Australian Senate inquiry releases interim report on wind turbines

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The Australian Senate has released in interim report based on findings at hearings held this year.

As part of the introduction, the interim report states:

Why are there so many people who live in close proximity to wind turbines complaining of similar physiological and psychological symptoms? As with previous Senate inquiries, this committee has gathered evidence from many submitters attributing symptoms of dizziness, nausea, migraines, high blood pressure, tinnitus, chronic sleep deprivation and depression to the operation of nearby wind turbines. The committee invites the public to read and consider the evidence of people who have experienced these symptoms and who attribute their anxiety and ill health to the operation of turbines.[2]

1.13      These health affects should not be trivialised or ignored. The committee was particularly distressed by renewable energy advocates, wind farm developers and operators, public officials and academics who publicly derided and sometimes lampooned local residents who were genuinely attempting to make known the adverse health effects they were suffering.

1.14      The committee is aware of people complaining of these impacts who have since left their family home. Some now live a nomadic and uncertain existence. In one case, the now deserted home had been in the family for five generations—since the 1840s. These are not decisions taken lightly. Having left the turbine vicinity, several witnesses noted that the symptoms had faded if not disappeared.[3]


Interim report

1.1        The Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines was established in December 2014. To date, it has received 464 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders. It has conducted public hearings in Portland in south-west Victoria on 30 March, in Cairns on 18 May, in Canberra on 19 May, in Melbourne on 9 June and in Adelaide on 10 June 2015. Further public hearings are planned in Canberra on 19 June and 23 June and in Sydney on 29 June 2015.

1.2        This represents a considerable volume of evidence relating directly to the committee’s terms of reference. The committee has received written and verbal evidence from State Governments, local councils, various federal government agencies, wind farm operators and manufacturers, country fire authorities, acousticians, medical experts and representatives from various associations and institutes. In addition, many private citizens have had the opportunity to voice their concerns with the planning, consultation, approval, development and operation of wind farms in Australia.

1.3        Access to all public submissions and public hearing transcripts can be found on the committee’s website.[1]

The committee’s headline recommendations

1.4        This report presents seven headline recommendations. The committee believes that these recommendations are important and urgent given that legislation on the renewable energy target is due to be debated in the Senate shortly. The final report in August this year will provide supporting evidence and supporting recommendations. It will also address other terms of reference, including the merit of subsidies for wind farm operators and the effect of wind power on household power prices.

Find the recommendations here.


Renewable energy policies grossly immoral: former UK Minister of Finance

Ontario's wind power program has never undergone a cost-benefit analysis, and has contributed significantly to increasing electricity bills.
Ontario’s wind power program has never undergone a cost-benefit analysis, and has contributed significantly to increasing electricity bills.

The Financial Post, June 18, 2015

Worth a read is an opinion piece in today’s Financial Post by Nigel Lawson. Excerpt:

what moves me most is that the policies invoked in its name are grossly immoral. We have, in the UK, devised the most blatant transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich – and I am slightly surprised that it is so strongly supported by those who consider themselves to be the tribunes of the people and politically on the Left. I refer to our system of heavily subsidizing wealthy landlords to have wind farms on their land, so that the poor can be supplied with one of the most expensive forms of electricity known to man.



Wind farm contract problems: farmers offer to negotiate for other farmers

Picturesque view of turbines promoted by Big Wind not the reality for farmers with contracts. (Get a lawyer!)
Picturesque view of turbines promoted by Big Wind not the reality for farmers with contracts. (Get a lawyer!)

The Independent, June 17, 2015

A group of four farmers – all of whom say they don’t want wind turbines on their Lambton County property – say they want to negotiate a better deal for farmers who do want them.

A group – called Community Turbine Alliance – made up of farmers from Watford to Wallaceburg held the first of four public meetings Monday night to talk about some of the problems farmers are facing with the current wind leases. Roger Buurma of Brooke-Alvinston says right now, farmers are left on their own to negotiate with wind energy companies and more often than not, they are unhappy with the results.

Buurma says there are a host of problems in North Lambton where several wind projects have been built. Farmers have had no say on where access roads are built and the heavy machinery used to build the giant turbines damages land and the tile underneath ruining the land for at least one growing season.

Buurma, and other members of the group, say history has shown that farmers can “eventually be bought” and sign wind leases because they’ve been told the project is coming and they might as well be part of that.

But Buurma says the landowners hold the balance of power. “The pen that you hold in your hand actually stops them.”

“We want to act on behalf of those who would sign agreements,” he says. “It is still your choice to say yes or no; but those who are going to say yes, we want to help you get the best contract.”

Buurma and the group say the same tactic worked when Union Gas first started building pipelines. Farmers at the time banned together and collectively bargained for better agreements for the lines to run through their fields.

“This is an all or nothing deal,” says Brooke Leystra another member of the group. “If half sign up with the committee and the other half don’t, where do you think those (wind companies) are going to go?”

“It’s is naïve to think nobody is going to be interested in turbines,” she adds.

A number of people in the crowd of over 200 at the Wilkesport Community Hall thanked the group for their forward thinking and said it seemed like the right way to go. However others were skeptical.

Larry Smale was part of the group several decades ago which negotiated agreements with Union Gas. Now he’s a representative of CORE Conserve Our Rural Enniskillen – a group set up to stop turbines from being built in the township.

“It is good to see you guys out here; to me, that is the best thing to happen,” says Larry Smale who is a part of the Enniskillen group CORE.

He says he knows working together can lead to better agreements “but the best thing to do is still not to sign these things.”

“I worked with Union Gas for 30 years (negotiating land deals) and it was a hell of an uphill battle…Don’t sign the damn things.”

And some of the landowners in the room were firmly against the idea of signing any type of wind agreement, no matter how good it is.

“Aren’t we giving up a little too quick,” asked Robert Johnson who farms near Beecher. “If we have so much collective power…shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to hold these people (wind companies) up.”

Enniskillen Township Mayor Kevin Marriott listen through the entire meeting. He understands what the group is trying to accomplish, but he’s concerned. He’s urging farmers to make sure if they are going to sign a lease, they consult their own lawyer.

Power prices in Ontario keep rising as business looks elsewhere, ratepayers suffer

Residential ratepayers paying up to retain large industrial business

More proof that expense of wind and solar power is driving away investment

An article in the Toronto Sun a few days ago noted that “Large industrial users of electricity could see the cost rise by up to 15% within six years, a new analysis by the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (AMPCO) predicts.”

I believe most average ratepayers in Ontario would be delighted to look forward to only a 15% increase over the next six years.

As it stands, eliminating the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB), coupled with the concurrent elimination of the Debt Retirement Charge January 1, 2016, will raise rates by 7%.  Add to that increase the recently announced drop in minimum classification requirements for “Class A” status and the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) and an average ratepayer is looking at an increase of over 12% for just one year. The 12% increase doesn’t include a probable increase of 5% to be announced in mid-October of the current year to cover the cost of the wind and solar recently added to the grid.

My friend Scott Luft just posted a chart which clearly highlights the growth in the cost of electricity starting with the launch of the GEA in 2009 and its march upwards since that date!

(C) Scott Luft, Cold Air Online
(C) Scott Luft, Cold Air Online

Scott’s chart demonstrates residential and small commercial entities pay eight times what Ontario receives for our exported surplus energy that now represents almost 20% of Ontario’s total demand.

Additional to the cost of subsidizing exports is a cost picked up by those small commercial entities and residential ratepayers to support large industrial companies who reduce demand during the high five peak annual demand hours.  A conservative estimate of those costs suggests those industrial customers  received a benefit of over $650 million for 2014.  That benefit will expand with additional companies qualifying under Energy Minister Chiraelli’s reduced peak of 3 megawatts (MW) starting in the current month. The reduction to a 3-MW peak should add another $200 million in costs to Class B ratepayers.

The other January 1, 2016 addition to Class B ratepayers will be the OESP with an estimated cost of at least $200 million.  The OESP is to support the 570,000 electricity households (13%) that the Ontario Energy Board recently identified as living in “energy poverty.

AMPCO had valid reasons to lobby the Provincial government for reduced pricing as a chart from their website shows consumption by their members (large industrial companies) fell from 24 terawatts (Twh1.:) in 2003 to only 17.5 TWh in 2014 and of 6 industrial classifications only one (metal ore mining) actually increased consumption. It has been stated by many economists that large international corporations look at two primary cost factors before considering expansion or establishing new facilities.  Those two factors are labour and energy costs.  With Ontario’s energy costs among the highest in North America we have basically scared away any new substantial investment  and the well paid jobs that would be a natural fallout.  The biggest drops in consumption came from Pulp, Paper and Paperboard Mills—down 65%— and from Motor Vehicle Manufacturing—down 53%.   Overall consumption fell by 27%!  While AMPCO didn’t include a chart to indicate employment in the six sectors, my guess would be that it has fallen by at least the same percentage as consumption.

This is further proof that the push for intermittent wind and solar generation has cost Ontario good paying jobs!

The current slogan Premier Wynne uses is “Building Ontario Up” but as is clearly evident she continues what her predecessor McGuinty started:  Driving Ontario Down.

©Parker Gallant,                                                                                                                                           June 17, 2015

1. A terawatt hour represents 1 billion killowatt hours or enough to supply over 100,000 average Ontario households.

Canadian Electricity Association: pro-wind bias affects credibility

Power for the Future

Who can Ontario’s ratepayers believe?

The Canadian Electricity Association (CEA), founded in 1891, claims in its Mission Statement: “CEA is the authoritative voice of the Canadian electricity industry, promoting electricity as a key social, economic and environmental enabler that is essential to Canada’s prosperity.”

That “authoritative voice” recently claimed during National Electricity Month the “average Canadian” spends just $3.59 per day on electricity and on June 11th tweeted a Bob Chiarelli-ism: “The average #electricity bill in Canada is under $4 a day – that’s less than most Canadians pay for a morning coffee!”

This comes as no surprise as the Chair of the CEA is  Anthony Haines, also the CEO of Toronto Hydro who on his pay can afford $4 coffee.  Haines is often seen supporting Chiarelli when the Minister is defending himself about the Auditor General’s report on “smart meters,” or making an announcement about increasing our costs of the basic commodity.  The “average”1. Toronto Hydro Customer currently pays $5.31 per day ($1,940. per annum) for their hydro or the equivalent of two “morning” coffees while Hydro One customers pay about $6 per day.

The CEA in its “Data World” report claims Ontario’s electricity generation in 2012 was 140.4 terawatts (TWh),  but IESO reported 151.8 TWh of generation in their January 11, 2013 press release!   I am inclined to believe the data published in IESO’s Press Release rather than what the CEA provided.   Missing 11.4 TWh tarnishes the claim to be the “authoritative voice” of the Canadian electricity industry.

A 2008 report produced by the CEA contained the following statements:  “wind has little impact on the surrounding area, with the exception of aesthetic concerns related to visibility. For these reasons, wind power is touted as a preferred alternative to other non-renewable energy sources.”


“Wind energy also provides significant economic benefits to the rural communities where wind projects are constructed. These take the form of investment, jobs, municipal tax payments and land lease income for landowners.”

There are many rural Ontarians who would quickly dispute most if not all of the claims made in those two claims.

Interestingly, a few members of the CEA are also members of the Clean Air Renewable Energy Coalition, founded by Suncor and the Pembina Institute and includes Toronto Hydro and OPG. CAREC are strong proponents of renewable energy from wind and solar.

Needless to say “economics” under the guise of CAREC or the CEA is not an “enabler” for ratepayers, particularly in Ontario where, according to the Ontario Energy Board; 570,000 households live in energy poverty.2.

© Parker Gallant

  1. The average electricity bill in Ontario assumes consumption of 26.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day or 9,600 kWh annually.
  2. The generally accepted term of “energy poverty” is used to describe a household spending 10% or more of their disposable income on heat and electricity needs.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.