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.
Doing a Google search on “Ontario Citizens’ Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy” leads you to the following: http://www.ontario-sea.org/Page.asp?PageID=122&ContentID=4259 where you find that the creator of OCCCAE is Michel Fortin and he is now the new “Director of Strategy and Member Services” at OSEA. Fortin’s bio indicates he is a York Universitygrad (ditto for Stevens the ED of OSEA) who took “environmental sciences” just like Stevens.
Just a little incestuous! Sure would like to know where OSEA gets all its money!
If you want to donate to OCCCAE you send your cheque to:
Ontario Citizens’ Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy
c/o Bennett Jones LLP
3400 One First Canadian Place
P.O. Box 130
Toronto ON M5X 1A4
NB: Doing a “who is” search provides no information as to the ownership or administration of any of the above domains except for OSEA. What are they hiding?
Previously, I reviewed the first three steps Nanos Research recommended to CanWEA for future messaging on wind energy as “cleaner, healthier and more sustainable” and “humanizing” the industry by engaging celebrities and using “children and young families” as the face and voice of the industry.
Nanos Research recommended three more steps CanWEA together with examples of past successes.
“Further strengthen industry-government relations through joint communications opportunities around wind-related educational programs, contests and events engaging schools, youth and young families.”
This recommendation is simply a reiteration of what CanWEA have successfully done since their inception with great success. Examples of their success include:
CanWEA joined OSEA as a member. OSEA’s predecessor, the GEAA (Green Energy Act Alliance) convinced the Liberals to develop the Green Energy Act.
CanWEA teamed up with Toronto Hydro to sponsor events aimed at promoting wind to kids.
CanWEA’s press release of September 2009 indicates the group’s relationship with the Ontario Liberal government when an announcement was made by then Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman at the opening ceremonies of CanWEA’s annual conference. “We welcome the Ontario government’s plan to upgrade this province’s electricity grid,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “This is a huge boost to the continued development of wind energy as a viable renewable energy source in Ontario. This plan opens the door for the wind industry to grow…”
CanWEA successfully influenced the science curriculum in schools as noted in a series of articles I wrote, “Ontario’s Green Religion.” CanWEA hosts an annual contest for students, and sponsors bursaries, as well as monitors and rewards students’ blogs.
CanWEA has already been out front to ensure their message reaches the OLP and our children; it is hard to imagine they could actually do more to strengthen their government relationships or influence “youth and young families” but we should expect renewed efforts to do so.
“Continue to build comfort and credibility in wind energy through creative social media products aimed primarily at diminishing public misapprehensions of wind turbines, repositioning turbines as merely the latest version of wind energy devices to have evolved over centuries of mankind’s harnessing the wind.”
This next step from Nanos is really a recommendation to continue the “spin” by ignoring issues related to: human health, killing birds and bats, unreliability and intermittent production, shadow flicker and the economic costs and creation of “energy poverty” for people on fixed incomes, with disabilities or stay at home parents. CanWEA generally does this by insuring their supporters and their media activities focus only on the perceived “positives” about industrial wind turbines.
In order to foster “comfort” and “credibility” CanWEA welcomes organizations to join; a Tweet on January 26 links to a new YouTube video which extols the virtues of corporate membership.
Twitter has also been used in recent weeks to tout the idea that a fundamental change in thinking is occurring (“Energy shift requires a shift in conversation,” January 12) and that wind power is a positive for the economy (“Guelph emerging as leader in renewable energy sector with 2,000 jobs tied to alternative energy sources,” January 7). Again, this refers back to earlier advice to portray wind power naysayers as “backwards” and “out of touch.”
Pew Research recently noted in a report that 71% of adults who are regularly online use Facebook. CanWEA has a presence here too, with an adult and corporate focus. Recent posts include promotion of 2015 corporate events and news stories such as “Wind offers a healthy way to generate power” December 22, 2014.
From the foregoing it becomes obvious that the activity aimed to build “comfort and credibility” has focused on those who are alreadysold on the concept, so we should expect to see the focus shift to the general population with an emphasis on youth and young families. That appears to have started as the CanWEA website has three short Fact Sheets on Health, Property Values, and Price in which it is claimed “experts” have dispelled any negatives on those issues.
No fact sheet exists to dispel bird and bat deaths caused by industrial wind turbines, but we should expect CanWEA will locate an expert to do that. Noted in a 2012 press release: “As the Environmental Commissioner has clearly stated, wind turbines are not a major cause of bird fatalities, but the industry is working diligently to reduce and mitigate impacts. In Canada,we have partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada to create and maintain the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database that provides the information required to assess the impact of wind turbines and inform the development of appropriate regulatory frameworks and mitigation requirements,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.” The database is not linked or publicly available on the CanWEA website—could it be that it shows Ontario’s kill rate of birds and bats (including several “species at risk”) is the worst in Canada?
“Use survey data and benchmarking to measure progress and fine-tune the narrative, and provide the data to government and other stakeholders to further enhance support.”
This is calculated advice for CanWEA because the survey respondents were “blinkered”! A significant proportion of the respondents were city-dwellers, and many admitted they were not well-informed on wind power issues. The report failed to detail the knowledge level of respondents, or poll those who actually reside in affected communities, failed to focus on health, failed to focus on property value losses, and failed to focus on issues affecting nature.
As the Ontario government prepares to accept new applications for as much as 300 megawatts of new wind power capacity in 2015, this type of industry persuasion will continue. It will fall to those of us who care about Ontario’s rural communities and the economic health of this province to present all sides to these persuasive arguments.
The wind turbine noise study completed by acoustics specialist Steven Cooper in Australia has had a resounding effect around the world: using a new methodology and working with the cooperation of the wind power company (who now is rushing to clarify it was not a “health” study), the results showing that wind “farm” neighbours are at greater risk for adverse health effects has been of great interest.
While the wind power industry has been denying the study’s relevance, news comes of congratulations from fellow acoustics professionals for Mr Cooper’s study.
We attach a copy of a letter of congratulations from another noise measurement firm in Australia, calling the Cooper study “a benchmark.” Use of the term “sensation” rather than noise, is “ground-breaking and unique,” writes Bob Thorne, PhD.
Ever since the turbines starting spinning in the Haldimand-Norfolk communities of Cultus-Clear Creek-Frogmore, people have experienced adverse health effects from the noise and infrasound/sound pressure produced by the turbines. Some people live with as many as a dozen or more turbines within a few kilometers.
In 2009, more than 70 residents signed a petition, with the claims that they had personally been affected by the turbines erected by AIM PowerGen (CEO Mike Crawley, later CEO of GDF Suez, and president of both the Ontario Liberal Party and the Liberal Party of Canada).
In 2014, residents asked the local Medical Officer of Health Dr Malcolm Lock, whether he had investigated the possibility of a health hazard as he is mandated to do under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
In a letter delivered to a resident by post, Dr Lock claims to have”investigated” and found “no significant environmental issues.” He referred to correspondence from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and to the report from the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, which was published in 2010 but prepared in 2009, five years ago.
The report from the Chief Medical Officer of Health looked only at direct pathways for the cause of adverse health effects and did not investigate indirect paths. It also noted that there was a gap in information and recommended that further research be done.
Yesterday, I noted that the Nanos Research report for CanWEA finished with this quote: “Positive impressions are supported by the perception that wind is a strong energy source for environmentally friendly and safe electricity.”
On page 15 of the Nanos report, the reasons the respondents chose wind power are itemized: 54.5% in the “very good” group rated it as a “Environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative,” while 3.6% in that group rated wind as “safe.”
Dissenting survey respondents said wind was “too expensive” (24.1%), and “unreliable and inefficient” (19.7%). Amusingly, about 28% of the group rating wind as “very good” actually chose it for a variety of reasons that indicate they know little about it. For example, “because of what I have heard,” “I like it, it’s good” etc. As the 18-29 age group and GTA residents are the biggest fans of industrial-scale wind, we might assume a goodly portion of that demographic shared the perception that it is “environmentally friendly” and “safe.”
So, let’s look at some of the findings in respect to those two perceptions. One of the questions asked, found on page 16, is: “Please rate each of the following ways to generate large-scale electricity for communities, industries and businesses on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very weak and 10 is very strong.”
The results as summarized were: “Wind electricity is second behind solar power and just ahead of hydroelectricity when it comes to being environmentally friendly.” The term “environmentally friendly” pops up in the report 34 times and the word “safe” or a simile 44 times, whereas the word “noise” only appears twice, as does the word “birds.” (The word “infrasound” never appears.)
Interestingly, the Executive Summary says this: “Many participants openly admitted they lacked context to judge wind power, instead demonstrating an appetite for information about wind projects around the world and more details about controversial aspects such as claimed health impacts.”
The 119-page report fails to disclose how many of the responders represented those who “lacked context to judge wind power”! One wonders why that detail was omitted, and how much that lack of “context” should affect the credibility of the survey!
Had the survey explored the knowledge level of responders as displayed on page 10 under the heading, “Attitudes about Wind,” where it states: “31.7% think that wind generation poses a greater risk to health and the environment than hydroelectric generation” the conclusions might have differed considerably from the 54.5% of the “very good” group, or the casual mention by some of the 32 people in the focus groups who said wind power was “Dangerous for birds and wildlife”.
On the issue of “safety” the question reviewed on page 16 above also deals with safety with this summary of results on page 19 sums up the findings: “Safety is also something that distinguishes the energy sources. Nuclear by a significant degree is considered the least safe (5.2). Wind is seen as the third safest but only slightly less safe than hydroelectricity.”
The claim that wind is “safer” than nuclear is just one area where “perception” and “reality” part ways in this survey. The Nanos Research report to CanWEA notes wind receives high marks for safety, but the truth is human fatalities from wind are not reported or only casually mentioned in the mainstream media when they occur. Caithness Windfarm Information Forum has tracked data on all accidents related to wind turbines since 1980. The number of fatalities as reported by Caithness number over 100, whereas the number of fatalities related to nuclear power globally number approximately 50, including Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. The first nuclear power plant commenced operation in 1954, almost 30 years prior to the data in the Caithness site related to industrial wind developments.
Next, I look at what we should expect the upcoming messaging to look like from CanWEA and the industrial wind developers in the Ontario Campaign, as they try to persuade the doubters and those who “lack context to judge wind power.”
Loretta Shields, a member of Mothers Against Wind Turbines, presented at the appeal of the approval of the Niagara Region Wind Corporation wind power generation project yesterday, and outlined the many negative impacts on species at-risk, and environments such as woodlands that are supposed to be protected under Ontario legislation.
“There are so many issues,” Shields tells Wind Concerns Ontario. “For example, there is no evidence to show that winter raptor transects were conducted within the interior of the woodlands. Sixty-two permits are required by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. These are still pending. There are 20 industrial wind turbines proposed in Blanding’s turtle habitat in Lowbanks, all on private property. There are many properties within this habitat where ‘alternative investigations’ i.e., ‘roadside surveys’ were allowed. The MNR is allowing this to proceed.”
Shields had prepared a 32-slide PowerPoint presentation for the Environmental Review Tribunal, detailing sections of Ontario legislation that ought to be applied to protect the environment and wildlife, but are being overlooked or ignored in order to allow the power development to proceed.
Shields also told WCO she was grateful to learn about the “many birds and raptors” in the project area during her investigations and audit of the wind power developer’s application documents: “a silver lining” to this event, she said.
Part II of Prepare to be Persuaded: asking the question about impressions of wind power
The first question in the Nanos Research Survey conducted from May 25th to June 1, 2014 for CanWEA was this: “For the following ways of generating large-scale electricity/electricity used by communities, industries, businesses, please rate your impression as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor or very poor.”
The 500 telephone calls randomly made to 250 GTA residents and 250 “other” Ontario residents reaped the following results: respondents gave hydroelectricity a 86% “very good” or “somewhat good” response making it the clear winner; solar came in second with 70%, gas third with 68%, wind was fourth with 65% and nuclear close behind with 63%.
Now if one travels back to October 2007, an Angus Reid Strategies survey reported “89 per cent of respondents said that using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power was positive for Canada, because these sources were better for the environment.”
The fall from grace for wind as a generation source for electricity as perceived by Ontarians might be connected to this set of facts.
In 2007 Ontario had 500 MW of wind capacity
There were about 250 turbines (includes the iconic Exhibition Place turbine) in Ontario
By June 2014 there was about 3,000 MW of wind capacity in commercial operation, and 1,300 turbines (some 500 feet high) in many communities outside the GTA
The Ontario Power Authority has an additional 2,600 MW contracted for under development, which will add another 1,000 turbines in many other Ontario communities
the average price of electricity in 2007 was 5.4 cents/kWh and the average price of electricity in 2014 was 9.5 cents/kWh, a 76% jump from 2007.
Those facts coupled with the pain of higher electricity bills has made many in the province much wiser about wind power; presumably a few of them were among the 500 randomly called.
Actually, the Nanos survey report did not in fact provide the reader with the percentage of callers reached who were electricity ratepayers. That knowledge might perhaps have painted a more dismal picture for the wind proponents at CanWEA; people who pay electricity bills directly have a better understanding of how the electricity system works, and how utility-scale wind developments have driven up our bills.
The Executive Summary after touting the 65% approval rating for wind power goes on to state, “Positive impressions are supported by the perception that wind is a strong energy source for environmentally friendly and safe electricity.” [My emphasis]
Next: Part III of this examination of the Nanos Research report to CanWEA, where we examine the issues described that will drive the key narratives CanWEA will pursue in their efforts to convince Ontarians of the wonders and benefits of industrial wind turbines.
The wind power development industry’s lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA published an article in its fall edition of the quarterly magazine Windsight, which sets the stage for further activity in Ontario to persuade the voting, tax-paying, rate-paying populace that wind power is “green” and good. The article refers in specific to work done by Nik Nanos, chairman of Nanos Research, “retained by CanWEA to examine the views of consumers on a wide range of energy issues”.
This is very timely of course, with Ontario’s IESO set to open up its Large Renewable Procurement process for even more wind power, despite the billions lost on selling off surplus power.
What’s interesting, however, is that the “spin” in Mr. Nanos’ writing on popular support for wind is actually quite different from what one gleans from a thorough examination of Nanos Research’s 119-page report on the consumer survey.
No doubt the survey set CanWEA (a not-for profit association) back some serious cash as it goes into great detail, but the negative details are abandoned in the sugary article in CanWEA’s publication. Nanos states broadly that “our research found Canadians have some clear opinions on how electricity should be generated, including broad-based support for the development of more wind power”.
He also states “the survey data indicates a clear appetite for a diversification of electricity sources.” Mr. Nanos even cites “Quebecers, whose provincial identity is intertwined with hydropower, support continued development of wind energy”. Why he invokes Quebec is unclear as the survey’s goal is stated clearly in the preamble: “This resource document for the CanWEA Ontario Campaign includes quantitative and qualitative data, a segmentation analysis (to identify priority groups in Ontario for persuasion), and a prescriptive Ontario narrative.”
The message is, doubters in Ontario should get prepared to be persuaded! Mr. Nanos even manages to get a message in for the politicians by noting they should “embrace” the survey’s findings, despite the fact that the current government has already embraced them to the detriment of Ontario’s economy: “And for governments, the key takeaway should be to embrace environmentally responsible diversification of our energy supplies, and to see wind as a key part of the future mix”.
This is but another step in CanWEA’s campaign, which includes a slate of lobbyists. CanWEA, is registered with three lobbyists and another five from Sussex Strategy Group. If one does a keyword search on the registry using “wind,” 190 names pop up. CanWEA’s registration in addition to member’s dues, shows they have secured funding from the federal government as noted:
Has your organization received any government funding (federal, provincial and/or municipal) in its current fiscal year?
Name of Government or Government Agency Amount
Natural Resources Canada $663,000.00
So Canada’s taxpayers are supporting CanWEA in a significant way despite the fact that their members are worth billions. The money declared by CanWEA’s filing appears to be a part of a grant of $1,755,000 for a study to be conducted by CanWEA, referred to as the “Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study”. The objective, as described on Natural Resources Canada’s website, is: to undertake a study to evaluate the technical aspects of high wind energy penetration on a national basis.”
It appears CanWEA wants coast-to-coast transmission towers also hooked up to the other grid networks in the U.S.A. skirting the Canada/U.S. border. The rationale is to counter the fact that wind power is intermittent by proving that “the wind is blowing somewhere.”
Back to the Nanos Survey: was there some bias in the selection of the responders? According to the report, 500 Ontarians took part with 250 from the GTA, where the only visible turbine is the demonstration Exhibition Place wind turbine. The other 250 respondents came from “the rest of Ontario,” whatever that means. In addition, the weighting given to the 18-29 age group was significant so the 50 respondents in that age group got a 20% weighting, rather than the 10% they actually represented. The 60+ demographic (people who are more likely to be homeowners and electricity ratepayers) was almost halved from 220 to 117!
Nanos held four focus groups with a total of 32 people, in two sessions in the GTA and the two in London—Ontario’s largest and sixth largest cities.
We will explore the “narratives” that stem from the Nanos report to CanWEA and the messages to be employed to persuade the people of Ontario that, yes, wind is good, and yes, we need more wind power generation in a province that already has a power surplus.
Earlier this week, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO (now a blend of IESO and the former Ontario Power Authority or OPA) hosted a webinar on the new Large Renewable Procurement RFP process.
Manager of renewable procurement Adam Butterfield said in beginning to review comments from the public comment period that the IESO’s goal is to produce a “robust product that meets industry needs.”
There was no mention of community, municipal or citizen input to the comment process.
McCarthy-Tetrault, often seen opposite community groups appealing wind power project approvals as the lawyer for the wind power developers, has provided this analysis of the LRP process so far, and a summary of the webinar.
Yesterday, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) held an ‘industry dialogue’ meeting in Toronto, during which it discussed the feedback and comments it received on the draft contract and request for proposals (RFP) for the Large Renewable Procurement I (LRP). The IESO shared some of the ‘key issues/common themes’ that it received during the comment period and also revealed that, due to the large number of comments received and to administrative issues related to the recent IESO/OPA merger (see our prior post), the timeline for releasing the final documentation for the LRP would be postponed for at least one month until February.
During the LRP comment period, we had shared our ‘top ten’ issues with the draft documents (which can be found here). Some of these were echoed by the industry and, along with some other issues, were highlighted by the IESO at the meeting, including:
– Connection Availability Information – commenters requested more information regarding connection availability in order to make informed project decisions. The IESO commented that they are developing a process to convey such information to applicants shortly.
– Public Community Meetings – commenters noted that requiring 2 meetings in each affected community was too onerous; many suggested that only 1 community meeting should be required.
– Adjacent Landowner Agreements – commenters noted that the 100% threshold was too onerous. While there is no consensus on what threshold would be appropriate, the IESO stated that they are considering different options. One of the attendees of the meeting suggested that, instead of requiring agreement from all landowners adjacent to the parcel of real property on which the project is located, the requirement could be revised to only require agreement from landowners whose property is within a certain distance from the actual project structures (and thereby focus the requirement on the most proximate neighboring landowners). The IESO is taking the comment under advisement.
– Permitted Purposes / Non-collusion Requirements – commenters requested clarity regarding what communications were prohibited. Further, commenters requested that the restrictions accommodate partnerships between applicants and joint community meetings. The IESO noted that the relevant definitions would likely be evolving and that it was not their intent to stifle community involvement.
– Site Access Option Agreements – commenters suggested that the required length of option agreements to acquire necessary real estate could be shortened to 1-2 years following submission of the application, rather than until commercial operation.
– Termination for Convenience – commenters objected to this and noted concerns as to whether equity or debt financiers would accept such risks given the divergence from previous OPA contracts, and recommending that any voluntary termination right of the IESO be limited to the pre-construction period.
– Permitted Site Amendments – commenters raised concern over the sole and absolute discretion of the IESO on these matters.
– REA Appeals as Force Majeure – commenters suggested that REA appeals should be considered force majeure.
– Key Development Milestones – commenters noted that financial close does not necessarily occur prior to the commencement of construction and suggested that these milestones be revised to reflect that possibility.
The IESO noted that its presented list was not a comprehensive list of all comments that were received or that are being considered, but only the ‘high volume’ comments that multiple commenters made. They further clarified that the items discussed were merely under consideration by the IESO, and that no decision had yet been made as to whether such comments would be accepted or whether any other accommodating changes would be made.
Jurassic Coast windfarm plan at Unesco site ‘like bulldozing Buckingham Palace’, residents warn
The Independent, Saturday January 24 2015
The south of England’s “Jurassic Coast” has inspired countless school geography trips and novelists such as Jane Austen, Ian McEwan and John Fowles, whose French Lieutenant’s Woman famously stood on Lyme Regis harbour “motionless, staring, staring out to sea”.
But whereas the fictional Sarah Woodruff’s view, framed by the Isle of Wight to the left and Old Harry Rocks to the right, would have been largely free of humans’ influence, proposals to build a giant offshore windfarm would fill the vista, threatening the coast’s status as England’s only natural Unesco world heritage site in the process.
MPs, locals and naturalists have banded together to fight plans by EDF Energy, the French owner of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, to build one of the world’s largest windfarms. The £3bn project involves installing 194 turbines, of up to 650ft high, nine miles off the coast of Dorset and East Devon. Opponents say the development would spoil an area whose identity and economy is built upon a unique and breathtakingly beautiful 96-mile stretch of coast that includes landmarks such as Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Chesil Beach and Ladram Bay.
“To have a big windfarm off the coast of Dorset where you’ve got miles of holidaymakers and locals coming to enjoy the area, I think would be the equivalent of ripping the cathedral down in Salisbury, or tearing down Westminster Abbey brick by brick or taking bulldozers to Buckingham Palace,” said Conor Burns, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, Alderney and Branksome East. He surveyed 3,000 of his constituents and found 87 per cent opposed the development.
Unesco has also criticised the proposals, telling the Government in a letter that the development, known as Navitus Bay, would “adversely impact” the view and raising the prospect that its World Heritage status could be removed.
Geologists say the coastline is unique because the dramatic cliffs and secluded coves are document to 185 million years of the evolution of the Earth, taking in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Peter Fanning, 76, a retired geologist who lives in Christchurch, has explored the coast countless times.
“The coast is a unique piece of geology. If you start in the west and move eastwards you are stepping further and further into the past as you encounter older and older rocks. There’s shale, sandstone, limestone. It’s breathtaking,” he said. “There’s a certain uniqueness. When you go there you feel it. It’s hard to describe in scientific terms, but it gels, it fits together. If you introduce an industrial zone, which is what the windfarm would be, you spoil the setting completely.”
The coast also has a rich literary history. Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, the newlyweds in McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, spend their honeymoon there and Louisa Musgrove falls into the sea in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Bill Bryson simply loves the place. “The world, or at least this little corner of it, seemed a good and peaceful place, and I was immensely glad to be there,” he wrote in his UK travelogue, Notes from a Small Island.
But the proposed windfarm endangers much more than the ambience, opponents say. Mark Smith, Bournemouth’s director of tourism, said the view and the local economy are interlinked. “The main asset this area sells itself on is the beautiful view. The whole origin of Bournemouth was based on that view, so it’s pretty fundamental to the area that the view is looked after. The windfarm could have a devastating impact on the economy,” he said.
Andrew Langley, an engineer who heads the Challenge Navitas opposition group and lives on the Isle of Purbeck, added: “This would change the character of something I love, from being relatively pristine and beautiful to something fairly manmade and intrusive.” The Government is considering the proposal and is expected to decide in the autumn.