Documents obtained through Freedom of Information, although heavily redacted, reveal that late last year the Ontario government was looking for options to downsize its troubled wind power development program and also trying to cover its tracks.
One option the government considered for slowing wind development across the province was denying approvals through the Renewable Energy Approval process that some wind developments must go through. The Ontario government specifically identified wind developments in internationally recognized Important Bird Areas. (For more detail on the IBA program, see this note from BirdLife International.) These developments identified as a concern are underway at the northeast of Manitoulin Island, Ernestown and Amherst Island near Kingston, and Prince Edward County.
One of the disclosed documents highlights the contradiction between seeking options to slow wind power development vs. the government’s recent commitments to accelerate government approvals and industrial development of wind power. As of October 19, 2012, a massive amount of wind capacity development — 2,360 megawatts — was in the Renewable Energy Approval process. The document notes that delaying wind power expansion would help mitigate already existing problems caused by excessive power generation during times when usage is low.
In one of the email exchanges disclosed, an official of the Ontario Power Authority is called in for a meeting with the Ministry of Energy and asks for the purpose of the meeting. The reply, “Unfortunately, I cannot put the meeting details in an email.”
Here is the FOI disclosure: