Ontario citizens pawns in government power game

Ontario government: playing with your future
Ontario government: playing with your future

Talk about adding insult to injury: the Ontario government’s poorly thought-out energy policy–done completely without any cost-benefit analysis–has resulted in job losses, higher power prices for consumers and small business, exports of surplus power that cost ratepayers millions every month, lost property values in the millions and lost human productivity due to the invasion of huge wind power plants … and the government thinks it is all a laugh-riot GAME.

This isn’t new but the Ontario Liberal government is once again promoting its little Power Play game. “Imagine you are an energy planner…” it begins.

Yes, imagine.

Doubtless a 13-year-old experienced gamer would know better than to wreak havoc on his entire environment.

Write to the Ministry of Energy to say you object to being a pawn in the government’s energy game.

By email: http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/contact-us/

By mail: Ministry of Energy
900 Bay Street, 4th Floor
Hearst Block
Toronto ON M7A 2E1
Canada

 

Energy Minister: defending the indefensible

Sell this, Bob
Sell this, Bob

Bob Chiarelli’s letter to the Editor to the June 1st edition of the Toronto Star is interesting. The minister attempts to defend the sale of Hydro One, a public asset, and to bolster his government’s reputation as economic steward of Ontario.

You have to laugh. You can’t do anything else.

Mr. Chiarelli’s closing paragraph reads as follows. Errors are his, a Minister of the Crown.

Broadening the ownership of Hydro One will strengthening [sic] the company’s long-term performance and generate billions for needed investments in critical infrastructure* across Ontario. Our approach will generate billions to invest in much needed infrastructure that does not come from tax increases, program cuts or borrowing. And our plan will create more than 110,00 [sic] jobs each year and help grow our economy.

Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy, Queen’s Park

Meanwhile, Ontario has contracted for billions of dollars worth of wind power we don’t need (and is asking for proposals for more wind power development this year) with unstudied economic impacts.

No need to wonder why we have a messed up electricity system and a province deeply in debt with people like this at the helm.

©Parker Gallant, June 2, 2015

*Editor’s note: By “critical infrastructure” he means transit. For the urban centres. And only some.

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

Summary of evidence at Australian Senate wind turbine inquiry

The Land, June 2, 2015

FEARS over adverse health impacts caused by wind farms are being heavily scrutinised during a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial renewable energy source.

The Senate select committee inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines, established last November, is due to report by August 3.

The inquiry’s extensive terms of reference include investigating the impacts of wind farms on household power prices and the Clean Energy Regulator’s effectiveness in performing its legislative responsibilities.

The role and capacity of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in providing guidance to state and territory authorities is also under scrutiny.

The first public hearing was held at Portland in Victoria on March 30 while two were held in Cairns and Canberra in May.

About 460 public submissions have been received with four more public hearings scheduled for June in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra.

Conflicting views

At the most recent hearing in Canberra on May 19, witnesses presented a range of conflicting views about the adverse health impacts of wind turbines, particularly around low-frequency infrasound.

Family First Senator Bob Day said the inquiry had heard extensive evidence from state and local governments that they were struggling with regulating the wind turbine industry.

Senator Day said infrasound did not appear to be covered by regulations, “which mostly cover audible decibel measured sound”.

He said evidence from hearing expert Dr Andrew Bell claimed infrasound cannot be measured, and it was unknown how the ear coped with infrasound.

“It is just not possible to measure it – all you can do is accept the overwhelming evidence that people are affected by it,” he said.

Dr Bell said large infrasonic impulses – whether from a wind turbine, coal mine or a gas turbine or “whatever” – can have an effect of altering the middle ear and causing a pressure effect, “maybe headaches, maybe seasickness and things like that”.

“I think infrasound by itself with very large low-frequency pressure pulses does disturb the human ear,” he said.

“Exactly how it happens is unknown; my suspicion is that it is the middle ear muscle – the gain-control before the cochlea – but we are just beginning to do work in this area.”

The annoyance factor

The Australia Institute research director Roderick Campbell referred to a report on the wider impacts of wind energy written by researchers at the Nossal Research Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Campbell said the institute’s medical researchers concluded in the report that there was “no credible peer-reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a causal link between wind turbines and adverse physiological health impacts on people”.

But he said they found that there was some connection between annoyance from wind turbines and sleep disturbance.

“They felt that attitudes towards wind farms have a considerable influence on these factors and the extent to which noise, visual disruption and social change resulting from wind farms can cause stress or annoyance, which in turn can contribute to health issues,” he said.

“Any effects from such exposures are therefore likely to vary considerably across communities and are best considered indirect effects.”

Mr Campbell said the Warburton review – along with almost every other review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) “which is dominated by wind energy” – found that the RET either has a minimal impact on household prices or, in the longer term, is likely to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.

‘No problems whatsoever’

Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said evidence also existed of people living near wind farms with no reported problems.

Mr Bray said he had also spoken personally to people who were in “great distress” – and “I certainly do not want to say that they are making stuff up”.

However the danger of looking at those cases selectively was “that you miss the much larger pool of people who live near wind farms who have no health problems whatsoever”.

Mr Bray said if a study was undertaken of all people living around a wind turbine, “you would find that the incidence of health problems is not high”.

However, NSW Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm said: “With cigarettes, the incidence of lung cancer was not high either”.

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Melanie Walker said complaints from people affected by noise from wind turbines must be recognised and managed, with fair and reasonable solutions developed.

Ms Walker said allegations of harm to health from wind turbines must also be placed in the context of minimal evidence supporting some claims and the considerable evidence supporting harm from other energy sources.

She said governments should also support wind power as one of the viable evidence-based renewable energy options to rapidly transition the economy from fossil fuels.

“This is supported by the Public Health Association on both health and safe climate grounds,” she said.

“We know that people who are disturbed by noise become annoyed, and we know that if you are annoyed you become more acutely sensitive to the cause of your disturbance,” she said.

“We are also aware that if you are annoyed and disturbed that you are going to have interrupted sleep, and we know that this is not good for people’s health in the short term.

Read more.

 

Ontario OK with killing endangered species: Big Wind gets a pass

 

 

Two recent news items have pointed out the Ontario government’s stance toward endangered and at-risk species. If they’re in the way of “progress,” it’s OK to kill them. Ontario Ministry of the Environment lawyer Sylvia Davis told a court last year during an appeal related to Ostrander Point, habitat to endangered Blandings turtles (but also a site for migratory birds, and a rare, fragile alvar environment) : “So what if a few turtles die?” she said. “Wind power is important public infrastructure…”

A recent court decision has upheld the government’s ability to grant industry a pass when it comes to protecting endangered and at-risk species. Ontario Nature put out a news release last week to express its disappointment: “This is a disappointing decision for Ontario’s endangered and threatened wildlife,” said Ecojustice lawyer Lara Tessaro. “The Endangered Species Act is intended to put species first — not to let their survival be balanced against competing industrial interests. That would tip the scale towards extinction.”

The Environmental Review Tribunal also recently dismissed an appeal of the approval of the Niagara Region Wind power project, where as many as 20 turbines would be in established Blandings turtle habitat. The Tribunal would not even hear the evidence about the endangered turtles. MPP Tim Hudak protested in the Legislature last week, saying the government needs to “do the right thing” and protect the turtles.

Both these events underscore the simple reality of utility-scale wind power and all its promises to be a tool to save the environment, while producing “clean” power for Ontario. It is, as consultants to the Suzuki Foundation noted in a report on 2002, a high-impact form of power generation for low benefit.

We prefer turtles, thank you. And birds, and little red-sided fishes, and ancient maples, and yes, bats.

Once again, no cost-benefit analysis of ALL the impacts of Ontario’s rush to wind power has ever been done, despite recommendations from two Auditor General.

Ontario, and its unique environment deserves better.