Wind power project among hidden hydro costs, says community group

Some of the 10 turbines at Brinston's South Branch Wind Farm, another EDPR project, as seen in 2016. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Margaret Benke. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

BERWICK — Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s latest report has put wind in the sails of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, critics of the planned Nation Rise wind project.

The AG found smoke and mirrors — and billions in extra interest costs — when she examined the Wynne government’s elaborate debt-restructuring scheme to temporarily cut hydro rates and salve the pain of an unhappy electorate.

The local group draws a direct connection between green energy projects like EDP Renewables’  plan in North Stormont and recent accounting maneuvers by the governing party to reduce the skyrocketing impact on hydro bills.

 

The Nation Rise project “will add a minimum of $456,000,000 to electricity customers’ bills,” asserts Margaret Benke, group spokesperson, in press release this week. “If the Ontario government is genuine about cutting costs for consumers and easing energy poverty, they will cancel the contract for this and other unnecessary, unwanted, costly projects, before they are built.”

Benke points out that Ontario already has surplus power.

In North Stormont, where construction on between 28 and 34 wind turbines is supposed to begin next year, she alleges “significant environmental and health concerns for the 800-plus households within this immediate project area.”

Benke vows the group “will continue to fight” against the project.

Ontario’s Auditor General criticized the Wynne government on Tuesday, saying the Fair Hydro Plan hides the cost of Ontario’s $26-billion dollar loan to provide the short-term 25 percent hydro rate cut. Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer’s May 2017 report projects a 12 percent future increase just to get back to the status
quo, not including the additional costs of new wind contracts, according to the local group.

The government passed legislation deeming that $26-billion “debt” an “asset,” a trick that keeps that debt off the province’s own books. The AG has said this doesn’t comply with public sector accounting rules.

 

 


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