March 8 Ontario Legislature Hansard – WIND TURBINES
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I move that, in the opinion of this House, a moratorium should be placed on further industrial wind energy development until third party health and environmental studies have been completed.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Ms. Thompson has moved private member’s notice of motion number 8. Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased today to stand and debate my motion for the first time as MPP for Huron–Bruce.
Before I get started debating my motion, I first want to say some thank you’s to people for their guidance and support in the development of my first motion. Thank you to Patrick Jilesen and John Gillespie of the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture; and Bill Palmer, Bethanee Jensen and Jennifer Small from the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. Your support today means a lot to me. I’m proud
that both Pat and Bethanee stood up on behalf of their respective memberships and shared their position, joining me in calling for a moratorium on further industrial wind turbine development, in an earlier news conference today.
To my team, Ashley Hammill, and Lauren Hanna in Toronto, and locally, Janet Haines, Lynne DiCocco and Sarah Ross: You know first-hand how hard the rising costs of energy have impacted our folks at the local level. I appreciate your dedication, and I thank you for your commitment in dealing with this issue.
To the thousands of people who have sent emails, signed petitions and travelled from home from as far as Amherst Island today to join us at Queen’s Park: I appreciate your support so much. I sincerely thank you.
To my PC caucus: Your support has been a tremendous confidence booster, and I look forward to reciprocating in days to come.
Interjection: Good team.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: It is a good team.
I also would like to specifically address the good folks who were demonstrating outside Queen’s Park today in support of my moratorium. I tried to get outside to greet you, but I got tied up. We have many issues in Huron–Bruce, such as the closure of the Bluewater Youth Centre.
Two hundred people who work for Bluewater went to work on Monday to find out that their jobs were done. It’s just disgusting how such a hasty, immediate move has caused such a negative economic impact on Goderich yet again. So we’ve had to deal with this difficult issue again today.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member is quite aware that we’re not allowed to use phones.
The member from Huron–Bruce.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you very much.
It’s just shameful, as I said, the negative economic blow that the Goderich community will face yet again with the closure of the youth centre.
But I need to get back to the matter at hand. We know that in Ontario we need renewable energy as part of our energy mix going forward, but we need to do it in a way that’s respectful to communities and it has to make economic sense.
There are many reasons why the time is now for a moratorium on further wind development. Ontario has a surplus of energy. When I take a look at some of the records, suggestions and credible people who have spoken on this issue, I want to share a couple of exact comments with you today. As I said, Ontario has a surplus of power.
According to the Auditor General, Ontario hasn’t hit its energy peak since 2006, six years ago. The fact of the matter is, we have been a net exporter since then. We’ve lost $1.8 billion on those exports, and we’ll pay FIT developers $225 million a year not to produce energy. In 2010, 86% of wind power was produced on days when Ontario was already in a position of net export.
The OPP, or the OPA—
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Yeah. The OPP say it’s criminal, but the OPA noted that demand is expected to remain flat or decline due to continued conservation efforts and uncertain or slow economic recovery, while supply is expected to increase as a result of significantly more renewable energy coming online.
Don Drummond advised, “There are a number of potentially large opportunities to source efficiencies in the sector and slow down electricity rate increases.”
Honest to Pete, hydro bills are expected to rise another 46% by 2015, and people can no longer afford this.
To move on to some physical health implications, the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal decision in Chatham-Kent is an interesting one. I’d like to review Blakes Bulletin. It’s a newsletter that is distributed by the law firm of Blake, Cassels and Graydon.
They say in their July newsletter:
“On July 18, 2011, the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal … released its first decision regarding an appeal of a renewable energy approval … which is issued by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment … under the Environmental Protection Act…. Appeals of REAs are significant to those opposing renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, because they constitute the last opportunity under the
EPA to block a project.”
In this particular newsletter, in the Blakes Bulletin, it goes on to say, in their legal opinion, “This appeal is unlikely to be the last legal challenge to wind farm projects. Indeed, the ERT left the door open to further appeals, citing the need for additional research into the effects of turbine noise on human health.”
Interjection: Looks like they get it.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: They get it, absolutely.
Further to that, in Ontario, citizens living in Huron, Chatham–Kent–Essex, Dufferin, Bruce, Prince Edward, Grey, Haldimand and Norfolk counties, as well as Nepean–Carleton, to name just a few, have filed hundreds of complaints with the Ministry of the Environment regarding adverse health effects since wind turbines started
On the social health side, many rural communities are being torn apart, as most wind turbine projects are being developed in a top-down approach as opposed to bottom-up, which would facilitate community buy-in. Particularly in my home riding of Huron–Bruce, five families in the Ripley area—I know some of you are familiar with that area—have had their homes purchased and they have relocated under a corporate gag order used by wind companies to prevent fair and open discussion of these projects.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: It is shameful. The gag orders were implemented to stop impacted people from speaking about negative experiences. While the McGuinty government fiddles, the tension in our communities is reaching crisis proportions.
Another example of the—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Can I ask the member to refrain from calling members’ names and to stick to riding names or titles.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Duly noted. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Earlier this year, I want to note that a church in my area called our constituency office expressing concern that they would not be able to meet their energy cost bills. I’m telling you, every fabric of our community is being impacted by these terribly expensive projects and ideals, if you will.
We have to look at wind energy as it relates to the economic health of our communities as well. In the UK, the Civitas Institute has concluded, in a 2012 report, that there is no economic case for wind power. In Germany, wind power has been noted as a threat to the economy. In Spain, the government is ending green energy subsidies.
Two weeks ago in Britain, more than 106 government MPs publicly demanded that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, end or at least dramatically cut the $700-million payout in annual subsidies for wind farms that produce less than 0.5% of Britain’s total consumption.
Wind power is more expensive to produce than any other form of power. Based on the present 10- to 20-year contracts, wind power producers are guaranteed fixed rates of payments between 13 and 19 cents per kilowatt hour, whether the power is needed or not. Alternatively, nuclear energy costs the consumer five to six cents per kilowatt hour, and hydro-generated power—
Interjection: Water power.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: That’s right—costs 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
The Auditor General’s report points out that billions of dollars of new wind and solar power projects were approved in Ontario without many of the usual planning, regulatory and oversight processes. The Auditor General states that the Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority must conduct an objective cost-benefit assessment of the situation so that a balance can be achieved between the pursuit of
renewable energy and a reasonable price for electricity.
By 2015, the power grid is going to have around 8,000 megawatts of renewable energy, mostly wind, and 10,700 megawatts by 2018. With just over 1,700 megawatts of wind today, the grid is unmanageable during peaks of surplus baseload generation. Whether we have to export this power at a loss or power down nuclear plants, the question needs to be begged of the government of the day: What kind of business plan is that, when we’re powering down baseload generation at a reasonable cost?
According to Tom Adams in the National Post just last week, “Ontario is in the midst of a policy-created power crisis of profound significance to the future of the provincial economy.”
You know, it’s sad; when I look out throughout the chamber today, it’s really, really disturbing that so few members of the party opposite and of the third party are actually in their seats when literally thousands of people are asking for relief from energy—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Again, I bring it to the attention of the member: It is not parliamentary to indicate that members are not in the House. It is quite okay to say who is here.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
My riding of Huron–Bruce is called Ontario’s west coast because of its picturesque coastlines and thriving tourism sector. I would hate to see tourists no longer want to vacation to what I consider one of the most beautiful parts of Ontario because of an excessive number of wind turbines dotting the shoreline that, frankly, we don’t need.
The sad reality is that municipal governments and farm organizations are now calling for the Liberal government to act in the best interests of its citizens and to put a moratorium on wind and solar projects until proper health and economic studies are done to determine long-term ramifications on individuals, environment,
communities and our economy.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the National Farmers Union, the Perth dairy producer committee, the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture and 80 municipalities have all taken a stand and asked the government to do the honourable thing: to take a sober second look at what the Green Energy Act is doing to rural Ontario.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have an opportunity today to do the right thing. I challenge you all—
Interjection: Do the honourable thing.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Do the honourable thing: Listen to the thousands of people who have asked for relief. Do the right thing, ladies and gentlemen: Support my moratorium.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Just as a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Point of order: the member from Nepean–Carleton.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It was indicated that we’re not allowed to mention who’s not here; we can say, however, there are only 12 Liberals sitting in their seats.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Mr. Reza Moridi: It’s my pleasure to contribute to this debate on the motion of the member from Huron–Bruce.
At the outset, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate all my lady colleagues in this House and also all the women in my riding of Richmond Hill and in our beautiful province of Ontario on this very day, International Women’s Day.
I also want to acknowledge four people from Zero Carbon Ontario who are sitting in the members’ gallery: Patricia Warwick, Shawn Khan, Rita Bijons and Angie Orellana-Schwalm. Welcome to the Ontario Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, in 2009, our government made a policy decision: We decided to introduce green energy, renewable energy, into the energy mix of Ontario. We did this because we wanted to get rid of dirty coal. Why did we want to get rid of dirty coal? Because burning coal in our power plants, Mr. Speaker, was actually costing Ontarians $4.4 billion a year in human and environmental costs.
We decided to shut down our coal-fired power plants by the year 2014. Up to this point, Mr. Speaker, we have shut down 10 coal-fired power plants, and we are going to shut down the rest within about two years.
Burning coal to produce electricity is the worst way of producing electricity because of its human and environmental damage. I’ll just give some examples from the medical association of Ontario: Every year, 700 Ontarians are dying prematurely because of burning coal in our power plants; every year, 900 people are admitted to hospitals because of burning coal in our power plants; every year, 1,000 people
are visiting emergency rooms in hospitals because of burning coal to produce electricity. Every year, Mr. Speaker, over 330,000 Ontarians are developing minor diseases such as coughing and other respiratory diseases. That’s why we wanted to shut down coal power plants. That’s why we wanted to create a new technology, a new mix of energy in this province, to go to renewable energy, to bring in solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy, biogas energy and geothermal energy. These are the renewable energies.
Shutting down coal-fired plants, Mr. Speaker, in terms of its environmental impact, is equivalent to removing seven million cars off of the streets, roads and highways of this province. Just to put this in perspective, it is equivalent to more than half of the cars already on the streets and the roads of this province.
This is our approach. But let’s look at the approach of the other side, the Conservative Party, on this energy issue. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has no credibility—absolutely no credibility—when it comes to energy issues, when it comes to the energy file.
I’ll just give you some examples. I’m not going to get into details, but go back to the days of Ontario Hydro. They broke Ontario Hydro into four companies. They wanted to privatize Ontario Hydro. They sold electricity to a price list and its cost value. They created a $20-billion debt for Ontarians, and still we are paying for that debt as a debt retirement charge on our electricity bills.
They mismanaged the nuclear power plants in this province. For the first time in the history of the province of Ontario, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal agency, came and shut down our nuclear power plants solely because of the safety issues in the Pickering and Bruce power stations. That is their—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Order, please.
I would remind everybody that, as this debate started, the House was very quiet.
The member from Richmond Hill.
Mr. Reza Moridi: That’s what they did. As a result of that, Mr. Speaker, they created a vacuum in terms of our generating capacity of electricity in this province. As a result, they increased burning coal in our power plants by 127%. As a result, we had blackouts in this province for the first time in generations—for a long, long time. This is basically the work which they did when they were in office when it came to electricity. Now they talk about nuclear energy, but while they were in office, actually they couldn’t manage our nuclear power plants, which used to be one of the best in the world in terms of safety and efficiency.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to give you a couple of quotes from our colleagues here from the other parties. For example, when the MPP for Essex was asked about putting a moratorium on wind energy, he said, “I think it sends the wrong sign to green energy producers and green energy manufacturers in the province.”
I will give you another quote from the member from Renfrew–Nipissing, who actually supported, like many of the Conservative MPPs—they supported green energy, wind energy, and then they changed their minds. “We recognize the importance of wind. I want to make one thing abundantly clear: We should be making every investment we can in renewables in this province…. We support renewables: Any kind of energy that you can get without burning anything is good energy—damned good energy, in my mind. It’s good for the province and it’s great for the environment. We support that 100%.” This is the MPP for Renfrew–Nipissing.
Mr. Speaker, I want to share my time with my colleague the MPP fro Mississauga–Streetsville, but before doing that, I want to just tell concerned Ontarians that the minister is listening. We have set up the committee to review the Green Energy Act. The report will be coming.
There will be some consultations with the people concerned on this very issue.
I will leave the rest for my colleague from Mississauga–Streetsville.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Mr. Todd Smith: Thank you to my colleague from Huron–Bruce for putting forward this very sensible private member’s bill today. I think the evidence has been mounting for a long time now, and this is the perfect opportunity for the government to hit the pause button, put a moratorium in place and take a real close look at this, for a myriad of different reasons.
I just want to tell you a little bit about Ostrander Point, which is in my riding of Prince Edward–Hastings, down on the south shore of Prince Edward county. I think there are only two members of the House who have actually been to that spot: our energy critic, the MPP from Nipissing, and of course myself have been down there. It’s a beautiful spot.
The member from Huron–Bruce outlined some of the beautiful landscapes in her riding. There are many on the south shore of Prince Edward county, particularly where this turbine proposal is being planned for. For those of you who don’t know—and I’ve talked about Prince Edward county in the past—it is a beautiful place: wineries, beautiful shorelines. We have cottage country there and all kinds of farmland as well.
It’s very insulting, I know, to the people of Prince Edward county when the government side always makes the claim that they don’t care about renewable energy. They make the claim that it’s renewable; it’s wind versus coal. Well, that’s not an argument that you should be making in this House because none of us over here want coal. As a matter of fact, as we pointed out here through a couple of heckles today, our member from Kitchener–Waterloo is the only person to have
ever shut down a coal-fired generating plant in the province. This government has said that they’re going to close down coal plants for years now and none have shut down under their watch.
As I move along very quickly, I have to make a point about the public consultation sham, that this government says they consult the public. This government does nothing to consult the public. As a matter of fact, just after Christmas, in my riding, I had a town hall meeting. We packed a church. There were hundreds of people in a church—a church that’s not closing because of rising energy prices. It was pretty hot
in there that night, though, because people have a lot to say to the government. The unfortunate thing is this government isn’t listening to them.
I just want to give you a few items that I have here on what the public consultation process looked like for the Minister of the Environment. They called it a public consultation process. There were no meetings in Prince Edward county hosted by the MOE. The ministry’s own EBR posting for the project provided incorrect mailing addresses for people who were writing in to provide comment on the proposed
project down there. The Internet website went down more than a dozen times during that process—who knows how many different pieces of correspondence didn’t make it to the intended recipient? And perhaps that’s the way the government wanted it; I’m not sure. But it was a sham. The public process was a sham.
This shouldn’t be, as I said earlier, a debate about coal versus wind. I think the Minister of Energy makes a fool of himself when he stands up in the Legislature and makes such claims. There’s reason for debate on this, and it’s not about wind versus coal; it’s about smart and reliable energy. I think the evidence is mounting every day and we should take a closer look at it. Now is the time to put a moratorium
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Mr. Monte McNaughton: The issue of industrial wind turbines and Dalton McGuinty’s failed Green Energy Act is something that is of great concern to my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex and to the people all across this province.
To date, as we’ve heard, nearly 100 municipalities have passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on further turbine development. The most recent of these is, of course, in my riding: the municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Christian Farmers Association have joined the call for a moratorium on further wind development.
Industrial wind turbines have raised serious concerns regarding health effects and property values, and the McGuinty government needs to answer these questions before—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Once again, I will remind this member, as I have to others, to stay away from names.
Interjection: You said “McGuinty.”
Mr. Monte McNaughton: Oh, sorry. The current Liberal government needs to answer these questions before continuing to move forward. By ignoring these concerns, the current Liberal government has sent the message to the people of rural Ontario that they do not matter.
Speaker, I oppose the heavy-handed approach that the Dalton McGuinty government is taking by forcing these wind turbines on rural Ontario. This approach is not democratic and it’s not productive. I’ve said it before, but truly, the greatest injustice facing rural Ontario today is that Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal government sit here, in Toronto, at Queen’s Park, and dictate to rural communities where and when they must install industrial wind turbines.
Speaker, I believe in democracy. I believe in giving a voice to rural Ontario. That is why I will be holding a turbine and Green Energy Act public town hall meeting this Monday, on March 12, at Amy’s Place Restaurant in Strathroy, in my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex. I extended, almost two weeks ago, an invitation to the Minister of Energy, the Honourable Chris Bentley, and the minister has not even
bothered to respond. I think that this issue is important enough that the minister should attend—or at least should have the courtesy of a reply. Locally elected officials in my riding have committed to attending. I have many mayors, deputy mayors and councillors throughout the riding who are coming.
For the minister: This meeting in Strathroy is a 20-minute drive from his riding. To date, several MPPs from our side of the House, including PC energy critic Vic Fedeli and MPPs Bob Bailey, Lisa Thompson and Rick Nicholls, have confirmed their attendance. Speaker, I stand here today in support of my colleague the member from Huron–Bruce, Lisa Thompson’s motion calling for a moratorium on all
wind turbines until a third party has conducted a comprehensive study on the side effects of wind turbines. This is an important motion. I ask all members of the House to please stand with the Ontario PC Party and stand up for rural Ontario. Thank you.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate? The member from Mississauga–Streetsville.
Mr. Bob Delaney: Well, thank you very much, Speaker. I first of all want to commend my colleague from Richmond Hill. Mr. Moridi, of course, is an eminent scientist in his own right, with a Ph.D. in physics. I think that members would do very well to listen to some of his remarks and to pay attention to them.
Now, you know, in a nation that properly consults its citizens, where they’ve developed a consensus on renewable energy—and I’m speaking of the Netherlands—wind power has a long and successful history, from powering flour mills to generating electricity using the abundant North Sea wind. As of December 2009, 1,975 wind turbines were operational in the Netherlands. With an aggregate capacity—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Order. Stop the clock.
The member from Nepean–Carleton, you know better, and I’ll call you to order. The next time, I will have to take action.
I would advise the audience: You’re welcome to be here with us today and you’re welcome to observe, but I would discourage you from any applause or participating in the debate.
The member from Mississauga–Streetsville.
Mr. Bob Delaney: Thank you again, Speaker. The Dutch are trying to meet the EU-set target of producing 9% of their total electricity from renewable sources.
When global installed wind capacity was only 6,000 megawatts in 1996, contrast that to today, when it’s more than 200,000 megawatts worldwide, and it’s growing quickly. Who is the world leader? China. It has more than 50,000 megawatts of wind-generated capacity in operation, more than anyone else in the world. And in second place? The United States of America. Canada is in the top 10 worldwide, but
only just ahead of Denmark and only just behind the UK.
Now, Speaker, noise and vibration from wind farms are far less than the equivalent traffic and industrial uses to which residents of urban and metropolitan areas have been exposed, without measurable effect, for centuries. The premise of this resolution is without scientific merit or basis.
Wind energy is a benign technology with no associated emissions, no harmful pollutants and no waste products. In more than 25 years and with more than 68,000 wind generators installed around the world, no member of the public has ever been harmed by the normal operation of a wind turbine.
In response to recent unscientific allegations in the UK that wind turbines emit what is called infrasound and cause associated health problems, Dr. Geoff Leventhall, a consultant in noise vibration and acoustics and author of the Defra Report on Low Frequency Noise and Its Effects, says: “I can state quite categorically that there is no significant infrasound from current designs of wind turbines. To say
that there is an infrasound problem is one of the hares which objectors to wind farms like to run. There will not be any effects from infrasound from the turbines.”
In fact, the truth is that, at about 50 decibels, wind turbines are just slightly noisier than a quiet bedroom and less noisy than a room in an average house. Wind turbines are far less noisy than normal office interiors and far less noisy than the interior of our cars.
Speaker, I am advised that a company in Prince Edward–Hastings has received a $160,000 grant from the federal Conservative government to explore small-scale wind projects. That’s bringing investment right into their own riding.
Let’s talk about some of the things that others say about wind turbines. Says Bart Lavis, a project manager with Leader Resources Services Corp., “I wake up every morning proud to be part of a preventive mandate, a proactive, pioneering movement in clean energy.”
Says Bonnie Van Tassel of the Ernestown Wind Park Inc., “I work for a small wind developer based in Toronto”—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Dufferin–Caledon, would you come to order, please.
Mr. Bob Delaney: —“and I cannot imagine a more inspiring and exciting career. I cannot imagine a future where my family would not be able to live a long and healthy life because of short-sighted political action interfering with the mandates of the Green Energy Act.”
You know, Speaker, we’ve got quote after quote after quote. Basically, there is no scientific merit or basis to this resolution, and I urge that it be defeated. Thank you very much.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Mr. Ted Arnott: I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to speak briefly in support of the resolution brought forward this afternoon by the member for Huron–Bruce. In the five months since she was elected to this Legislature, she has done an outstanding job on a number of issues representing her constituents, and it’s in that spirit that she brings forward this resolution today.
Our caucus is on the record for at least two and a half—almost three—years, calling for an independent health study before the government goes whole hog into the wind energy business in Ontario. A number of resolutions have been brought forward in the past. Our former colleague the member for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, Bill Murdoch, brought forward a resolution similar to this, not quite as brief and to the point but certainly in the same spirit. Our colleague the member for Kitchener–Waterloo has raised these issues in the Legislature. My colleague the member for Dufferin–Caledon and myself—I have brought forward a similar resolution. So I think we’ve demonstrated a great deal of consistency and credibility on this issue, and obviously we would hope that at some point the government
will begin to listen.
The fact is, in the election on October 6, the government lost its majority, but it’s also true and, I think, arguably true, that a significant number of the seats that the government lost were directly attributable to this issue and the mishandling by the Liberal government and their unwillingness to listen to communities.
There are a significant number of people who are with us in the visitors’ gallery today. They are here because they’re very, very concerned, obviously, about the health impacts, and it’s very disappointing to see the government members unwilling to take this issue seriously. The fact is, we have an opportunity today as an
Ontario Legislature to express support for a moratorium on further wind farm development until a fair and independent health study is done. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker: That is in the public interest. The member for Huron–Bruce is right, and I would ask all members of this House to support her resolution when it comes to a vote this afternoon.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Ms. Laurie Scott: I, too, am very pleased to rise in the House today in support of the member from Huron–Bruce, whose bill calls for a moratorium on further construction of industrial wind turbines until there are third party health and environmental studies done.
Thank you to all the people in the gallery for coming today. Thank you to all the people in my riding of Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock who keep up the fight against the industrial wind turbines for the right reasons.
The members have all spoken today—and we’ve heard time and time and time again that there needs to be a moratorium on industrial wind turbines.
The member from Mississauga–Streetsville: I mean, what part of “whoop, whoop” don’t you get? Come on. These people are here. There are 5% to 15% who have health effects from wind turbines. What, are we just going to ignore this situation? I can speak as a nurse to say that the people are real, the symptoms are real and the effects of the industrial wind turbines are real on them. And yes, we can have
consultants on both sides. We’re saying, “Put a moratorium on it.” The member from Huron–Bruce is exactly right in what she says. We’ve said it again and again and again.
The Auditor General—you can go on to the business case of this, which we’ve discussed many, many times. The other member who spoke about coal: We’re all agreeing that coal plants should be shut down. Why do you keep bringing that up? That is of no relevance to this discussion at all. Don’t listen to the Minister of Energy, who brings these things up in question period. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I mean, stop that message track over there.
I have people who phone my constituency office every day because they can’t afford to pay their hydro bills because of these expensive green energy experiments that are driving them out of their homes or making them choose between putting food on their table and paying their hydro bills. We’re saying to you that you’ve messed it all up as an energy policy. There’s no question about that. Real people are suffering
financially. Real people are suffering the health effects. Dr. Petrie’s coming in in a couple of weeks to speak to people about the effects on the environment, on the birds. What, do you just ignore all these things that are out there for the greater greener good, and you put this province in bankruptcy and people out of their homes? You should be ashamed of yourselves.
I’m pleased to support the member from Huron–Bruce today. The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: I appreciate the opportunity to speak today to the motion from the member for Huron–Bruce, in which she calls for a moratorium on the development of wind energy in this province. I want to start off with some of my main points, and then I’m going to go back to those points and enlarge on them.
Now is not the time to slow down or stop wind development and development of green energy jobs in Ontario. Third party health and environmental studies have already been conducted. The jury is in.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Order.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Speaker, I—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Stop the clock.
The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, I would remind you that when all your members spoke, the House was extremely quiet, and I would like to give the member from Toronto–Danforth the same privilege.
The member for Toronto–Danforth.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Why, thank you, Speaker. It’s, as I’ve said before, good to know that someone is listening. The studies have already been conducted and the information is in. The government does need to change the way that renewable energy projects are being implemented; they need to adjust the tariffs to make green energy more affordable; they need to give priority to community-owned
and public projects, and they need to substantially improve the consultation process with local communities.
The NDP has made concrete suggestions on how to maximize the economic benefits and minimize health and environmental impacts of energy projects. We proposed in our platform a full provincial environmental assessment of the province’s energy plan to assess and minimize health and environmental impacts. We have recommended that, before all other things, we pursue all cost-effective conservation and energy efficiency options to minimize the need for new generation of any
Mr. Rob E. Milligan: Water power.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Northumberland–Quinte West, this is the last warning.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: And we’ve recommended that the province maximize the potential for local economic development by giving priority to community-owned and public energy projects and putting in place strong domestic content requirements.
I made many of those points in the course of the debate over the Green Energy Act. It was unfortunate that the Liberal Party did not support those motions, those amendments, because that would have dealt with many of the concerns that we see exhibited in this province today.
I want to speak to the question of health and environmental assessments in a bit more detail. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has reviewed the studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. She concluded there is no direct link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, but recognized that
sound could annoy some people.
Other independent third party studies have shown that when properly sited, wind turbines have minimal health and environmental impacts. Dr. Cornelia Baines, University of Toronto epidemiologist, states that “large and well-designed comparative studies have examined the health effects of wind turbines in Holland, England and the” United States. “There is no evidence of any significant negative impact on health.”
A Stanford University study concluded that wind power has less impact on human health, on water supply, on land and wildlife than solar, geothermal, tidal, wave, hydroelectric, nuclear and coal. Wind is a better bet.
A September 2009 report by Dr. Ray Copes, director of environmental and occupational health at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, concluded that “there is no scientific evidence to date to demonstrate a causal association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects,” although it “sometimes may be annoying to some people, which may result in stress and sleep disturbance.”
The impact of wind turbines on the environment, including birds and bats, is much smaller than other sources of energy. Less than 0.01% of bird fatalities are caused by wind turbines. The National Audubon Society “strongly supports properly sited wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming.”
This motion has come forward, asking for a moratorium because we need health studies, and I say to you, Speaker, the health studies are done. The jury is in.
Other sources of power have greater health and environmental impacts. In contrast to wind, coal is a major contributor to air pollution, which has caused premature deaths of thousands of Ontarians, according to the Ontario Medical Association. The McGuinty government’s decision to keep coal plants open until 2014, instead of shutting them down today—which it could do—will lead to the unnecessary death of 1,000 Ontarians, according to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.
Nuclear energy is also far more dangerous to health and the environment than wind power due to ongoing emission of low-level radiation, risk of accidents and the unsolved problem of trying to isolate radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years.
The member from Huron–Bruce is, I am sure, aware of the health studies showing the relationship between the siting of nuclear power plants and cancer. A variety of studies have shown elevated risk of cancer to those living close to nuclear power plants. In January, the International Journal of Cancer published a French study on nuclear power plants in France and their relationship to childhood leukemia. There is a direct relationship, Speaker. If the member is concerned about energy and health studies, where is the motion calling for a moratorium on any further nuclear development until the health studies are done? There is still no proven way to store radioactive waste from nuclear plants safely for tens of thousands of years. There’s growing concern about the siting of gas plants which are less polluting than
coal but still generate significant greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the shift towards shale gas exploration has raised significant environmental concerns, such as the potential contamination of groundwater.
In this province, Ontario used to have a commitment to holding full environmental assessments of its long-term energy plan. The McGuinty government quietly removed that requirement in 2006. We need to reinstate that requirement so we can ensure the power mix in our long-term energy plan is one that minimizes health and environmental impacts.
Speaker, slowing down renewable power will hurt Ontario economically and environmentally. Renewable energy creates large numbers of jobs spread across the province. In Germany, over 350,000 renewable energy jobs have been created in the last few decades. As many in this House may well be aware, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium are phasing out nuclear power. They understand the costs and the risks.
If we’re going to have an energy sector in Ontario that builds our economy and deals with our environmental and health problems, this motion will be a setback.
Renewable energy is more affordable than investing in new gas or nuclear. The Pembina Institute recently found that cancelling the Green Energy Act would lead to higher hydro costs over the long term. People often say that renewable energy is more expensive than thepower rates on the spot electricity market, but wind and solar prices are falling, while nuclear and gas costs are projected to rise. According to the chief executive at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the price of photovoltaic modules fell by close to 50% during 2011, and now stands 75% lower than in 2008.
Speaker, we fail to take into account the heavy subsidies for traditional sources of power when we talk about the cost of electricity. The federal government provided $20 billion in historic subsidies to nuclear power, including $650 million in 2009 alone. The federal government also picks up the tab for any liabilities of over
$75 million in the event of a nuclear accident. I will note that the Fukushima accident is projected to cost a minimum of $3 billion. The government should do more to maximize the economic benefits and minimize the health and environmental impacts of wind projects. The province is requiring significant setbacks for wind turbines, including a minimum of 550 metres to ensure noise levels do not exceed 40 decibels at the receptor. These are the largest setbacks in Canada, the United States and eight European countries. Proponents are
required to monitor and address any perceptible infrasound as a condition of the renewable energy approval.
That said, there’s more the McGuinty government could and must do. First and most important, the government should reduce the need for new energy generation by pursuing all possible conservation and efficiency measures.
Secondly, the government should give priority to community and First Nations, local co-operatives and community power projects which have community buy-in. Communities should control and benefit from wind projects, not companies that have no vested interest in those communities.
Lastly, Ontario needs to sit down with local communities and renewable power proponents to hammer out a consultation process that will work in this province.
Our colleagues were at the Ontario Good Roads/Rural Ontario Municipal Association meeting. It was clear those municipalities did not want to take on the responsibility for energy planning, but they did recognize the need for a better consultation regime. We need that here in Ontario. We need action on rebuilding our industry. We need to deal with climate change.
This motion will push us backwards. I urge everyone in this chamber to defeat it.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Huron–Bruce has two minutes to reply.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank the members of my caucus who spoke up today in support of what Ontario wants: a moratorium on further wind development and industrial wind turbines until third party health and environmental studies are completed. We need the real, real results.
Specifically to the MPP from York–Simcoe, thank you for recognizing the time-sensitive issue this is. To my colleagues from Prince Edward–Hastings, Wellington–Halton Hills, Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, Lambton–Kent–Middlesex, Nipissing and Nepean–Carleton, thank you for speaking up. Your constituents will be so proud of their provincial representatives today.
I also listened to the members from Richmond Hill, Mississauga–Streetsville and Toronto–Danforth, and I have to ask: How many turbines do they have in their ridings? Where are the government’s and the third party’s representatives from rural Ontario? Why were they not allowed to speak?
The member from Guelph has constituents here, and she wasn’t even allowed to speak. I’m sure her constituents who are present today will be very interested to see how she votes.
But seriously, all of us here in this Legislature—
Mr. Grant Crack: What about subways in the rural areas?
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Oh, don’t get me started on that, because it’s a two-way street there. People spoke out of both sides of their mouth—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Order. Would you please address the Chair?
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Earlier this week, Mr. Speaker, the government proved to be hypocrites when they chose to say the will of—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I would ask you to withdraw.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I withdraw.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have to protect those in the province who are looking to be positioned as collateral damage—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Order, please.
~ ~ ~
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We’ll now deal with the vote.
Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1631 to 1636.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Can I ask members to take their seats?
Ms. Thompson has moved private members’ notice of motion number 8. All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.
Milligan, Rob E.
Ouellette, Jerry J.
Thompson, Lisa M.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): All those opposed, please
rise and remain standing.
Armstrong, Teresa J.
Bradley, James J.
Cansfield, Donna H.
Flynn, Kevin Daniel
Murray, Glen R.
Takhar, Harinder S.
Wynne, Kathleen O.
The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 28; the
nays are 45.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I declare the motion lost.