A voice silenced: Mike McCann

October 11, 2018

When wind power developers roll in their Trojan Horse to communities boasting of multiple benefits such as more jobs, prosperity and a cleaner environment, one thing they fail to mention — and in fact argue against vehemently — is the loss in property value for those people whose homes are suddenly located inside industrial power projects.

Chicago real estate appraiser and consultant Mike McCann was someone who studied the property value loss phenomenon, and appeared before various legal tribunals and committees to talk about it.

Mr. McCann studied Ontario properties, too, and was one of the group of professionals we often called upon for advice.

Mike McCann died this week in Chicago, after a battle with cancer.

Read his Obituary here

See a summary of property value loss studies by Mike McCann here.

Wind power developer failing to meet conditions for well water in North Stormont

October 9, 2018

Hello! EDP! We have a well here! Citizens stand up and demand to be counted (Photo: Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, John Irven)

FINCH, Ontario — If the approval signed by the Wynne government for the Nation Rise wind power project were a bird, it probably wouldn’t be able to fly, because it is so weighted down with conditions.

One of those conditions was that the power developer, EDP of Spain, identify and map all water wells in the project area near the proposed wind turbines, because of concerns about the construction activities on the local aquifer.

That hasn’t happened, say residents. Now, signs are popping up all over the country roads and in the communities of North Stormont, as part of an information campaign about risk to the local water supply, and to demand that wells be identified and tested by the developer. Residents are concerned about the impact of vibration from pending wind turbine construction and turbine operations on their water wells.

The “Nation Rise” wind power project is currently under appeal, but the power developer is supposed to be proceeding with meeting the terms and conditions of its contract with the Ontario government, which was approved just days before the June election.

One of those conditions is that the company identify certain wells and “make reasonable efforts, to the satisfaction of the Ministry [of the Environment], to contact owners of all active water wells within 1 km from each individual Equipment, communication tower, and meteorological towers, and seek permission to undertake a groundwater survey at existing water wells. “

The problem is, EDP’s count of the number of water wells that need identification and testing does not correspond to the summary of the situation in the Renewable Energy Approval or REA. As a result, wells may be missed in the pre-construction survey and then be ineligible for help should problems arise after the power project is built.

According to Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the power developer may be off by as much as 50 per cent of area wells.

People are worried, Benke says, for several reasons: a wind power project in the Chatham-Kent area is linked to disrupted function and outright failure of as many as 10 percent of area wells, resulting in contaminated “black” water. The situation is so dire that the new Ontario government has pledged an investigation of the situation.

The wells in North Stormont depend on an aquifer that has been designated as “highly vulnerable,” she says. The signs being posted at the end of North Stormont driveways say “EDP we want our well water tested.”

“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Benke explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area.  As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”

That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.

The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.

“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”

The appeal resumes October 15th in Finch Ontario, with testimony from an expert in hydrogeology.

For more information go to:

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Ontario’s wind power industry on the defensive

October 8, 2018

Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung: claims don’t stand up

With wind power developers trying to push into Alberta and Saskatchewan, industry lobbyist CanWEA is trying its best to counteract what’s going on in Ontario where an attack of reality has changed boomtimes to downturn, says energy analyst Parker Gallant.

In a posting on his website today, he says the trade association is making claims about its value and contribution to Ontario’s economy that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
For example, CanWEA claims that wind power is the lowest-cost option for generating electricity.

“[CanWEA president Hornung] doesn’t specify what he is referring to! One should suspect the reference is to either the LOCE (levelized cost of electricity) or the cost of fuel (wind is free), but in either case his claim has nothing to do with what Ontario ratepayers pay for the intermittent and unreliable nature of the actual wind power generation. That annually averages only 29/30% of its capacity and is out of sync with actual demand 65% of the time.”

And as usual, CanWEA boasts of the environmental benefits of “clean” wind power. The facts say otherwise:

“What is interesting about this latter claim is that the Fraser Institute back in January 2017 in another report stated: ‘The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change undertook a special analysis of the role of U.S. emissions in Ontario air quality in 2005, which showed that a majority of O3 (ground level ozone) and PM2.5 (particulate matter) was due to U.S.-based emissions and would not be reduced by cutting emissions in Ontario.’ ”

Read the article here.

Cancel wind power contracts to get electricity bills down: the Fraser Institute

Wind power revenue is from the Global Adjustment subsidy, not actual power sales. Recent moves by government to cancel new contracts won’t get electricity bills down (but will stop them from going up) — more action needed says the Fraser Institute

Electricity Reform in Ontario: Getting Power Prices Down

October 4, 2018

A new report from the Fraser Institute says that decisive action is needed on Ontario’s wind and solar contracts of the new government under Premier Doug Ford is serious about getting consumers’ electricity bills down.

“Energy poverty” is a new watchword in the province as the Liberal governments’ renewable energy policies, which were not based on any kind of cost-benefit analysis, boosted electricity customers’ power bills sky-high, forcing many families to have to choose to “heat or eat.” The association of food banks noted electricity bills as a critical factor in poverty in its 2016 “Hunger Report.”

Moves by the Ford government to cancel new renewables projects, including three huge wind power projects, may stop future increases but they won’t get current bills down.

The answer?

“The logical next step for the government would be to use its legislative powers to cancel funding commitments under the FIT contracts. This would reduce the GA by almost 40 percent, resulting in an approximately 24 percent reduction in residential electricity prices.

In addition to cancelling the existing FIT contracts, the Ontario government could take further action to reform various other components of the GA, including reducing payments to the relatively new small-scale hydroelectric plants of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and cutting funding for unneeded conservations programs. In order to quantify the potential consumer price reductions from such measures it would be necessary to examine detailed GA allocation accounts, which have not been released publicly.”

Read the report from the Fraser Institute here: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/electricity-reform-in-ontario-getting-power-prices-down

 

 

Rural Ontario’s indomitable spirit

Some fights against industrial wind projects are over, but there is more work to be done

The turbine built near historic Milford in Prince Edward County; citizens celebrated in the Milford hall yesterday. 

October 1, 2018

After years of fighting one industrial-scale wind power project after another, after the Ostrander Point project was cancelled, and after the huge “White Pines” project was cancelled by the new government, the people of Prince Edward County finally got together yesterday for a celebration. It was a simple affair: a potluck supper in a community hall, a modest gathering of people from all over the expansive county, united in a single cause — to prevent the industrialization of a fragile environment, harm to the environment, and serious impacts on people.

As one of the founding communities that are part of the 30-plus-strong coalition that is Wind Concerns Ontario, the people in Prince Edward County have been, in many ways, a beacon of hope for others. They suffered defeats and setbacks, they enjoyed partial victories that only diminished the threats, and they witnessed the worst of the McGuinty-Wynne governments’ push for wind power at all costs, as decisions were made behind closed doors. At times, it seemed all common sense and decency had been lost.

Naturalist organizations protested the harm to wildlife. Even a former senior Liberal government Cabinet minister came out swinging against the White Pines project, to no avail.

Finally, victory.

Our congratulations and best wishes to the people of “The County”.

And now, there is more work to be done.

All the things the people in Prince Edward County fought against — harm to the ecosystem, death and destruction (including possible extinction) of wildlife, damage to water and the water table, and finally, via the unique noise emissions from wind turbines, harm to people — all these things are going on across Ontario right now.

While it is a source of hope that the Green Energy Act will be gone, the fact remains that there is a lot of damage to repair. First, the noise emissions, including low-frequency noise, must be dealt with. There are literally thousands of formal reports of excessive noise, a significant proportion of which also carry reports of “adverse  effects” including health problems, often linked to sleep disturbance.

These must be addressed and resolved, immediately.

Water wells and the damage done to them by vibration from construction and wind turbine operation (think of them as giant tuning forks stuck in the ground) is another problem. In Chatham-Kent, dozens of families have no water at all, or their water is so contaminated by particles it is unusable. The new government has promised an investigation and resolution–this also must happen immediately.

While the government has taken steps to ensure that no new power projects bringing intermittent power, produced out of phase with demand, will be proposed, the fact is, there are still several in process, which will further the environmental damage and add to consumers’ power bills. Cancelling the Nation Rise and Romney projects could save Ontario as much as $700 million. For Nation Rise, which received a conditions-laden approval days before the writ was drawn up for the June election, it is a simple matter of revoking that approval. (The community concerns about water, noise and safety are valid, so much so that the power developer  changed material parts of the project during the ongoing appeal.)

More work to be done.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Why the Green Energy Act had to go: PostMedia editor Lorrie Goldstein

Good riddance to toxic Green Energy Act

PostMedia

September 21, 2018

OPINION

By Lorrie Goldstein

The new Belle River project by Samsung will cost about $700 million, and is an example of the damage brought by the Green Energy Act.

 

By scrapping the Green Energy Act, passed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty in 2009, Premier Doug Ford is ending one of the worst legislative disasters ever inflicted on the people of Ontario.

Ford ran on repealing the GEA and the end of this appalling legislation cannot come soon enough.

The GEA is largely responsible for Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity prices.

It’s the reason we’re paying outrageously high prices for green energy the Liberals didn’t need in order to eliminate coal power, which was actually done using nuclear power and natural gas.

The jobs the Liberals promised under the GEA never materialized, according to former Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 annual report.

The GEA made Ontario’s energy grid less efficient because it required the province to buy expensive and unreliable wind and solar power from green energy developers under 20-year contracts, before purchasing other forms of energy.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported in 2016 that Ontario electricity consumers had overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy, because the Liberals ignored the advice of their own experts on how to price it.

The GEA led to the gas plants scandal, because the Liberals had to frantically build new natural gas plants to back up the unreliable power they were getting from wind and solar energy, then scrapped the gas plants planned for Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election.

As PC Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said Thursday, the GEA took away the planning rights of municipalities, which will now be restored, leaving them without any say in the location of green energy infrastructure.

That deprived Ontarians of natural justice, turning neighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately-owned lands in rural communities for massive wind turbines and solar farms, with the projects then sprung on those communities as a fait accompli, in which they had no meaningful say.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, still ranting about Ford cutting the size of Toronto council in half, voted with the Liberals to pass the GEA, a far more sweeping attack on municipal governments.

Under the GEA, the Liberals abdicated from the proper role of government, which is to balance public and private interests.

Instead, they became cheerleaders for the wealthy green energy lobby.

Citizens opposed to green energy projects imposed on their communities faced the impossible task of fighting the industry and the Liberal government.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported by the CBC, revealed the Liberals ignored warnings from their own environment ministry that the province needed stricter noise limits on turbines, had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them, and that computer models for determining residential setbacks were flawed.

In 2011, when McCarter investigated the Liberals’ renewable energy strategy built around the GEA, he reported his auditors had to start from scratch, because the Liberals, incredibly, “had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.”

McCarter warned the GEA had, “created a new process to expedite the development of renewable energy by providing the Minister (of Energy) with the authority to supersede many of the government’s usual planning and regulatory processes … As a result no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate” its financial impacts.

Ford is right to scrap the GEA. 

The tragedy is that the economic damage it caused under the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals will be felt for decades to come.

Former Ontario government “specifically designed” practices to hide debt: Fedeli

Fair Hydro Plan “specifically designed” to hide debt

September 21, 2018

News report: CTV News

In a shocking speech in Toronto this morning, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the provincial debt is $15B, a fact that was hidden from the public by the former government.

In fact, during the pre-election period this year, the Wynne government claimed it would have a “small surplus” when the reality was a deficit of more than $3B.

The Global Adjustment charge on electricity bills and the Fair Hydro Plan were “specifically designed” to hide billions in debt.

The bad practices started early on with the Green Energy Act, Fedeli said, in which Liberal insiders were given lucrative contracts for wind power projects to supply power Ontario didn’t need.  The government started the process to repeal the Green Energy Act, which was supported by the NDP in 2009, yesterday.

Mr. Fedeli said that the Ford government plans to enact solid financial management.

They could start by cancelling the Romney Wind and Nation Rise wind power projects, which would represent savings of $700 million.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Ontario cancels “disastrous” Green Energy Act

Protesters march in Picton, Ontario over a large wind power project. Goodbye, GEA (Photo Wind Concerns Ontario]

September 20. 2018

The new Ontario government has cancelled the Green Energy Act in an announcement today, ending so-called “sweetheart” deals for expensive renewable energy that hiked consumers’ power bills and brought hardship to Ontario rural communities through forced industrialization.

Wind Concerns Ontario has long advocated for cancellation of the act which promoted large-scale wind power projects, without any cost-benefit or financial analysis, as was recommended to the McGuinty-Wynne governments by two Auditors General.

“This is the first step in the unwinding of the terrible damage done to our quiet rural communities,” said president Jane Wilson. “We know that the Green Energy removed democracy for our towns, hamlets and villages and forced upon them huge, noisy power generators that had enormous environmental, social and human impacts. Those impacts are still being felt as people are living with the noise and vibration, enduring endless sleepless nights and a range of harmful health effects from exposure to turbine noise emissions.”

The government News Release follows:

 

 Ontario’s Government for the People Introduces Legislation to Repeal the Green Energy Act

Municipalities to have final say on new energy projects

 

September 20, 2018

 

TORONTO — Ontario’s Government for the People is delivering on its promise to repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure, announced today.

The original Green Energy Act led to the disastrous feed-in-tariff program and skyrocketing electricity rates for Ontario families, and took away powers from municipalities to stop expensive and unneeded energy projects in their communities. Under the last government energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.

“The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history,” said Minister Rickford.

“Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind-farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need.” Minister McNaughton added. “Today we are proud to say that the party with taxpayers’ money is over.”

The ministers announced that the government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will fully strike the Green Energy Act from the province’s books. This will include repealing provisions that stripped away the power of local municipalities to block unwanted wind and solar farms.

“The Green Energy Act allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario,” said Minister McNaughton. “But we believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities.”

The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop approvals for wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated. This would put the brakes on additional projects that would add costs to electricity bills that the people of Ontario simply cannot afford.

“One of the first actions your government took was to cancel 758 expensive and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for the people of Ontario, saving $790 million for electricity customers,” said Minister Rickford. “The days of sweetheart deals for energy insiders and unpopular projects forced on local municipalities are over.”

QUICK FACTS

  • According to the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Energy System Operator, wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electricity bills in 2017.
  • Wind and solar represent just 11 per cent of total generation in Ontario, but reflect 30 per cent of Global Adjustment costs that are borne by electricity customers
  • In 2017, 26 per cent of electricity generated from wind and solar was curtailed, or wasted. This is electricity that Ontarians paid for, but didn’t need or use.

 

 

Natasha Demetriades

Communications Branch

natasha.demetriades@ontario.ca

416-327-3855

Available Online

Disponible en Français

 

The unconvincing spin on wind power in Ontario

September 19, 2018

Ontario: not the perfect picture for industrial-scale wind power

Parker Gallant’s latest posting is in response to a new document from Canada’s wind power lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA.

CanWEA is carrying out an energetic campaign of persuasion as it is concurrently trying to promote a massive build of wind power in Alberta and Saskatchewan and defending its record in Ontario. With a new government that has pledged not only to cancel new contracts for huge unnecessary wind power projects (mostly, but not quite, done–Romney and North Stormont are still in process), but also to renegotiate existing contracts where possible.

That’s bad news for the trade association hoping to keep the gravy train going.

So, they have created a detailed characterization of the “success” wind power has been in Ontario. There is no mention of the inarguable environmental impacts, or of the thousands of formal reports of excessive wind turbine noise and adverse health effects–in some cases, so extreme people have been forced to leave their homes.

While the wind power projects may be able to “prove” compliance, using a very flawed protocol, the fact that hundreds of complaints are filed each month is a sure indicator of serious problems.

Here is Parker Gallant’s take on the CanWEA promotion piece.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

NOTE: If you are experiencing problems with wind turbine noise/vibration/sensation, stray voltage from wind power infrastructure, or disturbed well water, it is absolutely imperative that you file complaints with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The new government needs to know there are problems, and the public service needs to understand it is not status quo from the previous, pro-wind at any cost government.

Call the Spills Line 1-866-MOE-TIPS any time, be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of your call and the circumstances leading to your call. You may also call the individual wind power operator for the power project you believe is affecting you.

Australian independent review spurs lawsuit over wind turbine noise

ABC News

Gippsland, Australia, September 13,m 2018

Noise from a wind farm in Victoria’s Gippsland is having an adverse impact on the comfort and wellbeing of residents living at surrounding properties, a new report commissioned by a local council has found.

According to the South Gippsland Shire Council, this could set a new precedent in how planning decisions are made about where wind turbines are built.

The council said the report it commissioned into the Bald Hills Wind Farm at Tarwin Lower found two surrounding properties were experiencing noise levels that were problematic.

Council chief executive Tim Tamlin said the report by public health consultants James C Smith and Associates found noise from the wind farm, which has operated since 2015, could be having a negative impact on residents’ personal comfort and wellbeing.

Supreme Court orders independent report

It is the latest development in an almost two-year saga involving the wind farm, which has 52 turbines on farmland about 150 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.

The report came after a resident living near the wind farm lodged a “nuisance” complaint about two years ago under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, claiming noise from the wind farm turbines was affecting nearby houses.

An initial investigation by the council found there was no impact from the wind turbines.

But the complainant challenged the decision and the Supreme Court ordered the council to commission an independent report — costing more than $33,000.

The report found “wind farm noise was clearly audible” at two residences with windows and doors shut.

And in one case the noise was so loud at a neighbouring house it “intruded into conversation between investigators and (the couple)”.

“Thus corroborating that wind farm noise was clearly audible in dwellings and, at times, intrusive.”

The report also found “there is a nuisance caused by windfarm noise in that the noise is audible frequently within individual residences and this noise is adversely impacting on the personal comfort and wellbeing of individuals”.

Clients entitled to sleep: lawyer

The impact on people’s health from wind turbines, known as wind turbine syndrome, has long been debated.

A new study on wind farm noise is being undertaken by Flinders University in Adelaide in a bid to establish once and for all how noise from wind turbines can affect health.

The lawyer representing residents opposed to the Bald Hills Wind Farm, Dominica Tannock from DST Legal, said her clients were entitled to be compensated for any noise intrusion on their properties.

“What I would say is that our clients weren’t objectors to the wind farm, they were objectors to the noise emissions from the wind farm that are obtrusive and affecting their sleep.

“The council has to make a decision, as to whether there is a nuisance under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. We say the council must adopt the report of its experts.”

Ms Tannock said if they made that decision, then action must be taken to remedy it.

“My clients like where they live, and they have been living there for many years. The argument is that the wind farm should not intrude into their homes.

“And if it does, then the wind farm may have to stop operating at night, if they can’t control the noise emissions. And, or, they might have to pay my client’s compensation.

“My clients are entitled to sleep in their homes.

“The wind farm must comply with the noise emissions of the permit and it also must not be a noise nuisance. It’s an offence under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to cause noise emissions on another person’s land.”

Councils call for wind farm clarity

Mr Tamlin said the council was trying work out the implications of the report and wanted the Victorian Government to provide clarity on the issue.

He said local councils could effectively be sidelined from the approval process for a wind energy plant, via the relevant planning act, but then have to deal with the fallout if there was a complaint under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

“The wind farm has a planning permit, under the Planning and Environment Act, to operate and is compliant with its noise standards,” Mr Tamlin said.

However, he said the consultants’ report had found noise nuisance for two surrounding residents, causing a conflict between the two relevant pieces of legislation.

“Then council finds itself in the middle and what’s worse, our residents find themselves in a situation which should never has occurred,” Mr Tamlin said.

“This is something the Victorian Government needs to resolve, for the sake of the renewable energy sector and all those involved in the establishment of wind farms.”

The report comes in the same week that Premier Daniel Andrews revealed the Government had signed contracts with six solar and wind farms, guaranteeing a minimum wholesale energy price for the companies.

It is an issue the peak body for councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), also wants addressed.

At the MAV’s state conference in May, the association agreed to lobby the Victorian Government to, “address inconsistencies between two pieces of legislation which covers wind farm approval and regulation”.

A statement from the Bald Hills wind farm said they “are not in a position to make any further comment” until they have had more time to review the report but said the operation was “compliant with the noise limits stipulated in its planning permit”.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, said there is a thorough assessment for all wind farm applications which considers factors such as noise and the potential impact on nearby residences.

“The project has complied with the noise limits in its permit conditions, it is up to the council to assess the findings of this report and determine if further action is required,” the spokesperson for Mr Wynne said.

Key points

  • An independent report commissioned by the South Gippsland Council found that two properties were experiencing problematic noise levels
  • The report followed the lodging of a nuisance complaint by a local resident under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act
  • The Supreme Court ordered the council to commission the independent report
  • South Gippsland Shire Council is demanding clarity from the State Government

Read the article here.