OFA stance blows chill wind on Liberals’ rural prospects

By Monte Sonnenberg, Brantford Expositor
The McGuinty government’s green energy program suffered a blow Friday when the Ontario Federation of Agriculture weighed in against further wind turbine development. OFA’s about-face caught everyone off guard. Not long ago, turbines were regarded as a new, welcome income stream for rural landowners who have the space to accommodate them. However, after a period of sober reflection, OFA has concluded that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Opposition to wind turbines prompted the McGuinty government to take planning authority for them away from municipalities, thus undermining a cornerstone of local government.

Wind farm proposals have pitted those who want to reap the revenue against neighbours who worry about potential health impacts and the demonstrable fact that turbines lower surrounding property values.

Rural communities also take pride in their appearance.

Many have concluded that this industrialization of rural Ontario is a blight on the landscape and a menace to wildlife.

OFA also is put off by the cost. Somehow, jurisdictions in the U.S. can

profitably generate wind power for about seven cents a kilowatt hour, the same price as conventional sources.

In Ontario, we’re paying nearly double that.

The impact of OFA’s move on green energy policy remains to be seen. Municipal opposition to the loss of planning power in this area didn’t faze the McGuinty government.

Nor have the numerous petitions calling for a comprehensive review of wind turbines and their potential impact on health.

But there are risks to defying the OFA. The federation is a respected voice in rural Ontario, an area that is increasingly less inclined to vote for the provincial Liberals.

The party’s disregard for rural issues has all but poisoned the well for Liberal candidates in ridings.

The McGuinty government and its ham-fisted imposition of wind power is part of a pattern.

OFA’s reassessment of wind power is a warning that the provincial Liberals are at risk of entrenching this alienation across all of rural Ontario.

10 thoughts on “OFA stance blows chill wind on Liberals’ rural prospects

  1. “this industrialization of rural Ontario is a blight on the landscape and a menace to wildlife.”

    Well said. Now we just have to see if mcguinty has any moral scruples about destroying rural ontario to please the urban eco vote.

  2. This is not all about landscapes, birds & bats, health and property values. There is the very real issue over the VALUE that things like wind energy can provide to our energy issues. Nowhere has it been shown that wind will do what it claims to do, reduce the mining or burning of coal, reduce emissions, provide long term green jobs that don’t atrophy jobs in other sectors by forcing exorbitant rates for it’s pittance of electrical generation. Wind energy is a dismal failure as a source of electrical generation so WHY go there? in the first place???

    • Done to make money for renewable energy developers and has nothing to do with whether or not IWTs work.

  3. Election results demonstrated that the Liberals
    have indeed lost rural Ont.. OFA’s reassessment
    of wind power may be just playing a game of
    catch-up.

  4. As an aside, re displayed photo of McGuinty.
    If they ever do a re-make of Psycho, Dalton
    could get the role of Norman Bates.

  5. The OFA’s position is welcome for sure. It would seem that they have read and understood the report by the Auditor General in December on Ontario’s so-called green energy initiatives. What is disappointing (but not really surprising, I guess) is that there has been so little follow-up in the mainstream media on what the Auditor General had to say.

    In my view, the Auditor General did a very good job of sifting through the data and summarizing the situation. He has maintained his auditor-ish objectivity, but I can’t help but think that it would have been extremely difficult for him to not smirk and roll his eyes at some of the claims made by McGuinty et al that the evidence now shows are nothing more than hype and PR.

    The Auditor General pointed out that wind energy is NOT what will replace the coal-fired generation at Nanticoke when it is shut down (it will be replaced by gas-fired generation). He deals at length with the fact that wind cannot be relied upon to be there when needed (so new gas-fired generators are being built that will produce the power when you flick the switch, even when the wind isn’t blowing). He clearly points out that much of the wind energy produced in Ontario these days is being purchased at 13.5 cents and then just exported at a loss (selling price often less than 2 cents) because the wind blows when the energy isn’t needed in Ontario.

    The Auditor General’s report discusses the practical problem that, because wind energy is so variable, the gas-fired generators that are required to keep the lights on often have to be backed down and operated inefficiently to “make room” on the system when the wind blows, and that this results in the perverse and counter-intuitive fact that in these circumstances there is a significant amount of extra CO2 produced as a result. He notes that the OPA hasn’t bothered to quantify this yet. Incidentally, my understanding on this point is that wind energy does NOT reduce CO2 emissions in Germany or Holland which meet more than 50% of their electrical needs by burning fossil fuel, mainly coal; how can windmills possibly reduce CO2 here in Ontario where nuclear and hydraulic sources supply more than 50% of our electrical needs?

    The Auditor General looked around for the so-called green jobs, and couldn’t find many except for construction of windmills, and said that the evidence elsewhere is that there really aren’t that many green jobs. He thinks that the higher costs of “green” energy will result in the net loss of jobs in Ontario. He didn’t have much to say about health-related aspects, although the report did note that an engineering professor was appointed in February 2010 to examine this but that no report had been produced as of July, 2011.

    In summary, it’s welcome and refreshing to see an organization such as the OFA evidently considering new objective evidence (not necessarily “new” to everybody, but “new” to many in our society who are starting to see through the hype and PR) and then acting on it. If only many of the other associations and federations in the province had the courage to do the same.

  6. The OFA was as bad as the NDP in backing the GEA in the first place! Like “rats jumping from the sinking ship called the SS McGuinty” they are trying to stop the bleeding of losing members and $$$$ that accompanies decisions like they made back in 2009! They were part of the GEAA and should never be “pardoned” for their participation with the destruction of Rural Ontario!!!!

    • With respect, this isn’t a very helpful position. Lots of people and organizations believed that wind turbines are “green,” and feel warm and fuzzy inside when they drive by operating turbines that they think are producing free, clean energy. Some people still do believe this, but that is changing.

      The ground is shifting, and it’s important in my opinion to do everything possible to reinforce the gains that have been made (such as the report by the Auditor General), and attempt to accelerate a return to science and common sense. McGuinty et al have inflicted incredible damage in rural Ontario, but it’s better to be late stopping it than to have it continue indefinitely.

  7. It is exasperating to juxtaposition the map below of Huron Co. developments ready to proceed, and the call of OFA for a moratorium. Once construction begins on these huge projects, surely it will be too late to halt them. Planning has been in place for several years, OFA should have been a strong voice against the GEA from the outset.

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