As the Ontario government prepares to open a second, more ambitious round of bidding on large-scale renewable energy projects across the province, some Ottawa city councillors want more local control over where wind farms go.
“There’s no way for a municipality to express concerns about location, or if and when these projects would happen in our municipalities,” said Scott Moffatt, who represents the rural ward of Rideau-Goulbourn.
In March Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator awarded contracts to 16 renewable energy projects, three quarters of which had support from the local municipality, the government said at the time.
Five of the contracts were awarded to wind projects, including the 100-megawatt Nation Rise Wind Farm in North Stormont Township, a municipality which had previously declared itself an “unwilling host” to wind farms.
A motion approved Thursday by councillors on Ottawa’s agriculture and rural affairs committee urges the province to strengthen legislation to require municipal buy-in before contracts are awarded.
Communities want a voice, councillor says
Moffatt said communities want a voice in the planning process.
“This isn’t just for Ottawa. We’ve had this issue in the past in Ottawa, specifically in North Gower, but you look at Nation, you look at South Dundas and Brinston,” said Moffatt, describing proposed wind farm locations.
“Are those municipalities able to respond adequately or is the IESO just going to run roughshod over them? That’s the concern.”
In an email, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Energy Ministry said the government is proud of the 75 per cent support rate from municipalities for its first round of contract offers, and noted 60 per cent of neighbouring landowners also supported them.
“By putting emphasis on price and community support, we believe the right balance has been struck in early community engagement and reduced prices for consumers through the procurement process for renewable energy projects,” wrote the spokesperson.
930 megawatts sought in 2nd round
The IESO is gathering feedback on its first competition, and could use that information to fine-tune the process the second time around.
The Ontario government intends to issue a request for qualifications by August for projects that can generate a total of 930 megawatts of renewable energy, two thirds of which will go to wind farms.
That’s more than twice the size of the initial contract offer.
The ministry’s ultimate goal is to have 10,700 megawatts of wind-, solar-, and bioenergy-powered projects feeding the grid by 2021.
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