Parker Gallant on the Ontario Sunshine List


The sun shines for Ontario public sector employees in the “electricity sector”

 

The 2013 “Sunshine” list released a week ago set a new record with 96,500 names on the list of public sector employees earning over $100,000 annually and an average of $127,433 each.   Looking specifically at the employees in the “energy” sector (OPG, Hydro One, IESO, OPA, OEB, Ministry of Energy) you find that 12,300 names on the lists. 
It should be pointed out that the 2013-2014 budget brought in by Finance Minister Sousa indicated the Energy Ministry budget was $1,119,650,400. Doing the math on those 12,300 employees at the “average” remuneration of $127,433 gives you a total of about $1,567 million, exceeding the budget by $427 million.  The budget doesn’t include public sector employees at OPG or Hydro One where the bulk of those on the “Sunshine” list work, and where ratepayers pick up the tab.  
 OPG reported at year-end December 31, 2013 they had 10,270 employees and 7,960 (77.5%) of those employees made the list.  Hydro One reported they had 5,641 employees as of December 31, 2013 and 3,771 (67%) made the list.   It also doesn’t include IESO (326 on the Sunshine list) or the OPA (87 on the list) or the OEB (102 on the list), but all of those costs are picked up by the electricity ratepayers.  (It should be noted that the number of employees at the latter three are not reported in their latest annual reports nor could the information by found on their websites.)
Another interesting fact about the “Energy Ministry” is that budgeted expenditures placed them in 10th position well behind the big ones like Health, Education, Community and Social Services, Training, Colleges and Universities and even behind the Attorney General’s budget.  Those 12,300 names on the list represent 12.8% of the Sunshine list but the Energy budget represents less than 1% of total budgeted expenditures of $109 billion. It includes the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OECB) of $1.040 billion which is paid for by the taxpayers.   If that amount was deducted from the Ministries’ budgets, it would come in at $79 million; that’s because, unlike all of the other 26 ministries, it is the ratepayers who pick up almost 100% of the $20 billion plus costs of generating and distributing electricity.  

Of course, the sunshine list doesn’t include any employees from private sector generators like Bruce, Brookfield, NextEra, Samsung or other solar and wind developers…

To read more Parker Gallant, please go to our special tab for his columns at this tab

Australian Medical Association: you’ve got mail

Since the Australian Medical Association came out with its “surprising” (Dr Robert  McMurtry’s reaction) statement on wind turbine noise and health, people from around the world have been writing to provide the AMA with more information, and demand a retraction, reports Wind Victims Ontario.

A full report of the global reaction may be found here including copies of letters that have been sent.

The Waubra Foundation in Australia has a full list of letters sent, in alphabetical order; if you wish to contact the AMA, be sure to visit the Waubra Foundation link first, and copy them on your correspondence.

Here are some sample letter:

 

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22nd March, 2014
The Australian Medical Association Position Statement: “Wind Farms and Health” 2014 has provoked instant national and international condemnation from those who have first hand knowledge of the damaging impact of wind turbine noise, including impacted residents, researchers, and professionals providing either clinical care or acoustic services.

Some people are writing privately to the AMA, urging them to remove or update the ignorant AMA position statement, whilst others would like their views made public. As the Waubra Foundation becomes aware of letters written to the AMA and receives permission to reproduce them, they are being posted below.

The Waubra Foundation’s Open Letter to the AMA is here.
Gardner, Mrs. Ann Nine Questions for the AMA   
     My name is Ann Gardner and I have lived and worked happily and healthily for 34 years, on my husband’s and my farming property in south-west Victoria until October 2012, when the first only 15 turbines of the Macarthur wind farm began operation, and threw our lives and those of many others, into turmoil.
     At the time of writing this letter I am suffering terribly from the infrasound emitted by the 140 turbines located FAR TOO CLOSE to our property.
     I have a bad headache. I have a very strong pain shooting up through the back of my neck and into my head. I have extremely sore and blocked ears and very painful pressure in my nose. I have pressure in my jaws and my teeth. My heart is POUNDING .….. I can feel the vibration going through my body, through the chair, like an electric charge. I have just taken yet another two tablets to try and alleviate the pain.
     I am also exhausted, as last night, along with every other night, I spent more time awake than asleep. The infrasound in our bedroom, was appalling .….. I could feel the vibration through the mattress and the pillow, like an electric charge through my body. My head felt as if a brick was on it, and the pressure and pain in my nose was extreme. I have always been a very sound sleeper, that is until October 2012. I am now lucky if I am able to get two or three hours sleep each night, in my own home.

Gallandy-Jakobsen, GretaAMA Concerned About Machines Instead of Human Beings
Do you remember your oath as a member of the medical profession?
At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:

  • I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
  • I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
  • I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
  • The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
  • I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
  • I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
  • My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;
  • I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
  • I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

Enbom, Dr Hakam, MD, PhD. Otoneurologist, Angelholm, Sweden
“Thus the conclusion is that low frequency sound and infrasound from wind power has the qualities to trigger increased sensitivity and eventually migraine headache or other migraine-symptoms – such as vertigo or tinnitus (without headache).”

Hopkins, Dr Gary D. Emergency Physician, South Australia
“I am rendered speechless by your irresponsible, ill researched, ill advised and reckless statement that those who might suffer physical effects from the presence of turbines are suffering a psychological condition (anxiety). Indeed your very statement itself causes anxiety in those likely to be effected ( “who will believe me when I tell them I feel sick ” ? ).”

McMurtry, Professor R. Researcher, Expert Witness, Former Dean Medical School, Ontario, Canada
“I am writing to comment on the AMA Position Statement. The position statement is surprising. It is not well informed, references are absent and the authors of the document are undisclosed. Many of the phrases and claims in the document faithfully reflect wind industry claims, claims which cannot be substantiated.
Review of the existing evidence in which direct assessment of exposed individuals has been carried out uniformly reveals adverse health effects2. The common denominator of complaints consists of sleep disturbance, inner ear disturbance and stress response. These are serious adverse health effects. These adverse health events have been reported globally in the media and grey literature.”

Palmer, William. Professional Engineer, Ontario, Canada
“I wish to express to you my grave concern that the Position Statement as it is issued is not consistent with the Code of Ethics of the Australian Medical Association
There is obviously a need for discretion, but this information is from the public record:

  1. A gentleman in his 50’s who stood at a public meeting to declare he was suffering no adverse health effects from wind turbines near his home suffered a cardiac arrest and died within one week of his declaration.
  2. A young lady in her 30’s suffered an unexpected sudden cardiac arrest and died.
  3. Another gentleman in his 60’s had a cardiac arrest while out fishing and could not be revived.
  4. Another gentleman in his 60’s suffered a cardiac arrest while driving and passed away.

None of these individuals’ deaths were expected”

Papadopoulos, George. Pharmacist, Yass, NSW
“Both AMA position statements reflect an abstract position that does not examine reality.
It seems that the AMA perceives information and open discussion as a threat to the mental wellbeing of the modern Australian.
The harm wind turbines can cause has been described by NASA scientists in the 1980’s. The response by Sarah Laurie to the AMA is very comprehensive and makes the case clear”


Reider, Dr Sandy MD, Primary Care Physician, Vermont USA, has treated impacted residents
“As a rural primary care physician (graduate of Harvard Medical School in 1971) in northern Vermont, USA, I have observed first hand the adverse health effects experienced by individuals living too close to the two large wind projects that have been brought online in the area over the past few years.”

Tibbetts, Dr. Jay J. MD, Primary Care Physician, Wisconsin, USA, has treated impacted residents
“Over the past four years the Board has studied the deleterious effects of IWT’s on human health.
We have the Shirley Wind Farm in our county. It consists of eight 500’ 2.5 megawatt IWT’s. The effects on our citizens living in the immediate vicinity i.e. 2–3 mi. of the nearest turbine has been devastating. Ear pressure , pain, tinnitus, vertigo, headache, nausea, chest pain pressure, abdominal pain, poor concentration, sleep deprivation, irritability and depression are some of the symptoms our citizens are experiencing. These symptoms are not unique to our facility but are reported world wide and a direct effect of ILFN. Three families from Shirley Wind have abandoned their homes and several others would move save for financial reasons.”

Parker Gallant on Hydro One: service for our customers!


The promises pile up at Hydro One; so do complaints

Hydro One: aiming to improve $ervice to customers

Energy Minister Bob Charelli announced on March 7 that Sandra Pupatello was to be the new Chair of Hydro One. We wouldn’t have thought she needed the work: Ms Pupatello is already CEO of Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation, and will retain that job. The prior CEO of that corporation pulled in $160,000 annually so Ms. Pupatello, with  an additional $150,000 for chairing Hydro One, will give pocket a possible combined income of over $300,000. 
  
This appointment, along with that of Bernard Lord to Chair at OPG, is being touted as the way to cure all ills at these two provincial Crown corporations, both of which have received a lot of attention.   OPG was castigated by the Auditor General in her 2013 annual report for high salaries, too many managers, and a gold-plated pension plan. Hydro One is under investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Marin.  Now, “investigation” by the Ombudsman is not the same as “under investigation” by the OPP, but Mr. Marin has a way of getting to the heart of a matter that seems to attract media attention.   Since the February announcement the Ombudsman’s Office reports it has received in excess of 6,500 complaints, and is getting over 200 calls per day. 
Some of the complaints were astounding. One of the publicly disclosed complaints from Beaver Valley Ski Club occurred before the Ombudsman announcement.   The club got a shocking bill for $37,000 in the summer of 2013, complained and got an apology along with a revised bill for $37 million.  Other individuals were billed for thousands of dollars and had their power had been shut off; still others, on a automated payment plan, had their accounts debited for thousands of dollars for incorrect bills.  
I am not surprised. I have written several articles about Hydro One and their excesses that have been glossed over since the Liberals gained power.  Several years ago, I asked for and received, a hard copy of Hydro One’s “Conditions of Service” (CoS) and was shocked to receive a 100-page document.  The CoS has grown to a 134-pagelegal nightmare that can be found on the Hydro One website.  (If you do key word searches on the CoS you will get 14 hits for “non-financial default,” 45 hits for “rate class,” 8 hits for “Hydro One’s discretion” and a definition: “Energy Meter” means “a meter that measures a Customer’s energy consumption.” Why does a monopoly owned by the province need a 134-page CoS?
After receiving Hydro One’s announcement about their new billing system, I  described it as a $160-million revenue grab. Their 2012 annual report disclosed “other” capital expenditures of $350 million and in that report was this statement:  “These expenditures include the replacement of our customer billing system to address end-of-life requirements and to further productivity realization from our enterprise-wide SAP platform.”   That doesn’t seem to have happened but now apparently there is hope as the Toronto Star article on Pupatello’s appointment carried this quote: “ ‘We are going to fix it,’ Pupatello said of the overbilling problem.”
Shortly after Andre Marin announced his investigation of Hydro One’s billing mess, they released their 2013 annual results  reporting a fourth consecutive annual record profit of $803 million coupled with a record amount of revenue.  The press release of February 14, 2014 carried quotes from Carm Marcello, President and CEO, along with several notes. 
First was a weak explanation and apology for the “new customer billing system.”  The apology finished with the laughable “We want to assure our customers that ultimately, they will only pay for the electricity they use. 
To achieve that, we would have to believe in the ability of the “smart meters” to, as noted in the CoS,  measure[s] a Customer’s energy consumption.”   With Hydro One’s admission that they have had to replace thousands of smart meters, [full disclosure:  including both my son’s and my own “smart meters”) I’m not so confident!  The ability of the new billing system to interact with the smart meters is key to the Ombudsman’s investigation and the thousands of complaints he has received.
Other notes included the fact that Hydro One’s staff worked 385,000 overtime hours on storm-related work, including 250,000 hours on weekends and holidays to restore power. That might explain why their operations, maintenance and overhead costs increased by $35 million (almost 4%) but they still managed an increase of $58 million (+7.8%) in after PIL earnings. 
Is the $923 million reported as “Accounts receivable (net of allowance for doubtful accounts)” a true figure? I have to ask, because on such things like the Beaver Valley Ski Club $37 million mistake, the over 6,500 complaints received by the Ombudsman’s office as of March 19th, 2014, and the overtime racked up for the Christmas ice storm.   Was that overtime cost accounted for?   On the billing cycle, Hydro One allow 19 days from their billing date to payment date which would suggest if all bills were paid “on time” without penalty, outstanding bills would account for $321 million, yet receivables at year end would indicate “past due” accounts are double that amount.  That makes one wonder how much of those past due bills are represented in complaints to the Ombudsman!  
Other notes include the reasoning behind capital expenditures of $1.394 billion which are “to improve system reliability to address our aging power system to improve service to our customers, and to facilitate the connection of new, clean generation.”  Hydro One has failed on the first target but has done the job on “new clean generation” — ratepayers’ bills keep rising! 
©Parker Gallant,
March 27, 2014
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Toronto Star on the Blandings Turtle

Blanding’s turtle has won a temporary reprieve.
Hello, it’s me again.

Blanding’s turtle blocks turbines again

A judge has placed a temporary halt on a wind farm that naturalists say could harm the threatened animal in Prince Edward County.

By: Business reporter, Published on Wed Mar 26 2014
Blanding’s turtle has won a temporary reprieve, as a court blocked construction of a wind farm that could damage its habitat at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.
That means construction of the wind farm can’t start before next fall at the earliest.
Mr. Justice R.A. Blair of Ontario Court of Appeal issued an order Tuesday placing a stay on construction until the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists can seek leave to appeal an earlier court ruling.
Gilead Power wants to erect a nine-turbine wind farm at Ostrander Point. It was at first blocked by an Environmental Review Tribunal, which said the development might harm the habitat of Blanding’s turtle.
The naturalists had also argued that the development threatens migratory birds, bats, and the unusual local ecosystem.
A divisional court ruling earlier this year threw out the tribunal’s decision, and said the wind farm could proceed.
Gilead said following the divisional court ruling that it would start construction this spring.
The naturalists then sought leave to appeal the divisional court ruling — and asked Blair to block activity on the site until that application is decided.
Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the naturalists, said in an interview Tuesday that it will take several months for the two sides to file their arguments on the leave application, and for the court to consider them….

Read the full story here.

Lake K-2?

Here’s an item from the news website Ontario Wind Resistance:

Samsung makes a lake in K2 wind project

Posted on 03/22/2014 by

Well, the destruction beside us has taken a turn. K2 has begun creating LAKE K2 at a rapid pace. It’s quite a show, high hoes and bulldozers trying to keep ahead of the water that’s flowing.

We called the MOE about this yesterday and they were out today. Not sure why K2 did not notify the MOE themselves when the water problems began to multiply.

They are trucking the water from the site beside us to a treatment plant in Waterloo Ontario, having it tested before it is discharged. According to the MOE at great cost to K2.

So anyone willing to take a dip in the local electrified LAKE K2 then come on over. Heads up it might be a little chilly right now!!!

Blog editor note: K2 is a wind power generation plant in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, being developed by a partnership between Samsung, Pattern and Capital Power

Promote awareness of danger to Tundra Swans

THE GOOD NEWS The swans have started to arrive. Within a couple of weeks – with luck – there should be large numbers.

DEMONSTRATION
We will be having the annual information day/demonstration on Sunday, April 6 from 11am to 1pm.

REASONNextEra plans to put a turbine in the bog, and many more all around it, which will impede the migration of the swans.

ADDRESS
Greenway Road at the Thedford Bog—we need support to provide information to the public who are coming to see the Tundra Swans at their stopover location.


Greenway Road runs south from Hwy21/ Lakeshore Rd, just east of the Lambton Heritage Museum


PLEASE JOIN US! 

Please plan to attend this event beginning at 11am.  Bring signs and print outs.  We plan to let the public know that the turbines will inhibit the migration of the swans to this area.  
PLEASE PASS THIS ON… AND PLEASE COME – THE SWANS NEED YOUR SUPPORT.  
————————————————————  
 At the Bornish ERT appeal, NexTERROR’s ‘kept’ bird ‘expert’ from New England said that the turbines weren’t a danger to the swans because they avoid them.
While it may be true that swans are seldom killed by turbines, this neatly avoids the fact that they avoid them so completely that they probably won’t come to the bog once the turbines are in place.
Of course, the swans are only part of the wildfowl that stop at the bog and we don’t know if the other species will stay away or be cut down by the NexTERROR bird blenders.
One concern, then, is whether there is any alternative site where they can land, feed, and rest on their journey north.
————————————– 
 
We will have a petition and information handouts.
 
BRING SIGNS, BINOCULARS, CAMERAS AND FRIENDS

Bob

Dr McMurtry statement on Australian Medical Association statement

Dr McMurtry with career achievement award

As you may know, the Australian Medical Association last week released a statement on wind turbines and health effects, which concluded that there was no evidence to support a link.

Dr Robert McMurtry, a member of the Order of Canada, former Dean of Medicine at Western University, and former Associate Deputy Minister for Health Canada, has responded.

Re AMA Position Statement Wind Farms and Health

1. I am a Canadian citizen, formerly a dean of medicine, assistant deputy minister of health federally and a practising orthopaedist. I am a founding member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded Evidence Network.

2. I have engaged with over 100 exposed individuals residing near industrial wind developments in the province of Ontario. These cases are documented.1

3. I have appeared as an expert witness on behalf of plaintiffs in actions versus the erection of wind farms too proximate to human habitation.

4. I am writing to comment on the AMA Position Statement. The position statement is surprising. It is not well informed, references are absent and the authors of the document are undisclosed. Many of the phrases and claims in the document faithfully reflect wind industry claims, claims which cannot be substantiated.

5. Review of the existing evidence in which direct assessment of exposed individuals has been carried out uniformly reveals adverse health effects2. The common denominator of complaints consists of sleep disturbance, inner ear disturbance and stress response. These are serious adverse health effects. These adverse health events have been reported globally in the media and grey literature.

5. I concur with that part of the AMA document that asserts that siting of wind farms “should be guided by the evidence”. Unfortunately the remainder of the AMA document fails to meet that standard.

6. I challenge the AMA to support third party research that leads to simultaneous physiological monitoring of exposed individuals during sleep and concurrent recording of sound pressure levels (SPL) including all frequencies (infrasound and low frequency sound) as well as weighted and unweighted decibel or sound intensity levels in the bedroom and outside the home. [Note averaging of SPL should not be done exclusively since key characteristics of the noise such as cresting and amplitude modulation will be excluded.]

7. In the absence of the information outlined in #6 above there has not been nor can there be evidence–based guidelines for the siting of wind turbines. This fact ought to concern the AMA and all responsible physicians.

8. More details are available upon request.

R Y McMurtry CM, MD, FRCSC, FACS