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.
Health researcher Carmen Krogh has prepared a commentary on the recent decision by the Ontario Environmental and Lands Review Tribunal to dismiss the appeal of the Niagara Region wind power project.
Among the grounds for appeal, was the danger to children. Area resident Shellie Correia presented evidence to show that her son would be adversely affected by the wind turbine noise and infrasound; the Tribunal chose evidence presented by Dr Robert McCunney who appeared for the approval holder over that of Ms Correia and her son’s physician. Dr McCunney is a specialist in occupational medicine with particular expertise in noise exposure. He is not a prediatrician and does not have preparation in neurology.
“Research indicates the fetus, babies, children and youth including those with pre-existing medical conditions and special needs are a vulnerable p[opulation group to the effects of noise exposure in general,” Krogh writes in her paper. “The World Health Organization comments it is not necessary to wait for full scientific proof before taking action ‘where there is a reasonable possibility that public health will be damaged’, she adds.”
This raises the question: will appellants and concerned families have to wait until children-based research is done that shows Renewable Energy Approvals WILL CAUSE harm to human health. Are there legal-ethical concerns?
It seems the only thing colourful crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm hates more than red tape is wind farming.
Despite typically being a fierce opponent of new government regulation, the Liberal Democrat is calling on the government to set up a new regulator to monitor noise levels near wind turbines.
He claims a Senate inquiry he set up has uncovered “credible evidence” that some people are suffering health concerns caused by low frequency noise and vibrations known as infrasound.
Australia’s peak medical agency this year concluded there is no direct or consistent evidence that wind farms damage human health, after conducting a year-long study into so-called “wind turbine syndrome”.
Indeed, many health experts and environmentalists have long dismissed turbine-related health concerns as a myth.
But Senator Leyonhjelm has seized on reports that the German Medical Assembly wants a halt on further wind farm developments near housing pending more research into the possible health impacts.
“I am usually the last person to support the creation of additional government bureaucracy but when we are directing around $22 billion towards the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the creation of a regulator would be a drop in the bucket,” Senator Leyonhjelm says.
“Those who justify action on climate change because of the precautionary principle will understand the need to apply the same principle to infrasound.”
The crossbencher says the need for a new regulator is particularly pressing given the Clean Energy Regulator says another 1000 wind turbines will need to be erected in the next five years to meet the RET.
Senator Leyonhjelm’s inquiry attracted 418 submissions and is set to report back to parliament in August. It is the latest in a long line of investigations into renewable energy and wind turbines.
Lawyers battling wind energy projects in Ontario are set to speak at a town hall event Tuesday evening at the Camlachie Community Centre.
The citizens’ group We’re Against Industrial Turbines, Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW) has arranged for Julian Falconer and Asha James to speak at the public information meeting arranged as construction of Suncor and NextEra’s 46-turbine Cedar Point wind energy project has begun in Lambton.
The meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m.
“There are a lot of outstanding questions, and we’re going to try and answer some of them at the town hall,” said WAIT-PW member Santo Giorno.
Falconer and James have been involved in legal challenges of wind projects around the province, including an Aberarder family’s ongoing challenge of the Cedar Point wind farm.
Falconer also spoke at an earlier town hall meeting organized by the citizens’ group that formed after Suncor began planning the wind project.
“He’s going to try and answer the question, ‘Just where are we now, and what are the next steps,'” Giorno said.
WAIT-PW continues to raise money to help fund legal battles against the wind project.
Aberarder residents Kimberley and Richard Bryce unsuccessfully appealed the Cedar Point project’s provincial approval to Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, and have since appealed to the Division Court for Ontario.
“Some people will say, ‘Well, it’s too late,’ but we feel that it’s never too late,” Giorno said.
“We can’t just let them walk all over us. We have to continue the struggle.”
Giorno said the start of construction on the wind turbines in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township could generate more opposition to the wind project.
He also pointed to an incident April, being investigated by Ontario’s Environment Ministry, where 3,000 square metres of protected trees were cut down during land development for the Cedar Point project.
Suncor has said removal of the trees near Fuller Road and Proof Line in Lambton Shores was a mistake and has apologized.
“I think a number of people are actually a bit more upset now than they were initially, when they see what’s going on,” Giorno said.
“The destruction of trees on protected wetlands has really angered a lot of people.”
Giorno said WAIT-PW members will also be on hand at the town hall meeting to provide information and answer questions from the public.
“We’re going to talk about some of the more current research that has gone on this field,” he added.
The tale of how citizens of Prince Edward County took on the Ontario government and a wind power developer on behalf of the endangered Blandings Turtle, and the environment, and won (for now) in today’s Toronto Star .
To subscribers of Ontario Farmer, please take note: in the opinion column by Tom Van Dusen on a wind power information meeting held recently in Finch, Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson is quoted as saying Ontario ought to put wind “farms” in isolated areas where they won’t bother anyone. Mr Van Dusen then quoted the CanWEA representative Tom Levy as rebutting the statement, citing transmission costs when power is transported over great distances.
Mr Van Dusen’s recollection of the remarks is false: what Wilson said, in response to a question from the floor about why wind “farms” aren’t simply located in the North, was that people live there too, and the significant environmental damage done by wind “farms” was a factor, everywhere, including the North. Mr Levy did add the issue of transmission costs.
Wind Concerns Ontario will be sending a letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer to correct this misstatement by Mr Van Dusen.
Credit: German doctors want more research into the health effects of wind turbines | Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor | The Australian | May 21, 2015 | www.theaustralian.com.au ~~
The “parliament” of Germany’s medical profession has called on its leaders to support a halt to further wind farm developments near housing until more research has been undertaken into the possible health impacts of low-frequency noise from wind turbines.
The issue was debated at the German Medical Assembly in Frankfurt on Friday and transferred to the executive board of the German Medical Association.
Association policy adviser Adrian Alexander Jakel confirmed a motion calling for research had been forwarded to the board “for further action”.
Germany is considered a world leader in adopting renewable energy and the minutes of the Medical Assembly meeting said that, with the phase-out of nuclear power, more wind energy would be used in future. But it said the entire life cycle of renewable technologies, from the initial raw material supply to disposal and the planning and risk considerations, should be considered in advance.
The Medical Assembly motion said this required “scientifically sound findings of potential health effects, and a deliberate balance between benefit and validity to be able to make conscious weightings between the benefits and of the disadvantages and risks”.
“In particular regarding emissions in the low frequency and infrasound range there are no reliable independent studies that investigate field measurement methodology suitable for this sound field below the threshold of hearing,” they said.
The assembly called for the federal government to close the gaps in knowledge about the health effects of infrasound and low-frequency sound from wind turbines through scientific research.
It said research should clarify open questions concerning measurement methods and, where appropriate, adjust regulations to “allow the expansion and the operation of wind turbines wisely, carefully, with integrated expertise, sustainability and overall societal responsibility”.
It said the health effects of infrasound (below 20 Hz) and low-frequency sound (below 100 Hz) in relation to emissions from wind turbines were “still open questions’’, as were “the effects of noise below the hearing threshold or lower frequencies with increasing exposure duration”. The assembly said the erection of more turbines close to settlements should be stopped until there was reliable data to exclude a safety hazard.
Despite a claim by staff in the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of Health Canada in a meeting with Wind Concerns Ontario last November, that data from the Wind Turbine Noise and Health study would be available to Canadians, via universities and research projects, the health ministry is actually rebuffing attempts to use the data for independent study.
Staff attending that meeting included project director David Michaud and policy director Tara Bower.
As part of his submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into wind turbines, associate professor Richard Mann of the University of Waterloo makes note of a paper recently presented at an international noise conference in Glasgow, and further mentions the fact that access to the taxpayer-funded Health Canada data has been refused.
Professor Mann states:
Our research paper has just been presented in Glasgow, Scotland. The citation is: J. Vanderkooy and R. Mann. “Measuring Wind Turbine Coherent Infrasound”. Wind Turbine Noise 2015, INCE/EUROPE, Monday 20th April to Thursday 23rd April 2015. Glasgow, Scotland. Link: http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mannr/WTN2015.pdf
Repeated requests to Health Canada, either to work together, or to study the data independently, have been denied. Accordingly, I have filed the following “access to information” request, listed below.
A-2015-00042: Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study. MG Acoustics was contracted by HC to study infra sound. Request all correspondence between HC and MG. Also request all raw data collected by MG for this contract. This includes all microphone, microbarometer, vibration, weather station, and turbine operational data (turbine orientation, RPM, power output, wind speed at turbine, etc). Note: Informal request made to David Michaud (March 2, 2015), redirected to Stephen Bly (March 9, 2015), and ultimately rejected by Stephen Bly (March 24, 2015)
Health Canada spent $2.1 million on the wind turbine noise and health study; the conflicting conclusions were published in a summary paper in November 2014, and also in a colour brochure (which has been very helpful to the wind power developers).
The Government of Canada also spent $1.75 million on a study aimed at the logistics of rolling out wind power across Canada, which included a payment of $650,000 approximately to the wind power lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Meanwhile, the Government of Ontario recently told Wind Concerns Ontario that it has received over 2,800 noise complaints since 2009; health complaints related to turbine noise are reported separately.
Revenues no more than “Chump Change” for municipalities
Wind power developers bringing projects to Ontario’s municipalities offer various inducements to persuade politicians they will benefit from millions of dollars. Like the landowners signing leases for turbines, money is frequently the reason municipal politicians support wind power development and locating projects locally.
In Ontario, local politicians have no real power to support or deny those projects, and also, little ability to generate a real community benefit due to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA). It doesn’t matter what the capital value of an industrial wind turbine (IWT) is, or what they levy in local realty taxes as the provincial government has set the taxable value! Former Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan decreed (one year before resigning) IWTs would be assessed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) at a maximum of $40,000 per megawatt (MW). That translates to tax revenue averaging $1,000/2,000 per MW, based on local industrial mill rates.
My research indicates Ontario has the lowest assessed value per/MW capacity of all provinces.
The 2014 3rd Quarter update from the OPA claimed they had contracted for 5,697 MW of wind capacity. Payment per MW hour for wind generated power averages $123.50/MWh.
Using an average of $1,500 per MW for the OPA-contracted 5,697 MW of wind means Ontario host municipalities will generate about $8.5 million annual realty taxes. (5,697 X $1,500 = $8.5 million)
Those 5,697 MW will produce energy at 30% of their capacity producing cash for the developers of $1.8 billion (5,697 X 30% X 8760 [hours per annum] X $123.50 = $1.8 billion) Eighty percent (80%) of the time the power will be surplus to Ontario’s demand.1. Tax revenues represent less than 1% of developers’ revenue.
Nova Scotia’s legislature set the annual price for their realty taxes at $5,500 per MW “plus a percentage of $5,500.00 equal to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Canada at the end of the calendar year ending in the immediately preceding municipal taxation year relative to the Consumer Price Index for Canada at the end of the 2005 calendar year”.
If Nova Scotia had contracted for the 5,697 MW the OPA has in Ontario, realty tax revenues would be in excess of $31 million. (5,697 X $5,500 = $31.3 million)
In Nova Scotia those 5,697 MW of wind turbines operating at 30% of capacity would be paid an an average of $100 MWh and generate $1.5 billion. Tax revenues would represent slightly more than 2% of revenue for the developers.
For British Columbia realty taxes applicable to farms are applied to wind developments which presumably means assessment of the capital cost (depreciating) of about $1.5 million per MW. Specific information was difficult to locate; however, what I found indicates realty taxes appear to be approximately $14K/MW and the price paid for generation is $105 per/MWh.
Using the limited amount of information available and applying it to the Ontario contracted 5,697 MW of capacity; in BC the tax revenue would be $80 million annually (5,697 X $14K = $80 million) and at $105 per MWh would generate $1.6 billion annually for the developers. Taxes would represent 5% of the revenue generated for the developers.
It was almost impossible to locate assessment values for wind turbines in Alberta except for one reference in a report from the Greengate Power Corporation posted on the University of Calgary site. That report claimed a 300 MW wind development would pay municipal taxes of $5 million annually which indicates a realty tax of about $16K per MW.
Using that information and applying it to Ontario’s 5,697MW of contracted capacity, suggests annual tax revenue for municipalities would be $91 million. In Alberta the wind developers must sell their production via the spot market and in 2013 a BNN article suggested they earned an average of $54.97 per MWh which translates to annual revenue of $820 million for the developers. In Alberta realty taxes would therefore represent 11% of the revenue generated by the developers.
With Ontario municipalities receiving so little for hosting industrial wind turbines it is surprising the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) when faced with any kind of opposition would issue a press release that claims: “Right now there are literally thousands of Ontarians participating in the province’s ground-breaking clean energy economy. Communities across this province — from Chatham-Kent to Frontenac Island, Tillsonburg to Niagara — stand to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in direct benefits from wind energy projects.”
MPAC’s 2014 annual report claims they assess and classify “more than five million properties with an estimated total value of $2.2 trillion.”The assessed value of the contracted 5,697 industrial wind turbines at $40K per MW gives them a total value of $228 million or .0001% of total assessed values versus a likely capital cost approaching $8.5 billion, or 4% of MPAC’s total value!
So, Ontario’s wind developers walk away with an estimated $1.8 billion annually and $36 billion over the 20-year term of the contracts, while Ontario’s hosting municipalities have to make do with chump change of $8.5 million annually, and only $170 million over the full terms of those contracts.
Far from enjoying millions in cash windfall, Ontario’s municipalities got stuck with the worst possible deal.
Land owners need to be socially responsible when deciding to sign leases for wind turbines, Wind Concerns Ontario tells Ontario Federation of Agriculture president
The following is a letter sent by Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson to OFA president Don McCabe, in response to remarks made by Mr. McCabe at a wind farm information meeting in Finch, Ontario. Several of Mr. McCabe’s comments to the audience, such as that there is no surplus of power in Ontario, were not correct, WCO said in the letter.
As well, while Mr. McCabe’s advice to landowners to “get a lawyer” is sound, Wilson said, the attitude that landowners need to concentrate only on getting everything they want in a lease is isolationist and archaic, and is helping to divide Ontario’s rural and small-town communities.
“Not one word was said about responsibility to community, and neighbours. This [attitude] does not represent the view of the contemporary and socially responsible farm operators that we work with; they are professionals who believe they are part of their communities and who are aware of—or at least consider—the effects of their actions on others,” Wilson said.
The letter was sent to Mr. McCabe, and the Board of Directors for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Dear Mr. McCabe:
It was interesting to meet you last week in Finch, Ontario at the Lions’ Club event, where we both spoke, along with Mr. Levy of CanWEA.
I was relieved to hear your strong advice to those attending and contemplating signing a lease with a wind power developer, to “get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawyer.” This is excellent advice: as you know, these contracts typically contain dozens of pages of various clauses outlining requirements and limitations…many people do not understand what they are being asked to sign.
I was disappointed, however, in other aspects of your presentation. First, there were a couple of statements made that are not correct and may even be misleading.
Power surplus in Ontario: in my presentation I had suggested that more wind power projects were not necessary, especially not for a form of power generation that is intermittent, produced out-of-phase with demand and is expensive, causing Ontario electricity rates to rise. You countered by saying that Ontario has no surplus of power. This is not correct: the Ontario Energy Minister himself admits that Ontario has surplus power and also says that the province will have a surplus for years to come. See his quotes and the forecast for power rates in a Globe and Mail article here.
“Net metering”: you told the audience that they should arrange in their lease to share in the wind power produced by any turbines on their land. This is not correct—it is unlikely one could get power from the wind turbine on a farm, and moreover, it would be in violation of the contract the wind power developer has with the Ontario government to obtain the Feed In Tariff to do that.
Turbine noise: you suggested to the audience that if the noise from turbines were to bother them, they could make sure that there is a clause in the lease so that the power developer would have to address that. This is extremely unlikely; at present, there are thousands of noise complaints in Ontario that go unresolved by either the developer or the Ministry of the Environment.
Community input to power projects: In response to several questions from the floor, you did advise people to go to the government website on the new Large Renewable Power Request for Proposal process, but you also suggested to at least one audience member that there is nothing communities can do, if a power proposal comes forward. That is not correct: people can work with their municipal governments, members of their community, and also choose not to sign the agreement required of adjacent property owners.
Contracts: I believe you also suggested to a farm owner who had signed a contract/option and was now having second thoughts that there was nothing he could do. This also is not correct, and would have been another opportunity for you to advise him to “get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawyer.”
That brings me to the second area of disappointment in your presentation: the overarching theme of your remarks was that if people are going to sign a lease for a wind turbine project they should make certain that they get concessions from the power developer that benefit them. There was not a single mention in your remarks of the need for responsible consideration of other members of one’s community, including fellow farm operators, and neighbours.
This was a very narrow view that demonstrates no balance and instead indicates an archaic, “I can do whatever I want on my land” view. This does not represent the view of the contemporary and socially responsible farm operators that we work with; they are professionals who believe they are part of their communities and who are aware of—or at least consider—the effects of their actions on others.
Our concern with this isolationist view of farm ownership is that it will further divide Ontario’s rural and small-town communities.
OFA needs to clarify its position on this matter, and further, consider advising your membership that when it comes to deciding whether to participate in a wind power project, the responsible course of action is to balance their financial opportunities with the economic, health and social needs of others around them.
We would be pleased to meet with the OFA Board to discuss our concerns.
The term “net zero” has appeared recently in Ontario politics, used by the Premier and others.
Up to now, “net zero” has been used for home building and energy use; according to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) net zero means “the amount of energy you use equals the amount you produce.” Similarly, CMHC says “a Net Zero Energy house integrates high-performance, energy-efficient passive solar design and commercially available on-site renewable energy systems such as solar water heating, electricity and ground-source heat.”
No definition could be found in traditional dictionaries.
In Ontario, however, land of the inexplicable, “net zero” has been used by Premier Wynne, Energy Minister Chiarelli, Finance Minister Sousa, and Deb Matthews, Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, to describe the salary/benefit offer on the table for the Power Workers Union/PWU members at Hydro One and OPG. Apparently, handing out shares in the still publicly owned Hydro One, along with an annual salary increase, reduces the future commitment to contribute to their pensions. It will be interesting to see the cost/benefit analysis on this one.
Liz Sandals, Ontario’s Education Minister can probably be credited as the first Ontario Liberal using the term “Net Zero” politically when quoted a year ago about expiring teacher contracts: “That doesn’t necessarily mean there’ll be no wage increases. Net zero means if you can find saving in one part of the collective agreement that you can have an increase in another.”
In the case of the contract now offered for Hydro One and OPG to their PWU members it appears that Energy Minister Chiarelli and the other Liberal Cabinet Ministers regard handing out free shares in a company they plan to privatize along with wage increases that will, in all likelihood, track inflation rates as a net-zero accomplishment. Translating the latter term from a building/house that produces as much energy as it consumes into a wage settlement package, in the eye of this former banker, is an analogy that any sane economist would have trouble accepting.
Somehow I suspect that the “net zero” settlement will not stop the continuing climb in electricity prices, it will simply allow the Liberal government to claim labour peace.
Perhaps next, Premier Wynne and her government’s actions will result in “net zero” electricity price, increases caused by “net zero” wind turbines and solar panels added to the grid!