Wind turbine failures “potentially serious,” need action for safety: municipal group

Skyway 8 turbine failed in July 2021. See debris to the left, including huge blade shard. Host municipalities are concerned about safety, and want regulations revised. [Photo: Louise Morfitt-Hall]

Wind farm approvals given by McGuinty and Wynne governments with no input from host communities: “mistakes were made”

January 19, 2022

The special interest task force created by a group on Ontario municipalities where wind power projects are operating has released a report to all Ontario municipalities. The report expresses concern about wind turbine failures and the apparent lack of government action. The Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group prepared the report and sent it to other municipalities a few weeks ago.

The document has information on  six “catastrophic failures” as engineers term them, that have occurred in Ontario, as well as the failure of a single turbine in New Brunswick. That event resulted in the wind “farm” operator undertaking a $100-million replacement of all turbine foundations.

The Working Group is concerned that there are no details available on the failures.

“There has been no public response from the provincial government that indicates these potentially serious incidents are being investigated, either in the context of public and/or workplace safety,” the report says.

Municipalities, even those where incidents have occurred, have received no information.

The Working Group consulted with several engineers and conducted its own review of the wind turbine failures. It appears there was a different cause for each event, i.e., no common factor in the equipment failures.

  • Bow River –Pictures suggest that tower collapse was linked to a bolt failure of tower sections.
  • Skyway 8 – Rotor failure occurred shortly after the installation of an experimental device.
  • Raleigh Wind – Published information from the project owner indicates that the tower collapse is related to a single blade failure. Marks on the tower suggest that the blade struck the tower.
  • Sumac Ridge – Blade fractures, no explanation available.
  • Kingsbridge 1 – Fire in the nacelle spread to the blades resulting in wide debris scatter.
  • Huron Wind – Blade failure with the location of the debris thrown by this failure highlighting the inadequacy of current setbacks from property lines.

Another recent incident in New Brunswick added to concerns, the group said:

  • Kent Hills, NB – Project operator linked the collapse of tower to a foundation failure.

The Working Group concluded: “the assessments of these situations increased our concern that action is required to formally investigate these incidents.  We believe they clearly demonstrate that the current setback distances are inadequate to protect the public and they will increase as tower heights and blade lengths increase.”

The Working Group recommended that the Ontario government:

  1. Establish a formal public process for investigations of wind turbine failures so that the cause can be firmly determined. These would involve third-party independent engineers starting with initial inspection procedures through to the public release of the final report;
  2. Complete comprehensive inspections of existing projects to identify any project that shows signs of similar weaknesses;
  3. Establish requirements for on-board predictive maintenance equipment for operating wind turbines to allow early identification of problems and establish protocols for information transfer to the MECP for review and sharing with the host municipality.
  4. Review the emergency response procedures submitted by the proponents of wind turbine projects as part of the approval process to ensure that the plans are current and responsive to the types of failures being experienced; and
  5. Increase the setbacks from property lines to a minimum of tower height plus blade length for new towers or repowering of existing sites to at least reflect the impact of a tower collapse while recognizing additional distances would be required to protect against ice throw and debris scatter like that seen in the Huron Wind failure where debris with the dimensions of a car were found 2.5 times the height of the tower plus blade length.

At the time the wind power projects were approved by the McGuinty and Wynne governments, municipalities had limited input to the process and to the details of the projects including setbacks from roadways and homes.

“Mistakes were made,” the Working Group says.

The Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group is asking all municipalities to write to David Piccini, minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks for Ontario to ask that action be taken for safety.

Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups, families and individuals concerned about the negative impacts of grid-scale wind power projects, agrees with the recommendations.

“We have been urging the government to revise all the regulations pertaining to wind turbines,” says president Jane Wilson. “Ontario’s regulations were implemented in 2009 and have not been changed since then—we know a lot more about the noise emissions and the safety risk. We need change right now.”

Read the MMWTWG report here: MMWTWG Report on IWT failures

A story also appeared in the Dundalk Herald/Toronto Star on this issue.




Ontario Ground Water Association busts wind turbine myth

Source: Ontario Groundwater Association

January 17, 2022

As dozens of families in North Kent, Ontario wait for a Ministry of Health report on why their water is black and gritty–and has been for years since a wind turbine project was built–the Ontario Groundwater Association has come out with a myth-busting statement today:

Wind turbines stir up sediment and release impurities into groundwater resources.

That’s not what the wind power developer in North Kent says; that’s not what the Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent says (he has testified on behalf of wind power developers at Environmental Review Tribunals, delivered a paper on how it isn’t possible for wind turbines to have anything to do with water quality, and claimed the water is safe to drink), and the Ontario Ministry of Environment doesn’t appear particularly concerned about it, either.

Dr. David Colby maintains that the water, though discoloured, is not a health hazard:

“The Health Unit only tests for bacteriologic contamination. Black shale is a kind of naturally occurring rock. Rock can contain metals and other potentially toxic substances in its inorganic matrix. The toxicity is determined not by what the shale contains but rather by how much of the toxic substances are absorbed by the body,” Colby said. “Inorganic materials like rock particles, sand and dirt are not significantly digested, and if ingested, pass through the digestive tract without releasing much, if any, of their toxic content,” he told The Chatham Voice in 2018.

This Friday will be the one-year anniversary of the Ontario government announcement of an expert panel review on the North Kent water situation. A year that dozens of families, estimated to be about 80 homes and farms, have had to wait, meanwhile using water out of giant plastic tanks in their garages, and employing multiple filters in systems so that water even comes out of the tap.

The other myth that needs busting, one the environment ministry accepts without question, is that nothing bad can happen outside of 1500 meters from a wind turbine. Not audible noise, not infrasound, not seismic vibrations–nothing.

Nonsense of course.

Time for some reality around the negative effects of grid-scale wind turbines. Time for clean water, and quiet.

Unfiltered water in North Kent. Residents blame the wind turbines. [Supplied photo]

Wind power a no-show in Ontario cold snap

January 12, 2022

Monday and Tuesday this week saw the coldest temperatures yet for the winter season, with a low in Ottawa of -25 degrees C at 5 a.m.

Ontario’s demand for electricity was, as one would expect, high as people sought to keep warm: around noon, the demand was about 20,000 megawatts.

Where was wind power? At midday, Ontario’s more than 2,000 wind turbines were puffing out a mere 860 megawatts of power.

Near Ottawa, which the media dubbed “the world’s coldest capital,” the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project stayed in the single digits of output, only getting to 8 megawatts of power in the late morning. In fact, a power worker sent a comment to Wind Concerns Ontario to say most of the Nation Rise wind turbines weren’t even spinning and appeared to have a coating of ice on the blades. Those that were spinning, he said, were likely taking power from the grid.

In short, when we needed it most, wind didn’t show up for work.

Today, with much milder temperatures, wind power has been spotted at the water cooler, putting out 3,400 megawatts this hour according to the IESO.

Overall demand is 18,154 megawatts.

None of this is a surprise, of course. Ontario is completely unsuited to wind power, as described by Marc Brouillette in his remarkable Commentary, Wind: Ontario’s High-Cost Millstone.

“Wind generation output is inherently intermittent as it depends on Mother Nature. For example, in 2015 Ontario’s wind farms operated at less than one-third capacity more than half (58%) the time. That means 70 per cent of wind energy was produced in the remaining 42 per cent of the time…Indeed, wind output over any three-day period can vary between zero and 90 per cent of capacity.”

He went on:

“Seasonally, Ontarians’ energy use is highest in winter and summer and lowest in spring and late fall. This is almost a mirror image of wind [power] production patterns”.[1]

In short, wind might be somewhat useful as part of a mix of power supply, but it cannot be relied upon.

Although there is a popular statement that wind replaced coal as a power source in Ontario, that is completely false: coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas.

As not one but two Auditors General of Ontario suggested, wind power development should have been subjected to a thorough, independent cost-benefit analysis. If it had, there is no way it could stand up.

With two elections coming up in Ontario where several political parties actively promote new wind power development, and a very well financed campaign by the wind power lobby, it is important that the truth get out:


[1] Brouillette, M. 2017. Ontario’s High-Cost Wind Millstone. Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, p.1.


Former Premier Kathleen Wynne admits Ontario electricity mistakes

The former leader of Ontario’s government says now, they weren’t listening to warnings about electricity costs. No kidding. [Shutterstock photo]
January 8, 2022

Former premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne is not seeking re-election this coming June, after 18 years as an MPP, and five years as premier (2013-2018).

She recently gave an interview to Paul Wells of Macleans magazine in which she admitted mistakes had been made on the Ontario electricity file.

She mentioned the decision the Ontario Liberal government took to cancel two natural gas power plants due to local opposition and put them in other locations–a move that cost billions. It appears they weren’t really paying attention, she says now.

“I think when we got into situations like defending what had happened around the decisions around the gas plants you realize, holy mackerel. How did this happen? How did we get here? Which parts of this were we not paying attention to?”

Wells asked Ms Wynne what part of her government’s experience showed they weren’t listening to advice, and she said, the electricity sector.

“I score myself very low on the electricity price. I believed that the investments that we had made in the electricity sector were important. The first bill I ever spoke to in the House, before I made my maiden speech, was Bill 100 which was the beginning of the transformation of the electricity system. We were going to make big changes in terms of the the supply mix and greening the grid and investing in the grid. I think it’s 50 billion dollars that we invested in upgrading the grid. I believed in that.

But I remember sitting beside Gerry Phillips [Dalton McGuinty’s minister of energy at the time] in many meetings and he would say, ‘We’re piling up a lot of debt here. Electricity prices are going to have to go up. How are we going to pay for this?’ I heard it. But as a member of caucus and cabinet, I don’t think I took it seriously enough.”

Her response seems rather sanguine, considering that Ontario’s electricity prices, which more than doubled, forced businesses to leave the province, resulting in lost jobs. A new term, “energy poverty” arose, and people told stories of having to choose whether to “heat or eat.” The Ontario Association of Food Banks blamed electricity bills for escalated food bank use in its 2016 Hunger Report.

And she makes no mention whatsoever of the shambles the green energy push was for Ontario: two Auditors General noted the exorbitant costs and the overpayment to power generators, and the fact that the province’s electricity ratepayers are stuck with contracts for intermittent wind power for as long as 20 more years.

“If you’ve sat at the cabinet table for six or seven years, you can’t disavow everything that has been done,” Wynne told Macleans.



Wind power industry like Big Tobacco: they know there are health effects, says physician


The wind power industry knows there are problems with their product, says Dr Alun Evans

January 2, 2022

In an editorial in the current edition of Environmental Disease journal, Dr Alun Evans, prominent physician and cardiologist, says it is past time for governments to act to protect the health of those forced to live near wind turbines.

He compares the developers of wind turbines to the manufacturers and marketers of tobacco who, decades ago, claimed there were no health impacts from smoking cigarettes, even while the industry knew there was.

He cites a letter written the turbine manufacturers Vestas with a query as to why the turbines cannot be made more safe:

In 2011, a letter written by the CEO of the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, to the Danish Environment Minister, which was leaked and translated, asked why it was:[15]

…that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they make less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is simply not possible to do so, and it requires time and resources because presently we are at the forefront of what is technically possible for our large wind turbines, and they are the most efficient of all.

It seems that, in common with the tobacco industry, the wind industry was well aware that its products were inimical to health. The introduction of larger turbines is also problematic because the larger the turbines, the more noise they produce.[16]

Evans’ editorial refers to a paper published recently by a group of Ontario-based authors including Dr. Robert McMurtry, which states that the well known public health criteria developed by Dr Austin Bradford Hill ought to be applied to the study of wind turbine noise impacts. Instead, he says, governments continue to look for a simple cause and effect relationship.

Doing that means governments are abdicating their responsibility to citizens.

“We still have a long way to go to adequately protect people’s health from the impact of wind farm noise,” he concludes.



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.

“There’s no going back”: CBC radio documentary on huge Shetland Islands wind power project

December 6, 2021

CBC Radio program The Current aired a documentary called “Winds of Change” this morning, that told the story of how the residents of the Shetland Islands in Scotland have been fighting a huge wind power project.

The Viking power project (it’s not a “farm”) is now under construction, and among the environmental concerns residents have is the destruction of fragile peatlands, which play a major role in the environment (and actually serve as a carbon sink). The wind power developer response? It was in bad shape, we’re actually fixing it.

Other preposterous claims made include the fact that the turbines will take up only one square kilometre of land (that’s if you assume 1 acre per turbine–also false–and that they will be bunched together–false), lots of jobs (False) and environmental benefit (also false, on balance).

This is a tragedy. As one resident said about the peatlands, “We’re talking about an entire ecosystem being dug up.”

Another despaired of what the industrial-sale power project will do the the beautiful Shetland Isles: “Once it’s done, there’s no going back.”

Peat landslides have already occurred at the construction site, as a result of “poor management practices” by the developer, according to a news report.

Listen to the CBC Radio documentary here

And view a video of the location of the power project here, provided by citizens’ group Save Our Shetland.

Host of The Current, matt Galloway, appears not to have listened to the documentary featured on his own show because after it concluded, he announced that Wednesday’s show would feature more ideas on How we can save our planet. Clearly, wind power is not the answer when environmental destruction is the result.


Eminent physician blasts Ontario’s chief medical officer of health over wind turbine remarks

Remarks not worthy of the position he holds, says former federal public health official

Thousands of reports of wind turbine noise in Ontario, many with adverse health impacts, but public health doc ignores them [Shutterstock image]
December 5, 2021

“Arrogant” and insulting: that’s how Dr. Robert McMurtry, former Dean of Medicine at Western University and a former Assistant Deputy Minister of Health with Health Canada, describes comments made by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, with regard to health concerns  about industrial-scale wind turbines and health impacts.

Dr. McMurtry wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford, expressing concern and professional disappointment over remarks made by Dr. Moore during a news conference in September.

On September 29, Dr. Moore said, in response to questions about people spreading misinformation on COVID vaccines, that “there will always be a ‘vocal minority’ in opposition whether its WiFi, 5 G, or wind turbines or vaccines,” according to a Tweet made by CTV’s Colin D’Mello.

For Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to equate vaccine misinformation with the reports of adverse health effects from wind turbine noise emissions is “inconsistent with the volumes of peer-reviewed research available that demonstrate serious harm to human health,” Dr. McMurtry wrote in his letter.

He also referred to the fact that Dr. Moore, while working in public health in Kingston, Ontario, testified against the citizen environmental group appealing the Ostrander Point wind power project, for the Ontario environment ministry.

“If Dr. Moore had taken the time to review the many studies and reports published on wind turbine effects it the past decade, it is highly unlikely he would have made the recent statement,” Dr. McMurtry said.

Instead, he demonstrated conduct unbecoming of a public health officer, McMurtry wrote. His remarks are a “gratuitous affront” and “not worthy of the position he holds”.

Dr. McMurtry has served as an advisor to many government commissions and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2011.

Read Dr. McMurtry’s full letter here: RY McMurtry Letter to CMOH Dr Kieran Moore_November 22_2021

Wind Concerns Ontario also wrote a letter to Dr. Moore in October but has not received a response.