Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Place To Stand

Prince Edward County’s new council  called for a moratorium on Industrial Wind Turbine installations on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.  Councillor Terry Shortt said, democratically, “The public has had their voice.  It is time for the province to hear us.”  
The resolution includedBE IT RESOLVED THAT the County of the County of Prince Edward requests the Ontario Provincial Government to implement a moratorium on industrial wind turbines until independent health studies have been completed and a full environmental study be done to determine the possible impact, and all related potential costs that will be incurred by the Municipality and the effect on property values in the affected areas…”

Essentially the resolution disputes that the health, or the financial, costs are known.  I agree wholeheartedly that a moratorium should be put into place, that the health studies have not been done and that a full accounting of the impact of property values would not only show highly detrimental impacts from the new IWT neighbours, but that jurisdictions that have made IWT developers responsible for those real estate damages, such as Denmark, are unlikely to see any more IWT’s going up on their land.

Ontario had, until recently, been developing a history of both citizen involvement, and accounting for exterior costs, in electricity policy.  The Solandt report, in the 1970’s, which primarily dealt with growing concerns regarding transmission lines, noted the preference should be, “the routes that had the least disruption to the natural and social environment, taking into account cost and the preferences of the public.”  The Porter Commission, in the 80’s, also noted that public participation should be welcomed to fully involve the public in decision making.  Maurice Strong became the Chair of Ontario Hydro in 1992, and launched the organization into full-cost accounting (FCA) to account for the environmental, and health, costs, ideally at the business unit level throughout the organization.
The train carrying public participation, and attempts at FCA, jumped the rails later in the 1990’s.  The breakup of Ontario Hydro as part of an attempt to create a functional market, that would balance supply and demand as markets do, replaced central planning, until the Electricity Restructuring Act, 2004.  The act created the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) in 2004.  It has become clear in the subsequent years the practical outcome of this act has been to subvert electricity planning to the whims of the government, via directives from the Minister of Energy.    The OPA has never had the long term plan it is tasked with implementing approved.  4 years after the first IPSP was due, the ministerial directives have gone out again.   Again they call for renewable supply, excluding hydro, to go from 2% to 10-15% of annual generation in the next 7 years.   While public input is invited, it is invited on the implementation plan for the minister’s directive.
The government has not been attempting any cost accounting, let alone full cost accounting.  Now the rumours are out that FCA will be faked by inventing ‘environmental attributes’ to pretend the value of wind is above nil. 
The characteristics of Industrial Wind Turbines aren’t positive attributes.  Prince Edward County’s council is doing what, traditionally, Ontarians have done – standing on the principle that we require information with which to make environmentally, and economically, conscious decisions.   Congratulations to them, and the growing number of other councils, and their constituents, that are exemplary in doing what Ontarians are supposed to do. 

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