Province starts process of dismantling wpd project

FORLORN FIXTURE- Sheep mill about on a South Marysburgh pasture as a non-operational wind turbine stands in the distance. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The Province of Ontario is commencing the process of forcing White Pines Wind Incorporated to dismantle and restore industrial wind turbine sites in South Marysburgh and Athol wards.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) uploaded draft regulations and technical closure documents to Ontario’s Environmental Registry Wednesday for a 45 day public comment period.

According to the posting on the web site,  located at http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTM2MTU4&statusId=MjA3NDY4&language=en , the MOECP are are proposing a regulation to ensure that the White Pines Wind Project is closed down “in a manner that is protective of human health, safety and the environment.”

The proposed regulation would require wpd White Pines Wind Incorporated to do a number of activities to close the facility, including: dismantling and/or removing equipment safely and securely, restoring lands impacted by the project, and taking precautions to avoid impacts on the Blanding’s turtle.

The regulation calls for the closure of the facility to completed within two years after the day the regulation comes into force.

After the Ontario election in June, wpd continued site preparations in light of the incoming government’s position on wind energy projects, the Green Energy Act and the feed-in tariff subsidy.

In it’s first move as a legislative body, the provincial government passed the Urgent Priorities Act in July, effectively killing the White Pines project after four turbines had been erected and a number of potential sites had been cleared.

Bay of Quinte MPP and government house leader Todd Smith championed the legislation in early July, indicating he had heard from many  vocal opponents of the wpd project since first being elected to represent constituents in 2011.

“Finally, we will introduce legislation to cancel the White Pines industrial wind project, which received its notice to proceed during the election period before the government had a chance to make any decisions on the project for the benefit of the people of Prince Edward County,” Smith said.

He added “You can also expect us to act to ensure that going forward, local communities are better protected from having these kinds of projects imposed on them against their will.”

According to the EBR, the proposed regulation would impose costs on the company for the closure however the company may be eligible for compensation for these costs.

Those wishing to make comment during the comment period which ends Dec. 1, 2018 are to direct their views in writing to: Zeljko Romic, Senior Program Support Co-ordinator, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Environmental Assessment and Permissions Division, Client Services and Permissions Branch, 135 St. Clair avenue West, 1st Floor, Toronto Ontario, M4V 1P5

Online submission of comments on this proposal are not permitted.

Ian MacRae, the president of wpd Canada, indicated in a statement to reporters after the province passed the Urgent Priorities Act that the news caught his company by surprise.

“We are shocked by the news. The White Pines Wind Project has been under development for 10 years and is nearing the completion of construction,” he said, noting more than 100 people were working on the project the day Smith announced the government’s intention. “Our intent is to bring the project into operation in the fall. We were provided no notice of this decision by the provincial government and have not heard from them.”

At that time MacRae added the company intends to seek “full compensation for any and all costs and losses associated with the project.”

He stated the move is “clearly a breach of contract” and noted “Gas Plant 2.0 immediately comes to mind,” referencing a costly decision by the Liberals to cancel two gas-fired plants already under construction in Mississauga and Oakville. He suggested the move could cost taxpayers well in excess of $100 million.