The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) representing 37,000 farm families substantially concurs with the 4,200 member Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) christianfarmers.org Jan 12,2012 reassessment of Ontario’s renewable energy policy which has unsustainable social, environmental, and economic costs clearly identified in the Auditor General Report 2011.
OFA did its own review of the FIT programs and something remarkable happened. There was free informed commentary from the membership, some of it President Mark Wales deemed unfit for print but the discussion obviously concluded that the OFA’s previous expectations for “green energy” could not be met. According to Wales in December 2011, “OFA was opposed to the original price levels offered for wind and solar. As advocates for farms as consumers of energy, we felt the price levels were too high. We continue to advocate for a more sensible price and planned generation system”
The 2012 OFA position statement, available here http://www.ofa.on.ca/media/news/OFA-calls-government-suspend-wind-turbine-development-in-Ontario, “…Strongly recommends that the province of Ontario suspend the award of FIT contracts for industrial wind turbine development projects pending resolution of the following:
Because IWT projects can have a significant and lasting impact on neighboring farm businesses with regards future expansion and succession planning, the Ontario government must enable an acceptable level of planning control for IWT at the municipal level.
Prices paid for IWT power (and indeed, all renewable power) should not exceed the expected price of peak power imports six years in the future, to ensure a long term supply or reasonably priced power.
The province must require IWT developments to secure the capacity to provide dispatchable power using battery or other such environmentally acceptable storage.
Wind turbine developments must be required to use sufficiently gauged service lines and sufficiently high capacity transformers to eliminate current inducement in adjacent lines or buildings by IWT collection lines.
Rural residents’ health and nuisance complaints must be immediately and fairly addressed.
Because varying conditions and larger generating equipment can create exceptions to a maximum of 40 dba at a minimum setback of 550 meters for an IWT development the province must conduct a comprehensive analysis using local empirical data and international studies on adequate setback distances for IWT based on the technology employed.
The regulation governing participating receptors must be amended to require the appropriate minimum setback, determined through analysis, for all IWT developments.
To directly address the real issue of noise levels and to ensure that the 40 dba guideline is achieved across Ontario, the provincial government must develop and implement a protocol to measure noise from IWT developments, including continuous tone and low frequency noise and that measurement equipment and training be made available to municipalities.
OFA supports green energy but is working to ensure that green energy projects will respect concerns for noise, community involvement and price, balanced against the effective provision of power.”
The sad news is that the Minister of Energy, Chris Bentley, continues to ignore the direct message rural voters already sent the Government by giving their Liberal MPPs the ouster in the last election. Bentley has an odd definition of “listening” or “hearing” when, apparently still without full analysis, he says of more than 3,000 FIT review submissions by groups and individuals, many of which were from the farming community:
“We are taking a look at those and we are determined to get clean, renewable energy into the province of Ontario and secure the jobs that help Ontario serve the world with green energy,”
Despite the Auditor’s revelation of the gaping lack of proper cost/benefit analysis for the Green Energy Act and renewable energy policy from the outset; his exposure of the BILLIONS wasted in haste; the CFFO astutely pointing out, “…If an honest assessment of the future of the industry indicates it will not be sustainable in the long term, strong consideration must be given to cutting out losses as a province now, rather than later.”, and the object lessons of Europe looming ever larger, Ontario seems doomed to less honesty not more.
The true “stewards of the land” should be lauded and supported in asking for what is eminently reasonable.