November 12, 2011
Dear Premier McGuinty :
As you are aware from a previous email in early October, I have been trying to obtain a map of FIT contracts offered for waterpower projects for nearly 6 months. Please take the time to review the attached litany of emails from the Ontario Power Authority Fit program based on my simple request. As you will quickly see in reviewing the emails, I can only come to one conclusion; this material is being deliberately withheld. All citizens of Ontario have a right to have this information, as the government of Ontario is managing the natural resources of the province on our behalf. I have patiently awaited this map for more than 6 months; I am now running out of patience and am asking you to assist me in obtaining this information.
I, of course, understand that all maps are only valid for the moment they are produced, and that details will inevitably change with time; maps are frequently out of date as soon as they are produced. It is standard practise to add caveats to maps such as this. All FIT needs to do is add these caveats to the map, and send it to me. At a recent meeting I attended, a senior representative of one waterpower company said that once they have been offered a FIT contract the only thing that will stop the project is lack of money – this is a very revealing and arrogant comment that I suspect is not true, but if it is the case then any map produced of FIT contracts offered for waterpower should be a clear indication of what is intended for waterpower.
I have no agenda, other than to try in my own way to ensure that this time, waterpower impacts will be clearly identified and effectively mitigated, and that the cumulative impacts are known and addressed. I know that people like me that express concerns over how and where renewable energy projects are planned are quickly written off as NIMBYs. You can rest assured that I am not a NIMBY – I (like many others, including the OFAH) know the damage these facilities have caused in the past to Ontario’s aquatic ecosystems, and actually have the long-term interests of Ontario’s aquatic ecosystems at heart. I do not want to stop or delay projects unnecessarily; but given that these facilities can have a century or more of ecological impact, I (and others) have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. It is 2011 (not 1930); we know the impacts that can be expected from unmitigated waterpower facilities based on 100 years of experience. If more waterpower facilities are going to be installed, then this time their impacts, and the impacts of existing facilities, need to be mitigated, and their ecological impacts need to be clearly and transparently communicated publically. There is minimal room in Ontario for further trade-offs of collateral ecological damage in favour of waterpower, and Ontario citizens need to know the choices and trade-offs that are being contemplated by government at the waterscape and landscape levels.
I strongly agree with David Suzuki and Faisal Moola (2009)1 who said:
“… we must look to renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro, and sustainable bioenergy to replace fossil fuel
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about the impacts of these projects and technologies. Nor does it mean that we should allow run-of-river power projects or windmills anywhere without proper government oversight and planning. Panic shouldn’t guide policy.
It’s ludicrous to think that we must sacrifice all environmental considerations to get green energy onto the grid. It’s not green if it causes negative ecological impacts.
Global warming is, without a doubt, the most critical environmental issue we face, but …that doesn’t mean environmental safeguards should be relaxed in the name of green energy….unless we tie our shoelaces before we race out the door, we’re guaranteed to trip ourselves up long before we get to our destination. We need to ensure that our solutions don’t lead to the destruction of the very thing we’re trying to protect.”
1 By David Suzuki and Faisal Moola, (March 31, 2009)
In addition, I wish to know how many sites have been identified in Ontario for waterpower, and what strategic approach was used in identifying these sites as suitable ecologically? However, as this is a new request, if necessary I can wait until the end of December for this information. It is the map of FIT contracts offered for waterpower that I need by the end of November.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter and I look forward to your response. All the information is readily available, and there is no legitimate reason to withhold it. The FIT program review does not affect contracts already offered.
Attachment-FIT correspondence Log
c.c. FIT Program;
Honourable Tim Hudak
Honourable Andrea Horwath
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
OFAH (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters)
1 David Suzuki and Faisal Moola (2009). David Suzuki: Run-of-river power projects may offer green energy solutions. Available: http://www.straight.com/article-210518/david-suzuki-energy-urgency-pits-treehuggers-against-smokestack-pluggers