Can wind companies fake community engagement?

imagesby Harvey Wrightman
The buzz-words nowadays are “Community Engagement” or “Social license”  – when you hear those words from the policy mandarins of the provincial government, the people who know what is best for us, be ready for something that is quite the opposite.  Unhappy with the widespread opposition to wind projects, our mandarins have been scheming to show there is no opposition. To get the sentiment of a community to a project, ordinary people like myself would simply canvass/petition/survey the affected  area.  Not so with the mandarins, who seeing the problems of direct democracy, prefer to add layers of insensitivity to the process – ask those who will not be affected – and offer them some money.  That will get desired results. It’s called, diluting the pool.

The IESO (Independent Electricity system Operator) has released the new Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) (click on LRP I RFP and go to  Sec. 3.3, pg. 47), which means more large wind projects.  For this round of contracts, companies need only conduct ONE public meeting (see, we did have an effect at those open houses); but, the companies must obtain a measure of local support.

So looking at the chart: “Community Engagement”  rates 80 points,  and “Aboriginal Participation”  rates 20 points.  The aim for the wind company is to get as much consent to their project as possible. Not so easy these days as people have become aware of the adverse impacts of wind turbines. The higher the point score, the higher the project is in the queue, supposedly. Let’s see how they might do it.

An example of “Aboriginal Participation” would be the Grand Bend Wind Farm where both Walpole Island FN and Sarnia FN have a share in the project. Essentially the province provided a large part of the cash  for First Nations to buy-in.  Significantly Kettle and Stoney Point FN which is next door to the project refused to take the money offered to join that  venture. Walpole Is. And Sarnia are 40 km removed. Therein lies the first flaw in the process: those most affected are the least likely to give consent. Cash offerings have the look of “blood money.”  Makes sense doesn’t it. Well, not to the provincial mandarins who imagine they are always correct; and, who act without knowledge of local conditions. This is a mistake that they make repeatedly.

On to “Community Engagement”.  This is got/bought by approaching local landowners to participate, either being offered “turbine host contracts” or “good neighbour contracts”. Once signed to either contract, all rights to oppose the project are finished – and for 50 years forward. Given the negative impacts of turbines, signing a “good neighbour” contract is not very attractive. In the original draft document, the consent of 100% of the abutting was proposed. Wind companies bargained that down to 75%.  Here is where communities can mobilize, but they must act quickly and network/footwork  through the area to counter the land maggots who will be harassing people in the project area, telling whatever lies are needed to get signatures.

…and, the mandarins have one more trick to play – the municipal council which will always be rent seekers and willing to sell out their residents for a dollar on a doughnut – how well I understand that. Wind companies will offer “vibrancy funds”  which may mean “bribrancy funds”, “schmeergelder”, “grease money” – whatever term you prefer.  The mandarins deliberately capped the individual turbine assessment at  $60,000 – $100,000/ turbine – artificially low so the companies could offer “cash incentives” to municipalities and maybe some under the table money/favours. Who knows?  This is where forceful, direct action is needed to impress on the council the nature of this money and any acceptance of it. There are some things that should not be done and selling out the people for a few shekels is high on the list. It doesn’t have to be done.

9 thoughts on “Can wind companies fake community engagement?

  1. Love – ‘the merging’

    The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) –
    McGuinty’s dream team of bureaucrats – will now – only be known as
    – the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

    “With a depth of experience in the electricity sector, we are confident the new CEO and Board of Directors will lead the newly formed agency to create efficiencies and innovations that will respect ratepayers. I look forward to welcoming Mr. Campbell to his new role and look forward to continuing to work with him to move our electricity sector forward.”

    Bob Chiarelli
    Minister of Energy


    News Release
    Ontario Appoints New CEO and Board of Directors to Lead Energy Agency Merger
    New Organization will Reduce Overlap and Oversee Efficiencies
    October 31, 2014 11:00 A.M.

    Ministry of Energy

    Ontario intends to appoint Bruce Campbell as CEO of the new Independent Electricity System Operator as the government moves ahead with the merger of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

    Amalgamating the agencies will streamline electricity sector planning by reducing overlap and is expected to save millions of dollars going forward. The merger supports the government’s commitment to improve agency efficiency, reduce costs and help mitigate future cost impacts to ratepayers.

    Bruce Campbell has served as President and CEO of the IESO since May 1, 2013, overseeing the safe and reliable operation of Ontario’s bulk electrical system.

    Working collaboratively with the Society of Energy Professionals and the Power Workers Union has resulted in a framework agreement between unions and management to help guide the transition to a merged company with minimal disruption. The framework agreement will allow for an orderly transition and respects the forthcoming collective bargaining process.

    The new organization will be operational in January 2015.

    Providing clean, reliable and affordable power is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.
    Quick Facts

    The IESO is responsible for maintaining the reliability of the province’s electricity grid; developing and enforcing reliability standards; administering wholesale market rules; and directing market dispatch.
    The OPA is responsible for medium to long-term system planning, procurement of electricity generation; coordination of province-wide conservation; and managing generation and conservation contracts.
    The government is delivering on a 2014 Budget commitment to consolidate the two agencies. A joint working committee with representation from the IESO and the OPA has been formed to develop the work plan to transition to the new entity.
    The new Board of Directors is expected to be comprised of the following persons: James Hinds, Timothy O’Neill, Cynthia Chaplin, Murray Elston, Susanna Han, Ronald Jamieson, Margaret Kelch, Bruce Lourie, William Museler, Deborah Whale and Bruce Campbell.

    Background Information

    Effective January 1, 2015 Board of Directors for the New Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)

    Additional Resources

    Read Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan.
    Learn about Ontario’s electricity system on emPOWERme.



    The emerging – new economy
    – but first
    Premier Social Justice – has to collapse
    – the one we have/had.

    Welcome to Ontario – the economic engine
    of Canada.

  2. I can’t wait!

    Tomorrow we’ll talk about the latest recalcitrant,
    dinosaurish municipality acting like children.
    Stay tuned.

    Ontario Ombudsman

    I guess we have to trust [reserved] – and see what happens next.
    Again – I can’t wait!

    • Guess we’ll hold —
      on pins and needles
      and wait for Servant Marin to dish out
      more important information.

      Dying to know!

    • Ontario Ombudsman link above:
      – save the link and refresh often

      Ontario Provincial Police union tells members it’s being investigated for fraud, theft, laundering proceeds of crime Toronto Sun
      Welcome – it’s Ontario

      p.s. Municipality of Brighton

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