Drought conditions could place additional stress on riverine ecosystems, while more extreme rainfall will heighten the risk of dam failures (18 dams were breached in a South Carolina flood in October of 2015) with rapid release of high volumes of water. There have also been recent dam failures right here in Ontario – the Gorrie Dam failure last year in Wingham was the most recent, putting more than 150 property owners at risk.
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
It was very surprising and disappointing to read your decision letter; however, it was somewhat understandable when the Minister’s decision was based upon inaccurate and unsupported responses contained within the Ministry Review (Review) document, Xeneca Power Development Inc.’s (Xeneca) correspondence, and the Environmental Report (ER). 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.
Given your past interest in one or more of our projects we wish to advise that Xeneca Power Development is proceeding through a restructuring process brought about by significantly extended development timelines, increased regulatory requirements and exposure to rapidly escalating environmental, permitting, development and civil costs. Due to the above noted delays and costs that were not contemplated in Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) pricing and contract timelines, project economic viability has, in some cases, been driven into a negative position, and, as such, it is expected that some FIT contracts will be cancelled in order that those projects can be bid into Ontario’s upcoming Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program.
The topics discussed clearly do not include all the reasons for our opposition to the building of a dam on the Trout Lake River, at Big Falls, as the proponent Horizon lnc. would like. Although these are not scholarly papers, they do articulate many of our reasons to protect our traditional waterways and values as caretakers of our traditional territory.
What was found in the PF was encouraging, and yet at the same time very concerning. It was encouraging to see that MOE concurred with ORA and VRS, when it reported “NR’s review of the ER indicated that in several instances, the proponent has not met the requirements of the Waterpower Class EA”; however, it was disturbing that “EAB has indicated they are considering denying the Part II Order requests with conditions, noting that it may be possible to impose detailed conditions to ensure all outstanding concerns are addressed”. This referenced document goes on to express the questions, concerns and uncertainty of how to deal with this deficient ER, and whether this would “expose the Ministry to any risk (ie: other proponents seeking the same level of direction during the proponent-driven EA process, or liability issues if the approach taken leads to unforeseen negative impacts on the environment or other users)”.
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.
The Marter Township GS ER continually minimizes, confuses, and glosses over the facts to provide the reader with the desired impression that amounts to more of a sales pitch than a relaying of the facts contained in the supporting documentation. The general public are not normally versed in the technical aspects of a waterpower project, and would heavily rely on what is said in the main document – the ER. To rely on the ER for the facts would provide an unrealistic impression of the proposal because it is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies in its translation of the supporting documentation.
In many areas of the ER, the claims are glossed over and do not align with the documentation and studies contained within the ER. Such as in Table 25, where under the issue “Upstream inundation may alter water quality (methyl-mercury) and heavy metals in reservoir”, the resolutions indicate, “No impact anticipated….” Yet, the Hutchinson Report pointed out several reasons why it could be a problem – see comments in No.2.
As MOE staff, pointed out in a July 3, 2013 correspondence to Xeneca, section 4.2.2 of the Class EA for Waterpower projects deals with the identification of potential effects of a project. “An effect is any change to the environment, positive or negative, that could occur as a result of the project…. This Class EA requires the proponent to assess the potential effects as well as any net effects after mitigation and focuses on those effects common to waterpower projects.” The Notice of Completion states, “the ER concludes that there are no significant adverse effects after the application of mitigation and adaptive management measures. The Marter Twp. GS is categorized as a project on a managed waterway pursuant to the Class EA.” Continue reading
Healthy rivers are vital to our survival on this planet. Damming rivers to provide income for this generation is short-sighted and ill-advised, and will diminish a life-giving resource that is essential to the survival of our future generations.