Canada
Wind power protest blows into Toronto

Protestors chant during a protest against the wind turbine projects in Ontario at Simcoe Park in Toronto, ON on April 3, 2012.

Credits: LAURA PEDERSEN/TORONTO SUN/QMI AGENCY

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

Anti-wind protesters journeyed from across Ontario to demonstrate in Toronto Tuesday against the province's green energy subsidy plan.

Farmer Pat Jilesen, who raises hogs near Port Elgin in Bruce County, said his hydro bill has gone through the barn roof with off-peak power alone up 80% between 2008-2011.

The cost of running his business and the price of his food is being driven up, he said.

"And I'd like everybody in the City of Toronto to understand that," Jilesen said at a Queen's Park media conference Tuesday.

So far, much of the debate around wind power subsidies has raged outside urban cores, but Wind Concerns Ontario brought their complaints to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Tuesday where green energy industries were participating in a Feed In Tariff (FIT) forum.

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said Ontarians came from Thunder Bay, Sarnia, London, Ottawa and all points in between, to talk about the impact of wind turbines and the FIT program on their communities.

In addition to pushing up hydro costs, FIT has devalued properties located near industrial wind farms, she said.

"It's going to impact everybody," Wilson said, asking Torontonians to imagine how they would feel if their property values suddenly dropped by 40%.

Janet Vallery, who runs a campground north of Guelph, said her hydro bill has jumped 16% in two years to $131,000 and she projects her electricity tab will hit $200,000 in 2015.

"It seems the wind companies' business plan is based solely on subsidies," Vallery said. "I'm a small business. I wish my business plan was based on government subsidies but it's not. It's based on being competitive, having excellent product and the ability to attract tourists."

Vallery said the full financial impact of subsidized green power on hydro bills will hurt small businesses and all industry across the province.

"This is a 'Bad FIT' for Ontario," she said.

Tory MPP Lisa Thompson said her party would buy out all the existing FIT contracts, believing it would be cheaper to do so in the long run.

"We're not anti-green; we're anti-nonsense," she said.

Energy Minister Chris Bentley said significant changes made to the FIT program will provide for much greater community participation in future projects.

Renewable energy development has attracted billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs to Ontario, Bentley said.

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