Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter recently to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, expressing concern about the planned investment in a portion of U.S.-based power developer NextEra portfolio in Ontario, namely four wind power projects and two solar power facilities.
“Our concern with this announcement stems from the fact that at present, there are dozens of unresolved official reports of excessive environmental noise emissions from the four wind power projects in the portfolio,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in the letter.
WCO also provided excerpts from documents received under the Freedom of Information request process, related to one of the wind power projects involved in the purchase.
“Many of the formal complaints involve staff records of health impacts from sleep disturbance or deprivation (a known factor in health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stress, etc.) … we offer staff records (these are legal documents) pertaining to the NextEra Conestogo project.
“Staff notes in 2013: resident bothered, sleep disturbed for the family every day, headache, resident “had to stay out of the house all day due to operation of the [wind turbines”. (Master Incident Report 7145-93U9N3, which contains 30+ subordinate records and staff notes)
“And, Staff notes November 2015, noise from this project is an ‘ongoing issue.’ With regard to one specific complaint, the MOECC Provincial Officer wrote, “Subsequent to February of 2015 no resources have been made available for any additional after hour WTG [wind turbine] compliance monitoring/observation/measurements. Additionally, emission and imission audits required by the facility REA [Renewable Energy Approval] despite indicating compliance with the REA have been found to be incomplete at the time of submission. As no resources are available to confirm or deny an after hour WTG noise exceedance and EAB/EASIB have not rejected the above noted audit reports, Abatement Staff are left with no further options to address this complaint. As such: no further action on this IR.” (Source: Master Incident Report 6238-A3W75J)
WCO added that it was concerned the MOECC has not fulfilled its responsibilities as a regulator, as regards wind turbine noise.
Yesterday, Wind Concerns Ontario received a response from the CPP Investment Board Director of Industry and Stakeholder Affairs, Jeffrey Hodgson, who explained the Board’s decision.
“I do want to assure you that our singular objective is to achieve a maximum rate of return on our investments without undue risk of loss, securing the retirement of 20 million workers in Canada. CPPIB’s decisions are not influenced by government direction or any non-investment objectives.
When evaluating transactions such as this one, our organization engages professional advisors and undertakes thorough due diligence on elements including contracts and approvals. And as a long-term investor, we are committed to being a responsible steward of the assets in our portfolio in light of legal requirements, and environmental and safety guidelines.
Thank you again for sharing your perspective and providing us with an opportunity to respond.”
The purchase agreement must now go through a regulatory review by the federal government but if approved, the sale could close in the second quarter of 2018.
A profile of who’s who in Ontario wind power development
Tax benefits and subsidies were important incentives to foreign companies
By Wind Concerns Ontario
April 15, 2018
With the recent announcement that the Canada Pension Plan decided to purchase some of U.S. energy giant NextEra’s wind and solar portfolio (a $741M CAD deal that also involves assuming $800M in debt), many people are suddenly noticing ownership of Canada’s renewable power sector.
A popular view of the wind industry in Ontario is that it is composed predominantly of Canadian companies in an “infant industry” that needs government subsidies to survive. The reality only becomes clear when one looks behind the scenes at the actual participants in the industry.
Ontario’s industrial wind generators enjoy the benefits of many federal and provincial programs, all of which were intended to ease their access to financing and improve investors’ returns. The list of special incentives is a long one, but here are the five most important:
The implementation of special feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates far above the market rates received by conventional energy producers; these rates started at $135 per megawatt hour (MWh) and have only recently declined to $125 per MWh;
The guarantee of these rates for the twenty-year life of the contracts;
Granting wind and other renewable energy sources priority access, or “first-to-the-grid” rights, requiring the Independent Electricity System Operator to take their production whenever it was available, even when that meant curtailing the purchase of other generation or dumping surplus energy at distressed prices on export markets;
Special tax benefits, including the federal government’s accelerated capital cost allowances and the Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expenses allowance and the Ontario government’s cap on the property taxes that industrial wind turbines pay to local municipalities;
Other subsidies, including the federal government ECOenergy for Renewable Power Program, $1.4 billion over five years in Budget 2017, and continuing large research and development assistance.
As a result, the Ontario wind industry, in general, has found the “pot of gold”, a level of income and wealth that far exceeds its general image. To illustrate this, let us examine some of the most prominent firms in the industry.
Here is a summary of the companies active in Ontario both as developers and operators, with financial statistics gleaned to the best of our knowledge and ability.
Acciona: With headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Acciona develops and builds power projects for itself and third-party companies in 20 countries worldwide. In Ontario Acciona operates the 76-MW Ripley wind power project. As part of its “wind power value chain” the company also manufactures some turbine components. Revenue in 2017 was €7.2B and net income was €220M or $350M CAD. Chairman is José Manuel Entrecanales; no compensation data is available.
Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners: Headquartered in Bermuda with an office in Toronto, Brookfield is “multi-technology, globally diversified, owner and operator of renewable power assets” which includes more than 70 wind power projects around the world. In Ontario the company operates the 189-MW Prince project, Comber (165 MW) and Gosfield (50.6 MW) Brookfield also owns 51% of US-based Terraform Power, which operates the Raleigh Wind Farm. North American revenue in 2017 was $1B USD. CEO is Sachin Shah; 2016 compensation was $3.8M USD.
Capstone Infrastructure: Capstone Infrastructure is a subsidiary of U.K.-based Irving Infrastructure, and owns and operates thermal and renewable power facilities. Headquarters for Canada are in Toronto. In Ontario, projects are: Erie Shores-Port Burwell-Malahide (99 MW), Skyway 8 (9.5 MW), Goulais (12.8 MW), Grey Highlands (18.5 MW), Grey Highlands ZEP (10 MW), Ganaraska (8.8 MW), Snowy Ridge (5 MW) and Settlers Landing (4 MW). Revenues for 2017 were $154M CAD. CEO is David A. Ave, whose 2016 compensation was $500K CAD.
EDF Renewables: This company is associated with EDF or Electricité du France, the Power utility in France. Headquarters for EDF Renewables is in San Diego, California; the company operates in Canada as EDF EN Canada (EDF Energie Nouvelles). EDF EN Canada currently has a contract for the 60-MW Romney Wind power project, which was the first of the LRP I projects to receive Renewable Energy Approval on April 16, 2018. CEO is Tristan Grimbert. No further financial data is available.
EDP Renewables : EDPR is a division of EDP or Energias du Portugal. The company’s headquarters are in Oviedo, Spain. EDPR claims to be the world’s fourth largest wind power developer. In 2017, the company states, it produced 27,600 GWh of power from wind. In Ontario, it operates the 30-MW South Branch project between Ottawa and Cornwall, and currently has a contract for the 100-MW Nation Rise project in North Stormont, south of Ottawa. Revenues in 2017 worldwide were €1.6B or $2.5B CAD. CEO of EDPR is Joᾶo Manso Neta; there is no compensation data available for the CEO. In June 2017 it was announced that the CEO of parent company EDP was being investigated on corruption charges related to power contracts; the CEO of EDPR was also being investigated, but there has been no news since of any charges.
Engie: Based in France, with North American Headquarters in Houston, Texas, and an Ontario office in Markham. This company bought AIM Power Gen (operated by Mike Crawley who is known to many Ontarians, and is now VP at Northland) which had become GDF Suez; it now operates the wind power projects at Cultus-Clear Creek Frogmore (30-MW), Harrow (40 MW), Erieau (99 MW), East St. Clair (99MW), Plateau (27 MW), and Point Aux Roches (49 MW). Revenues company-wide for 2017 were €65B or $101B CAD. CEO is Isabelle Kocher, whose 2016 compensation was €2.8M or $4.4M CAD.
Horizon Wind: See EDPR. The Horizon “Legacy” company operates the 10-MW Ernestown Wind project near Kingston.
Invenergy: This U.S.-based company has its headquarters in Chicago, and offices in Toronto, Denver and Mexico City plus a European office in Warsaw. It currently manages or has developed 82 wind power projects. Net worth is approximately $1B USD. Current Ontario project: Strong Breezes Dutton Dunwich (57.5 MW). Invenergy also developed the 78-MW Raleigh Wind project, which it sold to TerraForm and Sun Edison. Invenergy had proposed a project in North Perth, but the contract with IESO was terminated when it became impossible for the company to meet the contracted amount of power generation, due in part to citizen action and community opposition.
Longyuan Canada Renewables/China Longyuan Power Group: With 10,000 wind turbines worldwide in its portfolio producing 17,000 MW of power, the China Longyuan Group is the world’s largest wind power developer. The company also produces power from coal, and has minor interests in thermal, biomass and solar. Wholly owned subsidiary Longyuan Canada Renewables is headquartered in Toronto with nine employees, and operates the 91.4-MW Dufferin Wind power project (Melancthon). President is Zhu Dong; no compensation data is available. The company recently applied for an amendment to its renewable energy approval, to install optimization software which will increase power output but not exceed its nameplate capacity of 99MW. Operating profits for China Longyuan in 2017 were CNY 8.3B ($1.7B CAD), up from 2016 due to higher prices for coal. The President/General Manager is Li Enyi whose 2016 compensation is reported by Bloomberg as CNY 1,074,00 ($219,000 CAD)
NextEra Energy: NextEra Energy Canada is a division of NextEra Energy Inc. The company’s headquarters are in Juno Beach, Florida FL with a Canadian office on Bay Street in Toronto. NextEra operates the following Ontario wind power projects under contract to the provincial government: Conestogo (22.9 MW), Jericho (149 MW), Adelaide (60 MW), Bluewater (60 MW), Summerhaven (124.4 MW), Goshen (102 MW), Cedar Point II (100 MW), Bornish (73.5MW), and East Durham (22 MW). Income of the parent company was $5.3B USD; president and CEO James Robo earned a base salary in 2016 of $1.3 M USD but topped it up with incentives, bonuses and stock options for a total compensation package of $16M USD. On April 2, 2018, it was announced that the Canada Pension Plan had agreed to purchase four NextEra wind facilities, plus two solar projects, in Ontario; the deal is subject to Canadian regulatory approval and if approved, may close in the second quarter of 2018.
RES Group, operating in Canada as RES Canada: Headquarters are in the UK with a Canadian office in Montreal. RES’ slogan is “Power for Good.” The company boasts a portfolio of more than 7,000 wind turbines and asset management of 2 GW of wind power generating facilities. RES Group was the subject of a BBC documentary called “Blown Apart” which featured an RES employee “Rachel” who infiltrated a village community with dreams of a green future for her community, only to be revealed eventually as a corporate operative trying to get people to sign wind turbine leases. In Ontario, RES was involved in construction of South Kent Wind, Brooke-Alvinston, Grand Valley 3, and Gunn’s Hill, and as a developer, has a contract for the 32-MW Eastern Fields in The Nation, near Ottawa. RES bills itself as a full-service provider, offering asset management and project design services. No data found on earnings, and no information on compensation for CEO Ivor Catta.
Pattern/Pattern Energy Group: The company’s slogan is “Transitioning the world to Renewable Energy.” Headquarters are in San Francisco; the company operates the Belle River (see Samsung), and North Kent projects in Ontario, is a partner in K2 Wind, and is constructing the Henvey Inlet 300-megawatt project. 2017 revenues were $411.3 million USD. CEO/President is Michael Garland, whose 2016 compensation was $2.7 MM ($430.7K salary, $456K bonuses, and $1.8MM stock).
Prowind: Prowind is a very small player but managed to attract attention for its 18-MW Gunn’s Hill project near Woodstock, which it claims is a totally community endeavour. In fact, the lone community member in the investment leadership group went on to be president of Prowind Canada, and other “community” members were Toronto-based environmental organizations. The community launched an appeal of the REA, but was not successful. Prowind is a subsidiary of Prowind GmBH of Germany; president and CEO in North America is Frank Mascia and chair is Johannes Busmann. No financial data is available.
Samsung Renewable Energy: The company is a division of Samsung C&T Investment Trading Group. Samsung C&T is headquartered in Korea; there is an office in Canada located in Mississauga. Samsung developed the huge K2 Wind project (with Pattern and Capital Power, 270 MW) but has since sold its interest to a consortium which includes insurance giant ManuLife, the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund and Toronto-based equity fund manager Axium. Samsung operates Belle River (100 MW) , Armow (180 MW), and South and North Kent (270 and 100 MW respectively). Samsung, also known as “the Korean consortium,” was given an extraordinary contract by the Ontario government in 2010 to buy $9.7B CAD worth of electricity. The contract amount was slashed by a third in 2013; the government claimed Samsung had missed some deadlines, but the fact is, that much power was not (is not) needed. Canadian vice-president is Steve Cho; Samsung C&T president and CEO is Chi H. Choi; no compensation data is available. Samsung C&T operating profits in 2017 were 881.3B won or $1.05B CAD.
Saturn Power: Saturn operates the 10-megawatt Gesner project. It is a private company so no financials are available; headquarters are in Baden, Germany.
Terraform Power: Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Terraform is the “owner and operator of a 2,600 MW diversified portfolio of high-quality solar and wind assets, primarily in the U.S., underpinned by long-term contracts” which includes the 78-MW Raleigh Wind project, which it purchased from Invenergy. Revenue for 2017 according to the company pro forma was estimated to be $585 M USD. CEO is John Stinebaugh; no compensation data available.
Veresen Inc.: Veresen was the owner and operator of the 20-MW Grand Valley 1 wind power project; the company was recently acquired by Pembina in 2017 for $6.4B CAD.
WPD Canada: This is a wholly owned subsidiary of WPD Europe/WPD AG, a private company headquartered in Bremen, Germany. The Canadian office is in Mississauga. The company is active in 18 countries and says it has installed 1,700 wind turbines. In Ontario, WPD operates the Springwood (8.2 MW), Whittington (6 MW), Napier (4 MW) and Sumac Ridge (10.25 MW) projects, and has a contract (currently being disputed in the courts by a citizens’ group) for the 18-MW White Pines project in Prince Edward County. WPD Power’s CEO is Dr. Gernot Blanke; no compensation data is available
Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.: Algonquin is described as a Canadian utility involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of power. The headquarters are in Oakville, Ontario. At present in Ontario, the company’s wholly owned subsidiary Windlectric Inc. sold half its lone wind project to Newfoundland-based construction company Pennecon to build a 75-MW wind power project on Amherst Island. Algonquin Power is estimated to have $10B CAD in assets. With a five-year return of 73% the company has been the darling of Canadian investors but has tumbled with a more recent 1-year return of 2.06%. CEO of Algonquin is Ian Robertson, whose 2016 compensation was $3.5M according to Reuters; Pennecon’s president is David Mitchell for whom no compensation data is available.
BluEarth Renewables: With headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, BluEarth is described as a “private independent” company whose major shareholder is in fact the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. It operates two wind power projects in Ontario: Bow Lake Wind (60-MW), and St Columban (33 MW). In February 2018, BluEarth announced a deal with Veresen in which it would acquire an interest in three Ontario wind power projects, with a view to own and operate, in the long term. Net worth is estimated at $10B CAD. President and CEO is Grant Arnold; no compensation data is available.
Boralex: Boralex was created in 1990 as a joint venture between the leaders of three companies; the name Boralex is derived from the names of these companies: LaduBOR, ALbany Oil (U.S.) and EXar (U.S.). Headquarters are in Kingsey Falls, QC. Boralex is active in Canada, France and the U.S. Ontario Projects are Port Ryerse (10 MW) and the proposed/contracted Otter Creek (50 MW). The company was involved in the development of the Niagara Region Wind Farm (230 MW) and acquired at least part of the project from Enercon in 2017. Revenue from energy sales in 2017 to September 30 were $285M CAD. Total equity: $2.7B USD. Compensation for CEO Patrick Lemaire was $1.2M CAD in 2016.
Capital Power: Based in Edmonton, Capital is involved in a variety of power generating enterprises, including wind; Capital is a partner in K2 Wind, and operates the 40-MW Kingsbridge project in Ontario, and the 104-MW Port Dover and Nanticoke facility. Revenues in 2017 were $1B and net income was $144M. CEO is Brian Vaasjo whose 2016 compensation was $2.9M.
Enbridge: The company is best known as a producer of fossil fuels in Canada. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta the company says it transports, generates and distributes energy, in that order. It operates 16 wind power projects in North America, including the Talbot (98.9 MW) and Underwood (181.5 MW) power facilities in Ontario. Adjusted earnings for 2017 were $3.2B CAD of which “green power” earnings were $101MM. CEO until recently was Al Monaco who is listed as one of Canada’s 100 highest paid executives with a base salary of $1.377MM and total compensation of $11.391MM.
Kruger Energy: Kruger is a family-owned company headquartered in Montreal that is involved in paper, paperboard recycling, and energy. Kruger Energy was founded in 2004 to develop power projects in Canada, and currently operates the 101.2-megawatt facility at Port Alma, and the 99.4-MW Kruger Chatham Wind Farm in Ontario. The company also put forward a proposal in 2015 for another Chatham-Kent facility. The company is privately held by the Kruger family. CEO is Jean Roy; no compensation data is available.
Northland: Northland is a rare bird in wind power development in Ontario, with headquarters in Toronto. The company operates two wind power projects at present: McLean’s Mountain on Manitoulin Island (60 MW), and the Grand Bend facility in Zurich (100 MW). Profits for 2017 were up 37% to $1.2B CAD, with net income up 45% to $276 MM. Northland is involved in two offshore wind projects in Europe and owns 100% of the Nordsee wind power project. Northland is also involved in solar projects in Ontario. CEO is John Brace whose 2016 compensations was $1.9MM CAD ($473K salary, $1MM stock, and $9,000 “other”). Also on Northland’s executive team is Mike Crawley, former CEO of AIM PowerGen and also famously chair of a McGuinty government panel that looked at a mix of energy resources for Ontario, and he was later president of the Ontario Liberal Party, and subsequently, the Liberal Party of Canada. Mr. Crawley’s 2016 compensation was $923K.
Suncor: The company describes itself as an “integrated energy company.” With headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Suncor currently operates four wind power projects in Canada, one of which is the Adelaide power project. But the company used to own more: in 2015, however, Suncor announced it was divesting almost all its wind assets, particularly in Ontario, and so sold off Ripley and Cedar Point as well as its share in the Kent Breeze project. Funds from operations in 2017 were $3B CAD. CEO is Steven Williams who is also listed by Canadian Business as one of Canada’s 100 highest paid executives. His base salary in 2017 was $1.375M, and total compensation was $11.482M.
TransAlta: Based in Calgary, TransAlta owns and operates the wind power project on Wolfe Island (famous for being one of the wind power projects with the highest number of bird kills in North America) and phases 1 and 2 of the Melancthon project in Shelburne (199 MW). The company claims production of 2,300 megawatts of power, of which 54% is from wind, in 18 facilities around the world. Wolfe Island and Melancthon 2 receive payments not only from their power purchase agreements with Ontario but also federal ECOenergy payments. Revenues for 2017 were $2.3B with operating income of $138M. The President and CEO is Dawn Farrell whose compensation came under fire in 2017 at the shareholders’ meeting; they objected to the 60% rise in compensation. Ms Farrell was paid $7.4M, which included a base salary of $960,000 plus stock options and bonuses.
Ownership at a glance
Megawatts in operation/planned Ontario
More than 75 percent of Ontario’s wind power projects are owned by non-Canadian companies
Wind power development suppliers:
Enercon Canada: Enercon Canada is a subsidiary of Enercon GmbH of Germany, which is the fourth largest turbine manufacturer in the world. Its Canadian offices are in Montreal. Enercon Canada developed and had the majority interest in the 230-MW Niagara Region Wind Farm until selling at least a 25% stake to Boralex in 2017. CEO is John D. Richardson; no compensation data is available.
Senvion Canada: Senvion Canada is a division of Germany-based Senvion S.A., one of the world’s leading turbine manufacturers. The company began operating in Canada in 2009 and now has more than 660 turbines installed. Senvion Canada is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, with offices in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. Senvion’s 2017 revenue was €1.8M ($2.8 CAD), sales or “order book” were €5B ($8B CAD). Senvion is owned by Centerbridge Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. CEO is Jurgen Geissinger; no compensation data is available.
GE Renewable Power is a division of GE or General Electric, which is aiming to profit from the renewables sector by manufacturing equipment including turbines. GE headquarters are is Boston, Massachusetts. In Canada, GE manufactures wind turbine blades at a plant in Gaspé. Profits have been down lately for the company, with a 1-year return on investment of -54%. In 2017, operating cash flow was $10B USD. CEO of GE Renewables is Jérôme Pécresse; no compensation data is available.
Vestas Wind Systems: Based in Aarhus, Denmark, publicly owned Vestas is perhaps the best known among wind turbine suppliers. According to one 2015 industry article, Vestas is the number one company in the world for turbine installations. Annual revenues for 2017 were €9.9B or $15.5B CAD, and operating profit was €1.6B or $2.5B CAD. CEO is Anders Runevad, who came on board in 2013 to help shift the company back to good fortune. Mr. Runevad maintains a low public profile and there is no compensation data available.
Siemens Canada is a division of worldwide engineering firm, Siemens AG, headquartered in Munich, Germany. Siemens Canada claims expertise in the fields of electrification, automation and digitalization and is involved in sustainable energy, “intelligent infrastructure,” healthcare and manufacturing. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a foremost supplier of power generation and power transmission solutions. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment and laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. With Headquarters in Canada in Oakville, Siemens Canada has approximately 5,000 employees, 44 offices and 15 production facilities from coast-to-coast. Siemens AG assets as of 2017 were €134B or $214.6B CAD; revenue was €83B ($9.61B CAD); operating cash flow was €6B ($132B CAD). Siemens Canada President and CEO is Faisil Kazi; no compensation data is available.
Aecon: This Canadian construction company is engaged in infrastructure and energy projects throughout Canada. The company is currently in negotiations to be sold to Chinese company CCCC International, but the sale is under review by the federal government on the grounds of national security interests. Aecon has headquarters for various regions but the Canada East office is in Toronto. Financial results were presented under Infrastructure and Energy—we’re not sure where the company’s work for wind power developers fits. Results for 2017 are: Infrastructure revenues $685M CAD and operating profit was $32.5 M CAD; Energy revenues were $395.7 M, and operating profits were $23.1M. Total assets for Aecon were $2.5B. President and CEO is John M. Beck whose 2016 compensation was $3.6M.
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO
The information is complied from publicly available information. It is not an exhaustive list of Ontario wind power projects but we have elected to include developers of power projects 10-megawatts and more. Sources: company financial reports, Bloomberg, Reuters, Canadian Business
Thanks to energy economist Robert Lyman and energy commentator Parker Gallant for their input.
A pro-wind lawyer, now Ontario’s Eco Commissioner, makes unsupported statements on the health impacts of wind power generation facilities
April 10, 2018
Ontario’s Eco Commissioner or ECO, environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe, long known for her support of wind power development, has issued a very unusual and interestingly timed report.
Making Connections: straight talk about electricity in Ontario is an unabashed defence of the Ontario government’s energy policy, even with its criticism that government has not done enough.
We will leave it to others to comment on the statements about electricity demand, the supply mix, and whether selling off surplus power actually costs Ontario taxpayers and electricity ratepayers, but when it comes to the issue of the health impacts of wind turbines, we have no choice but to call out the Commissioner’s (deliberate) exclusion of the facts.
While acknowledging that there are some negative impacts from wind turbine construction and operation, such as the building of access roads, and the effect of turbines on bird and bat populations, when it comes to effects on humans, the ECO relies on a lawyer’s view of the evidence, which to her, is strictly the results of appeals before the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal or ERT.
“After extensive expert evidence, and having considered numerous studies from around the globe, the ERT has consistently dismissed appeals based on alleged harm to human health,” says the ECO. “The noise impacts of wind on people are controlled through noise limits in the REAs, and through mandatory setbacks established by the Environmental Protection Act.” (page 153)
What ECO Saxe neglects to say is that the basis on which to win an appeal on health before the ERT is virtually impossible.
One of the prime effects of exposure to the range of wind turbine noise emissions is sleep disturbance or sleep deprivation, which is widely acknowledged as a source of health problems such as high blood pressure, altered blood sugar levels, and annoyance or distress, which is in itself an adverse health impact. The situation in Ontario is that the moneyed wind power interests could afford to hire expert witnesses to support their side, while the appellants in these cases could usually only manage to have beleaguered citizens with their anecdotal reports of health effects. Any health care professionals who did venture forth to support these claims were badgered and had their professional qualifications questioned, sometimes merely on the basis of where they lived.
ECO Saxe asserts that there is extensive evidence and that there are numerous studies from around the world supporting the claim that there is no link between wind turbine noise and health effects.
This is false.
One expert witness, Dr Alun Evans, a professor emeritus, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines in Australia, and noted “A recent systematic review considered 154 published studies, eventually including 18 on the basis that they examined the association of wind turbines and human distress and were published in peer-review journals in English from 2003-2013. All found between wind turbines and human distress with levels of evidence of four and five (Bradford Hill Criteria). In addition, two of these studies showed a dose response relationship between distance from wind turbines and distress. Thus there is a consistent relationship between the proximity of turbines and human distress.”
In Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario obtained thousands of reports from people living near wind turbines (in some cases, among them) via a request under the Freedom of Information Act process. WCO received over 4,500 records (though this number is almost certainly not complete) of complaints filed with the government since 2006.
The number of complaints is significant, but so too are staff notes in these documents. In total, explicit reference to the presence of health impacts from wind turbine noise emissions or environmental noise from the turbines was present in 35 percent of the reports we received.
We cannot help but question the political nature of this document. The ECO actually says, “the ECO strongly believes that fossil-fuelled generation, including the gas-fired generation that operates in Ontario, is more harmful to the environment than other electricity sources.” (page 150) In other words, there might be some problems but we have to accept them because the alternative is worse.
This is preposterous and flies in the face of the government’s mandate to protect both health and the environment.
Indeed, as a team of academics noted in their 2016 paper published in Nature Energy on how wind power problems were handled in Ontario, Ontario “public policy takes an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ view of [wind turbine noise and health] evidence rather than a more precautionary approach. … there is epidemiologic evidence t sustain various interpretations of wind turbine impacts on well-being.) Fast et al, Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes, page 2).
One of the ECO’s goals is to ensure that the government of Ontario receives “fair, balanced and accurate information”.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has failed in that goal, and failed the people of rural Ontario who have been forced through political ideology to live in the midst of huge power plants that do produce environmental noise, and are linked to serious health impacts.
Why buy wind power projects when Ontario has a surplus of power and when wind power is a factor in higher electricity bills leading to energy poverty, Wind Concerns Ontario asked in a letter. And why is Canada’s public pension fund investing in projects that are producing environmental noise?
April 4, 2018
Wind Concerns Ontario, the coalition of more than 30 community groups and hundreds of families and individuals concerned about the impacts of industrial-scale wind power development, has written a letter to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, expressing concern about an announcement to buy four Ontario wind power projects from US-based NextEra Energy.
The CPPIB announced it was buying for wind power projects and two solar facilities in Ontario for $741M CAD, and further assuming NextEra’s debt of over $800M.
In a letter to President and CEO of the CPPIB Mark Machin, sent to the Board’s office in Toronto, Wind Concerns noted that Ontario is in a situation of surplus power, which is costing Ontario citizens millions.
“The surplus power is either sold at below-cost rates or given away to neighbouring jurisdictions,” WCO said, “a practice that has caused Ontario’s electricity costs to balloon and is contributing to the energy poverty situation now being faced by many of the pensioners that your plan supports.”
There is also the troubling fact that the four NextEra wind power projects (Summerhaven, Jericho, Bluewater and Conestogo) have been the source of more than 120 official reports of excessive noise and vibration, some including staff notes on health impacts, made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. WCO obtained the Master Incident files under the Freedom of Information request process.
Citing one Master report from the Conestogo project in which MOECC staff noted that the mandated emissions and imissions audit were “incomplete at the time of submission” and also, that the Ministry had not provided resources for Provincial Officers to visit sites after hours and confirm or deny compliance, staff had no choice but to close the Incident Report file.
” Th[at] excerpt is typical of how noise reports are managed: there is no resolution, and the project is not compliant with key terms of its approval,” Wind Concerns Ontario told Mr. Machin.
WCO also referred to the Investment Board’s stated commitment to “Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors” in investment choices, and said, “We would think you would share local residents’ concerns about the operation of these projects. In short, there are other factors in this investment decision beyond the financial.”
“A critical factor will be resolution of these [noise] reports,” Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson concluded in the letter, “management and resolution of citizen health impacts, and liability for property value loss and other negative effects.”
U.S.-based NextEra reaps cash for valuable “guaranteed price” Ontario wind contracts as the CPP pays millions and even assumes almost $1B in debt
April 3, 2018
Florida-based NextEra Energy has sold off a significant portion of its Ontario renewable power portfolio to the Canada Pension Plan in a deal that nets the company over $700 million CAD in cash, and also sees the Canadian public pension plan assume debt of almost $900 million.
Here is a report from wind industry publication, Windpower Engineering and Development. The Canadian Pension Plan also released the information here.
NextEra Energy Partners, LP announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for the sale of its portfolio of wind and solar generation assets in Ontario, Canada, for a total consideration of about $582.3 million. This includes the net present value of the O&M origination fee, subject to customary working capital and other adjustments, plus the assumption by the purchaser of approximately $689 million USD in existing debt.
The transaction includes the sale of six fully contracted wind and solar assets with an average contract life of about 16 years.
“We are pleased to reach this agreement with CPPIB for the sale of our Canadian portfolio, which we expect will be accretive to NextEra Energy Partners’ long-term growth,” said Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer. “The sale of these assets, at a very attractive 10-year average CAFD yield of 6.6%, including the present value of the O&M origination fee, highlights the underlying strength of the partnership’s renewable portfolio.”
An affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources will continue to operate all of the facilities included in the transaction under a 10-year services agreement with CPPIB.
“As discussed during our earnings call in January, we expect the sale of the Canadian portfolio to enable us to recycle capital back into U.S. assets, which benefit from a longer federal income tax shield and a lower effective corporate tax rate, allowing NextEra Energy Partners to retain more CAFD in the future for every $1 invested. We expect to accretively redeploy the proceeds from this transaction to acquire higher-yielding U.S. assets from either third parties or NextEra Energy Resources,” added Robo.
The transaction includes the sale of six fully contracted wind and solar assets, with an average contract life of approximately 16 years and 10-year average CAFD of $38.4 million. Located in Ontario, the portfolio has a combined total generating capacity of approximately 396 MW and consists of:
Bluewater, a 59.9-MW wind generating facility;
Conestogo, a 22.9-MW wind generating facility;
Jericho, a 149-MW wind generating facility;
Summerhaven, a 124.4-MW wind generating facility;
Moore, a 20-MW solar energy generating facility; and
Sombra, a 20-MW solar energy generating facility.
NextEra Energy Partners expects the sale to close during the second quarter of 2018. The transaction is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Noise abatement plan accepted, but what does it really mean?
March 19, 2018
Port Elgin residents forced to live near the single wind turbine operated by the union Unifor, which has resulted in hundreds of noise complaints since the moment it began operating, were “vindicated” recently when the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) announced that noise testing revealed the turbine was not in compliance with regulations.
See a report from CTV London reporter Scott Miller, here.
The MOECC told Unifor that as the turbine operator, they would have to put a noise abatement plan in place by today.
Wind Concerns Ontario has learned that the plan was submitted and has been approved by the Ministry. Noise testing will now continue, said MOECC District Manager Rick Chappell, to confirm compliance with regulations. The Ministry expects the new Imissions Audit or I-audit by the end of June.
Port Elgin resident Greg Schmalz says the admission of non-compliance is vindication for residents who have been complaining for years, but the fight is not over. And many serious questions remain.
“If ongoing tests show non-compliance for a second time, does that result in the MOECC permanently revoking the operating certificate?” he asks. “Will resident complaints filed during the abatement period and ongoing testing be confirmed, or do they not count? And why did it take so long from report dates to release [of the information]?”
The engineering report was filed with the MOECC in January, and the MOECC did not announce the status of non-compliance until March … and then to the wrong municipality.
Documents received by Wind Concerns Ontario via Freedom of Information requests show that the MOECC received 236 reports of excessive noise up to the end of 2014, and more during the 2015-2016 time period. People complained of noise “like a helicopter” overhead, and of sleep disturbance at night, which in turn produced other health effects.
Read the report by engineering consultant firm HGC here.
Eder Dampf Radio in Germany is reporting a spectacular incident in which the rotor blades of an Enercon wind turbine shredded, and threw fiberglass particles over a half-kilometer.
The report follows (translated using Google Translate):
Borchen / Paderborn (Gudrun Ponta / nh).
Two rotors of a new ENERCON E-115 wind power plant in the district of Paderborn are torn to pieces and cause extensive contamination with innumerable sharp-edged glass fiber particles.
At 7pm on March 8th, two rotors of a brand-new ENERCON E-115 wind turbine were completely torn apart – the parts flew over 500m.
Neither builder ENERCON nor operator WestfalenWind have informed the public or the police after the incident, although there was danger to their lives due to flying debris. After an Ettelner citizen informed the police, the area around the damaged wind energy plant was cordoned off on a large scale.
The barriers of the accident site reached almost to Etteln. On March 6, the wings were mounted, the system was not connected to the mains. Obviously [it] overrun and the wings could not be stopped. It is said that the wings only turned at 19 km / h when they were torn to pieces.
ENERCON / WestfalenWind play down the incident – the rotors were merely “broken off” and dropped directly to the ground, it was said in first reports – how can it be that parts have flown over 500m? It is just a lucky coincidence that no one was injured in this spectacular accident of a brand new wind energy plant in Borchen-Etteln.
This latest incident again raises concerns about safety around wind turbines, particularly where turbines are located close to highways, as in Chatham-Kent-Essex.
UPDATE: Windpower Monthly has a newer version of the story, which may be found here. The wind industry publication notes that an anti-wind power citizens’ group has posted photos of the turbine failure, and claimed debris spread 800 metres—in fact, the group said 500 metres.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (Wind Concerns Ontario community group member APPEC) and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) submitted a Joint Part IV Application to the Environmental Commissioner’s Office (ECO), regarding the White Pines wind power project.
The power project has faced numerous appeals and legal actions over the years, and has been reduced from 29 turbines to 27, and is now at nine. The community had thought that the reduced capacity would result in cancellation of the contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) but the IESO simply cut a new contract for the power developer.
Concerns about environmental impact remain, however.
“Basically, we are asking the ECO to conduct a formal review based on the concerns and evidence we have provided relating to the Blanding’s turtle, the Little brown bat and migratory birds,” says APPEC Chair Gordon Gibbins.
“It was important for us to submit the Part IV Application before going forward with any appeal to the Divisional Court. Our Application sets this process in motion, and in fact includes almost all the same issues we had planned to raise at the ERT hearing before our appeal was dismissed,” Gibbins explains.
“The ECO has everything it needs to make a decision on whether or not to conduct a review. We’ve been told that the ECO will forward this evidence to the MOECC and to the MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) as well as make their own conclusions.”
The White Pines project has also been fraught with accusations of violations of its Renewable Energy Approval, as the power developer engaged in land clearing and road use outside of signed agreements.
A team has created a special chamber in which infrasound can be produced, in the hopes of aiding accredited health researchers.
March 12, 2018
Richard Mann, assistant professor on Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, has informed Wind Concerns Ontario of a new development:
“We have successfully produced infrasound, as a mirror of that produced by Industrial Wind Turbines, in a chamber capable of accommodating a human test subject. This will permit others, with appropriate medical training and ethical oversight, to research the effects of infrasound on humans.”
In a PDF document with details on the project, he provides the rationale.
A significant number of people, who live in proximity to Industrial Wind Turbines, complain about a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. They believe these symptoms are caused by Infrasound produced by these Turbines. Some of these symptoms include, but are not limited to, nausea, tinnitus, sleep deprivation,
vertigo, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other ailments, which to them, have a profound impact on quality of life.
Sadly, both the wind industry, and governments, have not responded to these concerns in any meaningful way, and those affected are given little if any support.
Some have actually had to leave their homes and have endured financial distress as a result.
Countless others continue to suffer with little hope for relief. To profoundly add to their distress, many are met with the inference that these problems are “all
in their head (Crichton et al, 2014; Chapman 2015).
“There is a genuine need to study human thresholds and/or response to infrasound exposure systematically and reliably in a lab setting,” Mann says.
“Our motivation for this project was based on the need for tools, to allow others with appropriate medical training and ethics approval, to move forward with this research.”
Owen Sound District Manager for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Rick Chappell told West Grey Council and a packed room of citizens today that the controversial single wind turbine in Port Elgin owned and operated by Unifor, is not compliant with provincial noise regulations.
A noise abatement plan has been ordered by the Ministry and must be in place by March 18.
The Unifor turbine has resulted in hundreds of complaints of excessive noise over the years, several TV news stories, and statements from the local municipality to the effect that the MOECC is failing in its role as a regulator.
West Grey Council, which had asked Chappell to appear to answer questions about why wind turbine noise complaints were not being resolved, accepted the news, and one councilor demanded that the MOECC now personally call everyone who had filed a report, and give them the news.
Councillors remarked that the decision to test the Unifor wind turbine noise output was the result of citizen complaints; a councilor advised residents to “keep complaining.”
Wind Concerns Ontario has reports provided by the MOECC that show 236 reports were filed up to the end of 2014. In the years 2009-2014, over half of the noise reports received by the MOECC got no response.