Ontario launches noise impact studies for offshore wind farms

Travelling north into Strathroy on Adelaide Rd., a wind turbine seems to loom over the community. The province will study the noise impact of wind turbines and how they should be decommissioned. (MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)

John Miner, London Free Press, September 8, 2014

The Ontario government is launching two studies into putting wind farms in waterways, but maintains there are no plans to drop its moratorium on offshore wind-energy development.

“Ontario will not proceed with offshore wind projects until enough scientific evidence exists to demonstrate that any future proposals can be developed in a way that is protective of both human health and the environment,” a spokesperson for the Ontario Environment Ministry said Monday.

Friday, the province invited bids on a study of the noise impact of offshore wind farms.

It’s also seeking experts to study the requirements for decommissioning offshore wind farms.

“These studies will help inform any future decisions on offshore wind development in Ontario,” Kate Jordan of the Ontario Environment Ministry wrote in an e-mail.

In the run-up to the 2011 Ontario election, the McGuinty government placed a moratorium on offshore wind farms, mostly planned for Lakes Huron and Ontario.

Critics claimed it was a crass political move to save Liberal ridings in the face of a public backlash against unsightly wind farms in view of waterfront properties. The government maintained it made the move because there wasn’t enough scientific evidence on wind farms in fresh-water lakes. The moratorium triggered a $2.25-billion lawsuit against the government by Trillium Power Wind Corp., which had plans to build an offshore wind farm near Kingston.

A lower court threw the lawsuit out, but it was reinstated in November 2013 by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Of the two studies the province has launched, Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said it would have been nice if the province had done similar studies before it went ahead with wind farms on land. There were no studies, despite calls from more than 30 municipalities for financial-impact studies and cost/benefit studies, she said. “Those were never done, have never been done and are not being done now,” Wilson said.

While Ontario is studying offshore wind farm development, Canadian companies are already involved in such projects. This month, Toronto’s Northland Power, which is developing the Grand Bend Wind Farm, announced it had acquired an 85% stake in three offshore wind projects in German waters.​

Read the full story and comments here.

Parker Gallant on Ontario energy ministers: wish there was an app to turn them off!

Great invention guys: the price tag is a little high but we'll find the money ... somewhere
Great invention guys: the price tag is a little high but we’ll find the money … somewhere

Turning Liberal Energy Ministers off!  Wish there was an app for that!

A September 4th article in the Ottawa Sun was another announcement from Energy Minister,  Bob Chiarelli, telling us about a new device “for consumers to save money and conserve energy”.  This  “test” for a new software application tracks movement from room to room (motion sensors) to shut off the vent(s)/registers in the room you left and turn on those in the room you enter.

According to the company, the device could cost an average of $1,400 per home noting but “a government rebate and mass production of the product might reduce the price.

Gee, I wonder who will pick up the tab for that “government rebate” the company wants?

Minister Chiarelli will the device will  result in “Savings of eight to 10 per cent per month would be passed onto homeowners, although it is so far a “conservative estimate.”

The Sun article stated that “the average monthly bill for Hydro Ottawa customers on time-of-use rates in 2012 was $114.19” so the 10% savings would amount to $11.42 per month or $137.04 annually, meaning the device would be paid for in slightly over 10 years.  Those off/on  register sensors will be installed by HVAC companies and are battery-operated—were those two additional costs factored in?

The device will be installed and tested in 35 homes thanks to a $182,000 ($5,200 per home) grant from the OPA (Ontario Power Authority) funded by all Ontario ratepayers.

If the 8% to 10% savings sounds enticing, you likely live in a very large house with only a couple of occupants. In other words, you are not an “average” electricity consumer using 800 kilowatts per month!  The proposed government grant paid for by “average” ratepayers shouldn’t be subsidizing the affluent!

Ratepayers: picking up the costs

Those “average” ratepayers are already picking up the costs of the Green Energy Act, subsidizing wind and solar generation, paying for gas plant moves, paying gas generators to idle turbines, paying for our neighbours New York, Michigan and Quebec to purchase subsidized electricity, paying for smart meters that Hydro One have messed up, paying for the Ombudsman to investigate Hydro One’s billing system, paying for wind and solar generators to not produce power, paying for meteorological stations at wind generation locations, paying for development of a “smart grid,” paying for lawyers at the MoE (Ministry of the Environment) to fight “average” ratepayers at Environmental Review Tribunals, paying local distribution companies to compensate them for reduced revenue because we conserved energy, paying for the OPA multimedia ads telling us to conserve energy, paying subsidies to convert incandescent street lights to LED bulbs for municipalities and now, paying for the OPA to provide grants of $5,200 per household to test a product “average” ratepayers will be unable to afford.

The OPA’s conservation budget of $483 million for 2014 has found yet another way to punish the “average” ratepayer, driving more of us into “energy poverty.”   Don’t we already do our laundry on weekends, eat after 7 PM, set our air conditioners higher, our furnace lower and turn off the lights when we leave a room—all to “save money and conserve energy”?

The article in the Sun also carried this quote from the minister: “The whole electricity sector is being invaded by software and information technology in almost every aspect of it and it’s actually revolutionizing how the electricity system is working.”

The revolution Minister Chiarelli refers to, is perpetuating the myth that we can afford to “’save more” energy.   The Ottawa Sun article noted “household consumption of residential electricity has declined around 14% over the last decade”.  The decline is due to the 100-plus % increase in costs to “average” ratepayers!  In the 11 years of Liberal rule we have suffered through 10 ministerial appointments to this portfolio (two each for Duncan, Phillips and Chiarelli); all had a hand in making Ontario one of the most expensive jurisdictions in North America for electricity costs.

What the province desperately needs is an “app” for the “average” ratepayer to stop energy ministers from their need to spend ratepayer dollars to tell us to conserve when we are already doing exactly that!

Voters had that “app” June 12, 2014, but they didn’t use it!

Parker Gallant,

September 9, 2014

The opinions expressed are those of the author


Ontario seeking bids on offshore wind farm noise study

Toronto Harbour next?
Toronto Harbour next?

Just prior to the 2011 Ontario election, the Dalton McGuinty government announced a “moratorium” on offshore wind development. It was widely thought this move was to stave off any criticism (and lost votes) from Toronto, the Ontario Liberal stronghold, as there was significant opposition to a project proposed off the Scarborough area, where lake views are prized.

Now, it’s 2014, and the Liberals have a majority and four years ahead in power.

Last Friday, a request for proposal for a noise impact study for offshore wind “farms” was posted on MERX here.

Details here:

Technical Evaluation to Predict Offshore Wind Farm Noise Impacts in Ontario

Detailed Description
This Request for Proposals is an invitation to prospective proponents to submit proposals for the Technical Evaluation of Sound Propagation Modelling Methodologies to Predict Offshore Wind Farm Noise Impacts in Ontario.

Scope of Work
The Preferred Proponent will be required to conduct a technical evaluation of sound propagation modelling methodologies to predict Offshore Wind Farm noise impacts in Ontario (the “Study”), and create a report about the Study to the satisfaction of and for approval by the Ministry (the “Study Report”). The scope of work to be performed by the Preferred Proponent includes:

(i) Conducting a literature review and consulting technical and government specialists;

(ii) Preparing and submitting the Study Report based on the literature review and consultation;

(iii) Providing the chapters of the Study Report to the Ministry in draft form for review, comment and approval by the Ministry, and revising the chapters and final Study Report to the satisfaction of the Ministry; and,

(iv) Participating in kick-off meeting/teleconference and periodic teleconferences with Ministry staff as required.

Field measurements, validation testing and/or the purchase of Offshore Models are outside the scope of this study.

Note that this is essentially a literature review; actual noise measurement is “outside the scope.”

It is also likely only related to audible noise: low frequency noise has not been mentioned in the study scope.

Offshore wind power generation projects have been proposed for several areas in Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. Concerns about such development range from worries about noise, damage to the lake beds, especially in Erie where the toxic substances have settled, and for property values of adjacent properties.

Chatham-Kent airport wind farm turbines still up

Turbines near Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport (Photo by Trevor Thompson)

An appeal to an order to have wind turbines removed at the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport continues to move through the federal process.

Renewable Energy company GDF Suez is arguing that the turbines don’t pose any danger to incoming or outgoing aircraft. But Transport Canada disagrees, and has ordered them removed by the end of the year.

According to a Transport Canada email sent to BlackburnNews.com, a board is being formed to review the company’s appeal and hear the government’s reasoning for the removal order.

The government says the board will be made up of one or more impartial representatives. There’s no word on when the board will be formed or when the hearing will take place.

Blackburn News, September 2, 2014

Reporter Twitter @MJamesNews Email Mike James
Photo: Trevor Thompson

Pity Ontario’s Ombudsman sorting through Hydro One mess

Daffyd Roderick

Daffyd Roderick: the former writer for TIME now an apologist for Hydro One.

The Toronto Star recently ran an article about the second quarter results for Toronto Hydro and Hydro One. Hydro One’s spokesperson, Daffyd Roderick, made this comment about delinquent accounts: “When it came down to making a decision on whether an account went into collections, we had to be iron-clad certain that the account was truly in collections, and not having an issue caused by us.”

Talk about openness, compassion, and transparency—and an admission about their mucked up billing system! That system is now under review by Andre Marin, the Ontario Ombudsman. Hydro One customers are in deep trouble; remarks like those from Mr. Roderick would not be acceptable in the private sector, but seem to be standard fare from this provincially owned monopoly.

Coincidentally, Cheryl Gallant (no relation) MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke initiated a Federal Investigation into Ontario’s “smart meters,” claiming that she has “been inundated with complaints from Ontario Hydro One customers.”

As further evidence of how things work at Hydro One, I recently received a call from the daughter of an old and dear friend who is aware that I keep an eye on the Ontario electricity sector.  The call was related to how Hydro One treated her when she inquired about her billing. Her story went like this.

Hydro One installed a smart meter sometime in 2011 and for some time after (including a bill of June 20, 2013) the bills reflected the time-of use consumption as actual readings. She noticed the meter was not displaying digital readings and called Hydro One several times about this, complaining about the lack of a display.  It took Hydro One almost a full year, to the spring of 2013, to replace the meter.

The bills from June 20, 2013 on were estimates which she paid and from that point forward they paid Hydro One what she thought would cover power use—no bills reflected actual readings up to May 2014, and then no other bills arrived after that estimated May 2014 bill.

In July 2014 she called to inquire about the status of her account and were informed they had a credit  balance of $2,718.00.  Then on August 15th she called again and this time was informed she had a balance owing of $5.910.00. That’s a difference of more than $8,600.00.   Worse, Hydro One said the claim related to the arrears began in June, 2012.

It gets weirder: a package of billing data dated August 8, 2014 finally arrived in the third week of August, with one of the bills showing the above credit balance.   The bill claimed it was for the period May 2012 to June 2012 (that is during the time of the old, now replaced, smart meter) and billed them for $201, less a credit adjustment of $103, leaving a credit balance of $2,621.00.

The other bill included was also dated August 8, 2014 but this one indicated a balance owing of $1,792.00.  There were changes made to the time of use and other items (this was also when she had the old meter).

After receiving this new set of bills, my friend’s daughter spoke with a Hydro One representative.  When queried about the backdating and changes, the supervisor danced around the questions and finally offered “term financing” of the bill for a lengthy period, during which Hydro One would not charge interest.   There was no explanation on how Hydro One recovered that old smart meter to recapture updated readings they were now billing for!

A complaint to the Ontario Ombudsman’s office has been submitted and the couple are now awaiting feedback.

This is probably only one of the thousands of stories that the Ombudsman is now trying to deal with.   Between the communications people at Hydro One and the outsourced (Inergi/Capgemini) customer service area I am sure Mr. Marin is getting the run-around just as my friend’s daughter did.

I was reminded of a Will Rogers quote which went, “I don’t make jokes.  I just watch the government and report the facts.”

Hydro One’s messed up billing system sure isn’t a joke to its customers. It is my hope that that the Auditor General revisits Hydro One after the Ombudsman’s report is released, and focuses on the mess before we see another run of questionable bills and have to endure the bafflegab  from Hydro One spokespeople.

©Parker Gallant,

September 2, 2914

The views expressed here are those of the author.

Website editor note: when I called to report that my new “smart meter” was now reading exactly DOUBLE my former power usage, the person answering for Hydro One offered to have “someone come out and find out what you are doing wrong.”

Ontario doesn’t need more wind power



Large Renewable Procurement means higher electricity bills for consumers

September 1, 2014, Toronto— Ontario’s new Large Renewable Procurement process aims to add more expensive, intermittent wind power to Ontario’s power capacity at a time when Ontario doesn’t need the power, and can’t afford new generation, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

In comments made to the Ontario Power Authority on the draft new procurement process for “renewables” such as wind and solar, the advocacy organization said it cannot understand why suppliers for more power are being sought at this time.

“Ontario lost more than $1.5 billion last year because we had power being produced at the wrong time of day for people to use it,” says president Jane Wilson. “We had to sell it off to other jurisdictions like neighbouring U.S. States at bargain-basement prices. And now, we ‘re looking for more? It doesn’t make sense.”

Adding more renewables to the mix will increase electricity bills for Ontario’s already strapped consumers. “I am very concerned about energy poverty,” Wilson, a registered nurse, says. “We are hearing from young people and seniors who say they have reached or exceeded their limits and just can’t pay any more. Why is Ontario scaling back on cheap hydro power, and looking to buy more expensive wind?”

Wind Concerns Ontario also noted concerns about the approval process for wind power projects. At present 85 municipalities in Ontario have declared themselves to be unwilling hosts to the wind power plants, which can reduce property values, diminish attractiveness for tourists, and produce noise and vibration that disturbs sleep and affects health for some residents. Seven projects have been approved since the June election, Wind Concerns says. The cost of those projects works out to $135.7 million a year or $2.7 billion over the life of the 20 year contracts, or an additional $28.28 per household every year.

“Kathleen Wynne, Bob Chiarelli and their government keep saying that they are not going to ‘force’ wind power projects on communities,” Wilson says, “but just last week they approved a huge power project at Plympton-Wyoming in Lambton County—that community has been very clear about its wishes. This new process fails to define what community approval means. Our communities need to know that, now.”

Wind Concerns commented on other issues with the Ontario Power Authority such as a need for power developer to disclose all the impacts of a proposed project to local governments, for their sales staff to adhere to a code of practice, and for wind power contracts to contain measures that allow landowners to change their minds about having turbines on their property.

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups and individuals concerned about the potential impact of large-scale wind power generation projects on the economy, on the natural environment and wildlife, and on human health.

Read the full Wind Concerns Ontario comment to the Ontario Power Authority on the new Large Renewable Procurement process here: Aug23Input into Large Renewable Procurement RFP Framework