Are U.S. businesses in a “power play” for Ontario companies?

In order to understand the full import of this news story, it will be key to have read some of Parker Gallant‘s articles in the past, in which he documents Ontario’s exports of cheap power to neighbouring states such as New York and Michigan. The reason we have power to export is the first-to-the-grid wind is produced at night and in the spring when we don’t need it. And what are the neighbours doing with that cheap power? Read on.

Power play for industry 89

Ronald Zajac, The Recorder and Times
By Ronald Zajac, Recorder and Times

Northern Cables Inc. vice-president Todd Stafford stands among some of the company's spooling machines on Thursday. DARCY CHEEK/The Recorder and Times
Northern Cables Inc. vice-president Todd Stafford stands among some of the company’s spooling machines on Thursday. DARCY CHEEK/The Recorder and Times

Like other local industrial leaders, Northern Cables recently received a brochure from a jurisdiction in upstate New York that touched on a topical issue.
“They do extol the advantage of lower electricity rates in that area,” said Northern Cables chief executive officer Shelley Bacon.
It’s a pitch St. Lawrence County is actively making along the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River, but an economic development official there said Thursday the overtures do not amount to “poaching.”
The recent brochure is not the first advance by other jurisdictions promising a better deal on power for Brockville-grown Northern Cables. And while it’s not something Bacon likes to think about, he can also not afford to disregard Ontario’s escalating hydro costs.
“In the last, short period of time, electricity has shot up a ladder in terms of importance to this company,” he said.
While he is not now thinking of moving any business across the border, Bacon suggested that staggering hydro increases anticipated in the coming years might force him to choose between growing the business in Brockville and moving some of that business across the river.
That’s not a threat, said Bacon. It’s an economic reality felt by businesses across Ontario in the wake of the provincial government’s newly-released long-term energy plan.
Brockville economic development director Dave Paul has referred to the power-themed American lure brochures as “poaching.” It’s not a label Tom Plastino, deputy CEO of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, considers accurate.
He said he is not trying to get industries to uproot their shops, and adds people in his line of work are wary of “carpetbagger companies” in any case.
“Our attitude has always been that Canadian businesses who want to put branches in the U.S., well, they don’t have to look too much further across the river,” said Plastino.
The longtime economic developer has been talking to Canadian companies for as long as he can remember, and has lately been promoting his state’s lower power rates to firms in the Kingston-Ottawa-Cornwall triangle.
He acknowledges the recent brochure mail-out is in response to the “sticker shock” Ontario firms are feeling in the wake of the province’s energy policy announcement.
The literature is aimed at firms that need a U.S. presence, such as a branch plant, to reach the American market, said Plastino.
“We’re capitalizing on the visibility of power rates right now.”
Plastino adds he has had some responses, but nothing firm.
Other upstate officials also reject Paul’s accusation.
“‘Poaching’ is a word I wouldn’t use, unless of course you were doing it,” joked Fred Morrill, a St. Lawrence County legislator and chairman of its finance committee.
The town of Massena, N.Y., in particular, offers lower hydro rates because it has its own municipal electricity utility, said Morrill.
Luring Canadian businesses is nothing new, he added.
“Will we take advantage of low-cost power if someone from Canada is interested in coming here? Absolutely, because we need jobs,” he said.

Read the full story here.

U.S. veteran now battles wind turbines

From the Boston Globe

A Falmouth veteran battles wind turbines — and health woes

By Bella English

 |  Globe Staff     January 24, 2014

Barry Funfar on the deck of his home, near the turbines.
Photos by Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe

Barry Funfar on the deck of his home, near the turbines.

FALMOUTH — Barry Funfar is a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran who spent most of his waking moments since retirement a decade ago working with the hundreds of flowers and trees he planted around the Colonial-style house that he built. Gardening was his exercise, therapy, and passion, and his doctors agreed it was beneficial to combat his post traumatic stress disorder.
A Marine, Funfar flew 127 combat missions as a door gunner on Huey helicopters and was awarded seven Air Medals for meritorious service.
Years later, he is battling another enemy: two wind turbines near his home, which he says have ended his gardening, caused him unremitting health problems, and exacerbated the PTSD that has plagued him for decades.
Last spring, he and his wife, Diane, filed a complaint against the Town of Falmouth, and the Zoning Board of Appeals recently agreed with the couple that the green energy turbines create a nuisance for them. A year earlier, the board had issued a similar ruling in another turbine case.

But instead of complying with its own zoning board, the Town of Falmouth is suing the board — again.

In the earlier case, Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher Muse issued a temporary order, while the case is pending, that the turbines run only between7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Dozens of other Falmouth residents have also testified before the local health board about negative health effects.
These residents are not alone.
Seeking cleaner and cheaper sources of power, governments around the world have been turning to wind power. But as the turbines increase so have complaints about health problems. There remains significant disagreement about the medical legitimacy of those claims, but there is no doubt in the minds of Funfar and others who suffer.
Funfar, who was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in 2003 after decades of nightmares, anxiety, anger, depression, and alcoholism, was treated by doctors and counselors at the VA Medical Center in Providence, sometimes attending group and individual therapy sessions four days a week. He still goes weekly.
Funfar joined the Marine Corps in 1965, a farm boy from North Dakota. At boot camp graduation, his drill instructor handed him a military ID and said: “Here’s your license to kill.” It’s a statement that still haunts Funfar.
But by 2008, after the intensive therapy, he says, he was feeling much better.
“It took a lot of therapy to change those nightmares that I was killed,” he said on a recent day in the house he built in 1999. “In those dreams, my copter would be shot down; the enemy would chase us and kill us, and I’d be at my own funeral.”
In Falmouth, where the Funfars have lived since 1979, gardening became a big part of his life, and his doctors encouraged it as a healthy outlet for his PTSD. As the oldest of five boys growing up on an isolated farm, Funfar had always had a passion for plants.
You might call it an obsession. His lot, not quite an acre, has 128 varieties of clematis plants, 500 rhododendrons and azaleas, eight varieties of magnolias, and this year, he put in 10 Japanese maples. That doesn’t include myriad other plants; Funfar reckons he’s got “thousands of them out there.” He has given away hundreds.
In fact, he did the master plan for his garden before he even built the house.
Funfar has carved paths in what he calls his “wild woodland garden,” and built a greenhouse on the property as well as a gazebo with a wood stove and microwave, where he sits and peruses some of the dozens of gardening books he has amassed. He also has several photo albums of his plants, with notes scribbled alongside each picture. He makes his own greeting cards with pressed flowers from his garden, and his home was included on three garden tours.
“Any moment I wasn’t working, I was with those plants,” says Funfar, who in 2003 retired from his carpet-cleaning business.
But these days, the property is overgrown and neglected, the greenhouse and gazebo abandoned. In March 2010, the town installed its first wind turbine and added another the following year. The first is 1,662 feet from the Funfar home, the second 1,558 feet. Both can be seen from their roof deck.
“The first time I heard it, I couldn’t believe it could make that much noise,” he says. It’s also the inaudible low frequency and infrasound waves that he says have made him ill, with symptoms such as heart palpitations, surges in blood pressure, migraine headaches, and sleep deprivation.
Read the full story here.

Permits to kill eagles a concern in the U.S.

“Wind power not ‘green’ if it kills birds”

Watertown Daily Times

New permits for turbines allow wind farms to kill eagles up to 30 years

By TED BOOKER
TIMES STAFF WRITER
PUBLISHED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014 AT 1:25 AM
UPDATED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014 AT 7:43 PM
JASON HUNTER • WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES FILES
The sun sets behind a series of wind turbines along Route 190 between Malone and Ellenburg in this 2009 photo. New federal rules loosen oversight of eagle mortality caused by wind farms.
JASON HUNTER • WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES FILES
The sun sets behind a series of wind turbines along Route 190 between Malone and Ellenburg in this 2009 photo. New federal rules loosen oversight of eagle mortality caused by wind farms.
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In a move wildlife conservationists fear could endanger the growing population of bald eagles that nest along the St. Lawrence River, a federal rule relaxed in December allows wind turbine operators to kill or injure the birds for up to 30 years without penalty.
Pushed by the wind industry to aid investor confidence in wind farm projects, the rule change approved by the U.S. Department of Interior extends the lifespan of what are known as “eagle take permits” from five to 30 years. Permits enable transmission operators, power producers and other industries to accidentally kill a limited number of birds without penalty under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act; they require companies to take steps to protect the birds and specify how many may be killed on a case-by-case basis.
Before the rule change, wind turbine operators located within a 43-mile radius of bald eagle nesting areas, and within 140 miles of golden eagle nests, were required to obtain new permits every five years from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The loosened law means operators now may hold permits without any major challenges for 30 years. Fish and Wildlife will review permits every five years to ensure they meet conditions, and operators are expected to report any problems.
Gerald A. Smith, a Barnes Corners resident who serves as vice president of the Onondaga Audubon Society, said the rule change has nettled conservationists and ornithologists in the region who have led efforts to protect raptors and other birds along eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The society represents 10 counties across the region, including Jefferson and Lewis counties.
“It’s basically greed on the part of the wind industry to supposedly get stable investment conditions,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s really a cave on the part of the Obama administration to extremely bad environmental management. Wind energy is renewable, but it’s not ‘green’ if it’s killing eagles, birds and bats, and there is strong evidence that it does.”
It now will be up to the local environmental communities to fight for tighter regulations on eagle take permits when wind developers plan projects in the region, Mr. Smith said. The 30-year renewal law may be amended on a case-by-case basis so that wind developers have to renew permits sooner if it’s deemed warranted by Fish and Wildlife, he said.
“The rule allows for regulations in chunks of a five-year minimum, if that should be decided on for every wind project near the Great Lakes” where bald eagles nest, he said. “There should be no 30-year permits allowed.”
Robert Burke, director of operations at Maple Ridge Wind Farm, based on the Tug Hill in Lowville, did not return a call Wednesday seeking bird and raptor mortality data from the site. which became operational January 2006. Its farm includes 195 1.65-megawatt wind turbines that are 260 feet tall.
Planned wind power projects in the north country have often intruded on flyways for raptors and other birds near water bodies, because those areas are conducive to wind power, Mr. Smith said. As a case in point, he referred to the project planned by BP Wind Power in the towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme. Compared with 10 years ago, he said, the number of bald eagles in northwestern Jefferson County has grown significantly.
Because of the windy region near Lake Ontario, BP “has chosen to put turbines that close to migration routes that are documented” in Cape Vincent, Mr. Smith said. “The towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme are a wintering area for a number of raptors, including bald eagles. There are a tremendous amount of issues (affecting birds and bats) caused by wind projects along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, and this (eagle rule) would only be one more.”
The American Wind Energy Association lauded the federal rule change for eagle take permits, contending the decision will create a greater degree of longer-term legal and financial certainty for wind energy companies. An Associated Press story said that requirements to obtain eagle take permits include multiple years of pre- and post-construction monitoring and changing the design of projects at the request of Fish and Wildlife. Wind developers will be required to invest in conservation efforts when projects are near bald or golden eagle populations.
“We have 45,000 wind turbines in this country, and in the past 30 years we only know of a handful of bald eagles that have struck these turbines,” said Peter L. Kelley, Wind Energy Association vice president of public affairs. These permits “will require wind developers to make a long-term commitment to maintain eagle conservation, or they’ll lose them. You’ll have to show you are providing more protections for eagles (to acquire permits) and have to go through five-year checkups after that.
The wind industry’s estimate of bird kills has been challenged repeatedly by environmentalists, who have faulted both the results and the manner of kill reporting.
Wildlife conservation groups have voiced opposition to the rule change, but at the same time they support wind energy as a renewable source that will help address the future risk of climate change, Mr. Kelley said.
Lee H. Harper, a Massena ornithologist, said the number of bald eagles that have established nesting sites in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties along the St. Lawrence River has grown in recent years. Within 15 miles of his Massena residence, for example, four nesting sites have been established in the past five to 10 years.
Mr. Harper is concerned about how the relaxed federal eagle take permits could be detrimental to those birds over the long term by making the region more attractive to wind developers.
“The rule change could set back eagle restoration efforts if wind farm oversight is not sufficient to address eagle mortality at wind farms where the potential impact is high,” he said. “While the burden to obtain these permits is high for both the agency and the wind industry, I think both parties understand the importance of eagle restoration and conservation, and the need to continue to work together to appropriately site wind farms in Northern New York.”
The bald eagle population in the north country and across the state has climbed steadily over the past three decades, according to statistics from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Today, about 100 bald eagles migrate south from Canada to winter along the St. Lawrence River and surrounding area, where the population is stable, said Stephen W. Litwhiler, DEC spokesman for Region 6. A 2010 study conducted by DEC found nine nesting territories in St. Lawrence County, three in Jefferson County, none in Lewis County and 10 in Franklin County.
“The St. Lawrence River is open during the winter and gives them a place to feed on the open water,” Mr. Litwhiler said, adding that the raptors feed on fish and deer carcasses.
In 1980, only 36 bald eagles were observed by the DEC during its annual winter survey; results from the most recent survey in 2010 found a total of 658. Only eight eagles were observed on the St. Lawrence River in 1980; in 2010, a total of 96 were found.
The golden eagle population, by contrast, is almost nonexistent across the state. Fewer than 10 eagles have been observed by DEC every year since 1980.

News report on Sumac Ridge ERT preliminary hearing

This news report is from Peterborough-based CHEX-TV, on the preliminary hearing of the wpd wind power project, Sumac Ridge, which is in the Oak Ridges Moraine area.
“This is the last stand,” comments one of the community members present. If people don’t care about health concerns, the environment, the damage to the Oak Ridges Moraine, or their rising electricity bills, I don’t know what else you can do, he said.
The news report is here.
For more information on the Oak Ridges Moraine, go to http://www.moraineforlife.org/
and for more on the fight to protect the area, go to to the Manvers Wind Concerns website. Donations welcome and needed for the legal battle.

Wind Concerns Ontario
Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson made a statement on the appeal of a
decision to halt a wind power plant In Prince Edward County. Wind Concerns said the
Ontario government is appealing its own decision, based on serious and irreversible
harm to the endangered Blanding’s turtle. 
Wilson said taxpayer money is being used in Ontario to assist in an assault on wildlife and a fragile environment. Wilson said this is an example of the Ontario government’s support of corporate wind power developers, despite evidence of harm to the environment, and human health.
 
Contact us at windconcerns@gmail.com

Summary of Ostrander January 23rd

This is an excerpt of a report on today’s proceedings, provided by Cheryl Anderson of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. The APPEC portion of the day, on health, was in the afternoon.

The PECFN counter appeals and cross appeals and the intervener South Shore Conservancy [SSC] was completed in the late morning… 

Chris Paliere, legal representative for the SSC spoke first.   Mr. Paliere gave a succinct and direct analysis of the legal issues SSC has with the ERT ruling.  Pointing out that in order for the endangered species permit to be granted expertise should be expected from the MNR,  Mr Paliere asserted that there was no evidence that the permit granting was anything more than a paper process.  The Tribunal had the expertise to interpret broad undefined terms in the Green Energy Act and the Renewable Energy Approval.  The Tribunal therefore was correct in only considering that the ESA permit was in effect.  Therefore the conclusions reached by the Tribunal must be accepted.
This argument was countered by Mr. Wayland and Mr. Hamilton for Gilead.  The arguments centre on whether the ESA permit to kill harm and harass supersedes the Renewable Energy Approval of the project.  In other words, the ERT cannot deny the project because the ESA permit is in place – and since the MNR has given permission to kill harm and harass endangered species then the ERT cannot find serious and irreversible harm to a species.  Mr. Paliere was adamant that there are two separate issues and that the situation amounted to “poly-centric decision making”.
The PECFN cross appeal dealing with our contention that the ERT did not properly consider the evidence showing serious and irreversible harm to the Birds and Alvar was begun by Natalie Smith, who presented the facts in the case.  Eric Gillespie carried on with the legal arguments.  There was a discussion started by Justice Nordheimer regarding the damage done to Alvar by the Department of National Defence use of the areas of the South Shore in the early 1950’s for munitions testing.  Eric’s assertion that the DND damage was minimal was countered by both Sylvia Davis for the MOE and Mr. Wayland for Gilead.  They were trying to say that the damage by the munitions testing was in some way analogous to the damage that would be caused by wind turbines and roads.  Following from the argument was the assumption that when the IWT’s were removed after twenty years the Alvar would regenerate similar to the regeneration after the munitions testing.   
According to Eric’s submission, “in dealing with the issue of birds the Tribunal failed to provide and interpretation of scale”.  In other words if there are many birds of a species that is abundant on the site then chances are that there will not be serious and irreversible harm to that species.  However, if there is a bird or a few birds of an endangered species on the site then the chances of severe and irreversible harm to that species become greater.  The Tribunal ruled, in spite of excellent witness testimony to the contrary, that PECFN did not prove serious and irreversible harm to birds as a result of the IWT project.  Eric’s submission was that if the Tribunal had taken “scale” into consideration their decision would have been to deny the project on that basis.
We will have to wait to see if the Divisional Court will let the ERT ruling re: Blanding’s Turtles stand and if they will reverse the ERT ruling on the Birds and Alvar as requested by PECFN. 

 For more information on the PECFN case, go to saveostranderpoint.org

St. Columban appeal dismissed; power project to cost Ontario millions

The appeal of the St. Columban wind power project has been dismissed, in a decision released by the Environmental Review Tribunal. The Tribunal said the appellants had failed to demonstrate any risk of serious harm to human health. The decision is here.
The 33-MW power project is being developed by Veresen Inc., and is located in the Municipality of Huron East.
The cost to the people of Ontario for this one wind power project will be $11.3 million, annually.

Germany: shining example of brilliant energy policies (not)

Here from the Daily Telegraph, a report on how well Germany the icon of green energy for Ontario, is doing.

Germany is a cautionary tale of how energy polices can harm the economy

Despite Germany’s shift to renewable solar and wind energies, and amid a recession, its carbon emissions rose by 1.8pc last year

Newly-built houses with solar panels in Germaringen, southern Germany
Germany is trying to meet a target of producing 80pc of the country’s electricity from renewable, wind and solar power by 2050 Photo: EPA
5:28PM GMT 16 Jan 2014
Germanys shift to renewable energy was once Angela Merkel’s flagship policy – now it has become her biggest headache.
“For me, the most urgent problem is the design of the energy revolution,” said the German Chancellor in her first television interview after being re-elected last month. “We are under a lot of pressure. The future of jobs and the future of Germany as a business location depend on it.”
She is not wrong: Europe’s largest country and economy faces a crisis. Such is the mess over energy that the future of Germany’s much-vaunted economic competitiveness is now seriously threatened.
Ms Merkel is currently Europe’s most popular leader but there is a growing backlash against her ill-thought-out energy policies.
And, to cap it all, policies hailed as saving the world from climate change have, in fact, increased CO2 emissions.
The plan was called energiewende, which can be translated as energy transition or even revolution. But despite Germany’s shift to renewable solar and wind energies, and amid a recession, its carbon emissions rose by 1.8pc last year.
In the European Union, as a whole, emissions fell by 1.3pc, mainly due to recession, according to the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.
Ms Merkel has no one to blame but herself. Germany’s shift to renewables was very much along the norms of the European model, with the aim of going beyond EU targets. Then along came Fukushima and the wave of anti-nuclear hysteria that followed the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The once-in-a-millennium event at the Fukushima reactor killed nobody, although the tsunami claimed 16,000 lives. However, it was enough to panic Germany’s green middle class.
Ms Merkel caved in to shrill demands for the country’s atomic reactors to be closed. This decision, from a former chemist, who is personally pro-nuclear, is perhaps the most important economic call she has made. It is a disaster.

Read the full story here.

Trial judges reject developers’ motion for new evidence

Here from the Toronto Star, a report from John Spears on today’s proceedings.

Turtles vs turbines case goes to court

The relative interests of turtles and wind turbines are being weighed by a panel of Ontario divisional court judges

An environmental review tribunal blocked a proposal to erect nine turbines on the shore of Lake Ontario at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County because it feared the development would harm the local population of Blanding’s turtles, a threatened species.  Tony Bock/Toronto Star
Tony Bock / Tony Bock/Toronto Star
An environmental review tribunal blocked a proposal to erect nine turbines on the shore of Lake Ontario at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County because it feared the development would harm the local population of Blanding’s turtles, a threatened species. Tony Bock/Toronto Star
By: Business reporter, Published on Tue Jan 21 2014

Blanding’s turtles get their day in court this week – three days, in fact – as a case that pits turtles against wind turbines enters a new phase.
The turtles won the first round last year, when an environmental review tribunal blocked a proposal to erect nine turbines on the shore of Lake Ontario at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.
The reason: The tribunal ruled that new roads built for access to the turbines would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the local population of Blanding’s turtles, a threatened species.
After hearing arguments from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists club, the tribunal revoked the renewable energy permit that wind developer Gilead Power had previously been granted.
The case highlighted the tensions that have developed between some environmentalists and the wind energy industry.
Tuesday the wind power company, Gilead Power, and Ontario’s ministry of the environment were in divisional court to appeal the ruling.
But the turtles won another quick round when the three-judge panel rejected a motion by Gilead’s lawyers to introduce new evidence.
The tribunal had blocked the wind farm proposal because new roads would increase traffic, and provide more access to poachers and predators.
But that premise is now outdated, lawyers for Gilead argued.
The ministry of natural resources, which administers the crown land where the turbines are to be erected, has recently ordered Gilead to put up gates on the new roads, closing them to public traffic.
The gates are part of an over-all “impact monitoring plan” that was set up subsequent to the tribunal ruling.
Normally, new evidence isn’t admitted at appeals before the divisional court, which only addresses matters of law.
Gilead Power lawyer Doug Hamilton argued that “it would amount to the court turning a blind eye to reality” if it ignored the fact that the new roads will be closed to the public.
If the new evidence isn’t admitted, Gilead lawyer Chris Wayland said, all the lawyers involved will be forced to argue the appeal based on “facts” that no longer exist.
But Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the field naturalists, said that Gilead had ample opportunity during weeks of hearings before the tribunal to suggest closing access to the new roads.
It’s too late to introduce new evidence at this stage, he said:
“They just want to change their evidence because they weren’t happy with the outcome” before the tribunal.
Erecting gates will be ineffective, in any case, he said: Snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles will simply drive around them, and poachers are unlikely to respect them.

… Read the full story here.