Enthusiasm abounds among local politicians who actively opposed the Green Energy Act, now that the newly elected Ontario government introduced legislation to scrap it.
But they now want the provincial government to acknowledge people were harmed by wind turbines and to agree those who can no longer live in their homes should be compensated.
That’s the view of the chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, Randy Roppel, a municipal councillor in Kincardine, who spoke in an interview Tuesday.
“First of all, I rejoice with the decision that the provincial government has made and I agree with it. I think it was long overdue to repeal the Green Energy Act,” Roppel said.
“And I look forward to Mr. Bill Walker (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP), who is going to be in front of us at out next (working group) meeting, to discuss further issues with respect to the grief this has caused people in the rural area of Ontario.”
Roppel heads a group of about 15 rural municipalities which are mainly in Bruce County, with others in Grey County and a few on the Niagara Peninsula who opposed the Green Energy Act. They’re meeting with Walker Oct. 11 in Chesley.
Walker said in a news release Tuesday morning that Bill 34 would repeal the Green Energy Act “so we can get more affordable hydro bills and return local planning powers to municipalities.” Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Roppel said he hopes the government will ask his group to help find solutions to health problems associated with wind turbine. He’d like turbines which aren’t in compliance with the law shut down, including grandfathered turbines, and to create larger setbacks to better protect people.
He estimated as many as “maybe 200” people in Ontario have been forced from their homes due to health effects associated with wind turbines.
“First of all I think the government has to admit that this industry has caused health issues with respect to the people in this province,” Roppel said.
“The government is going to have to decide,” he said, “. . . how they’re going to compensate them – and they’re going to have to be compensated, whether we like it or not.”
The current 550-metre setbacks should be “well in excess” of 800 metres, Roppel said. Another issue to look at is aquifer contamination from piles driven into the ground for wind turbine bases, he said.
“We’re not saying they shouldn’t be here,” Roppel said of wind turbines. “We’re saying put them where they’re not going to affect the people. That’s simple.”
Mark Davis, the deputy-mayor of Arran-Elderslie, was the founding chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, until he stepped down a year ago. He said he’s “enthused” by the government’s decision.
“Our role has really changed now that there will be no more of these monuments to stupidity built. Now we have to deal with the people that are ill that are living close to them.”
Davis blamed government subsidies for green energy-created problems.
“I’m not opposed to green energy but you know the minute you flog huge government subsidization at something, you’ve created inefficiency. Green energy will evolve over the years, based on a requirement to make it make sense.
“And if it doesn’t make sense, there’s no sense doing it.”
The provincial government introduced legislation on Sept. 20 which it said will repeal the Green Energy Act and return planning control over solar and wind farms to municipalities which the act removed. It fulfills an election promise.
A government news release said the proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop approvals “for wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated.”
Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, said in the release: “One of the first actions your government took was to cancel 758 expensive and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for the people of Ontario, saving $790 million for electricity customers.”
The government release also said the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator found wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electricity bills in 2017.
The former Liberal government introduced the legislation in 2009 to end the use of coal-fired electricity generation and spawn a green-energy industry in Ontario. But the electricity was expensive and arrived at a time when it wasn’t needed.
So far, the industry of manufacturing green energy technology has not growm to the extent hoped for.
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