FINCH – The spokesperson of a group that’s a fierce opponent of the Nation Rise Wind Farm has sent an email to officials with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) saying it has broken Ontario law.
Ruby Mekker, in a letter on Monday to officials including Terry Young, interim president and CEO of the IESO, said the approval of the commercial operation date for the Nation Rise project “is illegal,” that the IESO has been provided with proof of adverse health effects, proof of mechanical/electrical issues with turbines, and proof of lack of commissioning.
Mekker, in the email addressed by herself and Residents of North Stormont, said the “IESO was put on notice that the residents did notconsent. It is illegal in Ontario to knowingly harm people per the Health Protection and Promotion Act. . . with the approval IESO is now on notice that they have broken Ontario law and are liable for any and all consequences.”
When asked if there are any plans being made to sue the IESO, Mekker earlier this week told this newspaper that “I can only hope that they realize Ontario has laws to protect the people and that these laws must be followed.”
Last Friday, Jordan Penic, the senior manager – engagement and Indigenous relations for the IESO, in an email to local political officials including North Stormont Mayor Jim Wert, provided an update on the status of the Nation Rise Wind Farm, saying that IESO has now received the final materials for the facility to confirm its commercial operation status, as required under the Large Renewable Procurement I Contract.
Wrote Penic: “The IESO reviewed the documentation provided by Nation Rise and determined that they have met the contractual requirements for achieving commercial operation.”
But in a development earlier this week, the IESO had to walk that one back, Penic in an email acknowledging a correction needed to be made, that while the IESO has received the required materials from the facility to confirm its commercial operation status, “our review has not yet been completed,” and that under the terms of the Large Renewable Procurement I contract, “the IESO has up to 20 business days to complete its review. In this case, that means we have until July 12 to complete our review.”
Mekker pounced on that one, calling it “the latest in a series of bungling moves pertaining to industrial wind turbine projects committed by government of Ontario agents,” and saying the IESO retraction is “an unprecedented development, (the) IESO a statement they issued just four days (earlier).”
Mekker added the Nation Rise project (and others) should be terminated because the public health mandate imposed by law in Ontario has not been carried out.
“Evidence continues to accumulate showing that industrial wind energy projects developed in residential communities in Ontario, that followed the regulations set by the province, result in the creation of a ‘health hazard’ for people living in the project area,” she said.
Mekker, once involved with the grassroots Concerned Citizens for North Stormont, this spring called on Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell to communicate concerns to government ministers and other officials, as the commercially operational date of June 17 approached. In her letter to the MPP’s office, she wrote “your constituents and yourself opposed the Nation Rise Wind project from the start. The people did not consent then, and we continue our opposition.”
Mekker said her letter was sent first to Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), and then forwarded to the minister of environment, the minister of energy, the attorney general, the minister and deputy minister of health and the premier.
The 29-turbine wind farm had construction conclude early this spring, and was to be commercially operational by June 17 according to the company’s contract. Nation Rise Wind Farm is expected to produce 100 megawatts of electricity in North and South Stormont, the power being enough to fuel approximately 25,600 homes.
McDonell told this newspaper in mid-May that Mekker and the group’s concerns are understandable and he would ensure they are passed along, but he thinks that “there is no path to cancellation at this time.”
McDonell said the IESO operates independently of the government, and it’s his understanding the contracts for the project are written in such a way that, “if they don’t meet their full potential, the government is required to pay them out. “It’s unfortunate, but we’ve tried (to halt the project) over the different issues (in recent years).”
The project was allowed to go ahead after lengthy legal proceedings saw the permit for the operation revoked due to environmental concerns over the negative effects on local bat populations.
Since then, many of the groups opposed to the project have withdrawn that opposition, such as the Township of North Stormont, and the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, after wind farm developer EDP Renewables reached compensation agreements with them. Mekker and other residents living near the 29 turbines, along with their allies, are now the only opponents remaining, and have not abandoned their fight.
EDP Renewables did not return requests for comment prior to publication.
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