Wind turbines: they’re not wind “mills” and they’re not fans either

There has been an interesting exchange of letters in the Belwood area over the last week, in the Wellington Advertiser newspaper.
Last week, a reader wrote this:

Stories about the turbine windmills intrigued me. But is there anyone out there that can explain the difference between these large “fans” and other fans that surround us?

Why do these windmills purportedly harm us, yet we see no problem with the much closer fans in the stove, in the microwave, on the ceiling, in our computers and vehicles?

Don’t these fans whirling about, making noise and impacting the air have an effect as well?

/Anita Zomer, GUELPH/

Here is a letter from area resident Robert Service, explaining the difference between wind turbines and what some people think they are.

Fans versus turbines


Dear Editor:
RE: Large fans, Aug. 30.
I’d like to attempt to describe the difference between a household fan and an industrial wind turbine for a previous letter writer.
The first difference is clearly size;  one is about six inches tall, the other is one quarter the size of the CN Tower.
The next distinctions lie in the intensity and duration of the noise pollution produced. Household fans are used over short periods and their use does not require the owner to abandon their home.
The industrial wind turbines, on the other hand, have laid waste to neighbourhood after neighbourhood, with the sound approximating a 747 landing at Pearson airport.
Another distinction can be seen in the control the homeowner has over the sound of the fan. A household fan can be turned off at the owner’s discretion, while the unfortunate neighbour of an industrial wind turbine factory is constantly subjected to the incessant and damaging effects of the machines. To add insult to injury, this is totally out of their control.
Quite frankly, I’d have no objection to my neighbour installing a new home fan. I hope I’ve helped clarify the writer’s understanding of the issue.
Robert Service, RR1 BELWOOD

Parker Gallant on wind power developers: in it for the MONEY

Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association(CanWEA), and former Policy and Communications Director and Program Change Director at the Pembina Institute, spins the tale that industrial wind turbines are all to do with “climate change.” His interviewin 2010 (published on June 23, 2010) after he left Pembina for CanWEA, supports that belief. 
   By November of that year, he had reflected on the issue of low frequency noise and submitted his opinionto the Ministry of the Environment as President of the 400-member CanWEA: “…CanWEA submits that the proposed requirement for infrasound or low frequency noise monitoring as a condition of the REA [Renewable Energy Approval] be removed.”
  Almost one year later (October 12, 2011) Hornung  admitted in a Global-TV interviewthat “wind turbine sound…can have potentially indirect health impacts.”
  Despite that revelation, Hornung abides by the wishes of his members (his job depends on it) and wrote in January 2012 that he was “extremely disappointed that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has called for a suspension of wind energy development.” After the recent announcement by Energy Minister Chiarelli that a review of the Long-Term Energy Plan was to take place,   CanWEA released their views:  The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) will be an active participant in upcoming consultations to review and update Ontario’s long-term energy plan and will advocate for further growth of wind energy* in the province.
  The CEO of a CanWEA member corporation was interviewed on the BNN (Business News Network) September 3, 2013.  Capital Power Corporation CEO Brian Vaasjo was asked about the company’s “wind projects”; the host declared in his question that the “skeptics” view them as boondoggles.  The CEO’s response was direct; he didn’t mention either “global warming” or “climate change.” Instead he declared that wind turbine projects do not stand on their own in a merchant market place, but, they provide substantial cash flows for companies like ours.  He went on to cite the benefits of “government procurement processes” and to single out the Ontario FIT Programas an example.
Bruce Vaasjo, CEO, Capital Power: wind can’t stand on its own
This is exactly what the Ontario Auditor General said in his 2011 report when he noted that the Ontario government had not done a cost/benefit analysis in respect to the implementation of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act.  Vaasjo’s frank comment simply proves that if the government hands out “money for nothing” there will be a lineup at the doors of Queens Park and a group to lobby for the largesse!
   The time has come to close the vault door at Queens Park– it is empty, and the taxpayers and ratepayers of this province have no more to give in welfare for huge, well-capitalized corporations.
Parker Gallant
September 4, 2013
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily the policy of Wind Concerns Ontario.
*Editor’s note: wind “energy” is the wind itself; wind “power” is what is produced from it. But “energy” sounds so much nicer than big, noisy, industrial power machines, doesn’t it?

Lawyers ask: what is going on with Ontario’s FIT?

On August 16, 2013, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, issued a Directive to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to make changes to the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program. This Directive builds on a previous Directive issued June 12, 2013 that made significant changes to the FIT program. (See: Ontario Minister of Energy Issues New Directive on the Feed-in Tariff Program).
The most important changes that stem from this most recent Directive are the modifications to the domestic content requirements for renewable energy projects under the FIT program.
As discussed below, the helpful clarity provided by the latest Ministerial Directive on the domestic content changes contrasts somewhat with the lack of clarity developing with regard to both the Ontario Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) process and the re-creation of a Large FIT program.
Changes to the Domestic Content Requirements
On May 24, 2013 the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a ruling from two WTO disputes which determined that Ontario’s domestic content requirements violated Canada’s trade obligations. (See: The WTO Decision – What it Means for Ontario FIT 1.0 and 2.0 Projects).
In response to this ruling, the Minister of Energy has now directed the OPA to take an interim step towards compliance by reducing the domestic content requirements for new FIT procurements. All new FIT contracts will require that facilities achieve domestic content levels lower than previous contracts. The new domestic content levels are as follows:

  • On-shore wind facilities are required to maintain a minimum domestic content of 20%
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities utilizing crystalline silicon are required to maintain a minimum domestic content of 22%
  • Solar PV facilities utilizing thin-film PV technology are required to maintain a minimum domestic content of 28%
  • Solar PV facilities utilizing concentrated PV technology are required to maintain a minimum domestic content of 19%

These new content levels will apply to the Fall 2013 procurement window for Small FIT, microFIT, pilot solar projects on unconstructed buildings and unused capacity carried over from the Small FIT that closed on January 18, 2013.
The Future of Domestic Content
The Ministerial Directive indicates that the new domestic content levels shall remain in effect until further direction is given by the Minister. This Directive is an indication that the provincial government is prepared to respond to the WTO ruling and demonstrates a willingness to begin a transition to the elimination of the domestic content rules. It remains unseen if further reductions or an all out removal of the domestic content rules will be implemented by the Ministry of Energy.
The OPA has reviewed and updated the FIT and microFIT price schedule that it offers to renewable energy generators. Prices have been declining for both wind and solar contracts since the original FIT prices were set. In the most recent price schedule change effective August 26, 2013, prices have declined significantly for solar contracts with reductions ranging from 25.8% to 39% from previous levels. All wind project prices remain unchanged at 11.5 cents per kilowatt. These prices will apply to any new contracts that are issued until a new price schedule takes effect on January 1, 2014. The OPA has justified the price decreases as reflecting both the changes in upfront costs to develop a renewable energy project, and shifts in the ongoing operation and maintenance costs for projects.
FIT/microFIT Price Schedule Changes
Click here to view table.
Large FIT: New Competitive Procurement Process
The Large FIT program (more than 500 kilowatts) is being removed from the FIT program and being replaced with a new competitive EOI/RFP type procurement process which will require developers to consider input from stakeholders, municipalities and Aboriginal communities to assist in identifying suitable locations and siting requirements.
The OPA is currently in a consultation process with stakeholders to receive feedback regarding the proposed competitive bidding process. This new process is currently under development by the OPA, however, there is no set timeline regarding when the RFP process is to be implemented. The OPA will be providing the Minister with interim recommendations by September 1, 2013 and additional engagement activities are expected in fall 2013.
The OPA will continue to procure renewable energy capacity through the microFIT program (10 kilowatts or less). The new microFIT application window is expected to open shortly for the remainder of 2013, which has a procurement target of 30 megawatts.  Following this, the next application window will begin in 2014, with a procurement target of 50 megawatts.
In the interim, though little noticed by the media, Ontario has managed to reach a cost-effective accommodation with the numerous grid-capacity constrained microFIT projects which were unable to connect to the Hydro One grid for technical reasons.
Small FIT
The OPA will continue to procure renewable energy capacity through the Small FIT program (500 kilowatts or less), but will now include a priority system whereby municipalities and public sector entities will be provided with incentives such as priority points during the application process.
The upcoming application window for Small FIT projects is expected sometime in the fall of 2013, which has a procurement target of 70 megawatts. The new Directive states that beginning in 2014, the OPA will prepare annual schedules of planned Small FIT application windows which will be published in January of each year.
REA Changes for Large Projects
In contrast to the recent details on FIT domestic content and pricing, there are now two sources of uncertainty for proponents of large renewable energy projects.
The first uncertainty arises from a process initiated pursuant to the June Directive.  This Directive tasked the OPA with developing a new procurement process for large renewable energy projects that “takes into account local needs and considerations before contracts are offered”. This task resulted in the OPA hosting an August 7th webinar, conducting meetings during the week of August 12th, and soliciting comments up to August 21st.  These dates are input to the OPA providing the Minister with recommendations by September 1st.  The only outcome offered publicly on this process is that it is “expected” that additional “engagement activities” will occur this fall.
But the OPA process is not the only uncertainty facing REA proponents.  On July 3rd, the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal released the landmark decision regarding the proposed Ostrander Point wind development, revoking the Director’s REA (See: An Ontario First, Tribunal Revokes Wind Farm Approval).  On August 1st, both the REA applicant and the REA Director at the Ministry of the Environment issued notices of appeal to Ontario’s Divisional Court to have the Tribunal decision set aside and the REA confirmed.  The central issue in the appeal is regulatory authority over endangered species: how does the authority of the Tribunal under the REA statutory appeal co-exist with the authority of the Minister of Natural Resources to issue permits under the Endangered Species Act, 2007? Right now, proponents facing endangered species issues are subject to a two-part process whereby an ESA permit is necessary but not sufficient to address such issues.

Port Elgin citizen turbine impact presentations on video

Although the wind turbine at Port Elgin erected by the Canadian Auto Workers  has only been in operation for a few months, complaints of health problems from the environmental noise and vibration produced by the wind generator started almost immediately.
  This is a 90-minute video with presentations from residents. What is shocking is that this turbine at 50 kW is relatively small compared to the 2-3 megawatt machines now being built and proposed for Ontario.
  The video is here; the first quarter-hour gives you plenty of useful, if depressing, information.

Letter writer: wind power means Manitoulin’s Little Current will be “ghost town”

Here from the Manitoulin Expositor, a couple of letters to the Editor, which are emblematic of the feelings throughout the sacrificial zones of rural/small urban Ontario.
First letter is here: Second longer letter is here.

Author feels for retirees.
I was reading the letter from August 21 (‘Tax losses from wind turbine project already starting to add up, page 5) that these retirees are now sorry that they bought this land on Manitoulin and it’s because of these windmills. A lot of retirees come to the Island to get away from industrialization and I was sharing this with one of my family members that Manitoulin might go bankrupt because of these windmills and this is also a tourist area—it’s not meant to be industrialized, but these people do not think before they do something without thinking of the consequences because they are just too greedy.
  Little Current might become a ghost town just to get away from the noise those windmills may cause and if this should happen who’s to blame? Well, the leadership and the government and then there is the environmental damages that are going to be done on the Island because these people are very good at conning you to believe them and we all know that there is more land in southern Ontario.
  But these rich people did not want them in their own backyard because they knew better not to accept and they knew the damage these windmills do to their health and well-being and also degrading the land value.
Time will tell.

Ron Osawabine
Second longer letter is here.

Cavan-Monaghan Councillor to wind developer: take your turbines somewhere else

This story is interesting on so many levels:
-note the wind power project was thought to be cancelled, but, no, a predatory developer has stepped up and purchased the FIT contract and intends to proceed
-the “developer” is MK Ince who has acted as an “environmental consultant” on numerous wind power generation projects
-the developer is looking for community investors, to gain points in the Ontario REA approval process
-Cavan-Monaghan Council isn’t buying the wind biz malarkey about wind replacing coal

The story from is here.

Wind farm developer met with protest in Cavan Monaghan

Roughly 200 residents gathered outside the Township offices to protest against proposed five-turbine wind farm

Cavan Monaghan Wind Farm Protest

Sarah Frank/This Week

Roughly 200 people showed up at the Cavan Monaghan Township offices on Tuesday (Sept 3) to protest against a proposed wind farm in the area. It would straddle Cavan Monaghan Township and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Peterborough This Week

MILLBROOK — Met by an angry crowd and a team of disapproving Cavan Monaghan Township councillors, the developer of a proposed wind farm was sent a clear message on Tuesday (Sept. 3).
In town to make a delegation to the Township regarding a five-turbine wind farm that would overlook the Devil’s Elbow skill hill area and a new subdivision, developer Martin Ince needed a police escort to help him get past nearly 200 people blocking the doors to the building. Inside, councillors voted to set aside $500,000 from lottery reserves in case the Township ends up in court over the issue.
While the Township has identified itself as an unwilling host for a wind farm, the Feed in Tariff (FIT) agreement for the Stoneboat Community Wind Farm project doesn’t need municipal approval. Mr. Ince acquired the FIT contract from the group behind the Whispering Winds wind farm — a contentious wind farm planned for the Manvers area that was eventually dropped.
New legislation created after the FIT was granted now stipulates companies need to build wind farms with approval from host municipalities.

“If there are areas that want industrial wind turbines, then my suggestion to you sir, is to take them there, because we don’t want them.”

Mr. Ince didn’t say how he acquired the FIT contract but says Whispering Winds representatives have shares the Stoneboat project.
The five industrial wind turbines proposed for the area, which also straddles the City of Kawartha Lakes, can produce up to 10 megawatts of electricity under the contract, which is sold back to the grid at 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
In all, the project is expected to cost $30 million with most of the investment carried by banks, Mr. Ince says. He’s also looking for roughly $5 million in community investment, though if there’s no interest he doesn’t plan on canning the project.
He says the project would also include revenue-sharing with the Township and neighbouring landowners. So far, he says he’s made agreements with three landowners.
Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden requested Mr. Ince make the financial status of the company public. When asked if Mr. Ince had any assets in the Stoneboat project, he didn’t give a specific answer, stating it was not necessarily a topic that needed to be discussed publicly.
“We’re talking about a $30-million project in our community that’s contentious,” Coun. McFadden says. “If you don’t have any assets in your company, we’ve got a problem.”
Mr. Ince agreed to provide financial records to the Township.
Coun. McFadden is also concerned the wind farm could block other local green energy projects, with the farm estimated to run at 30 per cent efficiency. The other 70 per cent would be lost, he says, though it will be tied up in the wind farm’s FIT contract.
“I support green energy, however there are renewable energy sources that can directly replace coal,” he says, adding wind farms don’t have the capability to take over for coal-generated power. “If there are areas that want industrial wind turbines, then my suggestion to you sir, is to take them there, because we don’t want them.”
The wind farm must be built and ready to hook up to the Province’s power grid by 2016, before the FIT contract expires. Mr. Ince says he hopes to start construction by the summer of 2015 at the latest.
Each of the six turbines would be roughly 480-feet tall.
Mayor John Fallis asked Mr. Ince to wait to go ahead with the project until a federal study on health impacts related to living near wind turbines was complete. Mr. Ince says he isn’t looking to put his project on hold.
In addition to putting money aside for a legal fund, councillors voted to start putting together an expert legal team and get in touch with the municipalities against wind farms for assistance. In a recorded vote, Mayor John Fallis was the only to vote against the plan. The Mayor instead suggested an amendment to drop the transfer of funds to $100,000 to give staff time to prepare a report on the Township’s finances and to consider the 2014 budget. No other councillors were interested in supporting the amendment.
Graham Hawkridge, a member of the wind concerns group, says Cavan Monaghan residents aren’t the only group to oppose wind turbines.
“We don’t want them anywhere,” he says. “No rural people do…Property values go through the toilet.”
He says the tops of the wind turbines are filled with hydraulic oil, which poses a threat to the surrounding environment.
“If one of those things explodes, that hydraulic oil goes directly into the Oak Ridges Moraine,” he says. “It’s not that we’re being selfish here.”
When asked why he’s adamant on moving ahead with the project, Mr. Ince says he’s an environmentalist and engineer who supports green energy. He’s also concerned about what the planet will look like for his children and grandchildren, he says.
“We have trouble understanding that change has to happen,” he says.
While he doesn’t live near a wind turbine, he says he’d be happy to.
Mr. Ince plans to hold a public meeting on the proposed wind farms in October.
Deputy Mayor McFadden is also hosting a townhall meeting on the issue on Thursday (Sept. 5) at the Township offices from 7 to 10 p.m.

Behind the Green Door, or, a union and the Ontario government–strange bedfellows?


The Ottawa Citizen recently reported on the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) meetings in Ottawa August 18-23 and in particular the fact that 62 municipalities had declared themselves “unwilling hosts” to industrial wind turbines.

   Those 62 communities (now 65) were simply taking Premier Wynne at her word based on her government’s Throne Speech:
“Your government intends to work with municipalities on other issues, too.  …They must have a voice in their future and a say in their integrated, regional development.  So that local populations are involved from the beginning if there is going to be a gas plant or a casino or a wind plant or a quarry in their hometown. Because our economy can benefit from these things, but only if we have willing hosts.”
   As it turns out, Premier Wynne’s invitation backfired; maybe she didn’t believe it would actually draw so much attention and cause so many communities to reflect on her rhetoric, and then declare themselves “unwilling hosts.”  The same August 20 article in the Ottawa Citizenstated that:
 Wynne has asked the OSEA, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness in communities slated for the turbine projects about the benefits of hosting, including the financial gains that can come from being power generators in a cash-strapped economy.”
  Most people know the impact that the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association or  OSEAhad on George Smitherman when he was the Energy Minister and ushered the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) through the Ontario Legislature.  It is now apparent that OSEA’s influence is deeper and may reach all the way to the Premier’s office.
    The Citizenarticle quotes Kris Stevens, the Executive Director of OSEA:
 What we want is to have lots of points of light — sort of like the Internet — so that if part of the system goes off, the rest of the system can isolate it and keep running.
   The article goes on to repeat this claim:
“He said such a change would prevent blackouts like the one that happened in much of Eastern Ontario and the Northeastern United States 10 years ago. ‘What happened in Ohio affected everyone because we were pushing power from one centralized place,’ said Stevens.”
   That claim is not supported by the Ontario’s grid operator.
   Because delivery of wind and solar power is intermittent, it threatens the grid on an almost daily basis as Ontario’s baseload generation must be turned on and off to accommodate the vagaries of that intermittent renewable energy.  Thatis the generation that OSEA lobbied Minister Smitherman to push through via the GEA; now the IESO regularly posts “Alerts” when they have a concern about potential grid problems usually caused by those renewables! Those “Alerts” might signal the next blackout!
   I have to ask about the Wynne announcement and the OSEA appointment: What have they done and how is it being financed?    In the last annual report posted on the OSEA website for their year ended November 24, 2010, their total net assets (capital) amounted to only $48,865 so it sure wasn’t coming from that source.  Some of it may be coming from the OSEA primary funders such at the Trillium Foundation or the other four voter-owned provincial/municipal companies or ministries that OSEA list as “Funding Sources,” but OSEA doesn’t disclose that, just as they now don’t disclose their members.
   Nevertheless, OSEA has launched a new website: Green Energy Doors Open where they have (so far) announced a one-day event, principally in the GTA region, including an invitation to see or climb the Exhibition Place Wind Turbine.  They also have initiated a “Current Campaign” (within OSEA) titled, Municipal Outreach on Best Principles and Practices. I presume its aim is to demonstrate OSEA’s ability to convince municipalities to jump onto the “financial gains” bandwagon as one of his “points of light” and become willing hosts.
  On the Green Energy Doors Open website OSEA list their sponsors; their “Gold”  sponsor is none other than  the Canadian Union of Skilled Workers (CUSW).  CUSW, with thousands of members, has contracts with Bruce Power, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for Pickering and Darlington. Their website even has some of their minutes posted.  Item 2 under the heading “Meeting Agenda” from their National Executive Board Minutes of July 5, 2013 even lists “Liberal Golf Tournaments.” The minute records state:  Liberal Golf Tournaments – Motion: to support the attendance of four CUSW Members at two of the tournaments being held over the summer.  Ottawa Gold Tournament Monday August 19, 2013 and Liberal Women’s Caucus Tournament Thursday September 5, 2013 M/S B. Gilroy, A Tuck Consensus”. 
  Coincidently another agenda item approved expense claims including one for Mark Gallant (no relation) who wanted reimbursement for an “OSEA Energy Drinks Networking Event.” 
   And, the President of the CUSW, Joe Mulhall, is also a Director of OSEA.
   It seems strange that a union such as CUSW, whose membership benefits from contracts with OPG, would support an entity like OSEA and also have such a direct link via President Joe Mulhall and in that position should be considered as conflicted.   The imposition of the GEA that has caused so much damage to the electricity system in Ontario, resulting in the continuing decline of OPG’s revenue stream while driving up electricity prices for all ratepayers seems like an odd cause to support when your members are employed by the entities you are working against.  
   Premier Wynne emphasized “financial gains” in her Throne speech.  Does she not understand that the financial gains for municipalities from industrial wind developments come from the pockets of ratepayers throughout the province, and flows into the pockets of mainly foreign developers and manufacturers? 
  Strange musings by our Premier, and strange bedfellows for the CUSW!
  Happy Labour Day indeed.
Parker Gallant,
September 2, 2013
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Wind Concerns Ontario.