Ottawa “community” investor syndicate buys wind farm hundreds of kilometres away

A lot of extension cords will be needed to stretch from Bruce County to Oshawa and Ottawa for power from this “community” owned project [Shutterstock photo]

December 7, 2021

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative or OREC recently bought an Ontario wind turbine project, along with equity partner EnerFORGE, a subsidiary of Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation, according to a news report.

The wind power project, which consists of a single 2.5-MW turbine, is in Bruce County. That is more than 500 km away from Ottawa, and more than 200 km from Oshawa, but the buyers claim this is an example of “local” ownership of renewable power facilities.

“OREC is excited to bring its co-operative ownership model to this wind turbine in partnership with EnerFORGE. Our co-operative is committed to welcoming members and investors from the surrounding communities and stay true to our principles of local ownership and continuing to diversify our growing renewable energy portfolio,” announced Graham Findlay, Vice President, OREC.

OREC, according to its website, is a “co-operative” of mainly local, i.e., Ottawa residents, but is actually open to anyone who wants to sign on as an investor. OREC claims to be a cooperative but is basically a syndicate of investors.

In a recent one-dimensional profile in Ottawa Magazine, OREC founder Dick Bakker freely admits his goal is to make money: “I’m not an environmentalist, I’m a businessperson.” While energy poverty surged in Ontario when the province got into wind and solar power with lucrative 20-year contracts* awarded to power developers and electricity bills more than doubled, Bakker himself got a contract for a solar power installation which he says has funded his retirement.

By “local” and “community,” OREC and Bakker don’t mean the communities where power projects such as wind turbine facilities are actually located.

The “community” aspect of investments is important, Bakker says in the Ottawa Magazine article, to fight local objectors, because “NIMBY is the enemy of all things environmental. NIMBYism will delay and shove more costs on big corporate projects.”

By wielding the “local” ownership sword, OREC—which is a “partner” with City of Ottawa in its Energy Evolution strategy, can undermine and overrule concerns expressed by actual residents of areas where power projects are proposed.

The partnership between an Ottawa investors group and the Oshawa power utility subsidiary is a sign of what’s ahead: large urban centres want to rack up brownie points for climate change action, but if that happens elsewhere, they’ll take it.

Ottawa city councillor Scott Moffatt, also chair of the city’s environmental protection committee, recently wrote in his column in the Manotick Messenger that projects outside the city boundaries will work for him.

“…a project outside of Ottawa can provide benefits that contribute to our Climate Change Master Plan.”**

Meanwhile, Ottawa and OREC still boast they want “local” ownership and “community” participation in power projects. With Ottawa’s Energy Evolution strategy goal of 3,200 megawatts of new power generation, that will be a lot of projects. In the model described in the Energy Evolution document, the prediction is for 710 industrial-scale wind turbines—that’s about one-third of the total number of turbines in Ontario at present.

The trend is clear: there is money to be made on renewables for some folks, and they justify their investments by waving the “green” it’s good for the environment flag, while industrializing communities without real input from the people who live there.



*Two Auditors General for Ontario have criticized these contracts as being above-market and done without cost-benefit analysis. Ontario lost billions on renewable energy contracts AG Bonnie Lysyk claimed in a report several years ago.

** Manotick Messenger, November 5, page 25.

What's your reaction?


  • Jjoe
    Posted December 7, 2021 2:07 pm 0Likes

    SEBYism is the enemy of neighbourhoods. Put it in someone else’s back yard. Ruin their neighbourhood while making a profit.

  • Andre Lauzon
    Posted December 7, 2021 3:01 pm 0Likes

    I’m sure Moffatt . Watson and other councilors are investors. They do not care for the poor or the great destruction to the environment caused by the millions of tons of cement and thousands of barrels of oil and all the noxious
    metals that will be left in the ground when they have made their money. I hope they sleep well.,,,,,,, bunch of lying, corrupt hypocrites.

  • Stan Thayer
    Posted December 8, 2021 10:28 pm 0Likes

    Hey Andre, you can’t compare that bunch with common liars and regular corrupt hypocrites!
    Jimmy, the one watt son, and friends, was / were instrumental in the planning and preparation of the multi million dollar solar systems on the city hall building, not to mention the Ottawa Housing Corporation projects, schools, municipal buildings, arenas, etc., etc., etc.. Some worked,,,,,,,some didn’t, none as expected and no accountability required. There they are, all needing expensive repairs and noone running to open that Pandoras box. I pity anyone involved who even brings it up. Some of those Feed In Tarrif systems have more than one payout contract on the same system,,,,,,,,,with years left to maturity!
    If you can, listen to some of Lowell Greenes radio shows on CFRA that commented on some of these clean energy initiatives that were cleverly promoted and are chosen investors dreams.
    The wind turbine mentioned in the article is south of the Bruce nuclear installation on the east slope just above the lake Huron shoreline, easily seen on Google maps. It is weatherbeaten old technology so electrical power generation as return on investment I would agree is secondary unless maintenance and repair materials are taxpayer supplied. Those mentioned in the article have other holdings so we must remember that to some degree they are paying themselves with some acquisitions.
    The Teachers Union
    The municipal employees union, OMERS
    and many other happy renewable energy investors have wind turbine company holdings under stock listing names and might be unaware.
    Like I have stated many times over the last decade, industrial wind turbines make profit not power.
    Today, Wednesday, December 8th the total output of the thousands of Ontario industrial wind turbines was 168 megawatts into a grid demand of 16,796 megawatts, yup, a disruptive and very expensive 1 %.
    Some free advice, buy shares in extention cord companies.


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