Big Thunder decision: MoE Director has discretion

The decision stemming from the application by Horizon Wind to force the Ministry of the Environment to approve the Big Thunder Wind power project has been published and is now available.

The decision includes the statement that “it is clearly a matter of the Director’s discretion whether to issue an REA, with or without terms and conditions, after a determination whether it is in the public interests.”

This raises the question about contracts for renewable power projects, as Wind Concerns Ontario maintains: the Feed In Tariff or FIT contract with the Ontario Power Authority to purchase power is the first step in the process of providing power—companies must then go through the application process to get a Renewable Energy Approval, which, as the courts have confirmed again, is at the discretion of the Director.

Read the decision here: BigThunderDecision

Wind power invades beauty of Great Spirit Island

Windmills on Manitoulin Island. (Mike Strobel/QMI Agency)

Mike Strobel, QMI Agency, May 26, 2014

KAGAWONG– It looks like Martians landed on Manitoulin Island this spring.

They hulk on McLean’s Mountain behind Little Current, Manitoulin’s metropolis, pop. 1,500.

What a shocking sight it is as you approach the century-old iron swing bridge, the only land link.

When I left last October, there was nothing between that ridge and God but treetops and clouds.

Now? Someone call Orson Welles.

“It’s like we’ve been invaded,” Deb Turner tells me at Turners of Little Current, a 135-year-old department store.

The War of the Worlds giants also march along the Cup and Saucer trail behind M’Chigeeng, the closest Ojibwa reserve to my woodsy shack near Kagawong, “Ontario’s Prettiest Village.”

“They’re a blight,” says Deb’s husband, Jib, who is running for Tim Hudak’s Tories.

Jib’s great-great-grandmother was migrating west when her boat arrived at this Paradise and she declared, “I don’t know about you, but I’m staying right here.”

Who could blame her? Or the Martians? The Ojibwa call this Spirit Island with reason.

The invaders, of course, are not really Martians, but windmills. McGuinty Mushrooms. Dalton’s Big Wind. Built so Liberals could feel warm and fuzzy.

There are 24 on McLean’s Mountain and two at M’Chigeeng, each 150 metres, including blade. They dwarf the Peace Tower, the Taj Mahal, Rogers Centre, even Adam Vaughan’s ego. They are higher than Rob Ford on a Saturday night.

You could live with them, I guess, if they were productive or cost-effective or were going to save us from Doomsday.

But here’s the rub: At 10 a.m. Sunday, of 13,116 megawatts total output across Ontario, just 130 megawatts came from windmills, according to a government website (ieso.ca) where nuclear and hydro still reign.

The “others” category even out-produced windmills.

Read the full story here.

Turbine noise health report to be published today

“…association exists between wind turbine noise and distress in humans…”

A comprehensive report based on a literature review will be published today in the online journal Cureus. www.cureus.com

Dr Ian Arra, associate medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce, will present the paper today at a meeting of the Canadian Public Health Association in Toronto.

The results of the review are: “The presence of reasonable evidence that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans. The existence of a dose-response relationship (between distance from wind turbines and distress) and the consistency of association across studies found in the scientific literature argue for the credibility of this
association. Future research in this area is warranted as whether causal relationship exists or not.”

Take wind power health problems seriously, scientists told

 

Conference warns health effects of wind turbines should be taken seriously

Sleep disturbance emerging as major public health concern, particularly affecting children and older people

Pamela Duncan, Irish Times, May 23, 2014

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.  Photo: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance. Photo: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Health studies into the effect of wind turbines on those living in their vicinity must be explored to prevent potential health problems, a conference on public health heard yesterday.

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast was speaking at the 2014 Summer Scientific Meeting at the Royal College of Physicians the second day of which was held in Dublin yesterday.

He said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.

Prof Evans said there was “clear evidence” that, as the size of wind turbines had increased, so has the infrasound and low frequency sounds generated by them and that they were now emitting “serious amounts of noise”.

“When you measure them with the correct filters you find they are producing noise levels which are far above what’s supposed to be permitted,” he said.

He said while many people are not affected, that others could experience sleep disturbance, adding this in turn leads to increased blood pressure which he said is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Prof Evans said that, while he did not want to sound alarmist, the effects were such that they needed to be taken seriously and investigated further.

Quoting a 2009 WHO report on night noise, Prof Evans said sleep disturbance was emerging as one of the major public health concerns of the 20th century and something which particularly affected children and older people.

He said sleep was “absolutely essential, central to the normal physiological function of the brain and the body” and was necessary for facilitating learning. …

Read the full report here.

Killing green contracts: Samsung deal should go

Here from former CEO of the Ontario Power Authority Jan Carr, is an opinion on cancelling contracts for renewable power generation. Reprinted from The Financial Post.

Killing green contracts

FP Letters, May 23, 2014

Bruce Pardy (May 15) explains how Ontario election campaign promises to tear up high-priced renewable energy contracts would be legal if backed up by legislation.

The downside is of course that retrospective laws like this drive general costs up because they undermine investor confidence. Given the thousands of renewable energy contracts involved, it is not hard to imagine that if the economic consequences of such a break of faith would dwarf the $1.1 billion cost of Oakville and Mississauga gas plant cancellations.

“The massive 25-year Samsung contract was awarded without competition and to a company with no demonstrated expertise in either wind or solar generation.”

But if the cancellation legislation applied only to the the Samsung renewable energy contract awarded in 2010 it might actually increase business confidence. The power industry was aghast when this massive 25-year contract was awarded without competition and to a company with no demonstrated expertise in either wind or solar generation. In addition to the above-market energy prices available to all renewable energy generators, the contract provided an additional subsidy of $110 million and rights to 500 megawatts of scarce space on the provincial transmission system. Literally “priceless” because rights to transmission access are not for sale to anybody else in Ontario.

On a per capita basis, the $18.6 billion Samsung renewable energy contract committed each Ontarian to $1,400 over its life. In contrast the $25 billion F-35 fighter jet contract, which dominated public debate about government sole source contracting at the time, works out to $725 for each Canadian.

“The Samsung contract remains a monument to the worst excesses of government procurement.”

The Samsung contract has already been scaled back through negotiation but it still remains a monument to the worst excesses of government procurement. many would see legislated cancellation of the Samsung renewable energy contract as righting a significant wrong rather than the beginning of a slippery slope towards government-backed contracts not being worth the paper they are written on.

Jan Carr, former chief executive, Ontario Power Authority

 

Constraining wind power in Ontario

Making your head spin or, how Ontario’s energy sector is regulated

Enbridge Gas Distribution recently received the blessing of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a 40% hike in what they charge Ontario’s consumers for distributing natural gas, claiming, because of the high demand during a cold winter they were forced to purchase it at a high market price.  The OEB granted the approval despite many objections by various interested parties who pointed out that Union Gas had requested a smaller increase.

This note was in the OEB’s approval:  “This means that Enbridge plans for lower storage deliverability requirements and transportation capacity” requiring gas purchases at higher spot prices on the open market.  One wonders why Enbridge is not required to maintain a larger storage capacity, which would have allowed them more prudence in purchasing the supply of gas, but that is presumably a question for the OEB to ask!

While the OEB was weighing their decision, another arm of Enbridge was constraining their production of wind-generated electricity.  That was to allow the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to protect the grid and prevent blackouts or brownouts by requesting constraint.

Constraining wind power—and paying for it—started September 11, 2013. Since then Enbridge has been paid for not producing about 83,500 megawatt hours (MWh), which should have generated close to $9 million.

Enbridge was not alone: Brookfield didn’t produce over 29,000 MWh and IPC/GDF Suez (where the CEO is Mike Crawley) didn’t produce 12,800 MWh, and TransAlta didn’t produce 17,100 MWh.  In total about 161,000 MWh were constrained since IESO started paying wind developers—that means  ratepayers picked up the $16 million cost.  And that cost doesn’t include what ratepayers pay for remote meteorological stations to ensure wind developers don’t lie about what they may have produced.

Interestingly enough if one checks out Elections Ontario to determine what those wind developers contributed to the three major political parties in 2010, 2011 and 2012, you find that the NDP received nothing, the Ontario PC party received $1,080 from Enbridge and the Ontario Liberal Party or OLP received $8,000 from Enbridge, $14,840 from Brookfield and nothing from the rest.  The CEO of IPC did donate a total of $555 to the OLP.

The wind power lobby organization Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) contributed $16,620 to the OLP over the last three years and zero to the NDP or the Ontario PC party.  I wonder why?

This situation is a win-win for some of the parties involved, but a hit to the pocketbook of the average ratepayer.

©Parker Gallant,

May 22, 2014

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

 

 

 

Turbine noise and health study to be published

Results to be presented at public health conference next week

Turbine study to be published

By Rob Gowan, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 4:26:20 EDT PM

A local study that concluded industrial wind turbines cause distress among people who live near them, is to be published in an online medical journal.

The report, which was co-authored by Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hazel Lynn and epidemiological researcher Dr. Ian Arra, will be published in the online journal, Cureus. No date has been announced for publication.

“It gives a level of authority to a paper such as this,” said Lynn. “It basically gives it much more credibility in the science reading population.”

The review, entitled, Literature Review 2013: Association Between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress, came at the request of the Grey Bruce Board of Health in late 2012 after local residents who live near wind turbines asked the health unit to investigate potential ill health affects.

Lynn and Arra conducted an in-depth review of 18 of the most credible and up to date studies around the world on whether wind turbines affect people’s health.

Lynn and Arra’s report considered various types of studies from around the world related to noise exposure from the turbines and from infrasound exposure. They ranged from cohort and randomized studies, cases studies and series and even anecdotes and opinions. They came from medical, environmental and acoustic publications, all peer reviewed.

In February of 2013 they presented their findings to the board of health, concluding that there is “reasonable evidence that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans.”

Late last year it was announced the study was being peer reviewed for publication in medical journals. Cureus is a peer-reviewed journal based in San Francisco with an international editorial board.

Lynn said the review was originally submitted to the Canadian Medical Journal and others, but many of them want original research, so the process has taken a little longer than hoped.

“It took a little longer to find one that wants to do this kind of literature review,” said Lynn, who expects the review to now be quoted in a number of other journals.

In their review, the authors stressed that associating wind turbines to distress is not the same as hard evidence of cause and effect.

Read the full story here

UWO study: life not good for turbine neighbours

Western University researchers calling on governments and wind farm developers to avoid feeding war of words 86

By John Miner, The London Free Press

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:02:11 EDT PM

In a study published in the journal Environment and Planning, the Western geography department researchers found people who have raised health concerns and other objections to wind turbines are denigrated, dismissed and ostracized by supporters of the developments in their communities.

They also endure shots by senior politicians, such as former premier Dalton McGuinty, who dismissed health concerns as “unreal.”

The treatment only makes the situation worse for individuals with concerns, said associate geography professor Jamie Baxter, one of the study’s authors.

“If you get right down to the micro level of the community, life is not good for these people,” Baxter said Wednesday.

It was in face-to-face interviews researchers heard supporters of the turbines making light of the problems of those opposed, with comments such as “A lot of people live to be annoyed” and “Well, you know, I guess if you stood here long enough you’d get dizzy looking at them . . . watching those blades go around.”

Health concerns reported by opponents included pain, dizziness, sleep deprivation and loss of balance.

The study found the majority of people in both communities supported the existing wind farm projects within the communities — 80% in Port Burwell and a statistically significant lower 63% in nearby Clear Creek.

But the researchers said the support was more “pragmatic” than “enthusiastic.” Most in favour said it was simply a “better alternative” than other energy choices. Those opposed were quite emotional, expressing anger, disappointment and frustration. …

Take the poll, read the full story and comments here

First Nations at odds with Horizon wind

CBC News, Thunder Bay

May 21, 2014

Fort William FN Chief Georjann Morrisseau

An Ontario court has declined to intervene in the Big Thunder wind farm project, after Horizon Wind applied for a judicial review, saying court applications by Fort William First Nation against various government ministries had created confusion.

Horizon wanted the province to approve the project, but company director of Community and Public Affairs Kathleen MacKenzie said a judge on Friday decided not to issue any instructions to the Ministry of the Environment.

“The court didn’t think it was appropriate for it to … step in at this point,” she said.

“The court elected not to order any action from the MOE — not further consultations, not an end to consultations. It just said it was not going to substitute its judgement for that of the ministry.”

But Fort William First Nation said in a recent press release the divisional court judge in Toronto denied Horizon’s request for immediate approval of the wind farm.

Fort William Chief Georjann Morriseau was not available Tuesday night for an interview with CBC News, and the MOE could not immediately be reached for comment.

The First Nation will be in court next month seeking an injunction to stop the project, pending consultations with the community.

But Horizon remains undeterred.

“We are going to continue to wait for the MOE to make a decision … And we are expecting ultimate approval of the Big Thunder Wind Park,” MacKenzie said.

Story and comments here.

What voters don’t know about Ontario electricity costs

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Here from Ottawa-based energy economist Robert Lyman, a summary of the “hidden” costs of generating electric power from renewable sources…what the government has done over the past five years.

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF ONTARIO RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY GENERATION

Ontario residents can be forgiven if they fail to understand the public debate during the current (2014) provincial election about the costs of different types of electricity generation and why these have caused electricity rates for consumers to rise so much over the past ten years. The complexity of the system makes it difficult to explain the costs associated with one source of supply, namely the renewable energy generation  (industrial wind turbines and solar power generators). In this note, I will nonetheless try to explain in layperson’s terms why these costs are significant.

Electricity supply in Ontario takes place within the framework of the policy and legislative framework established by the Ontario government, an important part of which is the Green Energy and Economy Act of 2009 (GEA). Historically, the goal of Ontario electricity policy was to keep electricity rates for consumers as low as possible consistent with the goal of maintaining adequate and reliable supply. Within the current framework, however, that is no longer the goal. The GEA seeks to stimulate investment in renewable energy projects (such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biogas) and to increase energy conservation.  To do this, it:

  • Changed the review process for renewable energy projects to reduce environmental assessment and hasten approvals
  • Created a Feed-in-Tariff that the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) must pay, guaranteeing the specific rates for energy generated from renewable sources (typically, the rates are fixed for the full term of the twenty year contracts, with inflation escalators)
  • Established the right to connect to the electricity grid for renewable energy projects and gave renewable energy source preferential access over other sources of generation
  • Implemented a “smart” grid to support the development of renewable energy projects
  • Eliminated local approval requirements that local governments previously could impose on renewable energy projects

The guaranteed rates paid under the FIT system are not negotiated based upon the actual costs of production. In fact, the actual costs of production are largely unknown…

Read more of Robert Lyman’s summary here: THE HIDDEN COSTS OF ONTARIO RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY GENERATION