If you’re living in a cave and haven’t heard anything about Ontario’s energy development plans, then you might be surprised that they actually banned coal-fired power permanently and has quickly become Canada’s leader in Wind Energy Development (WED).
Alberta had already done this before but people are happy about it, but in Ontario’s side, it’s a different side of the story. Transitioning to wind energy have been back lashed over the years because of the health issues from wind turbines. This is why people are concerned about Ontario’s wind energy development because they didn’t involve the public in the decision making process. Many citizens are shocked when Ontario surprisingly announced their wind energy development plans in the country.
Ontario’s Wind Energy Transition Plans
- Alberta’s coal phase-out plan is done for the sake of climate change. However, Ontario’s plans were poorly received because of public health concerns. Phasing out coal power is necessary if wind energy is concerned. The negative image of Ontario’s wind energy development is due to its alleged negative side effects on public health. Where in reality, scientific literatures show that wind turbines DO NO affect human health at all. In fact, coal plants had a larger impact on human health and people just tend to overlook them.
- The problem lies on the anti-wind advocates and why they did this in the first place. They don’t even have scientific health claims to support their side. However, the answer may be justice or lack thereof. The Green Energy Act in 2009 had legislation changes that streamlined wind energy project approvals and shifted its responsibilities into the provincial government. This means that municipalities had no control on whatever WED will do in their region. Even though the Green Energy Act has possessed a positive aspect, it allowed the province to transition to clean energy and this shows that the provincial government is indeed committed to climate change, leaving municipalities out of the picture to address their concerns.
Public Health Issues
- The issue with Ontario’s Wind Energy plans is that citizens felt disrespected because of their exclusion in the planning and approval process. Not only that, their right to appeal is also removed which worsens the situation even more. Before that, municipal residents can file an appeal to the Ontario municipal board to show their concerns. But when the Green Energy Act had appeared in the scene, appeals would have to be made directly to the Environmental Review Tribunal and can only be made on grounds that the said project will cause serious harm to human health or to the environment. The removal of appeal rights shows that its focus has turned into the right direction because it concerns human health.
- Public engagement can be costly and timely, and may even result to WED projects put into hiatus later on. Which will prevent jurisdictions to attain their renewable energy goals and may have to find alternative ways to fight climate change. But still, taking away to voice of the people is unjust. To sum it all up, Ontario actually made the right choice on transitioning to wind energy because it is beneficial to public health. The only thing that they did wrong is how they exclude the voice of the people for the development of the project.