Shouldn’t Credibility Matter?

I had a bit of indigestion this morning. As I was having breakfast, a story came on CBC radio about a wind project near Kincardine, about 1.5 hours south of me. My ears perked up.

You see, in southern Bruce County, down near the nuclear plant, there is a proposed project to erect 110 wind turbines. The project has a contract from the government to buy the power. Most of the turbines have arrived. But the final permits to erect the turbines aren’t in place.

The zoning approvals are complete. Kincardine Town Council, after much deliberation and public input, approved the zoning application.

But there is another part of the process that is not complete. In Ontario, anybody can take a proposed development of any kind to the Ontario Muncipal Board. This is a judicial body that either confirms what the local elected politicians have approved is legitimate, or they reject it, if it appears to violate the Planning Act, or other such matters. And of course, an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board takes time. Sometimes lots of time.

The radio had an interview with a representative of Enbridge, the company that has proposed the project. They are very large firm, that runs natural gas pipelines, runs over half of Ontario retail natural gas network, and other things. So I suppose they are a big bad fossil fuel corporation. That happens to be investing in a clean, non emitting energy source. And, by the way, keeps half the Province warm.

Enbridge was disappointed that the Energy Minister Dwight Duncan didn’t use the power that is granted to the Minister, to declare an electricity project in the provincial interest, and therefore exempt from some of this process. That power is derived from Bill 51, that has recently been passed by the Legislature. No doubt Bill 51 will be needed to get approval for the new transmission line that will be required to get the power out of the nuclear refurbishment at the Bruce A plant. But the Minister seemed content to let the process take its course in this case.

Enbridge is no doubt losing millions of dollars in interest cost, extra handling, storage costs etc. All because they are working towards honouring a contract they have been granted, to supply new clean energy to the Province. If ever there is case to use Bill 51, this is it. Instead, the government seems content to let the current flawed processes run their course.
The final interview was with one of the people opposed to the development, who presumably is involved in the OMB appeal. He said that he didn’t care if the project was 1 mile away, or 10 miles away, or 150 miles away, he didn’t want it.

So let me understand this. The OMB process is being (ab)used to stall or stop a project that can’t even be seen by the objector? I think that kind of objection lacks credibility. And should therefore not be allowed to delay a project, that most of society would see as essential to move us to a more sustainable future.
I can see someone who lives 150 miles from a nuclear plant having a say. I live downstream and downwind from the Bruce nuclear plant. Your darned right I should have say about that. And a coal plant spews its emissions over a wide catchment. Natural gas is cleaner, but it uses up a depleting resource, and of course still has carbon dioxide emissions. All of these deserve input from a wide area, and indeed, society in general.

But a wind plant? The local people should absolutely have input. But those out of view of the wind project should have very little say. And it appears that this is not the case.

It’s very strange, these process we have. A shipload of coal can be unloaded at Nanticoke every few days, and burnt, with no OMB appeal. And new nuclear rods can be inserted into our reactors every day, and old ones removed, and put into “temporary” storage, until we “someday” figure out what to do with them, and again with no OMB review.

The OMB process, which is in place to ensure fairness for all, is instead being abused by a small minority, whose agenda seems to be to stop or stall wind projects altogether. Why would someone have that agenda?

The Minister should ask himself that. And then use Bill 51 to stop the insanity. Help my digestion.

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