Recent news reports about the Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals offshore wind project in Lake Ontario have spurred concerns from the province’s Progressive Conservative energy critic.
In February 2011, the province announced a moratorium on offshore wind projects to wait for scientific research to be conducted. Potential issues include how noise behaves over water and ice, foundation designs, water quality impacts and impacts to shoreline ecosystems and wildlife.
“Are you lifting the moratorium or not? And if you are, when were you going to tell us? And if they aren’t, how can you be awarding contracts?” said Vic Fedeli, PC energy critic and MPP for Nipissing, Ont., who sent a letter to Chris Bentley, Ontario’s energy minister, asking for clarification about the moratorium.
Fedeli’s letter was in response to news reports of progress on the Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals in Lake Ontario. It was announced in early January that Siemens Canada signed an agreement with Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. to supply 130 turbines. Recently, preliminary agreements were announced that Bermingham Foundation Solutions, Walters Group, McKeil Marine and the Hamilton Port Authority will manufacture, construct, transport and install the project’s structures.
Bentley said, in an interview with the Daily Commercial News, nothing has changed. He said they are working with their American partners to examine science-based issues surrounding offshore wind.
“[The moratorium] is in place while we work with our American partners<0x2026> in making sure that before any offshore project proceeds, we have a very good handle on any issues that may arise from freshwater, offshore wind,” explained.
“That’s been our position for quite some time, it’s not changed.”
Windstream holds the offshore wind power Feed-In-Tariff contract in Ontario awarded by the Ontario Power Authority in May 2010.
The planned location is five to 16 kilometres off the southwest short of Wolfe Island, in eastern Lake Ontario.
After the moratorium was already in place, a consortium of Lake Ontario based organizations formed the Lake Ontario Offshore Network (LOON) to encourage and facilitate the development of offshore wind power in Ontario.
LOON, which includes a number of large employers in marine services, coatings, concrete, steel, foundations, plates, and fabrication, said at the time it is preparing for the anticipated growth in offshore wind energy and is encouraging the Ontario government to do what it can to attract these jobs and investments to Ontario.
Bentley said those people who wish to advance these projects already know the government’s position.
“They would all know that no renewable energy project can proceed without a renewable energy approval. And those renewable energy approvals aren’t proceeding because of the moratorium and the work that’s being undertaken.”
Fedeli hopes the moratorium will not be lifted. He pointed to the Auditor General Report that said for every job the Green Energy Act creates two to four jobs are lost in other sectors. He also noted that wind is out of sync with demand.
“The predominant use of energy is during the day where wind blows at night, so we create a surplus of power at night and we ended up selling our surplus at a huge loss, $1.8 billion since 2006, $420 million just in the first 10 months of last year,” he said, adding that it causes hydro bills to go higher and gives Quebec cheaper power to compete with.
Bentley said the province is undertaking a green energy review and one component of that is looking at prices around the world.
“We want to make sure that we continue in a very strong and determined way to advance green energy and continue to plan the jobs here in Ontario that can help build, construct, innovate green energy projects so we can sell this expertise around the world.”
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