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.
The wind died considerably in the northwestern portion of Tipton County last week, leaving the perfect break in the weather for remonstrators of wind farm development in the county to celebrate.
Following 11 months of litigation, Colorado-based juwi Wind will no longer pursue plans to develop Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, a project that would have included 94 wind turbines in Prairie and Liberty townships while investing $300 million in the project.
The turbines that countless members of the public have referred to as “offensive” will remain off of farm property and away from those who claim the structures are too loud while reducing property values.
No matter which side of the aisle residents have been on, Tipton County Commissioner Joe VanBibber described juwi’s decision not to build as “a closure to a difficult time in the community.”
Ultimately, the new stipulations put in place by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals proved to be the biggest contributing factor in juwi’s project not coming to fruition.
Juwi’s lawsuit alleged the BZA had exceeded its authority by increasing the distance wind turbines had to be from property lines and requiring a property value guarantee plan to protect non-participating property owners in the project area.
While some have questioned whether local officials have had the best intentions of the public and landowners as wind energy has become the hot button issue in recent years, there can be little argument that the stipulations played a huge role in preventing the wind turbines from going up. juwi said the stipulations “effectively rendered the project impossible to build.”
VanBibber said he believed juwi “no longer wants to do business in that environment.”
So what type of development is appropriate for the county moving forward?
With one wind farm backing out in the county, attention will no doubt shift back to E.ON’s Wildcat Wind Farm, which still has plans to build a second phase of turbines in center of the county. …
Or, more succinctly, people who do dangerous things often don’t survive their own stupidity.
Sadly, when it comes to building wind turbines near airports, the consequences of a foolish act performed in the name of the flawed Green Energy Act are borne by innocent people who had no part in the stupid decision.
Two rural airports in this province are facing the serious consequences of wind turbines sited too close to their runways.
Transport Canada recently issued an order forcing the removal of eight turbines near Chatham-Kent’s airport. And Collingwood airport is fighting a plan to place massive turbines close to its runway.
A spokesman for Transport Canada said the turbine company, GDF Suez, was asked to voluntarily comply with its Airport Zoning Regulations (AZR) and remove or lower the turbines.
“When this was not achieved, Transport Canada issued a notice requiring the company to lower or remove the wind turbines in compliance with the Chatham AZR. The notice to enforce compliance with the Chatham AZR has been issued because eight wind turbines contravene the height limits and voluntary compliance was not achieved,” said Jana Regimbal by e-mail.
The company has until Dec. 31 to comply with the order.
Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls said this is not about a dislike for wind turbines. It’s a question of public safety.
“AZRs are put in place for a reason,” he told me. “On a beautiful clear day, for someone operating a small aircraft it’s probably not an issue. But what about on a foggy or windy night, and someone is not familiar with Chatham airport and has to fly into it under distress?
“I have concerns about that,” he said.
A spokesman for GDF Suez says the company plans to appeal.
“We do expect to formally object to the order by Transport Canada,” said Bonnie Hiltz. “There have been multiple studies done on this project both by ourselves and by the airport and all of those studies have been consistent that there is no safety issue with regards to the turbine location.”
She says the turbines are in a “no-fly zone,” south of the airport.
“Since they have been operating, there have been no issues in more than a year,” she said.
Under Transport Canada rules, airports have an imaginary circle about four nautical miles wide and 500 feet high in which no tall obstacles are allowed to be built.
Tory interim leader Jim Wilson is angry the Wynne government hasn’t changed its mind about allowing 500 foot tall wind turbines on the flight path to Collingwood airport and the Creemore aerodrome in Clearview Twp.
“When she was running for the leadership, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she would go back and make sure that the Ministry of the Environment reconsidered the path they are on and we see no evidence to date, no communications from the government,” Wilson said.
The chair of the Collingwood airport board says the plan to build turbines as tall as the TD bank towers in downtown Toronto poses a safety hazard for planes flying in and out of the airport.
“They’re too close to the airport and they’re potentially dangerous,” said Charlie Tatham in a phone interview.
He scoffed at suggestions planes could change their arrival and departure procedures to dodge the turbines.
“That’s unsafe on a day when there’s poor visibility and someone’s trying to make it into the airport,” he said.
“On top of that, these things (the turbines) are painted white.”
Environment Minister Glen Murray was not available for comment.
How stupid can it get? You put white turbines on a flight path of an airport in the snowbelt.
Putting a “backpack” on an unwilling purple martin is just about as tricky as it sounds. Yet Nature Canada hopes doing so might shed light on the calamitous decline in the birds’ numbers in Ontario in recent years.
“The population is just plummeting,” Nature Canada spokesman Paul Jorgenson said Tuesday at the Nepean Sailing Club, where one of the largest colonies of purple martins in the region nests in two highrise “bird condos.”
Since 2005, the number of purple martins in Ontario has dropped from about 25,000 to an estimated 15,000 today. Similar declines have been recorded across Eastern Canada and the American northeast.
Purple martins — which nest only in man-made houses throughout much of North America — are the largest of nine swallow species that breed in Canada and the United States.
“We have no idea whether the problem lies here, in their wintering grounds (in Brazil) or somewhere in between in transit,” says Jorgenson. “This is really one of these big mysteries that we’re trying to solve.”
To that end, Nature Canada, in partnership with York University and the University of Manitoba, has launched an initiative to track 65 purple martins from Ottawa and the Kingston area. …
Some of their roosting spots are along eastern Lake Ontario, including Wolfe Island, home to a large array of industrial wind turbines.
According to some studies, those turbines kill 50 to 100 purple martins annually, Cheskey said. “That’s a pretty high proportion.”
With more wind farms proposed on nearby Amherst Island and Prince Edward County, which are also on the migration flyway, the threat could increase.
Winds farms, says Cheskey, “just can’t go everywhere. There should be certain no-go zones.” If turbines start killing birds and damaging biodiversity, “to me it’s no longer green energy,” he says.
Read the full story and take the opportunity to comment here.
I would like to congratulate you in your re-election and as the new Minister of the Environment. I was impressed to see your experience as Minister of Transportation and as a former mayor. At the same time I understand what challenges you will be facing in this new position dealing with the incompetence you are inheriting within that department, handed down through the entire inappropriate process created in the Green Energy Act.
This Act took away municipal powers and sidelined 21 other Acts of protection for the environment, human and wildlife habitat for the sake of wind energy development as first priority. This is also why the Liberals are facing a rebellion in rural Ontario by residents who have been ignored and bullied with no consideration as citizens in this province. I would like to suggest that you now have the opportunity to start the change of perception of your political party by doing the right thing.
First of all, you need to give back municipal powers.
Secondly, you need to cancel projects such as the Port Ryerse Windfarm that are suspect to violating any of the environmental or heritage protections within the Green Energy Act or perceived to have possible health problems for people in the area.
Thirdly, you need to change the setbacks to a minimal 2 km. from any residence.
This will be a start. I would also suggest that you back away from wind energy altogether because of the associated problems. I live in Port Ryerse, Norfolk County where we have had wind turbines since 2003 in the west part of the County. We saw the problems of IWT’s as the early experiments with wind energy were being made. We know firsthand about their inefficiency as an energy source, the way many people got sick and had to leave their homes or couldn’t sell them and sometimes sold at a huge loss as well as the inappropriate setbacks for these monstrosities. We now have another project on the eastern part of the County with 13 turbines right around a new development for retirement living, with a golf course to come and a beautiful spa and restaurant. Very sad for the people who bought there or those already living there when it comes time to sell their homes as they have already lost 25-40% of their value which is now common anywhere these things have been built. From the pier in Port Ryerse looking over the water landscape one can actually count 36 of these ugly blights on the landscape over Port Dover including the ones in Haldimand County.
Now we are in the process where you get to approve or cancel a project smack dab in the middle of the County’s lakefront to destroy entirely the landscape of Norfolk County right within the inner Bay of Long Point across from a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve and a cultural heritage landscape which was delineated in a report done for our County back in 2006 called the Untermann-McPhail report or now renamed the Lakeshore report.
Again this information has been sidelined because of the Green Energy Act and taking away municipal powers. In Norfolk County, as with many other areas of rural Ontario, we have many rivers and old dams in need of repair. We also have a local company called Green Bug out of Delhi, Norfolk County putting in hydroelectrical facilities with the Archimedes Screw around the world. They presently have a F.I.T. contract and are awaiting approval from the M.O.E. Our Council and our Heritage Committee I sit on have approved this project we deem to be safe, viable and not interfering in wildlife or human habitat. This is the kind of project we favour for our municipality and we have many other dams in need of repair this could be adapted to.
We do not want to be bullied into any more wind energy which will destroy our lakeshore landscapes and tourism as well as kill our eagles and songbirds and harm our residents and their property values. We also have 3 solar farms which already provide plenty of energy on the grid and have not posed the scale of problems like wind. The municipalities need their powers back to site appropriate electrical facilities according to their own resources and long-term plans.
Attached are some of the reports sent in to the environmental assessment group Stantec and to the M.O.E. to provide information that was not found in any reports of the wind company, UDI Renewables or Boralex. The application was flawed from the beginning when UDI made his application for the F.I.T. contract stating that this project was ”purely surrounded by agricultural land with no significant waterways, heritage or wildlife”. How can anyone miss Lake Erie? At the first public meeting with the company I asked, “What about that eroding cliff?” The answer I got from Uwe Sandner of UDI was, “What cliff?” Our cliff has been dangerously eroding over the last 100 years and especially in the 70’s and 80’s with the high waters of Lake Erie. It is a bluff of 50 feet deep which is seen from Port Dover’s pier by many tourists and locals as an iconic landscape which gave the town its name based on the “White cliffs of Dover”.
I would really like to see an end to the battle between the GTA Liberals and the rest of the province. It is time to end the war against rural Ontario. You have this opportunity. Will you side with the people or the bully money-hungry wind companies with more tribunals and lawsuits? It is time to give back municipal powers, respect those that have declared themselves “Not a Willing Host”, and save Historic Port Ryerse and rural Ontario from more devastation and energy poverty.
We will await the decision from the M.O.E. with the hope that finally there will be a change within the newly elected provincial government to start listening to and respecting its citizens and that this project and others will be CANCELLED utilizing your powers to do the right thing.
Government’s timing of document release suspicious; community to report to the Ombudsman of Ontario
July 7, 2014
A Prince Edward County citizens’ group, the County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy (a Not For Profit organization) or CCSAGE, has documented the failure of a wind power developer and the Ontario government to disclose the truth about the impact of a proposed wind power project on migrating Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagle has been designated a “species at risk” in Ontario.
According to the CCSAGE document, prepared by Anne Dumbrille, although only six nesting pairs have been identified in Eastern Ontario, the fact is the majority of Golden Eagles migrating throughout Eastern North America, pass through the narrow area in Prince Edward County.
But: ” wpd [the power developer] surveys reported an average of four Golden Eagles a day on each of the three days they surveyed,” says Dumbrille, “and most were flying at the wind turbine blade height. We know from information in the Species At Risk report and from the Ministry of Natural Resources website, that most, if not all, the Eastern North American population of Golden Eagles will pass through the turbine zone, if they are permitted on the south shore of Prince Edward County.
“It will be a killing zone,” Dumbrille adds.
CCSAGE contends these facts were not made available to the public during the comment period on the project and that, despite a requirement to respond to Freedom of Information requests within 30 days, CCSAGE did not receive the information it requested on the developer’s Species At Risk report until the first business day after the comment period had closed.
“Environment Canada has a guidance document (Wind Turbines and Birds) that lists 11 criteria for a site where turbines should not be sited,” says Dumbrille. “All those criteria are met in the south shore of Prince Edward County.”
CCSAGE says its findings call into question the so-called technical review conducted by both the ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Wind Concerns Ontario will be submitting the CCSAGE report with the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario today, as part of an ongoing complaint process related to fairness and transparency of the wind power project approval system in the province.
Transport Canada has issued an order for the removal of eight wind turbines near the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport by December 31, 2014.
Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope says the municipality was surprised to learn that Transport Canada is demanding that the turbines be removed because of their proximity to the airport. He says two months ago, the municipality’s chief legal officer met with Transport Canada officials and proposed that the eight turbines be recognized as “exceptions.”
“I believe it’s ridiculous, there is an alternative that is there in front of (Transport Canada),” says Hope. “We’ve waited for months for them to reply to us, and they never replied, and came down with this order, which we don’t feel is right… We believe Transport Canada is just playing some politics with us.”
According to a media release from the municipality, this “simple solution” would be a one-time approval just for the eight turbines and would not affect the restriction of future construction near the airport.
Hope says multiple aeronautic consultants have stated the eight wind turbines do not impact airport operations or present any safety concerns for planes.
Hope says the municipality does not have a course of action regarding the order to remove the turbines, and that it is up to GDF Suez, the owner of the affected turbines, to file an appeal.
Editor’s note: GDF Suez’ CEO is Mike Crawley formerly of AIM PowerGen, and past president of both the Ontario and Canadian Liberal parties. His companies have gained contracts worth millions from the Ontario government.
Toronto’s Exhibition Place Turbine Part 2: investment in a green future or financial sinkhole?
In Part 1, Parker Gallant revealed that the mythology around the iconic Toronto waterfront wind turbine doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Yet, the venture was presented as a way to invest for a green energy future. Parker Gallant dives into the numbers and comes up with a different truth.
How well did Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. or THESI management perform in choosing the Exhibition Place turbine as an investment? It’s in the best interests of both ratepayers and taxpayers in Toronto to know! I attempted to review the logic behind THESI’s acquisition to see if it made economic sense. In 2011, I emailed several questions to CEO and President, Anthony Haines, copying several Toronto politicians—I was ignored.
Next, I used the FOI (freedom of information) process; the response to my application was a request for hundreds of dollars to answer these questions.
1. How much is THESI paying per kWh?
2. How much was THESI’s investment in WindShare?
3. What is the current depreciated value?
4. How many kWh of power has WindShare delivered?
After exchanges with THESI’s Executive Vice President, Paul Sommerville (formerly with the Ontario Energy Board) and getting the runaround I gave up and went to the Ontario Privacy Commissioner to seek mediation. This was ultimately successful and I finally received the answers I sought but the information came via major Bay Street law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, not from Mr. Sommerville. “Transparency” is apparently not a watchword for THESI’s executive—they will run up legal bills to avoid directly answering pertinent questions that may prove embarrassing!
The answers to the four questions were:
1. $111.30 per MWh (or 11 cents per kWh)
2. $1.1 million
3. Depreciated to $350,816.26 as of December 31, 2013
4. Approximately 9,000 MWh.
Not as advertised
On the last question, I assume that the power delivered was to the December 31st, 2013 date so the claim is that the last six years of operation produced more power (annually on average) than was delivered during the initial five years of operation. I suspect this was/is an exaggeration but in any event, the turbine either operated at 15.6% of capacity @ 600 kw or 14.1% @ 660 kW or 12.4% @ 750 kw—nothing close to the original claims.
Looking further at the answer to payment per MWh, the 9,000 MWh delivered over the 11 years would have generated $1,001,700 or approximately $91K annually. That would barely cover the depreciation (assuming a 20-year life of the turbine) and leave nothing for maintenance or interest, let alone the ability to pay a dividend to the investors. As well, the cost to THESI is fixed at 11.13 cents per kWh without considering the negative return on their investment—that would put the price per kWh well over 20 cents.
Trekking into TREC So exactly how was THESI management convinced that the Exhibition Place wind turbine was a worthwhile investment? From all appearances THESI were never in it for the money as a presentation by Brian Iler on March 20, 2013 to the Co-op Zone Legal Network, described WindShare as follows:
“II. Example 1: WindShare Financing
Early grants from Trillium Foundation
Partnership with Toronto Hydro: TREC did the work, TH paid invoice for 50% @ fmv. Staff were paid far less than fmv, so these first two elements were substantial financial resources.
Offering to members ~$800K – Preference shares with a variable dividend; member shares were also sold for a nominal amount to give membership rights.”
Iler noted that TREC (Toronto Renewable Energy Co-op) incubates renewable energy co-ops. This is about “community power. WindShare was not a financial success.” (My emphasis)
From all appearances “community power” in the mind of Brian Iler and those involved in TREC is all about securing taxpayer and ratepayer funds which truly involves the community—the community just didn’t have a choice. The Offering Statement for the original shares in WindShare contains interesting information confirming the receipt of a Government of Canada forgiveable loan of $150K and a $495K repayable loan from TAF (Toronto Atmospheric Fund) a Toronto taxpayer-owned foundation. TREC has also received considerable grant monies from the Trillium Foundation (well over $200K), TAF (over $400K), Toronto Hydro (compensation for TREC staff), and an unnamed “Foundation” via the share offerings in WindShare who purchased shares on behalf of the Daily Bread Food Bank and another charity.
The Offering Statement carried some interesting forecasts on revenue and profit which have not come to pass despite all the taxpayer/ratepayers funds thrown at TREC for the project. When TREC officers were out selling the shares they used a PowerPoint presentation which on page 9 offered these reasons to invest in WindShares: “1. Earn a financial return, 2. Earn a good financial return and 3. Earn a good financial return for many many years”! The presentation also had a disclaimer warning investors!
TREC is still trying to launch a 20-MW wind turbine development referred to as LakeWind near Kincardine and again they lie about the number of homes that could be powered. The claim is 3,000— that would require the turbines to operate at 71% capacity.
Despite the obvious inability of TREC’s management to “incubate” a viable renewable energy project without taxpayer, the media holds them up as a great success. The taxpayer and donor-funded TVOntario show The Agenda frequently invites TREC’s Executive Director Judith Lipp as a spokesperson for the renewable energy advocates.
While the “iconic” Exhibition Place wind turbine that WindShare erected with help from THESI costs each of the 701,000 Toronto Hydro ratepayers only 15 cents annually, the truth is, its impact is much larger. It played a key, emblematic role in the politicization of the electricity sector through the push for renewable energy and ultimately the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and that in turn was a major factor in the costs for average Ontario ratepayers individually of hundreds of dollars annually, and collectively in excess of $100 billion over the next 20 years.
TREC’s founders will go down in history not only for the Toronto turbine but also for their part in the biggest rip-off ever of Ontario’s taxpayers and ratepayers.
July 4, 2014
The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.