Wabagishik Rapids – Vermilion River
MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release: 13 July 2016
10 Ontario Rivers Protected from 19 Hydroelectric Projects
SUDBURY: The Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is celebrating a major victory in the protection of 10 Ontario rivers that have been under threat from 19 proposed hydroelectric projects. Actions taken by the ORA and its members have led to what was considered to be impossible – the termination of 19 Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Contracts.
In 2011, ORA came into being to address a rash of 87 proposed hydroelectric proposals initiated under the Green Energy Act. The offer of generous incentives to produce power during peak demand hours had proponents rushing to claim access to falls and rapids on rivers all across the province. The number of proposals to actually receive FIT Contracts was soon reduced to 41, and of those, Xeneca Power Development Inc. had secured 19 contracts for projects involving 23 Crown sites on 10 Ontario rivers. Continue reading
ORA urges the MOECC to reject all aspects of the proposed major amendment to the Class EA for Waterpower (except the minor housekeeping changes), on the grounds that waterpower is far too complex and site-specific to assume that projects under 500 kW at existing infrastructure, or that increases in efficiency of an existing waterpower facility, would be less likely to involve new environmental effects or impact on communities. This is absolutely wrong thinking for the protection, conservation and wise management of Ontario rivers.
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For Immediate Release: 5 November 2015
Hydro Impacts 101 – The Trade-offs
Significant environmental damage from hydroelectric power generation has been ongoing for many decades in Ontario and in other locations throughout the world, yet the public has been led to believe that it provides a clean and green source of energy because there is no smoke, no ash, and no radiation. Indeed, some mistakenly think that all hydro contributes positively to the climate change issue. “This report will help to set the record straight on just how clean and green waterpower really is”, said Linda Heron, Chair of the Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA). Continue reading
On March 14, 2014, Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) submitted a Part II Order request to the Minister of Environment on the Environmental Report for the Marter Township, Blanche River Hydroelectric proposal, on the grounds that, in our opinion, Xeneca Power Development Inc. did not meet the requirements of the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower (Class EA) in numerous areas.
ORA is pleased to report that today we received a response from the Minister’s office, stating that “based on the ministry’s review of the Environmental Report, Xeneca has failed to meet the Class EA requirements”.
The Ministry is requiring Xeneca to go back and correct several deficiencies. Once the deficiencies are corrected Xeneca can resubmit its Notice of Completion and Environmental Report. This will be very difficult for Xeneca to fulfill with just one employee and a cell phone. We are still awaiting decisions on the Part II Order requests ORA submitted on the Wabagishik, Frederick House and Ivanhoe Rivers Environmental Reports.
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Misema River – After Hydro Facility
ORA has just received notification from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) that our request for amendments to the Class EA for Waterpower has been granted – in part.
While ORA did not have all our asks incorporated into this amendment, there were some very important gains. For instance, we now have definitions for “Run-of-River”, “Run-of-River with Modified Peaking” and “Kinetic Hydro”. This was an important ask for ORA as many hydroelectric facilities refer to their operations as “Run-of-River” when in fact they are not – this results in many waterpower proposals going under the radar with little fuss from the public until it’s too late. Run-of-river has been a catch-all term that seems to raise the least amount of attention because most people have an image in their mind of a turbine sitting in a portion of the river with water running freely through it, causing little harm to the river ecosystem. However, in reality they often involve holding water back behind towering dams for release at a later time, or during peak demand hours. The impacts resulting from a facility that stores water in holding ponds on either an hourly, daily or seasonal basis are much more severe than a true run-of-river operation. It should now be clear as to what type of operation is actually being proposed. This amendment is a significant inroad into bringing more integrity and clarity to the process.
We also now have a definition for “sustainable development”, additional guidance on notifying the public via the internet for a more transparent listing of active waterpower proposals, and a strengthening of the principles of transparency and trust. Ultimately these minor amendments serve to improve the public consultation process.
A big thank you to the MOECC Environmental Approvals Branch and the Ontario Waterpower Association for these significant inroads! This is a big win for everyone involved – and especially for Ontario rivers.
You can read the Director’s decision below for more detail about the amendments. You can also read ORA’s original request and supporting correspondence here.
In November of 2011 ORA reviewed the Wanatango Falls Final Environmental Report (ER), and expressed concern to the Minister of Environment over its many deficiencies and uncertainties in our Part II Order request. It is surprising that after 2 ½ years of additional studies, preparation, and negotiating time, that this “Final” ER has not advanced in either its sophistication, readiness, or its economic and environmental viability or certainty. Xeneca is still not ready to bring this proposal through to Notice of Completion. Many crucial decisions have not yet been made so that the public and First Nations are left with many questions unanswered.
Additionally, the proponent is still working diligently to transform the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Ministry of Environment’s (MOE) policy and process to their own will and liking in order to maximize power generation, and to not have to spend the required dollars to thoroughly study and mitigate the impacts within the entire Zone of Influence (ZOI). Perhaps if the proponent invested the same resources into following the recommendations of the regulators they would have ended up with a much stronger and more environmental responsible and sustainable proposal. Continue reading