In the face of opposition, the Ontario government has directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) more or less to stay on course with the closure of coal generators by increasing reliance on hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, solar and biomass resources.
An announcement to that effect has followed closely on the heels of a moratorium placed on offshore turbine projects.
The Ontario Energy Board outlines its directive to the OPA, issued last Thursday, as containing these key elements: “Closing all coal units by 2014 and fast-tracking the closure of two more coal units in 2011, three years ahead of schedule; building the largest expansion in hydroelectric power in almost 40 years, with major projects such as the Niagara Tunnel Project and the Lower Mattagami River hydro expansion; securing clean and reliable nuclear power as a baseload for half of Ontario’s power supply; creating more than 50,000 jobs in the clean energy economy – more than 13,000 to date, and helping reduce costs for consumers and making the power system more efficient through conservation by targeting 7,100 megawatts and 28 terawatt-hours of conservation by 2030 – the equivalent of taking 2.4 million homes off the grid.
“The plan also includes increasing Ontario’s renewable power supply from sources like wind, solar and bio-energy by 10 percent, up to 10,700 megawatts. To help achieve this target the OPA will move forward shortly with the next round of clean energy contracts,” the OBE says on its website.
The announcement might sound like good news for the wind and solar industries but, at the same time, it would appear to intensify the battle against the “one size fits all” setback rule established by the Green Energy Act for the turbines.
Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) has emphasized that the setbacks are their major issue with the GEA. Some municipal leaders have expressed concern that the province has taken away any vestige of local control over development of wind farms.
WCO, in its turbine fight, has now circulated a list of 20 “myths” about turbines. The list and more than 5,000 words of comment were compiled by Barbara Ashbee Lormond who has said previously she was forced from her home by the effects of the Melancthon 1.5-megawatt turbines.
The list is critical of the wind associations’ expert panel findings on safety of turbines, and says that was simply a literature review whereas the data cited by WCO on health are of actual professional assessments of complaints of persons living close to the turbines. It also faults the Ontario minister of health for using only the literature for her findings.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association, meantime, is applauding the McGuinty government’s directive on alternative (green) energy, and says it will not only decrease reliance on fossil fuels but will attract investments and employment.
The 550-metre setback rule is being challenged in court, and a decision is being awaited. Prior to the GEA, a 450-metre setback had been established for the 132-megawatt Phase 2 Melancthon wind farm through negotiations.
The Melancthon installation comprises turbines with an installed capacity of 1.5-megawatts each. The proposed Whittington project in Amaranth would have three 2.3-megawatt turbines, and would be subject to the 550-metre setback rule.