Industrial Wind Turbines – Watershed Magazine

Since being posted to our Facebook page earlier, as recommended by CCSAGE‘s Gary Mooney, it’s been recommended to get this article referenced on the blog too

Industrial Wind Turbines – Watershed Magazine:

It starts with an unfamiliar car in the driveway. Two people get out and approach your farmhouse. They knock, you open. “We’re interested in doing a study on the feasibility of wind turbines here,” says the taller one. “There’s no commitment,” adds the other, following a well-rehearsed script. Just like the travelling salesmen of yore, the Fuller Brush man or the FilterQueen vacuum guy, these folks have something to sell, a proposal – you can do your bit for the planet and make a little green while you’re at it. What’s not to like?
You invite them in to hear more, offer them coffee while you sit around your kitchen table, listen with interest as they lay out the numbers: $12,000 per year minimum per turbine and maybe as much as $18,000. You picture five slender poles with blades glinting in the sunlight and do the mental arithmetic: 60 to 90 grand a year for letting them use your land? Sure beats sitting on a tractor for 12 hours a day.

Problem is, they’re not slender poles, they’re industrial behemoths, five metres wide at the base, 100 metres tall to the hub with blades half again as high – 150 metres from toe to tip, as tall as a 40-storey building. In skimming the fine print, you also missed the part about the potential health and environmental impacts of turbines, and breezed past the language about not talking to anyone about the deal.
But you don’t realize this till later, after you’ve signed the lease, and by then your neighbours have stopped speaking to you and have formed a group to stop the wind project with whatever it takes, including filing a lawsuit, contacting reporters and meeting with local councillors and MPPs.

Continue reading at Watershed Magazine:



Date: March 18, 2013

Reference: ERT Case Nos. 13-002/13-003

We wish to thank the Tribunal for the opportunity to present our views on the issuing of the REA Number 7681-8UAKR7 to Ostrander Point GP Inc. as a general partner for and on behalf of Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP.

As noted in our submissions, we have focused our support on the appeal launched by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and in particular on the potential harm to various species of bats as described in the “Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park Acoustic Bat Monitoring Report.”

We note the aforementioned report identified eight (8) species of bats regularly known to occur in Ontario, all of which have a range that overlaps the “Study Area.”

Seven of these species were also identified in a “review” completed by scientists Kunz, Arnett, Erickson et al and published by the Ecological Society of America.1 The review is titled “Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats, questions, research needs, and hypotheses” and raises concerns about the large number of bat fatalities at industrial wind facilities and made this poignant observation:

The unexpectedly large number of migratory tree bats being killed by wind turbines and the projected cumulative fatalities in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands should be a wake-up call for those who promote wind energy as being “green” or environmentally friendly.

The review of 14 pages includes several graphs containing data associated with the bat fatalities as gathered by leading experts throughout the US, and notes several hypotheses that may be the ultimate cause of those fatalities. I quote from the document:

Some migratory species are known to seek the nearest available trees as daylight approaches (Cryan and Brown in press), and thus could mistake large monopoles for roost trees (Ahlén 2003; Hensen 2004). Tree-roosting bats, in particular, often seek refuge in tall trees (Pierson 1998; Kunz and Lumsden 2003; Barclay and Kurta 2007). As wind turbines continue to increase in height, bats that migrate or forage at higher altitudes may be at increased risk (Barclay et al. 2007).


Are bats attracted to sites that provide rich foraging habitats? Modifications of landscapes during installation of wind energy facilities, including the construction of roads and power-line corridors, and removal of trees to create clearings (usually 0.5–2.0 ha) around each turbine site may create favorable conditions for the aerial insects upon which most insectivorous bats feed (Grindal and Brigham 1998; Hensen 2004). Thus, bats that migrate, commute, or forage along linear landscapes (Limpens and Kapteyn 1991; Verboom and Spoelstra 1999; Hensen 2004; Menzel et al. 2005) may be at increased risk of encountering and being killed by wind turbines.


Are bats attracted to the sounds produced by wind turbines? Some bat species are known to orient toward distant audible sounds (Buchler and Childs 1981), so it is possible that they are attracted to the swishing sounds produced by the rotating blades. Alternatively, bats may become acoustically disoriented upon encountering these structures during migration or feeding.


Bats may also be attracted to the ultrasonic noise produced by turbines (Schmidt and Jermann 1986). Observations using thermal infrared imaging of flight activity of bats at wind energy facilities suggest that they do fly (and feed) in close proximity to wind turbines (Ahlén 2003; Horn et al. 2007; Figure 3).


Wind turbines are also known to produce complex electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of nacelles. Given that some bats have receptors that are sensitive to magnetic fields (Buchler and Wasilewski 1985; Holland et al. 2006), interference with perception in these receptors may increase the risk of being killed by rotating turbine blades.


Bats flying in the vicinity of turbines may also become trapped in blade-tip vortices (Figure 4) and experience rapid decompression due to changes in atmospheric pressure as the turbine blades rotate downward. Some bats killed at wind turbines have shown no sign of external injury, but evidence of internal tissue damage is consistent with decompression (Dürr and Bach 2004; Hensen 2004).


Interestingly, the highest bat fatalities occur on nights when wind speed is low (< 6 m s–1), which is when aerial insects are most active (Ahlén 2003; Fiedler 2004; Hensen 2004; Arnett 2005).

The latter text leads us to the “Reply Witness Statement of Erin Cotnam,” dated March 1, 2013 delivered to the appellants PECFN and APPEC and participant Wind Concerns Ontario by Ms. Davis, counsel for the Ministry of the Environment on the first day of the commencement of the ERT hearing, and to the “Acoustic Bat Monitoring Report” prepared by Stantec for Gilead Power Corporation of Peterborough, Ontario.

The Reply Witness Statement of Erin Cotnam responded to the WCO written presentation among others; we will focus only on the comments related to WCO which were contained in Cotnam’s points 2 through 6. Erin Cotnam responded as follows: Point 2 referred to WCO’s question about conflicting information on the equipment identified in the Renewable Energy Application, specifically that both Enercon and GE turbines are specified, though the equipment types are not the same.

In Point 3, Ms. Cotnam says: “The acoustic monitoring of bats completed by Stantec was not a necessary component of the Natural Heritage Assessment. It was completed under the earlier environmental assessment process.”

Point 4 of Ms. Cotnam’s “Statement” continues: “Under the Natural Heritage Assessment, significant wildlife habitat is not assessed or determined on specifications for wind power generating equipment.

On the latter point Ms. Cotnam is correct, as a review of the “Natural Heritage Assessment Guide” indicates that equipment means nothing in respect to the need to explain, as an example, the different kill rates of birds and bats from a 50-kW wind turbine with a 19.2-meter (63 feet) rotor diameter versus a GE xl 2.5MW wind turbine with a 103-meter (337 feet) rotor diameter.

What the MNR “guidelines” effectively do, then, is suggest that a blade sweep that covers approximately 4,500 square feet will harm/kill/harass the same number of birds and bats as a blade sweep that covers more than 126,000 square feet.
We question this assertion and the logic behind it.

Returning to the remaining text of Ms. Cotnam’s “Witness Statement” we note that point 4 continues with the following:

An applicant is required to complete a site investigation within 120M of project location, including wind turbines. A site investigation was completed for the Site, which involved an Ecological Land Classification assessment to determine if the Site would support bat habitat and a search for potential roost trees and hibernacula. No candidate bat habitat (maternity roosts or hibernacula) were identified. Therefore an Evaluation of Significance was not required.

Once again Cotnam’s statement is correct as she refers to the 25-page MNR document dated July 2011, “Bats and Bat Habitats: Guidelines for Wind Power Projects” with reference to page 6, Section 2.2. The presumed assumption by the authors of this “Guideline” is that 120 meters (393 feet) is more than sufficient to locate a bat roost; this is based on the questionable assumption that bats will not fly further from the roost to feed than 120 meters.

However, the fact is that even the little brown bat (one of the eight species identified in the aforementioned Ostrander Point Wind Energy Acoustic Bat Monitoring Report) may travel several kilometers between day roosts and feeding sites, as noted by the University of Michigan, among others.

Further, the MNR guidelines also fail to recognize that three (3) of the bat species (hoary bat, silver-haired bat, and red bat) identified in the monitoring report prepared by Stantec, migrate in the Spring and Fall, and as noted above in the material quoted from the Ecological Society of America, will seek “large monopoles” as roosts as daylight approaches. In fact, migrating bats are known to travel distances as great as 500 km,2so to imagine they wouldn’t travel more than 120 meters to find food is not realistic.

We also note that the Stantec-prepared monitoring report does not include any monitoring during the “spring” migration period as it relates to bats. The MNR Guidelines document states that, “In Ontario, the post-construction monitoring season for bats is based on bat activity patterns, covering spring activity through fall swarming and migration, and is consistent with the post-construction monitoring season for birds; thus monitoring occurs from May 1 to October 31.”
The Ministry of Natural Resources’ own fact sheet on bats in Ontario notes that bats hibernate from September to April, thus May is a critical month for monitoring bat activity.3
Indeed, the first draft report on bat monitoring in the subject area prepared by Stantec in 20094 says that, “Based on a site sensitivity rating of Level 3 (High), a pre-construction monitoring program was designed that consisted of: Radar monitoring in May, August, September and October; and, Acoustic surveys at three stations within the Study Area in July, August and September.”
However, in the final draft report released in January 2010, Stantec states, “Based on a site sensitivity rating of Level 3 (High), a pre-construction monitoring program was designed and approved by the MNR that consisted of acoustic monitoring at four stations within the Study Area in July, August and September.” In other words, in the final draft report on bat activity, the month of May was omitted.

WCO also notes that under circumstances where a “local conservation authority” exists the process for the issuance of an REA requires the input of that “local conservation authority” when it involves “wetlands” or alteration in and in the case of Prince Edward County the local authority is the Quinte Conservation Authority. The MNR guidelines describe the local input requirement as follows:

1.4.1 Conservation Authority Permissions
Renewable energy projects may require permission from the local conservation authority (where one exists). Through conservation authorities’ Development, Interference and Alteration Regulations, under Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act, conservation authorities are empowered to regulate development and activities in or adjacent to wetlands, river or stream valleys, watercourses, Great Lakes and large inland lakes shorelines and hazardous lands.”

WCO’s contact with the Quite Region Conservation Authority confirmed that they were contacted in 2008 by “Gilead” and responded that as Ostrander Point was “crown land” and protected; Gilead would need to confer with the Provincial authorities. The spokesperson for the Authority advised us that the Province has not sought input nor consulted with the local Quinte Region Conservation Authority nor has it been contacted as a courtesy by the Ministry of Natural Resources or the Environment Ministry to offer their views on the issuance of the REA.

Related to the foregoing the Stantec “Bat Monitoring Report” prepared for Gilead contained the following;

Permanent wetlands, in the form of deciduous swamp and open marsh, occur along the southeastern boundary of the Study Area.

and the Natural Heritage Assessment Guide for Renewable Energy Projects has this embedded in its 100 pages:

Development prohibitions are outlined in Part V, Sections 37, 38, 41, 42, and 43 of the REA Regulation4
Tables 2, 3, and 4 detail natural features protected under the REA Regulation and their specific
development prohibitions, as well as the development prohibitions which apply to provincial parks and conservation reserves. When two or more natural features overlap, the greater development prohibition applies.

Applicants may seek an exception from the prohibitions, in order to develop within significant or
provincially significant natural features (with the exception of provincially significant southern wetlands and provincially significant coastal wetlands) and within their setbacks, provided an EIS is prepared in accordance with procedures established by MNR (Section 7).”

It would appear that despite the fact that the MNR has very strictguidelines that apply to wetlands; in the case of the REA issued to Gilead/Ostrander those guidelines (in respect to “Crown” lands), their importance is ignored or waived despite objections by interested parties.

Also included in the Natural Heritage Assessment Guidelines was the following:

5.7 Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest
Under the REA Regulation, Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs) are defined as areas which have values related to protection, scientific study or education. ANSIs are areas of land and water containing natural landscapes or features identified by MNR as life science and/or earth science sites (or both) depending on natural heritage values.”

As noted in the Environmental Registry; “Ostrander Point has also been designated a Candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest by the Ministry of Natural Resources.”

The granting of the REA by the MNR is in contravention of Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act in respect to the two issues highlighted immediately above and should be immediately rescinded.


To summarize, we believe that the fact that the Ministry of Natural Resources “Guidelines” document fails to differentiate between the size of structures and the distance from the project location where bat roosts are concerned, is a problem. To ignore the characteristics of the structures proposed is the same as suggesting that the number of birds that will collide with a 50-storey building is the same as the number that would collide with a five-storey building.

The results of the bat monitoring for Ostrander Point also assume that bats in search of food will not travel beyond 120 meters of their roosting site.

We submit this is not logical.

We are also concerned with the discrepancy in the timing of the bat monitoring studies, which was done with the approval of the MNR but which seems contradictory to the MNR’s own information on bat activity.

The omissions and assumptions in the guidelines make it appear as if the Ministry’s guidelines as applied to wind power generation facilities are not meant to protect bats and birds but instead were written to ensure that a Renewable Energy Approval would be issued by the Ministry, and not be challenged on these issues.

We would like to emphasize again the critical importance of bats to the natural environment as a natural means to control insect populations.

We hope that the Tribunal will consider these facts and recognize that to the people of Ontario, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act was not intended to desecrate the natural environment including wildlife. The Ministry’s own policy on the development of Crown lands for onshore wind power states that development must be done in a way that “contributes to the environmental, social and economic well being of the Province.”5

We believe that we have shown several omissions that could indicate the Ministry of Natural Resources “Guidelines” are insufficient to support the intent of the Green Energy Act, and the Ministry’s own policies on the appropriate use of Crown land, particularly in the case of Ostrander Point.
We repeat:
  • “equipment” and structures associated with wind power generation projects should be considered as a factor in the killing/harming and harassment of nature regardless of the presence or absence of information to this effect in the Guidelines; and,
  • that reasonable care relating to normal and proven bat and bird movements and activities must be taken to ensure that Crown land is being properly used in a way that conserves the natural environment, as is the intent of relevant legislation, as is expected by the citizens of Ontario.
Additionally, the Renewable Energy Approval granted by the MNR to Ostrander Point GP Inc. is in direct contravention of Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act.

Wind Concerns Ontario recommends again that the Tribunal reverse this MNR Renewable Energy Approval, for the reasons we have stated today, and in our earlier submission.

Parker Gallant, Vice-President
Wind Concerns Ontario

PO BOX 11059

1 Kunz TH, Arnett EB, Erickson WP et al. Front Ecol Environ 2007; 5(6); 315-324. Published by the Ecological Society of America.
2 McGuire, 2012, page 4. Available at:
3 Ministry of Natural Resources, 2008. Bat Hibernation and Hibernacula. Available at:
5 Ministry of Natural Resources, 2010. Policy PL4.10.04, Section 2.3

What the Ostrander Point ERT Site tour didn’t want you to see

Those of us taken on the site tour of “Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park” on March 6th, 2013 were lead “sheeplike” by Gilead’s Vice President Michael Lord on the site tour. Early on in the tour we trudged though hard to walk through snow to look at a 6 foot post in the ground (site for one of the nine turbines). This tired out a few of those on the tour and was presumably meant to give the appearance of the benign nature of Ostrander Point and the turbines that Gilead hopes to erect. We viewed the meteorological station (from a distance) which rises 60 meters (196 feet) according to the Stantec report with a base of about 2 feet thick. Those on the tour were left to imagine the look of the nine (9) GE xl 2.5MW turbines that will be erected on the site and soar about 85 meters to the hub (278 feet) plus a blade radius of another 50 metres (115 feet) which will bring them just shy of 400 feet high at the top of the blade sweep. Those turbines will sit on a cement pad approximately 60 feet in diameter and about 12 feet thick. The balance of the tour included a walk past the last access route to the lake and a return to the most westerly edge of the Crown land possibly to tire a few more on the tour or alternately Mr. Lord was not familiar with the property on which his company was hoping to place the turbines. The tour would have been much more meaningful had Mr. Lord taken us to see the large cleared area where some of the turbines are planned to be placed and which would have provided those involved in the ERT Hearings a much better visual perspective rather then pointing to a 6 foot pole in the middle of a very small clearing.

Proponent’s draft site plan

Having felt cheated out of a proper tour my wife and I were conducted on a private tour by Richard Copple of the Point to Point PEC Foundation.  To gain a perspective on the “Ostrander Point Project Area” refer to the picture labelled Ostrander Overview 3 and to the PDF file titled: Attachment A. Figure 2 prepared for Gilead and included in their Construction Site Plan Fig 2.0.

March 8, 2013 Walk:

Our March 8th walking route and significant observations can be found on the file titled: Ward of South Marysburgh-Skydrive. Please note the “Key” on this file and the circle denoting a “cleared area”. The pictures and the short videos from Ostrander Point start near the site of the met tower and continue down that path towards Lake Ontario. Note the running water along the trail, particularly in the first short video and pictures 7952, 7961, 7964 and 7967. Observation of where the water was running indicated a gravel bottom signifying a small stream like effect; presumably like a seasonal watercourse and no doubt also occurring during rainstorms.

The shoreline pictures (7968-71, 7974, 7979, to 7981 here) at Ostrander Point show the willow trees that stand; reaching heights (estimated) of 40/60 feet. The shoreline is a limestone bed that very gradually deepens and appears to go some distance out. We noted mute swans flying in the distance and Canada geese in the water. The last three videos (here, here and here) provide a brief view of the willow trees standing along a goodly part of the shoreline. Picture 7985 shows the met tower in the distance just to the left of the evergreen tree in the foreground.

We returned to the path (picture 7989 shows the forest growth to the east of the path where one of the turbines are to be located) to the point where an intersecting path (pictures 7995 & 7996) heading in an easterly direction had been created and walked it to a cleared area (see file picture titled “Ostrander Close Up” for an aerial view). Pictures 8003 through 8007 shows the cleared circle and the viewer should note a few trees were left standing. The cleared area originally was covered with trees and bush similar to that found around the circle as can be seen in pictures 8008, 8009, 8018, 8023 and 8033. Picture 8041 with Richard and Parker walking the path gives a perspective on the size of the trees still standing near that path. Pictures 8043 and 8049 show small water courses that were noted in many places on our walk.

Returning to the main path and heading back to the start of our walk picture 8057 provides the viewer with some idea of the many evergreen stands of trees on the property. Pictures 8061 provides a picture of the met tower and picture 8064 shows a segment of the land cleared to erect the tower.

Prepared by Parker Gallant with pictures and videos by Susanne Gallant and Richard Copple.
March 10, 2013