Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson has demanded the government make changes to the Green Energy Act to allow citizens and communities including the Town of Collingwood to have their legal costs reimbursed if they successfully stop an ill-advised green energy project.
Wilson questioned the government about the legal costs issue after the Environmental Review Tribunal ruled against 500 foot wind turbines being built near the Collingwood Airport and Clearview Aerodrome. Citizens, local organizations and municipalities appealed the project to the Tribunal and won the appeal in August 2017.
“Citizen groups worked hard to stop this project and have since made an attempt to have their legal costs awarded by the Tribunal. This government has cost hard-working citizens in my riding over $850,000 and local municipalities an additional $800,000,” said Wilson. “The Green Energy Act won’t allow these groups and individuals to get their money back. Will the Minister change the legislation to allow the Tribunal to award costs?”
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault reponded to Wilson’s question by saying:
“When it comes to community engagement into the renewable procurement process, we did listen to many of the community groups in the past and Mr. Speaker we did try to strike the right balance between early community engagement and achieving value for rate payers by putting an emphasis on cost and I can appreciate where my friend the Opposition friend is coming from. This process Mr. Speaker is administered by the I.S.O. and is overseen by an external fairness advisor and so even when a contract is offered the process is not over and I believe that is part of the question that my honourable colleague has mentioned so Mr. Speaker project developers through this process must obtain all required licences and approvals such as the renewable energy approval or REA or an environmental assessment before they can start construction on those projects.”
Wilson, not satisfied with the response, raised the temperature in the House.
“Your government caused my constituents and my municipalities to spend over $1.6 million. Nobody ever thought any government would be stupid enough to approve eight, 12 I guess in the beginning, 500 foot wind mills between two airports,” said Wilson. “Thank God, finally, common sense came to light. These citizens did you a favour. You owe them $1.6 million. Would you do the right thing and pay them back?
The wind farm was originally approved by the province of Ontario. The Town of Collingwood and Clearview Township along with area pilots and citizens appealed the decision and battled to have the approval overturned.
The Environmental Review Tribunal ruled against the proposal on August 16, 2017 and the period to appeal that decision passed on September 15, 2017.
On September 19th, 2017, Wilson stated that he was thrilled a proposal to build industrial wind turbines near the Collingwood Airport and Clearview Aerodrome will not go ahead.
“The whole idea was absurd from the start. You don’t build massive wind turbines near airports. I want to congratulate local residents and communities for their hard work in appealing this project. I want to thank everybody who signed the petition and participated in the appeal before the Tribunal.”
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