May 30, the Ontario Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli announced that the province is increasing local control over future renewable energy projects.
This announcement means little to the South Dundas residents who are opposed the pending 10 megawatt wind energy project that will see EDP Renewables erect 10 industrial wind turbines in the Brinston area.
This project already has an agreement in place, with construction expected to start this summer.
“Working with the Ontario Power Authority and municipalities, the province will develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kilowatts. The new process will increase the existing large project stream of the Feed-In Tariff program and better meet the needs of communities,” reads the Ontario news release.
“It will require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify appropriate locations and site requirements for any future renewable energy project.”
Also, as part of strengthening municipal participation and supporting communities, the province announced that they are revising the Small FIT program rules, they will work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers and through funding will help small and medium-size municipalities develop municipal energy plans.
“From what I have gathered from the announcement, South Dundas and other municipalities will have more say, but the devil is in the details,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds. He plans to learn more about the issue, this announcement and its implications.
It is the mayor’s understanding that this announcement will have no affect on the South Branch Project.
Leslie Disheau, of the South Branch Wind Opposition Group agrees that this announcement will not apply to the South Branch project.
“Even if these new rules did apply to the South Branch wind project, it is quite apparent that the current South Dundas council is not willing to be proactive, but prefer to sit with their hands tied,” said Disheau.
Commenting on the announcement by Chiarelli, Disheau said, “The central planning still remains firmly in the hands of the Energy Ministry, not municipalities. What the announcement didn’t do was to provide municipalities the power to simply say, ‘we are not willing hosts’, which is what 36 of approximately 90 municipalities have said so far, by passing bylaws proclaiming that phrase.”
“As far as I can read, Mr. Chiarelli still has yet to divulge the real details of just how this ‘revised’ Feed In Tariff program will appease the taxpayers of Ontario and municipal governments,” said Disheau.
Of the portion of the announcement outlining the province working with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers, Disheau says, “This is interesting as the former Minister of Finance instructed the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to assess industrial wind turbines at $40,000 per MW, despite the fact that the capital costs per MW were in the $1 million to $1.2 million range. Wind developers have a great financial relationship with the Liberal Government of Ontario and thanks to us, the taxpayers, they will continue to ‘roll in the dough.’”