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OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust) funds many Hydroelectric Proposals

Is this How You Want to See Your OPSEU Pension Fund Invested?

It has come to our attention that at least 18 modified run-of-river hydroelectric proposals are funded through the government employees’ pension trust fund – OPSEU – OPTrust.  These types of hydroelectric dams carry numerous negative impacts1 resulting in reduced water quality and water quantity, destruction of habitat and spawning areas, place extreme pressure on fish and endangered species survival, and the frequent and extreme swings in water flow velocity and water levels pose a serious threat to public health and safety.  MNR and MOE staff are assigned to facilitate these proposals through the Environmental Assessment, permits, and approvals process, and ultimately through to completion.  It is also MNR and MOE that make the final decisions on whether these proposals are approved.  With their own pension monies at risk, this would appear to be a clear conflict of interest.

In two letters, dated 13 October 2011, and 1 June 2012, from the French River Delta Association to OPSEU officials, it was pointed out that:

  • “OP Trust does not meet its Statement of Responsible Investment Principles” by investing in these types of projects.
  • OP Trust commits to its members that, “Firelight invests in the identification, development, permitting and construction of small scale hydro electricity generating facilities in Northern Ontario – typically what are called “run-of-river” projects that do not require large dams and reservoirs, thereby minimizing the impact on the environment.”
    • These proposals are in fact modified run-of-river hydroelectric dams – peaking operations that are well-known to cause severe environmental and ecological damage.
  • MNR maintain that Q80 is the desirable flow to maintain river health and sustainability, and yet “Mr. Uwe Roeper, CEO of Xeneca stated, on June 15th, 2011: “The key objective is that we want head and intermittent operations.  Q80 will make it difficult to achieve intermittent operations which may result in an uneconomical run of river project.”
    • “The fact that he says “head and intermittent operations” demonstrates that these projects are not “run-of-river” projects, but are in fact peaking operations.”

For those government employees who pay into this OPSEU Trust Fund, we ask:

  1. Do you want to see HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of YOUR PENSION funds invested in hydro projects that threaten Ontario rivers and their aquatic ecosystems?
  2. Do you think OPTrust can meet its commitment to its Statement of Responsible Investment Principles when funding these projects that are environmentally, socially, and financially questionable?

These types of hydroelectric dams will have numerous negative impacts on Ontario rivers – and it is your financial contributions that are helping to fund them.

If you agree that your pension fund should not be funding these types of hydroelectric dams, you can contact OPSEU Trust Fund at 1 Adelaide Street East, Suite 1200, Toronto, ON M5C 3A7 – or call their office at 1-800-906-7738 to let them know how you feel.

The health of Ontario Rivers is in your hands.

Background information – letters referred to above:

[1] Environment Canada. 2001.  Threats to Sources of Drinking Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Health in Canada.   National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario.  NWRI Scientific Assessment Report Series No. 1.  72p.  Page 69 – 15.  Impacts of Dams/Diversions and Climate Change;  T.D. Prowse,1 J.M. Buttle,2 P.J. Dillon, 2 M.C. English, 3 P. Marsh, 1 J.P. Smol4 and F.J. Wrona1; 1Environment Canada, National Water Research Institute, Saskatoon, SK; 2Trent University, Peterborough, ON; 3Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON; 4Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.  Full document available.