Natural Resources approved wind farm permit, endangers Wood Turtles

ToughonNature

Soo Today, October 7, 2015

Wood turtles are known for their sculpted shells, colourful legs and equally colourful personalities.

They are highly valued as pets.

Formally known as Glyptemys insculpta, the wood turtle is classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

It’s similarly listed as endangered under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

Ontario’s wood turtles are at risk from international pet poachers, habitat loss and degradation, skunks, foxes and household pets, to say nothing of the threat of being rendered into road kill by motor vehicles.

Add to this the wood turtle’s late maturity, slow growth and its poor reproductive success, and you have a serious situation.

There are, apparently, wood turtles in the vicinity of the Bow Lake Wind Farm.

So far as your provincial government is concerned, these are secret turtles.

So much so, that SooToday is designating them as Bow Lake Windfarm Ninja Turtles (BLWNTs).

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry doesn’t want you to see them, know how many there are, where they are, where they aren’t, what they eat for breakfast or even anything about the methods used to look for them.

When someone tried recently to learn more about the BLWNTs, ministry officials fought beak and claw to prevent release of the information.

The original decision to withhold information about the turtles was appealed.

Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner finally ordered the government’s herpetologists out of their shells.

Last month, as Batchewana First Nation and BluEarth Renewables, Inc. were preparing to commission the 36-turbine Bow Lake project, Sherry Liang, Ontario’s assistant commissioner of information and privacy, was at a workshop at Sault Area Hospital, discussing the Bow Lake turtle decision as a recent precedent in provincial information-access law.

Here’s what the requester asked for:

“Produce a copy of any data collected or reports produced, including photographs or other visual evidence, by [the ministry] from 2008 to 2013 with respect to populations of wood turtles, snapping turtles, or Blanding’s turtles, including but not limited to any ‘tag and release’ program, in the 38 Mile Road area north of Chippewa Falls, Ontario and the area known as Bow Lake, Ontario, including the area of [details regarding four] townships…”

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry released little of the requested data, citing sections of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Endangered Species Act that allow information to be withheld if it “could reasonably be expected to lead to killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking” a living member of an endangered species.

“Poaching is one of the most insidious threats facing wood turtles,” the ministry argued. “While the populations within Sault Ste. Marie District have been fairly stable, warnings have been issued by local enforcement officers for possession of species-at-risk/ non-species-at-risk turtles, as well as one charge laid for the illegal possession of wood turtle within the district.”

“Sharing the specific location information of this population could reasonably be expected to result in the taking or harming of wood turtles…” the ministry said.

But the data withheld by ministry officials went far beyond specific location coordinates.

They also refused to disclose information about:

  • information about where wood turtles were not found
  • a description of the use of dogs in locating turtles
  • a description of river and road terrains
  • transmitter details
  • information about bird nesting sites or actual sightings of birds
  • information describing other species
  • information about camera locations
  • information about vegetation
  • approximate location of a turtle sighted by a local person with no indication as to how this relates to the actual location of wood turtles
  • positions where weather observations were recorded
  • codes or acronyms severed from email chains

The Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office wasn’t having any of it.

“The ministry also withheld charts, photographs and maps, without providing representations as to how disclosure of these records could reasonably be expected to lead to the locating of wood turtles,” snapped adjudicator Diane Smith. “Nor is it apparent to me that these documents reveal the specific location of wood turtle populations.”

Smith pointed out that much of the ministry’s data was old, dating from 2006 to 2012, with no explanation of how it might adversely affect turtles in 2015.

The ministry didn’t indicate how many turtle-possession warnings it issued, when it issued them, or the turtle species involved, Smith said.

As for the single charge laid for illegal possession of a wood turtle in the Sault Ste. Marie area, the ministry offered no further information about the charge or the outcome of court proceedings.

“I find that the ministry has not provided sufficient evidence that disclosure of the information at issue in the records could reasonably be expected to lead to the killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking a living member of the wood turtle population,” said Smith. “Most of the information is vague locational information referring to general, imprecise locations.”

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was ordered to release its BLWNT data by May 29 of this year.

The secret is out: wind is wimpy

Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung claims wind contributes to steady power supply: the facts say different
Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung claims wind contributes to steady power supply: the facts say different

IESO confirms wind is wimpy during On-peak use periods

 The IESO’s 18-Month Outlook was posted on their website September 21st and includes various forecasts that attempt to project what Ontario’s demand for power will be and also estimate what our various generating sources will provide.

The forecasts for power generation from wind tell a story: wind power generation occurs when its not needed!

The two charts featured below project what wind is expected to generate for the January 2016 to December 2016 period and the first chart (Table 4.4:) is an estimate of “Monthly Wind Capacity Contribution Values. On average, wind is forecast to generate electricity at 25.9% of their rated capacity which appears low as most wind development companies claim they produce at the 30% level.

Another claim was made March 3, 2014 by Robert Hornung, President, Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) when he stated: “Procuring a stable and steady stream of wind energy complements Ontario’s new energy conservation measures, and provides the province with unprecedented flexibility to align electricity supply needs with changing economic and environmental circumstances”.

What exactly can he mean by “stable and steady”?   Wind power production in the early hours of October 3rd, 2015 from 1 am to 5 pm was 12,481 megawatts, when it was not needed. On Monday, October 5th, 2015 wind produced just 99 MWh in the five hours from 9 am to 1 pm, when demand for electricity is ramping up. Is that CanWEA’s idea of “stable and steady” and “unprecedented flexibility”?

Jan     Feb     Mar     Apr   May     Jun     Jul     Aug     Sep   Oct     Nov     Dec

37.3% 37.3% 28.9% 28.5% 21.3% 12.6% 12.6% 12.6% 17.3% 28.8% 36.7% 37.3%

Table 4.4: Monthly Wind Capacity Contribution Values

 

As if to emphasize the point, the IESO Outlook produced another chart (Table 6.1) which forecast the percentage of production that was likely to be produced by wind during “Time-of-use” (TOU) “Off-Peak” hours. The chart highlights what those of us who follow the system have suspected—wind generation presents itself at the wrong time of the day and the wrong time of the year!   As can be seen by comparing the highlighted seven months from March through September, wind produces more electricity in those off-peak hours when demand is low and overall operates at a higher “Capacity Contribution” level of 26.1%, failing miserably during the hot summer months. It also produces power at higher levels during the Spring and Fall when Ontario’s demand is at its lowest.

 

Off-Peak WCC (% of Installed Capacity)

Jan     Feb     Mar     Apr     May     Jun     Jul     Aug     Sep     Oct     Nov     Dec

33.5% 33.5% 31.5% 34.2% 24.1% 15.4% 15.4% 15.4% 21.6% 28.4% 33.1% 33.5%

Table 6.1: Monthly Off-Peak Wind Capacity Contribution Values

 

IESO has an additional chart (4.1) “Existing Generating Capacity as of August 14, 2015” which provides a “Forecast Capability at Outlook Peak (MW)” suggesting it is based on historical data. IESO estimates the 3,209 MW of installed wind capacity will produce 445 MW. That suggests that only 12.6 % of its production is generated in times of Ontario’s peak energy needs!

Tell me again, why is our Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli seeking more wind when IESO suggests it is unreliable, intermittent and produces power when it’s not needed?

©Parker Gallant

October 7, 2015

Wind whips Ontario electricity customers: when it actually performs, it costs plenty

Oh come on, the difference between $43K and $1.5 mil isn't that much...
Oh come on, the difference between $43K and $1.5 mil isn’t that much…

Financial Post, October 6, 2015

F or the first time in Ontario’s electricity history the early morning hours of October 3 saw industrial wind turbines outproduce hydroelectricity. Hours 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. showed wind turbines generated 12,481 megawatts (MWh) versus 11,736 MWh of hydroelectricity. Generation from wind turbines represented over 21 per cent of Ontario’s total demand for those five hours.

The advocates of renewable energy will presumably tout this as proof of the wonders of industrial wind power but before they do they should consider the facts related to those five hours and the resulting costs!

Ontario’s total demand averaged 11,663 MW during the time frame, meaning base-load power supplied by nuclear and hydro could have easily coped with the province’s needs, making wind’s production surplus. During those five hours Ontario exported 11,718 MWh at an average price of $3.43 MWh, meaning revenue generated was about $43,000 (less than half a cent per kilowatt hour) whereas the cost for their production (if we attribute all exports to wind) was $1.5 million (at an average price of $123.50/MWh) or 12.4 cents/kWh!

Ontario was probably also spilling clean hydro and perhaps even curtailing wind generation and ratepayers were forced to pick up the cost for those manoeuvres.

Conclusion: Wind continues to whip Ontario’s ratepayers!

Parker Gallant is a retired banker

 

Wind farms may need storage capacity to qualify for government contracts, Chiarelli tells CanWEA

Renews, October 6, 2015

Ontario still backing wind

Ontario still backing wind image

The Ontario government remains committed to wind energy, but it is looking to shake up procurement, provincial energy minister Bob Chiarelli told delegates at the Canadian Wind Energy Association conference in Toronto.

Canada’s largest wind energy market now has 4GW of installed capacity, another 2GW due online in the next few years and two 300MW calls for tender in the works. The province has yet to spell out further wind energy targets.

“Wind will continue to play an important role in ensuring the viability and strength of Ontario’s energy supply,” said Chiarelli. However, “the years ahead will include yet more change and evolution for procurement”.

Adding more intermittent generation resources to the grid creates reliability issues and so Ontario is considering bundling generation projects with storage technologies or other adaptations in upcoming calls for energy.

“This innovation could be an important step to more competitive and dynamic capacity procurement structures,” said Chiarelli.

“In the future, instead of dedicated wind or solar or renewable procurements the Independent Electricity System Operator may simply be tasked with procuring zero emission generation and have specific capacity requirements that need to be met,” said Chiarelli.

“To be very clear, these are changes that our ministry and agencies foresee as likely coming but we appreciate that this sort of change to procurements needs to be thoughtful and methodical and it won’t happen overnight.”

The IESO expects to start stakeholder consultation in 2016.

CanWEA president Robert Hornung said the wind industry has been “phenomenally successful” and now must figure out how to carve out a bigger role as Ontario’s energy system evolves.

As appetite wanes for coal, nuclear and natural gas generation “now’s the time to start thinking about a vision for an electricity system that is built around renewables like wind and to work with utilities and system operators to implement it,” he said.

Image: McLean’s Mountain wind farm in Ontario (GE)

Surplus power sold at discount: the sad sad story of electricity bills in Ontario

Buy really high and sell really really low--no wait, that doesn't work...
Buy really high and sell really really low–no wait, that doesn’t work…

Ontario ratepayer fatigue: covering the costs of bargain basement sale of surplus power from wind and solar

When will it end?

Another month goes by and another $168 million from Ontario ratepayer’s pockets went to subsidize surplus electricity exports to our neighbours in New York, Michigan and Quebec. The month of August saw another 1,759,000 megawatts (MWh) or 1.76 terawatts of excess electricity generation exported. That cost Ontario’s electricity ratepayers $209 million—the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) sold it for $41 million.

The 1.76 terawatts (TWh) sold at the big discount was enough to supply 183 thousand “average” Ontario households with power for a full year. That sale brings our exports to 15.09 TWh for the first 8 months of 2015, enough to supply almost 1.6 million “average” households with power for a full year!

The costs of those export losses fall to all ratepayers; for the eight months ended August 31st, that means a “green energy tax” of $1.4 billion, or about $300 per average household. Quick math will disclose that the average monthly cost is $177 million meaning the total cost for Ontario’s ratepayers in 2015 may reach $2.1 billion or roughly $460 per ratepayer. The 23 TWh we will probably export would have provided 2.4 million ratepayers with their average annual power needs.

What about wind power in all this? In August, wind produced 3.5% (459.3 gigawatts or GWh) of total generation (13.05 TWh) and just over 26% of our exports; solar produced about 29 GWh (not including “embedded generation”). Combined, they represented 27.7% of our exports which begs the question—what benefit do they provide and why do we keep adding more generation at subsidized rates, if we lose money because we must export our surplus generation?

That question is unfortunately not going to be answered any time soon, if we look at the recently released IESO 18 month outlook (Oct 2015 to March 2017).   The IESO report notes:

“About 1,900 MW of new supply – mostly wind and solar generation – will be added to the province’s transmission grid over the Outlook period. By the end of the period, the amount of grid-connected wind generation is expected to increase by 1,300 MW to about 4,500 MW. The total distribution-connected wind generation over the same period is expected to be about 700 MW. Meanwhile, grid-connected solar generation is expected to increase to 380 MW, complementing the embedded solar generation capacity of about 2,200 MW located within distribution networks by the end of the Outlook.”

According to the IESO report, Ontario will add 1,700 MW of generation from wind and solar generation over the next 15 months, which brings wind turbine capacity to 5,200 MW and solar to almost 2,600 MW. This is clearly not needed or dependable.

The IESO report also highlights what we have been told by various business associations that have expressed concern about the effects of rising electricity costs: “For the three months, wholesale customers’ consumption posted a 5.9% decrease over the same months a year prior with Pulp & Paper, Iron & Steel and Petroleum Products accounting for most of the reductions.”

That’s evidence that our primary processors are exiting Ontario, in large part because of high electricity prices, taking jobs with them.

The Ontario Wynne government is bent on ensuring Ontario leads the way to the highest prices of electricity in all of North America; they have only a couple of jurisdictions to overtake.

Time to turn the lights off!

 

©Parker Gallant

October 4, 2015

UK pilots worry about wind farms and aviation safety

Sunday Express, October 4, 2015

Pilots warn of a disaster as wind farms flourish

LIGHT aircraft pilots have warned it is “just a matter of time” before wind farms cause a “disastrous” accident in Scotland.

Scottish wind farm

SG

The aviation industry is struggling to deal with the pace of change in the industry

Small planes along with helicopters, gliders, microlights and other hobbyists make up the biggest user group of the UK airspace in terms of low level flying and contribute some £3billion to the economy supporting close to 40,000 jobs. Member organisations admit the fast-growing renewables sector has created some “fairly significant” issues which they have fought hard to resolve.

Their main concerns relate to downwind turbulence from the turbine blades plus problems with visibility especially in poor conditions. The fast pace of development mean maps and charts are often well behind of the size of existing farms and new developments with anenometer masts springing up to scout potential development sites.

Last month this newspaper revealed RAF pilots had reported a catalogue of near misses with wind farms and are making over 1,000 manual corrections to their charts every month to try and keep up with the changes.

However, general aviation industry is also struggling with the pace of development.

Last night the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) warned there was potential for a mid-air disaster.

LAA inspector Neil Geddes, of Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, said: “Certainly there is a risk.

“You only really understand how cluttered parts of Scotland are with wind turbines when you are flying a light aircraft – you won’t really get the picture tens of thousands of feet high on board a passenger plane.

“They cause downwind turbulence which can be an issue but at least we can spot them and take evasive action.

“It is the anenometer masts put up to measure wind speed and such like that are the real problem. They are practically impossible to see because they are so tall and slim. If you don’t know there is one on your flight path – and lets face it, it takes maps a year to catch up and by then there will be more of them – there is little you can do.

“In certain weather and light conditions they will be impossible to detect. It’s only a matter of time before we have a disastrous accident in our hands.”

If Whitelee decided to expand eastward and was given the planning permission to do so we’d be out of business

Colin MacKinnon, Microlight aircraft instructor

Microlight aircraft instructor Colin MacKinnon, who operates Scotland’s oldest airfield in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, near to Whitelee wind farm which is among the largest in Europe, said new developments had the potential to put people out of business unless they were willing to put up a fight.

He added: “For about four years, I spent at least one day a week to respond to wind development planning applications and despite promises of community benefits we never received a penny of any funds, which is a bit frustrating.

“If Whitelee decided to expand eastward and was given the planning permission to do so we’d be out of business.

“While millions of pounds have been spent to investigate the impact and guarantee the safety of commercial aviation such as relocating radars to avoid problems with readings, very little has been done for the general aviation sector which is us.

“One of the issues is turbulence. There is no research done as to how close to a turbine it will be safe to fly. We do not have the resource to fund such studies unlike the wind industry which has millions.

“So we err in the side of caution. None of us is brave or stupid enough to be a test pilot to see how close to a turbine you can fly before your plane is ripped to shreds.

“I think we are among the most experienced in the world when it comes to flying safely in the vicinity of turbines with Whitelee so near to us.”

Over the past five years there have been around 10,000 applications to construct approximately 24,000 turbines across the UK. With prime locations already in use developers are looking at alternative sites, many of which are closer to population and activity centres. A UK Government report to general aviation from earlier this year admitted some airfields had their operations threatened by wind turbine developments.

The LAA also admitted some energy companies were eyeing “inappropriate” spots for their structures. CEO Stephen Slater said: “I would say that more than 90 per cent of the turbines run no aviation issues.

“The general aviation sector is the main user of low level air space. It’s not just light aircrafts we are talking about but also helicopters, gliders, microlights, parachuters and so on.

“But we do have certain factors that have to be considered. There is the risk of potential collision especially in poor, deteriorating conditions when turbines or masts near an airfield may limit the pilot’s options of approach and we know of the radar issues with turbines interfering with readings.

“We are also aware of the concerns over turbulence with anecdotal evidence from pilots

“But I would say that over the years we have developed a good working relationship with the wind energy industry to mitigate any problems that may occur.”

Meanwhile campaigners opposing wind farms have drawn information from abroad to highlight issues to aviation.

Christine Metcalfe, of Loch Avich, Argyll, has requested confirmation under Freedom of Information legislation from Civil Aviation Authority that turbines and turbulence from them do not impact emergency landings at airports such as Prestwick in Ayrshire and Glasgow after receiving evidence from Australia, USA and Europe on safety issues.

She raised concerns Whitelee was constructed without appropriate safeguards in place and now wants to know what sort of radar and safety impact studies were carried out prior the vast development went up.

Ms Metcalfe also wants to know why there has been no studies into the effect turbulence from wind farms has on planes when the organisation itself said in 2012 there was an “urgent need” for an assessment.

CAA has issued guidance to aerodrome operators saying a “large number of turbines in an area” will have a cumulative effect that is “of far more significant concerns” but it is yet to respond to the FoI request in more detail.

The anti-wind farm campaigner said: “I have learned that during the early 90s the management of the CAA were very supportive of the campaign involving resistance wind turbines as they had real and valid concerns even then. It is a great pity that times appear to have changed somewhat – almost certainly due to governmental pressures.

Read more here.

Searching for truth on the wind power issue

Float at an Ontario fall fair: talk to the people actually living with wind turbines
Float at an Ontario fall fair: talk to the people actually living with wind turbines

Letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer, September 29, 2015

(Excerpted)

Ian Cumming’s search for truth about wind turbines attracted my interest. A longtime admirer of his critical thinking skills, his ability to uncover the hidden, and his talent for research, tells me he is onto uncovering the great untruths of industrial wind turbines.

In his article “Looking for truth” of September 15, 2015 [not available online], he presents several truths. However, he makes some grave basic research mistakes. Having spent six years going to meeting[s] to learn about wind turbine issues, informing myself through knowledgeable people, travelling backroads to talk to people living next to turbines, I can tell Mr. Cumming is in the early stages of his research.

In his article, he identifies the most apparent truth of all: energy companies and the farmer/leaseholders are in this purely for the money, read “greed”, with no regard for neighbours or state. Cumming’s area of growth: what is the neighbor of the leaseholder getting out of this arrangement? I question how that farmer is manipulating or ignoring the truth, the truth that 550 meters away, a 170-meter (approximately 525 feet) structure is towering over my home.

…He contradicts himself by telling people to speak the truth and then when they do he calls them hypocritical, through his reference to a meeting beginning with the swooshing sound of a turbine. He suggests that the sound is exaggerated. Interestingly, a day before I read his article, a farmer who lives within 800 meters of two turbines said, “Tom, you won’t believe it. I was standing beside my tractor, engine running and the jet-sounding turbine was louder than theb tractor.”

That was my first-hand research.

Later [in his article], Mr. Cumming presents an inverse error by stating that he heard nothing standing beside a huge windmill in a county in New York. The inverse error: if I am standing beside a turbine, I do not hear any sound, therefore turbines do not make any sounds. My research would ask, how long were you beside that turbine? The people I have talked to who live around the turbines say that wind direction and speed, atmospheric pressure, and time of day all influence the amount and kind of sound. *

Several people have told me the sound is the worst between 3 am and 6 pm when the usual ambient noise is the least. Sound travels the farthest at night–when people are trying to sleep. Mr Cumming was probably not doing his sound research at that time of day.

His concluding example demonstrates that he is a novice wind turbine researcher when he referred to New York veterinarians with multiple problem-free herds next to 28 wind turbines for over a “decade.” My research tells me that 10 years ago, the largest turbine was about .6 to .8 megawatt. The local ones are 2.2 megawatts, newer ones proposed 3 megawatts, over twice the size of the ones 10 years ago!

I suggest that he find several herd with turbines of that magnitude within 55 meters, operated by sleep-deprived farmers and find out the health problems on those farms.

His concluding statement, “Is demanding the truth from either side too much to ask?” is the saddest part of the article.

The Truth: the misguided deceptive Smitherman-McGuinty-Wynne Ministry of the Environment are aware of human health problems, bird and bat killing, infrasound noise, transient voltage, yet they continue to approve new projects, with cost-benefit analysis or regard to local municipal planning. That is the truth.

I encourage Cumming to continue his research for he is good at questioning the right people for the answres he seeks. The easiest place to start: go to a farming community that has wind turbines and talk to as many people as possible who live near them. That is what I did. That research is solid. But remember when researching the truth from the wind companies, 50 years ago we wondered if the truth was that smoking caused cancer. Not possible, said the tobacco corporations.

Tom Melady

Stratford Ontario

  • Editor’s note: the quietest place is right under a turbine.

A note about writer Ian Cumming; he is himself a farmer, not a journalist, who farms in Glengarry County. glengarryfarms@sympatico.ca