The Progressive Conservatives’ first bill will have a huge effect on the Quinte region.
Dubbed the Urgent Priorities Act, the Tories called back the legislature for a summer sitting and passed the bill officially spelling the end of wpd Canada’s White Pines Wind Project as well as ending an almost six-month long labour strike at Toronto’s York University.
APPEC president Orville Walsh said the bill ends a battle that’s lasted almost a decade.
“Finally, it’s final,” he said. “It’s been a 10-year struggle and this is the last one and I can tell you it’s a very good feeling because a lot of people have worked very hard for a very long time. There are still people working, but I’m told they are packing up and securing the (turbine) sites, so it should be over with. Of course there is still the decommissioning of the project and that should be interesting because to the best of my knowledge, there’s never been a wind project decommissioned in Ontario.”
Bay of Quinte MPP and Government House Leader Todd Smith called it a great victory for a number of local advocacy groups in Prince Edward County.
“This has been one of our priorities from Day 1 and yes it feels very satisfying to get this done,” he said from Queen’s Park Thursday afternoon. “We have to give a lot of credit to groups like APPEC, CCSAGE and the (PEC) Field Naturalists who have all dedicated a lot of time and resources over a lot of years to keep fighting this.”
The legislation authorizes the province to pay wpd Canada for work done on the nine-turbine project prior to July 10 when Smith announced the PCs three top priorities. Smith couldn’t say how much that will be, but did say it would not be close to the $100 million company officials have suggested.
“The Independent Electricity System Operator followed up our July 10 announcement with a letter informing wpd it would be in their best interests to cease operations. For whatever reason, they carried on, but anything they’ve done after July 10 won’t be eligible for compensation,” he said. “We’ve crunched the numbers and it’s not going to be the $10 million (wpd) is talking about – nowhere near that.”
Walsh said the decision should help ensure more planning is put into future wind projects.
“Although we’re about Prince Edward County and particularly our south shore, this decision really sends a message for all of Ontario because the siting (of turbines) needs to be done properly,” he said. “This was done in a rush when the Green Energy Act came out and if they had spent more time on it, they may have had far better results. Even the wind industry itself – there was an article published last month – saying Ontario is kind of the poster child of how not to do it.”
Smith agreed and said a different approach is needed for future energy projects in the province.
“Wind energy in particular needs a market-based approached and then there wouldn’t have been this gold rush we saw with the Green Energy Act and all the questionable contracts that were handed out,[ he said.
APPEC chairman Gord Gibbins released a statement Thursday afternoon confirming construction work has stopped.
“(South Marysburgh) Coun. Steve Ferguson has let us know that wpd has informed the municipality that there will be no further construction and that they are securing the sites and making them safe,” he wrote. “We congratulate our new provincial government for acting decisively to cancel a project which should never have received a Renewable Energy Approval in the first place, much less been permitted to be in development for almost a decade after failing to meet one milestone date after another.”
Wpd Canada officials were not available for comment.