Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Big Thunder is the subject of several legal actions, including that by the Fort William First Nations; the First Nation claims there was not adequate consultation for this project with their people. Other concerns have been raised over the years about environmental damage and the potential to kill fragile wildlife populations. Full approval of the project was put off until after the recent Ontario election.
Here is a video clip of MPP Jim Wilson in the Legislature today, asking about the government’s plans to allow wind turbines to be built near two more airports in Ontario. The answers given by Ministers Chiarelli and Murray are nothing short of appalling.
And untrue: Mr Chairelli has the unmitigated gall to claim that he cannot cancel contracts in place when in fact, he can, and among other reasons for doing that is “the public interest.”
Parker Gallant has published a two-part series on energy poverty on the Energy Probe website. “Energy poverty” as you may know, is the situation in which more and more Ontario residents–particularly young people and seniors–are finding themselves, as their electricity bills go so high as to force some them to choose whether to “heat or eat.”
Here is an excerpt from one of the instalments; the links to the full series are below.
…I questioned [Low-Income Energy Network or LIEN coordinator Zee Bhanji] her as to who was the local distribution company (LDC) with the worst reputation in respect to cutting off clients for not paying their electricity bills. The answer was Hydro One, the provincially owned LDC with about 25% of the residential clients in Ontario. Co-incidentally, when I touched base with Jennifer Lopinski of APCH it turned out Hydro One were the LDC for the City of Kawartha Lakes & Haliburton County. The data that APCH had gathered and sent to me disclosed some interesting statistics that, if applied to Hydro One’s full client base of 1.1 million residential customers and the 4.4 million total customers, paints a dismal picture for those living at the “low-income” levels detailed in Minister Chiarelli’s letter to the OEB. Minister Chiarelli certainly wasn’t concerned about the 11,800 plus personnel of OPG and Hydro One on the 2014 “Sunshine List”!
The statistics that Jennifer supplied (years 2008 through to Dec. 31, 2013) covered five (5) fuel types including; oil, wood, natural gas, propane and hydro. Out of $251,474 of fuel utility requests (2013), 86.5% ($217,490) were for electricity supplied by Hydro One. The number of requests for 2013 were 276 meaning Hydro One represented approximately 239 on the list and the average negotiated amount appears to be about $875 per household and represents .644% of all households (37,100) in the City.
Extrapolating the APCH numbers to Hydro One’s 1.1 million residential clients would mean that 7,100 of their customers would be affected by “energy poverty,” and taking that further would mean that they would be called on to provide $6.2 million in support. When I examined the LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) for 2012 in the report prepared by the OEB, it indicated that Hydro One had provided grants of $1,503,062 to 2,628 customers and that amount was $1.3 million less than the salaries of their top 5 executives.
If one extrapolates the foregoing to all LDC-supplied residential ratepayer households, the number of customers living in “energy poverty” at a minimum, is 28,300 households, or 20,000 more than the LEAP program supported. That translates into a requirement for $25 million versus the $3.9 million actually disbursed in 2012.
It is worth noting that the numbers kindly supplied by Jennifer Lopinski of APCH only encompasses those who approached the charity for help. There are probably many households that were unaware of APCH and never contacted them for assistance.
Perhaps Hydro One has the answer to that question?
We understand that Transport Canada has recognized the seriousness of the situation in Ontario as regards aviation safety and wind turbines being built around airports. A committee has been struck and is now looking at recommendations and phasing in action.
Not a minute too soon.
The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) has been sounding alarm bells on this issue since 2009. Last year, CEO Kevin Psutka was engaged in correspondence with power developer wpd Canada over safety concerns at the Collingwood airport (See correspondence string here) and at one point accused the developer of “hiding” behind a consultant’s report on aviation safety that was actually prepared on the basis of very limited parameters.
In a note written in 2013, Mr Psutka states, “At least there has finally been an acknowledgement of the gap in the regulations. Transport Canada does not have to act on the recommendation but we can use this statement to further highlight to the provincial government that a ‘no objection’ statement from Transport Canada does not mean ‘no impact on aviation’. There should be a buffer zone around aerodromes and COPA made a recommendation during the development of the Green Energy Act to ensure that as part of every proposed project a thorough investigation is performed with a goal to minimize the impact on aviation. The gap in federal regulations, acknowledged by the Transportation Committee, indicates that until such time as Transport Canada makes the appropriate regulatory changes to protect aviation, the province has an important role to play in ensuring that the air transportation system, including smaller airports and aerodromes, is not adversely affected by windfarms.
“This is a safety and social issue that to date has not been given appropriate attention by the federal or provincial governments,” Mr Psutka concluded in his March, 2013 email.
This is another issue, like putting turbines where they will kill migrating birds, or bats which are so important to agriculture, or putting turbines next to homes and schools, that one would think would be governed by common sense, if not loftier ideas like the Precautionary Principle.
But it isn’t, not in Ontario, where you have government officials actually saying that the “overall benefit” of wind power generation trumps every other concern. Health, safety, even the environment–wind power beats all.
If the Ontario government won’t protect the people of Ontario, it is high time someone else in government did.
Deadly wind farms give bats “the bends” study says
Western Morning News, July 23, 2014
Bats suffer from an airborne version of the diver’s condition known as “the bends” when they fly too near wind turbines, experts have claimed.
Concern for the welfare of the creatures has already prompted dozens of challenges to schemes in the Westcountry.
The RSPB lodged an objection against Somerset’s first multi-turbine wind farm at West Huntspill – which is was eventually dismissed by the Secretary of State but is now subject to a High Court appeal by developers Ecotricity.
The bird charity claimed it was in a “flight path” for birds and bats which could hit the rotor blades.
Now Queen’s University Belfast has unearthed another potential problem, namely that pressure from the turbine blades causes a similar condition as that experienced by divers when the surface too quickly.
Conservationists have warned that the bodies of bats are frequently seen around the bases of turbines, but it was previously assumed they had flown into the blades.
Dr Richard Holland claims that bats suffer from “barotrauma” when the approach the structures which can pop their lungs from inside their bodies.
He said energy companies should consider turning off turbines when bats are migrating.
“We know that bats must be “seeing” the turbines, but it seems that the air pressure patterns around working turbines give the bats what’s akin to the bends.
“It’s most common in migratory species, with around 300,000 bats affected every year in Europe alone. You just find bats dead at the bottom of these turbines. One option is to reduce turbine activity during times of peak migration.”
The team at Queen’s University also found that bats use polarised light to navigate as well as echo-location.
Greater mouse-eared bats were shown to react to the way the sun’s light is scattered in the atmosphere at sunset in order to calibrate their internal magnetic compass, in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers said a huge number of animals including bees, dung beetles and fish use this system as a form of compass, but bats are the first mammals to do so. They said they remained baffled as to how bats achieve this feat.
The finding adds to a growing list of systems used by bats to navigate including echolocation or sonar, the sun, stars and the Earth’s magnetic field, as well as smells and sight.
Stefan Greif of Queen’s University, lead author of the study, said: ‘”Every night through the spring, summer and autumn, bats leave their roosts in caves, trees and buildings to search for insect prey.
Editor’s note: the Ministry of Nothing Refused—er, Natural Resources in Ontario requires that wind power developers only measure bat ranges a few meters from turbine locations, not the hundreds of kilometers the animals actually travel. But in the words of the Ministry of Environment’s lawyer Sylvia Davis, “so a few animals are killed and a few people get headaches…wind power is an important public infrastructure project.”
Appearing in this week’s edition of the Dundalk Herald is a half-page ad purportedly from the “founders” of Grand Valley Power and the Skyway projects, promoting the Samsung-Pattern wind power project for Southgate Township.
Claiming tax benefits for all OR community benefits such as $11 million for projects such as high-speed Internet, roads, a community centre, or a hockey rink, the ad includes the Township phone number (probably staffed by a single clerk) and exhorts the public to call and “help Council make up its mind.”
Southgate passed a resolution to declare itself an unwilling host to the wind power project. The Township is, however, quite willing to entertain the idea of a solar power project.
Is this any way for the proponents of a government-sponsored contract (which was let with no competition, to a company which at the time had no demonstrated expertise in either wind or solar power generation) to behave?
When they say “10%” reduction in taxes, what tax do they mean? Southgate tax, or Southgate tax bills?
What is the true nature of the “community benefits” being offered?
What is the name of the other Township that the wind power project might go to if Southgate doesn’t cave?
Questions, questions. Apparently, the Gold Rush in Ontario is not over.
The Municipality of Bluewater has filed an appeal of the Renewable Energy Approval of Grand Bend Power.
Lawyer Eric Gillespie says the appeal has been submitted to the Environmental Review Tribunal on the basis that the project has the potential to cause serious harm to human health.
The appeal also claims the legislative scheme for granting wind farm approvals violated the Applicants Constitutional rights.
The appeal says industrial wind turbines have been connected to serious health issues such as sleep disturbance, headaches, vertigo, nausea and lack of concentration.
It says the right to security as a person in the charter
is violated because wind companies and the province do not have to prove the safety of turbines erected within 2 kilometres of an occupied residence.
Grand Bend Power plans to put up 40 industrial turbines in Bluewater, South Huron, Huron East and West Perth
U.S. businessman Bill Ackman calls himself an “activist investor” while others say he is a “hedge-fund Titan” … whatever the label, Mr. Ackman has made a name for himself by pointing out inefficiencies and waste, if not outright illegal activities in corporations. Famous in Canada for his changes to Canadian Pacific Railways (he demanded the ouster of CEO Fred Green for poor performance), he is the vanguard of shareholders demanding rights in company management.
As we write this, he is presenting in New York City on Herbalife, and widely regarded as punching the last nail in that company’s coffin; Ackman claims that Herbalife’s improper activities rival those of Enron.
Bearing in mind that many thought ENRON stood for Electricity Nightmare Rip-off–Ontario Next, we’d like to suggest that, as the Ontario government is planning on holding a fire sale on Crown assets and corporations to stave off bankruptcy, Mr Ackman should consider stepping in and buying something. The Ontario Power Authority for instance. Or Hydro One. Or both.
The situation in Ontario for power generation is that we are ignoring reliable base-load power production from emissions-free hydro facilities, for one thing, and putting expensive, less reliable, out-of-phase with demand wind power first to the grid, with the result that power costs more, and Ontario is having to build new transmission capacity to service all these wind and solar facilities.
Mr Ackman has a reputation for cutting through the corporate blather and finding what the real problems are—then fixing them.
It’s not always pretty, but he’s right more than he’s wrong, says one analyst.
So, come on up to Ontario, Mr Ackman: it’s yours to discover.
The views are those of the author and not necessarily Wind Concerns Ontario policy.
Yesterday, residents of Central Bruce and the Central Bruce Wind Action community group, filed a letter with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, regarding serious environmental issues associated with the K2 wind power project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh.
The letter, which was accompanied by almost 300 signatures from local residents, details the fact that issues concerning the danger to the water table and municipal water supply were raised repeatedly during the comment and approval process for the 270-megawatt power facility. K2 is being developed by a consortium of Capital Power, Samsung, and Pattern Energy.
The letter states: “In 2011 a K2 employee, Mr. David Harrelson, advised of close to surface aquifers at the substation site. Their presence is verified by Well Record A029342 from June 20, 2006. The well records from the site specifically make mention of the ground water table at one foot (12 inches) below surface. The MoE in Owen Sound had documentation in mid-2011 regarding the water issues at this site. The Approvals Branch of the MoE was notified and provided with this information as well.”
Almost immediately upon commencing construction for K2, the land became flooded, with water spilling into municipal drains and ditches; the water was so significant that locals branded it “Lake K2” and the developers had to post a warning sign, complete with a lifesaver attached. The developer is now trucking water from the site.
Clearly, the Central Bruce letter writers state, the documents filed with the application for K2 were incomplete, and important issues not considered by the Ministry of the Environment.
The letter concludes with the demand that K2’s approval be revoked, given its basis on incomplete and inaccurate documentation: “It is not for the residents of Ontario to bear any repercussions from an incomplete REA Application. K2’s application was incomplete. Given the current situation, we question the terms under which the REA was granted. The approval was premised on inadequate and unsupported information. We are therefore requesting that the Renewable Energy Approval for the K2 Wind Ontario Inc. project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh be revisited and revoked.”
There are signs that Bill Gates — multi-billionaire do-gooder, Giving Pledge arm twister, and “leverager” of your tax dollars — is at last catching on to the nature and benefits of capitalism, although he still has some way to go.
The breakthrough has come because he finally started thinking about everything that goes on behind his light switch. Unfortunately, he also believes that when people in poor countries get around to having a switch to flip, they should be plugged into “clean” energy, promoted by government R&D and rendered “affordable” by, well, wishful thinking.
Like I said, he still has some way to go.
Significantly, Mr. Gates finds himself — and not for the first time — opposing aid experts, in this case those who maintain that what Africa actually needs is not windmills and solar panels, but coal and oil. India and China have already worked that out for themselves.
The most prominent recent example of expert enlightenment is Caleb S. Rossiter, an adjunct professor at American University, whose apostasy on both climate science and fossil fuels got him excommunicated from the Institute for Policy Studies, a U.S. left-wing Don’t Think Tank.
As for Mr. Gates, it might seem strange that one of the world’s most successful capitalists might not comprehend the system that enabled him to become so fabulously rich, but it’s not unusual at all. You don’t need to grasp the Invisible Hand to thrive under its guidance any more than you need to read Gray’s Anatomy to stay alive. Also, successful entrepreneurs almost invariably have a sense of personal exceptionalism that encourages them to see themselves as different from their competitors (whom they regard as grubby and greedy). Finally, businessmen often imagine that the economy is like a gigantic business, thus what it needs is a strategic master plan.
The hopeful sign — as noted — is that Mr. Gates has finally caught on that he has been taking the benefits of the market for granted. Evidence appeared in a recent blog post in which he admitted “There’s no telling how many times I walked into my office, flipped a light switch, and powered up a PC without thinking at all about the magic of getting electricity any time I wanted it.”
Well hold on there a second, Bill. It’s not actually “magic.” It’s what happens when you have people serving others in pursuit of profit, under a system of relatively sound property rights. Admittedly, statists since Lenin have been very keen on getting into the electricity business, but it was existing, private, electricity businesses that gave them the idea.
What made Mr. Gates glimpse – if not quite see — the light? Travelling to poor countries, where poverty is related to a lack of reliable and affordable energy (although that’s a symptom of poor regimes, not their cause).
Mr. Gates rightly points to the adverse impacts of truly “dirty” energy, such as indoor fires and diesel generators. Unfortunately, however, he still appears captive to the capitalist guilt complex. In the middle of his blog post, he inserts a chart noting that a typical U.S. refrigerator uses as much electricity as 9 Ethiopians. I hope he realizes that’s an indictment of Ethiopian governance rather than U.S. consumerism. …