Grey Highlands to fund wind farm noise study

The Flesherton, November 9, 2015

Wind Turbine Sounds Study

by Don Crosby

Grey Highlands council was about to lend $120,000 to a special interest group. Then it decided instead to approve $75,000 for a municipal study on health effects of wind turbine sounds.

Municipality of Grey Highlands council had already agreed to lend money, that it would borrow from a bank on behalf of the group, to the Grey Highlands Wind Concerns, an anti-wind turbine citizen’s group.

However, strong public objection against the municipal loan prompted council to apply some terms that the group was concerned about meeting. The group has now arranged to borrow the needed money from a private lender, Flesherton businessman Kevin O’Brien.

Stewart Halliday, deputy-mayor, announced at the November 2 council meeting that Grey Highlands Wind Concerns withdrew its request that the municipality lend it $120,000 to pay off expenses it had incurred in its failed appeal of two wind projects to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). On August 13, the ERT dismissed the appeal against Zero Emission People (ZEP) project – a five wind turbine project near McIntyre – and on October 16, the tribunal dismissed the appeal against Grey Highlands Clean Energy, a nine wind turbine project planned for the Brewster Lake area.

But, at the same November municipal council meeting, councilors voted to spend up to $75,000 to gather acoustical and infrasound information on a total of five sites within the ZEP project and the Grey Highlands Clean Energy. The two projects will have a combined total of 14 wind turbines.

Voting in favour of spending the $75,000 were Mayor McQueen, Deputy-mayor Halliday and Councilors Silverton and Desai. Councilors Terry Mokriy, Cathy Little and Peggy Harris voted against the motion.

Halliday, who crafted the motion calling for the study, says he wants the municipality to use the information gathered in the study to develop a bylaw protecting residents from the effects of unregulated infrasound waves.

The study would be conducted around the clock over a minimum seven days period on five homes located close to proposed wind turbine sites within the two projects prior to construction and then again once the projects are working.

Councilor Little says the proposed study is beyond the capacity of the municipality. “The $75,000 is just the initial cost to get the baseline data; there will be further studies to be conducted once the project is completed, there will be future costs. In addition the study would have to be peer reviewed and that would be an additional cost,” she says.

“If you’re committing to the $75,000 you must know you are committing to more than that because if you don’t it’s a waste of the $75,000,” she says.

Councilor Mokriy, who also voted against the expense, questioned the effectiveness of a small municipality spending $75,000 on a study.

Money for the Grey Highlands baseline study will come from the building services department. It is proposed that the money will be repaid from the future property tax revenues received from the industrial wind installations yet to be constructed.

A Health Canada study has found no evidence to support a link between exposure to wind-turbine noise and ill health effects reported by people living near the towering structures.

The Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study, conducted over a four-month period in 2013, involved more than 1,200 residents in southwestern Ontario and PEI whose homes were located at various distances from almost 400 of the electricity-generating structures in 18 wind-turbine developments.

The same study did find a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and residents’ annoyance related to that noise, as well as to vibration, shadow flicker from the rotating blades, and aircraft warning lights atop the towers.

According to a story in Canadian Lawyer magazine from September, 2015, “There have been nearly 30 hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal, seeking to stop so-called wind farms, since the enactment of the Green Energy Act in Ontario in 2009. Each time, local residents, usually in rural areas, have been unsuccessful in meeting the legal test to revoke or change the terms of a permit issued by the province for a wind energy project.”

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WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO EDITOR’S NOTE: the statements here on the Health Canada study are not accurate. The study was never designed to find a causal link between wind turbine noise and health impacts (which begs the question: what was the $2.1 million study for? to back up the wind industry’s claims their product is safe?), but it did find a link between the turbine noise and vibration and “annoyance” which when used as a medical term denotes stress or distress—Health Canada found that 16.5% of the respondents living less than 1 km from a turbine were stressed, and that number rose to 25% for people living at 550 metres, the distance Ontario claims is a safe setback.

Wind farm environmental assessment missing key information, appeal hearing told

Project contravenes development guidelines set by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Environment Canada for protection of wildlife

November 5, 2015

Report from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County on Day 3 of the appeal of the White Pines power project:

On Day Three of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT)  John Hirsch, one of the appellants, and Jim Bowlby, a Participant in the appeal testified that the White Pines Wind Project will cause serious and irreversible ​harm to the ​environment.

Opening Statement and Presentation of Mr. John Hirsch
Mr. Hirsch told ERT co-chairs Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins of his long-time active community involvement and interest in environmental stewardship.

Mr. Hirsch informed the ERT panel that the government’s conclusion that no serious and irreversible harm would result from the White Pines Wind Project is based on incomplete, outdated and faulty information. The following issues were identified by Mr. Hirsch in his presentation:

  • No accurate accounting of bird and bat mortality as the prescribed method has been proven to dramatically understate the numbers;
  • Overall Canadian global population levels are used by WPD / Stantec as opposed to local or regional counts. The harm needs to be adjusted to the local project area;
  • Cumulative effects are not considered;
  • Lack of consideration of over lake migration route;
  • The siting of the White Pines Wind Project goes against documented MNRF and Environment Canada guidelines;
  • No remedies when mortality thresholds are exceeded;
  • No evidence provided by the MOECC (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) of independent verification of environmental facts;
  • There is no basis in fact that avoidance measures (read: “mitigations”) by WPD to prevent serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtle as this matter is still before the ERT hearing on Gilead Power’s wind project at Ostrander Point.

No questions were raised to Mr. Hirsch by Sylvia Davis, counsel for the MOECC, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change or Patrick Duffy, counsel for the approval holder / wind developer WPD.

Presentation of Mr. Jim Bowlby
The Tribunal accepted Mr. Bowlby as qualified to give evidence as a fisheries biologist. The Tribunal noted Mr. Bowlby’s employment with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) as a Fisheries Assessment Biologist and more recently as a Coordinator for the Lake Ontario Management Unit.

Mr. Bowlby gave evidence of the presence of spawning runs of White Suckers and Northern Pike in the Black Creek tributary, which is known as an exceptionally high quality spawning habitat. White Suckers spawn within 120 m of a proposed access road and transmission line.   Northern Pike migrate downstream of the REA area but these pike are dependent on streamflow that originates within the REA area.  Mr. Bowlby gave his opinion that if road and transmission line construction disrupts the aquifer supplying water to this stream and reduces streamflow, then the fish habitat and fish spawning in the stream will suffer serious and irreversible harm.

Mr. Bowlby also advised the Tribunal of five fissures or cracks in the ground within 120 m of Turbine 2. Some of the fissures are more than 2 m deep and form caves that are consistent with the MNRF descriptions of bat hibernacula. According to REA regulations the presence of potential bat hibernacula triggers requirements for further study before approvals can be made.

While Mr. Duffy might contend that the White Pines Wind Project is totally different than the Ostrander Point Wind Project and not only with respect to size, the process that ended with the approvals of these projects hasn’t changed. As Mr. Hirsch summed up today: “Quite simply, the entire conclusion by the MOECC that serious and irreversible harm will not be caused. . .is based on four MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) sign-off letters and highly questionable and biased reporting by the approval-holder’s consultant, Stantec.” This statement is as accurate now as it would have been three years ago.

Plans for next week

  • Monday, November 9 – Site Visit (not open to the public)
  • Tuesday, November 10 – ERT starting at 10:00 in Essroc Centre, Wellington – Summonsing of Joe Crowley, MNRF expert on  reptiles
  • Thursday, November 12 -ERT starting at 10:00 in Essroc Centre, Wellington – Testimony by the Presenters
By Paula Peel, APPEC

 

Rare barn owls near proposed Boralex Port Ryerse wind farm, appeal hearing told

A barn owl, similar to the one shown above, was spotted in Port Ryerse this summer. The bird is on the endangered species list. Its presence has forced a five-month moratorium on wind farm project proposed to go up near where the owl was spotted. (QMI Agency File Photo)

MNR biologist had concerns about nesting site and fatalities

Simcoe Reformer, November 3, 2015http://www.simcoereformer.ca/2015/11/03/owl-nest-found-near-proposed-turbine-site-tribunal-hears

A nest belonging to the endangered barn owl was found with an eggshell inside it next to a proposed site for wind turbines in Port Ryerse, an environmental hearing heard Tuesday.

The nest was located inside a sawmill where a pair of owls – they are on the endangered species list – had been spotted earlier, the Environmental Review Tribunal was told.

But because the bird has not been seen in the area for more than a year, the northern edge of the lakeside village has lost its official habitat status for the owl.

The one-year lapse means the company, Boralex, is no longer required to come up with a plan to create new habitat in the area for the owl before it can start building.

Boralex wants to construct four wind turbines 99.5 metres in height on farmland just north and east of the village.

Port Ryerse residents have strenuously opposed the project, warning it will ruin their quaint village and their health, and lead to declines in property values.

They are still trying to stop it and went to the tribunal in June where they argued against turbines on health grounds. The tribunal ruled against them.

On Tuesday, their lawyer, Graham Andrews of Toronto, was in front of the tribunal suggesting the project should be halted for environmental reasons – because of the damage it could do to the unique wildlife around the village, including turtles, bald eagles, and especially the barn owl.

The barn owl is so rare about one nest every five years is found in Ontario, testified Chris Risley, a biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Risley, who was involved in assessing Boralex’s application for special permission to build, said he had concerns the nesting site at the sawmill was only 18 metres from a road heavy trucks will use to get to the turbine sites during construction.

“One of the possible situations is a barn owl could be killed by hitting the turbine blades, and that was not considered,” Risely added.

The barn owl’s habitat, he said, includes a one-mile radius around a nesting site. In the case of Port Ryerse, the birds would be looking to “forage” for food in the surrounding grasslands, some of which, he noted, would be lost due to construction.

Under cross-examination by Jonathan Kahn, lawyer for Boralex, Risely acknowledged he is only one of about half a dozen biologists in the ministry who were involved in the Port Ryerse case.

Earlier on Tuesday, Port Ryerse resident Suzanne Andrews testified and expressed concern about the safety of bald eagles in the area that will now have to fly past “monoliths” on their way from their nests to the lake.

Tribunal chair Justin Duncan will hand down his decision by Dec. 15.

Daniel R. Pearce

Wynne government’s environmental hypocrisy: OK to kill for wind power

ToughonNature

While Ontario citizens fight the invasion of utility- or industrial-scale wind power projects throughout the province, using millions of after-tax dollars to protect the natural environment, wildlife, and their communities, the Wynne government engages in double-speak about environmental action.

At Ostrander Point, for example, it has been revealed in the ongoing legal proceedings (we are into stage 5 of a three-year fight) that a single person at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was responsible for granting the permit to the wind power developer to build, ignoring the Ministry’s own at-risk species expert who said the risk to the endangered Blandings turtle was too great.

Mere kilometers away, and in the same Blandings turtle habitat, the ministries objected to more testimony from staff at the MNR on the same subject, at the appeal of the White Pines power project.

Of the 77 wind turbines being constructed as part of the Niagara Region wind power project, 20 are in Blandings turtle habitat—this was not allowed to be discussed in the appeal of that project.

But Ontario’s policy on the endangered turtle is very clear: these creatures are in danger, and are to be protected. Here is a warning from the government’s own website on the turtle:

The public can help protect Blanding’s turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or their habitat.

Building a power plant and killing turtles in their habitat seems to be OK, though, if it’s for wind power.

The Ontario government needs to do an audit on its environmental policies … and STOP building power plants in fragile environments and wildlife habitat.

White Pines appeal: different rules for appellants and wind power corporations?

Prince Edward County and Amherst Island are home to endangered species and a resting place for thousands of migratory birds [Photo courtesy Point2Point Foundation]
South Shore of Prince Edward County [Photo courtesy Point2Point Foundation]
Report on the Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project

November 3, 2015

by

Henri Garand and Paula Peel, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC)

Day Two of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) was again devoted to procedural motions.

The hearing began with the ERT panel’s ruling on two motions discussed yesterday.  Finding the scope overly broad, the Panel dismissed a motion for disclosure of all Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) documents related to species at risk from the White Pines project.  However, it approved a second motion summonsing MNRF staff Joe Crowley and Kathleen Pitt and ordering them “to produce all documents in their possession or control related to the impacts of White Pines on species at risk in the vicinity of the project.”

APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie followed up the second ruling by presenting a motion for adjournment.  He said there would be a need to assess Crowley’s and Pitt’s documents and perhaps to call more witnesses as a result of the evidence.  Therefore, he proposed that the environmental case (or part of APPEC’s appeal) be adjourned till January and the health case rescheduled to precede it.

While Sylvia Davis, counsel for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), took no position on the motion, Patrick Duffy, counsel for approval holder/wind developer WPD, opposed it vigorously.  He argued that the ERT had already been delayed and that the two MNRF witnesses could readily be accommodated in the current schedule.  After an early and long lunch break the ERT panel dismissed the motion to adjourn without citing reasons.

The panel directed the Parties to deal with the issue of the order in which witnesses will appear.   This was complicated by the uncertainties of when MNRF witnesses would provide documents, how long MOECC would take for document review, and how much time APPEC experts would need to examine them.

The ERT next focused on a motion from WPD’s counsel to strike the Witness Statements of APPEC witnesses Dr. Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy and Bill Evans, who testified at the Ostrander Point ERT.   Duffy cited case law to support his contention that it was too late to bring in these witnesses.

In his submissions Eric Gillespie questioned how WPD could raise issues about proposed APPEC witnesses when it has not yet provided its own complete list, such as its hydrology expert.  He also argued that Mr. Duffy is reviewing Witness Statements not thus far filed as evidence.  Most important, the appellants had no notice of any kind that this motion was going to be brought today.  He asked why WPD did not have to follow the same Tribunal rules as the appellants have been doing.

After taking a recess to consider the submissions the ERT panel clarified that all Parties had previously agreed to discuss Mr. Duffy’s motion today.  Mr. Gillespie stated for the record that the motion to have been discussed was not the motion now being put forward, and that the appellants were hearing this motion for the first time.  The ERT ordered that the motion, evidence and all authorities be provided in writing.

The second day concluded with a short discussion on schedules moving forward.  On Wednesday the ERT will hear Opening Statements from the Parties and Presenters.  These will conclude the hearings for this week.

The ERT will conduct a Site Visit on Monday, Nov. 9.

NextEra parent accused of “crushing” independent energy efficiency efforts

This story is an interesting read if you want to understand how Ontario came to be overrun by utility-scale wind power, in spite of made-in-Ontario technology available for energy efficient strategies for home owners and business, and communities that wanted to do community-scale renewable power (i.e., NOT gigantic, invasive, environment-destroying, wildlife-killing, industrial noise level power plants).

The company we know in Ontario as NextEra is the renewable power subsidiary of utility Florida Power and Light, or FPL Energy. FPL is currently under fire from environmentalists for “crushing” initiatives to help people become more energy efficient.

Why?

FPL doesn’t make money when consumers conserve. (In Ontario, consumers PAY more when we conserve, but that’s because Ontario is down another Alice In Wonderland rabbit hole entirely.)

The fact is, Ontario could have gone another way–we could have helped homeowners and businesses reduce demand on the electricity grid, we could have had small-scale renewable energy solutions, we could have had real community power projects … but that’s not what Big Wind wanted.

Read the story of FPL here.

Wynne government, power developer reject call for more information on endangered turtle

W.P. ERT_Nov2_15

Again: citizens of Ontario taking legal action to protect the natural environment from … the Ministry of the Environment

November 3, 2015

Just days after explosive revelations at the Ostrander Point appeal, lawyer for the appellant in the appeal of the giant White Pines power project –also to be located on the South Shore of Prince Edward County–yesterday demanded more information from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources on how a permit came to be granted for a power project, in spite of the presence of the endangered Blandings turtle, and danger to other forms of wildlife.

Here is a report from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County:

https://appec.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/white-pines-wind-project-ert-hearing-november-2-2015/

Report on the ERT Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project – Nov. 2, 2015
By Henri Garand, APPEC

If Day One is any indication, the White Pines appeal will be as contentious as Ostrander Point’s.   Even before opening statements the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) consisting of co-chairs Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins, heard motions that may require an adjournment of the proceedings.

Eric Gillespie, counsel for APPEC, asked the ERT to summon two staff members of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and to order production of all materials related to White Pines permits approved under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The request derived from similar disclosures and witnesses in the Ostrander Point appeal that have raised doubts about the integrity of the MNRF’s process for assessing risk to endangered species like the Blanding’s turtle.

Gillespie believes that testimony is relevant and necessary from Joe Crowley, the MNRF’s expert on reptiles and turtles, and Kathleen Pitt, the MNRF manager who oversaw permitting for White Pines.  He argued that an appellant has a right to all the related documents on the basic principles of  justness and fairness.

Four other lawyers challenged the motion: Sylvia Davis and Andrew Weretelnyck representing the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), Sunny Zhai for MNRF, and Patrick Duffy for approval holder/wind developer WPD.  They questioned the timing of the motion at this stage, the broad scope of the materials and the difficulty of timely production, the focus of the materials on ESA permits rather the Renewal Energy Approval (REA) under appeal, and the overall need for such evidence, some of it dealing with Ostrander Point, when APPEC was calling its own expert witnesses.  Duffy went so far as to accuse Gillespie of “bad faith” in using a delaying tactic.

In rebuttal, Gillespie pointed out that the ERT had been informed in September about the potential, but the need only became clear and imperative after documents were disclosed at the Ostrander appeal last week.    Since much of the White Pines project adjoins Ostrander Point, Blanding’s turtles would also be harmed by White Pines access roads because experts had agreed that the turtles range over “the wetland complexes along the whole south shore and as far as six kilometers inland.” Gillespie therefore wondered how the White Pines ERT could choose not to follow the ruling of the Ostrander Point panel when the situations were so similar.

John Hirsch, the initial appellant of the White Pines REA, supported Gillespie’s motion by asking the ERT to consider why the MNRF, curiously, didn’t require an ESA permit for Blanding’s turtles which would be harmed by the White Pines project.

The hearing concluded with the ERT panel seeking comments on the scope of a production order and the probable timelines for witness preparation.  A ruling on the motions will be given when the hearing resumes on November 3 at 10 a.m. in the Essroc Centre, Wellington.

Hurricane Patricia: rain, wind, and lots of money to wind power corporations

More wind means more cost to you: millions lost in just two October days
More wind means more cost to you: millions lost in just two October days

 

Hurricane Patricia: rain, wind and money to Ontario’s wind generators 

All the talk about Hurricane Patricia’s potential devastation faded quickly, but the media forgot to note the hit to Ontario ratepayers caused by the storm as it made its way across the continent.  The devastation to electricity ratepayers wasn’t caused by the rainfall, it was due to heavy winds and their ability to generate cash for industrial wind power projects.

In the two days Hurricane Patricia’s lashed Ontario, the generation of electricity from wind turbines set numerous records of an hourly and daily basis.  My good friend Scott Luft documented the records over October 28th and October 29th and found three of the top 20 hourly records were produced on the 28th, and 10 were set on the 29th with the highest being hour 16 when 3,297 megawatt hours (MWh) of power were generated. October 29th also set the daily record of 70,003 MWh surpassing October 28’s 65,421 MWh.

Wind power lobbyist CanWEA is sure to brag about this as combined production from those two days indicates wind generation produced 132,424 MWh, or 18.1% of Ontario’s total demand.

Spring and Fall in Ontario are generally times when power demand is lower as air conditioners and furnaces etc. are not running.   In July, for example, total wind power production in 31 days was only 395,800 MWh; in just two days in October, the wind turbines generated 33.4% of what it took them to generate in all of July!  Also, in July, average Ontario demand was 16,270 MW per hour and the peak demand was in excess of 22,500 MW, whereas in the two days of wind’s record generation Ontario’s peak demand was 17,391 MW and average demand was 15,250 MW. Once again, we have a demonstration that wind power is produced out-of-phase with Ontario demand.

Looking at the relative costs is key to get a sense of the “value for money” that wind generation presents.   If one looks at the 65,421 MWh of generation from IWT on October 28 the cost of that production (to ratepayers) was $127/MWh, so production costs were $7.9

Million, but the market valued that production via the hourly Ontario electricity price (HOEP) at only $23.80/MWh—that’s a value of just $1.5 million but it cost ratepayers $6.4 million.

On October 29, power production from wind of 70,003 MWh cost ratepayers $8.9 million, but the HOEP value was only $1.2 million, meaning a loss of $7.7 million.  For just those two October days ratepayers were forced to absorb $14 million in costs.

The post-Patricia events of those two days include the export of 100,752 MWh of power surplus to our needs; if we attribute all of those exports to wind the revenue generated from selling it to our neighbours in New York, Michigan, etc. would be about $2 million but the costs would have been $12.8 million. That means Ontario’s electricity customers absorbed another $12 million because of  surplus production.

How many nurses Ontario could have rehired, or diabetes strips provided, or cataract operations performed for the $12 or $14 million blown away in just those two windy October days? The Wynne government has no idea how to manage the electricity sector.

© Parker Gallant,

November 1, 2015

 

Huge U.S. wind farm quits operation over bird deaths

San Jose Mercury News, updated November 1, 2015

 

LIVERMORE — A wind power provider that operates about 800 turbines in the Altamont Pass — where thousands of birds are believed killed by them each year — is shutting down its operations.

Altamont Winds told the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in an email Oct. 23 that it is ceasing operations as of Sunday [Nov. 1].

The decision was applauded by environmental groups, which for years have been fighting to build awareness around the large numbers of golden eagles, raptors, burrowing owls and other birds that are killed by turbines.

“It’s a really big deal,” said Michael Lynes, director of public policy for Audubon California. “(Altamont Winds) is the second-largest operator in the Altamont, and they were doggedly continuing to use those old turbines that we know have a disproportionately high rate of mortality.”

 Read more here.
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