biggest regret I have ever experienced and will ever experience.”
        -Gary Steinich, Cambria, Wisconsin. June 2011

        Sometime in late 2001 or early 2002, a wind developer working for Florida Power and Light showed up near the Wisconsin Town of Cambria looking to get in touch with someone at the Steinich family farm.

        He wanted to talk to the landowner about leasing a bit of land for the installation of a met tower.

        He needed to measure the winds in the area for a possible windfarm and Walter Steinich’s land looked like a good place to do it.

        The wind developer seemed like a good guy to Mr. Steinich who was in his early 70’s at the time.

        The money seemed good. A met tower didn’t seem like a big deal.

        It was just a tall pole with some guy wires, and it was temporary. Mr. Steinich signed the contract.

        That was nearly ten years ago.

        Mr. Steinich has since passed away and now his son, Gary, runs the farm.

        He’s written an open letter to Wisconsin farmers about his experience with the wind company since then.
        http://betterplan.squarespace.com/wisconsin-farmer-regrets-sayin/

        Original link – read more:
        http://betterplan.squarespace.com/todays-special/2012/1/9/1912-why-should-wind-turbine-setbacks-be-measured-from-prope.html

    • Either cancel or just don’t renew memberships in farm organizations that back IWTs. This may be the only practical solution to get these organizations to withdraw their support for IWTs.

      • Liability insurance for IWT landowners is another matter that needs an inquiry. If anyone has the time to check with some local insurance agents to find out if this type of insurance is avaialble and the cost/turbine.Should be free information from local agents.
        Need to know how much extra hosting a turbinr/turbies would be for a perspective IWT host.

  8. We had a barn fire here in Pemborke that was solar and biomass. Two problems arose: One – they had to have hydro come in to shut the solar off. It could not be done by the firemen. 2- Our firetrucks had a ladder partially melt due to the heat and our firefighters were not trained to know the perameters of this kind of fire.
    What on earth will happen when a turbine takes fire and the flames spread beyond the immediate field?

    • As long as there is danger of flying flaming debris from IWTs there is nothing firemen can do except let things burn. Same with the solar panels until they are disconnected.

    • Fire- a question every council should asked about. No volunteer fire department can deal with these types of fires. I call the method preferred by wind companies “evacuate and run”… they don’t have any other plans.

      • From what I understand, once a town issues a building permit they are “on the hook” for fire services. The wind company is indemnified.

        However, isn’t there something in the municipal legislation that binds a town to protecting its residents?

        Bingo!

      • I wonder about general the liability of the land owner. Something goes wrong and impacts neighbours in some way or causes damage. I wonder if insurance companies are issuing IWT liability insurance?

  9. … additional cost = $ 220 million ?

    For every 1,000 MW of incremental renewables, the added annual cost is $ 400 – $ 500 million.

    Ontario is on track to have an additional supply of 7,800 MW of renewables by 2018.

    Do the math.

  10. In an article printed in the Simcoe Reformer on Dec.19/11 Mark Wales President of OFA states in part : OFA recognizes the controversy of wind turbine developments.WE HAVE NOT ADVOCATED for or against their inclusion in our green energy mix but have strongly advocated for measures to insure if they are built , that they do no harm.
    The question then begs to be asked– Why then did an OFA representative work actively with the farmers of West Lincoln by handing out sheets titled—2 DOZEN SUGGESTIONS ABOUT WIND POWER LEASES FOR FARMERS. Is that not OFA being an advocate for WIt’s?
    Nowhere in the suggestions was there a reference to advice for non participating farmers. Nor were non participating farmers provided with any information. To give the appearance of being impartial the OFA should have at least negotiated something for the non participating farmers,like a residential property value guarantee agreement so neighbouring farmers do not assume an unnecessary financial burden for this corporate initiative . Should not all farmers be treated equally?
    If indeed the OFA were representing the welfare of their members they would have stressed a distance greater than 550 meters from a residence when global evidence has proven that that setback is inadequate .
    There is clearly no doubt as to the position of the OFA and IWT’s.
    P.S. What measures will OFA STRONGLY advocate if IWT’s once built ,cause harm????
    Wouldn’t it have been better to negotiate that in the lease if OFA truly wanted to represent even these farmers who do not value this precious land that they are custodians of, and first do no harm to your neighbours health and property values.

  11. Too bad about the first 2 paragraphs – they are misleading and contradictory to the rest of the article. At least CFFO has expressed some concern for the policies and effects on residents. The same cannot be said for the OFA and our membership was withdrawn from that organization after discovering their links to the GEA. It seems to me Mark Wales was present at an Oxford OFA meeting in September 2009 where health effects of IWTs were presented. Apparently $$ to IWT hosts mean more than the destruction and adverse effects being caused. Shame on the OFA!

  12. oh well , at least the wind companies won’t be able to use there money they forced us to pay them with turbines .
    This website is not updating anymore , somethings up ……………….

  13. Thank you for your comment. OFA supports affordable, renewable energy in Ontario with considerable conditions. That’s why we are currently participating in the review of the Green Energy Act. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to call the OFA office.

  14. I can’t believe that these “wing nuts” keep publishing this crap and that HuffPost and CBC, among all the other mass media outlets in Canada still echo their reports even though the Climategate 2 e mails shows conclusively that the IPCC is nothing more than an office full of liars and cheats!
    Is there two levels of existence that we are living in? One of absolute IGNORANCE and STUPIDITY?….or one of Enlightenment and Common Sense!
    I choose the latter because I am starting to believe that not everyone needs to be “saved from their own foolishness”!

    • If you had been closely following posts regarding connections among parties involved in the renewable energy scam here then you would know why CBC and big media are still on the “green” bandwagon.

  15. “Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, said it will halt production at one factory and cut 2,335 jobs amounting to 10 percent of its staff as it tries to become more competitive with Chinese suppliers.

    The changes are aimed at saving more than 150 million euros ($191 million) by the end of 2012, the company based in Aarhus, Denmark, said in a statement today. Vestas said another 1,600 posts in the U.S. are at risk as a tax credit supporting the industry expires at year-end.

    Vestas slashed 3,000 jobs in October 2010, and 1,900 in April 2009.”

    Gee, it’s not looking good for Dalton’s green energy job creation scheme.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/international-news/4744-green-jobs-massacre-vestas-cuts-2335-jobs-with-more-at-risk-this-year-in-us.html

    • Same thing in China
      If you look at the little stock charts in the link they are crashing too.
      http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/12/22/windturbine-idUKL3E7NG2B520111222
      HONG KONG, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Huge overcapacity and weak demand mean Chinese wind turbine makers, among the world’s largest, are set for lower revenue and profits for at least the next two years.

      Earnings at several firms nearly halved in the first half of this year.

      “The worst isn’t over for these guys,” said Min Li, head of alternative energy at Yuanta Securities. “Massive oversupply and a slowdown in wind turbine orders will keep margins depressed for a couple more years.”

  16. A great many of our North American prarie grass species have already been displaced by European species anyway. So what’s the big deal now! Lots of grant money for unneeded research.

  17. CBC needs advertising money to maintain its present status and advertising money is based on how large the viewing audience is. CBC loses audience then their advertising revenues decline.

  18. Let us not forget that CBC gets $1.1 billion annually of our tax dollars.
    Gotta make sure we Canadians get good Canadian content programs and such, ya know.

  19. But how much money the CBC gets from selling advertising should also be public information.
    The price of both TV & radio advertising is based on the number of viewers/listeners stations and individual programs have.

  20. It looks like it’s almost time for McGuinty to “slither off” to “Greener Pastures” (sorry for that) like Smitherman did when he screwed up with Samsung. This may be McGuinty’s job interview this weekend in Ottawa when he addresses the Federal Party faithful (what’s left of them) and then he can show the Libs what he’s done to Ontario and how they can follow his lead and do the same to all the rest of Canada!!!!
    I can hardly wait for the “spin” on that move…something like this:
    “after 3 successful terms as Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty has unselfishly offered his services to the Federal Liberal Party to bring them into the 21st century and make them once again the greatest Party to ever exist on the planet! His accomplishments in Ontario will be hard to match by any future leader!”

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