Ontario’s energy costs and the mining industry: investment interest slipping says Parker Gallant

Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines : using the  increase in gold value to prove policy success. (We're not buying it.)
Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines : using the increase in gold value to prove policy success. (We’re not buying it.)

Ontario’s ministries of selective facts 

On December 11, 2015 Michael Gravelle’s ministry Northern Development and Mines, issued a press release announcing a renewed Mineral Development Strategy (MDS) and, as is generally done with those provincial press releases, it contained a “Quick Facts” section.  Also as usual, you only see the positive ones.

As an example, one of the “Quick Facts” listed in the release states: “The value of mineral production in 2003 was $5.7 billion. In 2014, the value of mineral production was a record $11 billion.”

On examination of that fact via data from the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) 2014 report you learn that in 2003, Ontario produced 28.3% of the value of all Canadian mining production, but by 2013 the “value” had dropped to 22.5%.   If you then look at the value of the three highest valued minerals mined in Ontario, you see they are gold, copper and nickel. The value of those three minerals increased by 142% in the 2003/2013 period, from $5.7 billion to $13.9 billion.  So, in other words, the claim made in the Quick Facts shows an increase of 92%, which is considerably less than the commodity price increase.

One could easily surmise the drop in Ontario’s percentage values of all Canadian production was caused by a reduction of investments (Ontario ranked 4th) in mining and processing/refining activities — but that wouldn’t make for a snappy positive “quick fact”.

For example, the “Ring of Fire” got the Ontario government plenty of media attention because of their lack of commitment to infrastructure spending. That resulted in the exodus of several large and small mining companies seeking to develop mines in the region.   Nothing in the Mineral Development Strategy suggests anything will change!

As a coincidence to the Ministry’s press release and the MDS, the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) a week prior had posted on their website a “welcome” release to a report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) titled Digging Deeper: Strengthening Ontario’s Mining Advantage, which carried the following message deemed worth repeating on the OMA post:

“In recent years, however, the sector has struggled due to both global factors, including economic uncertainty and lower demand for mineral products, and Ontario-specific challenges. These challenges include rising costs, particularly electricity rates as well as regulatory uncertainty and a lack of essential infrastructure.”

The message in the MAC 2014 report was similar but wasn’t specific to Ontario:

“Canada’s processing facilities operate in a global arena, where China and other countries are expanding their capacity and competing fiercely for raw materials. The cost of electricity is also a factor in some Canadian jurisdictions. Given the energy-intensive nature of these value-added processes, high-cost power jurisdictions dampen the competitiveness of existing operations and can deter future investment.”

The Ministry’s response on the issue of high-cost electricity was contained in one of their “10 point action plans” in the MDS, released days after the OCC report: “Improve our cost competitiveness by reviewing current energy programs and providing ongoing assistance to mining and processing operations to ensure competitiveness.” Which means, another review! 

While the mining sector endorses the use of renewable energy they note the high capital costs associated with both wind and solar power generation and the need to continue to generate their electricity with diesel fuel, due to the lack of grid connection availability in many mining and processing locations.

That latter issue is obvious to Southern Ontario’s rural communities saddled with the industrial wind turbines connected to the grid to supply intermittent power to large urban communities such as Toronto and grids to export surplus power to our neighbours in New York, Michigan, and others who purchase it for cents on the dollar.   Selling surplus power at a huge discount penalizes not only residential ratepayers, but also our mining sector which estimates the cost of electricity/fuel is their second highest expense at over 60% of labour costs on a Canada-wide basis.

It’s about time for some real facts from Ontario’s Ministries!

©Parker Gallant

December 13, 2015

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

 

Hidden Australian documents detail risk, no environmental benefit to wind power

Wind Energy Queensland

The Queensland Government’s own noise expert has warned proposed rules for wind farms in the State could cause public health and environment problems.

Bryan Lyons, spokesman for the community-based Wind Energy Queensland (WEQ) group, said today the warnings were revealed in documents obtained under a Right To Information (RTI) search.

“These documents show that warnings from the Queensland Government’s own noise expert were hidden from the relevant Minister and from the public,” Mr Lyons said.

“The expert report reveals that the proposed Queensland Government Wind Farm Code (version 2) will not protect residents’ health and wellbeing and will not protect their environmental values.

“The documents obtained under RTI also reveal these concerns were not passed on to the Planning Department or the Minister for Planning.”

Mr Lyons said the documents show that, on August 26, the noise expert in the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provided his superiors with a list of nine points of concern regarding the draft Wind Farm Code.

“Those concerns were not subsequently forwarded from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, who have developed the current draft (version 2) of the Wind Farm Code.

“The concerns raised by the Queensland Government’s own noise expert confirm existing advice that independent noise experts conducting research in this area have already provided to courts, governments, Senate inquiries and community members dealing with wind farm proposals across Queensland.”

Mr Lyons said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had withheld the expert report.

“Wind Energy Queensland have previously asked Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to seek advice from her own Government noise expert. It is now clear from these documents that concerns were deliberately withheld by the department of Environment and Heritage Protection. A Senior Official from the Environment and Heritage Protection Department advised the Premier’s Department that they have ‘no fundamental concerns’ with the draft Wind Farm Code.

“However, the advice from the Noise Expert indicates that proposed wind farm standards in Queensland will not protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. It is extremely disturbing that this advice appears to have been kept secret from the Government department developing the Wind Farm Code, kept secret from the Minister for Planning, and kept hidden from the public.

“We are calling on the Deputy Premier to have the noise sections of the Wind Farm Code redrafted by Noise Experts in the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and scrutinised by an independent panel of Noise Experts, with those peer reviews made publicly available.

“This newly-revealed advice from the EHP Noise Expert also affects the recently approved Mt Emerald Wind Farm on the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland,” Mr Lyons said. “We believe the Mt Emerald approval is presently being renegotiated by the applicant, and we call on the Deputy Premier to take this opportunity to immediately amend the approval.”

Mr Lyons said the Government noise expert’s concerns confirm the concerns of residents in the Mt Emerald area that, if developed, the proposed wind farm will harm their community members even if it complies with the conditions of approval.

WEQ is a community-based group formed to ensure better planning of wind farms in Queensland. The communities represented include Dalveen, Crows Nest, Cooranga north (west of Kingaroy) and Mareeba.

Source:  11th December, 2015 – Wind Energy Queensland

 

This is a mistake, says MP as Australia reverses ban on wind power investment

“Wind just does not cut it,” says MP Dennis Jensen.

Australian Broadcasting System, December 13, 2015

Federal Government lifts Tony Abbott’s wind farm investment ban

Updated

The Federal Government has lifted a ban on wind farm investment first introduced by former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt issued new advice to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), requesting a focus on “offshore wind technologies”.

Under the new mandate, signed by Mr Hunt and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on December 3, the $10 billion fund will be allowed to invest in wind projects, as long as they incorporate “emerging and innovative” methods.

“The Government has also directed the Corporation to include, as part of its investment activities in clean energy technologies, a focus on offshore wind technologies,” the directive issued to the CEFC said.

“This recognises that, in many circumstances, the financing requirements for mature and established clean energy technologies such as onshore wind technologies may be met from commercial financing sources.”

Key points:

  • In July former treasurer Joe Hockey ordered the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop funding wind projects
  • CEFC will now be allowed to invest in wind projects as long as they incorporate “emerging and innovative” methods
  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised more certainty for the renewable energy sector

In July, former treasurer Joe Hockey ordered the CEFC to stop funding wind power projects, as well as small-scale solar projects, a move condemned by the industry, as well as environmental groups and the Federal Opposition.

Five months later, the CEFC quietly announced $67 million in financing for Australia’s third largest wind farm at Ararat in Western Victoria.

It follows consultations with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has promised more certainty for the renewable energy sector.

Acting Greens leader Larissa Waters said it was a small but welcome step.

“Tony Abbott was prepared to take the axe to renewable energy and was going to restrict investment,” she said.

“We know wind is going to be part of the solution and we’ve got some fantastic wind deposits here in Australia.”

‘A positive step forward’

Victoria’s Environment Minister Lisa Neville said the decision to overturn the ban was good news for local jobs and dealing with climate change.

“It’s been a very rocky 18 months for the industry and investment which has caused a lot of losses of jobs across Australia so this is a positive step forward,” she said.

South Australia’s Environment Minister Ian Hunter also welcomed the move.

“There are a number of wind farms in the pipeline. We’re aiming for $10 billion worth of investment, we’ve already had $6.4 billion, and I know that there’ll be a number announced in the new term,” he said.

The general manager of wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince, Steve Garner, said it was the start of a new era for renewable energy under the Turnbull Government.

“People need to realise, the CEFC is a real strong arm of renewable energy and projects throughout the nation and there is an absolute need to maintain the CFEC’s position in the industry because it really does help any new wind farm to get up there going,” he said.

“With the RET out there at the moment being a target that needs to be met by 2020, I see the CEFC as an important group that need to survive to ensure that target is actually met.”

He said it was another level of certainty for the wind energy industry.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs but we’ve got two more federal elections before 2020 and I’d have a lot of confidence to say that target will increase dramatically,” he said.

Federal Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said the decision to start investing in wind farms again was a mistake.

“I think that’s a bad decision, to be quite frank,” he said.

“Wind power just does not cut it, and they pretend that they’re economically competitive but then they acknowledge that without things like RETs and renewable energy targets and also subsidies, there wouldn’t be any more wind turbines built.”

Google Earth good enough for research by White Pines environmental consultants

What? We don't show up on Google Earth? [Photo: Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory]
What? We don’t show up on Google Earth? [Photo: Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory]

Wind power developer wildlife consultant never visited Prince Edward County, used Google Earth to inspect the site, and dismisses “Important Bird Area” designation (that’s for bird-watchers, he says in testimony)

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

December 11 

On Day 20 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) on the White Pines wind project heard APPEC witness Rick James and an expert witness for developer WPD, Dr. Dale Strickland.

Mr. James, qualified previously as an acoustician, presented new evidence in reply to Denton Miller, witness for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).  Following new ministry guidelines and omitting disallowed wind turbines T7 and T11, he calculated that 13 “points of receptions” (i.e., homes) would suffer noise above 40 dBA.

Both MOECC counsel Andrew Weretelnyck and WPD counsel James Wilson questioned Rick James on 40 dBA as a measure of serious harm.  James said the MOECC had set this compliance limit and the World Health Organization (WHO) had found health effects, specifically annoyance and sleep disturbance, start at 40 dBA.

In re-examination APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie confirmed with James that WHO had reported noise complaints during nighttime begin at 35 dBA.

Dale Strickland, Ph.D., founder and president of Western EcoSystems Technology, a Wyoming consulting firm with business and government clients, has published over 150 scientific papers and technical reports during a 40-year career.  The Tribunal qualified him as “a zoologist with expertise in ecological research and wildlife management, including assessing the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife.”

WPD counsel Patrick Duffy asked Dr. Strickland about the appropriate scientific measure for serious and irreversible harm.   He said it is based on the overall genetic and demographic status of a species’ population.

According to Dr. Strickland, the White Pines surveys of birds and bats are “adequate,” conform to established methods and published guidance, and are similar to those for other wind projects.  Bats would not be high in number without the presence of hibernacula.  Acoustical surveys are not necessary because they record bats at ground level and the results do not correlate with bat deaths at wind turbine rotor level.

Dr. Strickland also said the effects on habitat would be minimal.  Loss from access roads and other construction is relatively small, and displacement from habitat would not be significant because of the project size.

Regarding collisions, Dr. Strickland predicted 5-15 bird deaths annually per turbine, the same as at other North American sites.  He defended the Wolfe Island monitoring records, stating the mortality rates are reasonable for a searched radius of 50m, an area commonly used at other wind projects.  Considering the project location and size, he concluded that White Pines would not cause serious and irreversible harm to wildlife.

In cross-examination Eric Gillespie confirmed that Dr. Strickland had not visited the White Pines site but had based his opinions on WPD’s reports and on Google Earth images.  Although aware of Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, he did not know their proximity to wind turbines.  However, he dismissed the “globally significant” South Shore Important Bird Area because the IBA designation reflects convenient public access and use of the site for bird-watching.

Dr. Strickland did not know of an “activity report” by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests finding five threatened bird species and three bat species in the White Pines area.  He agreed with Mr. Gillespie that such information might have influenced his opinions.  Similarly, he conceded that if there had not been adequate surveys for karst, then one needed more information to estimate the bat population.  He also admitted that the cumulative effects of wind projects must be considered to determine local impacts on birds.

When asked by ERT co-chair Marcia Valiante about a proposed 31ha compensation property, Dr. Strickland said it would have little measurable effect on the populations of displaced bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks.

-by Henri Garand, APPEC

Take a drive through newly industrialized West Lincoln, letter writer says

Dec. 10/15Dear Editor:

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I invite you, and your readers in Niagara Region to take a drive through West Lincoln township and view the INDUSTRIAL wind turbines that are being installed there.  You will be awed by the size of these turbines, so much so, that you will never again call them “windmills”.

You do not need  a map:  just start at the Transmission Station just past Wellandport and follow the  orange stakes down Canborough, Port Davidson Road, Sixteen and Tober Road, Road 6, Twenty hwy, Road. 5 , Young Street, Walker Road, and Mountain View Road.  (The stakes can always be found opposite existing transmission lines).  These stakes are placed in the road allowance to mark  the location at which  the transmission poles will be placed.

You will also notice, on Canborough,  Port Davidson, Tober and many of the side roads, the construction of the connector lines, which are to be buried and  eventually,  bring the raw power from the turbines to the transformer station where they will be transformed into 230mw of power which will travel on the 115kw lines down the transmission lines.  Realize that all 77 turbines  will be connected by connector  lines. There will be miles of these lines criss-crossing along most of the county roads in  the township.  Plan your trip to include  Vaughn Road  to get a really good taste of the mess that the residents of these roads have to put up with, on a daily basis, knowing that the process will take until August 2016 at the earliest.

Notice I did not tell you where to find the turbines.  You will not be able to miss them.  From kms

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away you will see the activity.  If you want to see construction, visit Gee Road where the turbines are located close enough to the road for you to get a good look at what is happening at each and every turbine construction site. The security people can not prevent you from taking a good look from these two sites.

This past week a brand new interest has been added.  Drive  the proposed transmission line from the proposed Transformer station on Canbourgh and you will see bright green  florescent ribbons on just about every tree on the opposite side of  existing transmission lines.

Each and every tree that is marked is slated for demolition for  building of the transmission line.

The irony of it will almost make you laugh:  trees are natures best defense against climate change.  Trees produce CO2 which is Natures air purifier, and hundreds and hundreds of trees are being removed for a transmission line  which will produce Radon emissions and  stray voltage, as well.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a days supply of oxygen for four people.

Our trees, and the health of our community is being sacrificed for Industrial Wind Turbines which are not efficient, not green, not economically feasible or affordable, not nature friendly and riffed with controversy.

After you have taken your drive in the (newly industrialized) countryside, can you still say that it is worth the sacrifice of rural Ontario for the “common good”. Does this Industrialization of rural Ontario  make any sense to you?  Please contact your municipal officials and the MOECC and express your opinions and concerns to them.

Annoyance not a “disease” power developer witness tells Tribunal

REPORT ON AMHERST ISLAND APPEAL OF WINDLECTRIC PPOWER PROJECT

Location: St John’s Hall, Village of Bath

Tribunal: Mr. Robert Wright & Mr. Justin Duncan

Lawyers for

Appellant:                  Eric Gillespie, Graham Andrews, EKG, LLP

Approval Holder :      John Terry, Torys, LLP

MOECC:                    Andrea Huckins

The parties agreed on the schedule for the day. Mr. Welbanks would be heard first and then the Panel would hear the evidence from Dr. Mundt ’s response to Dr. Phillips’ Witness Statement.

The Tribunal gave a partial ruling on the December 8 motion by the Approval Holder to exclude the reply witness statements of Les Stanfield, Daryl Cowell, Kari Gunson, Roy Nagle, Shawn Smallwood, Carl Phillips and much of the reply witness statements of Christina Davy.

The Tribunal allowed Dr. Phillips, APAI’s witness, to reply to both Dr. McCunney and Dr. Mundt ’s responses to his Witness Statement. As the Panel is still conferring on the rest of the Motion, the full ruling and the reasons will be given later.

 

Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy

 Mr. Eric Welbanks was granted presenter status on behalf of Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy (“CAIRE”). He read from his Witness Statement.

After introducing himself, Mr. Welbanks talked about the organization of which he is the President and spokesperson. He explained that for the last 8 years, its mission has been to be ‘’the perpetual and sole voice for the proponents.  Mr. Welbanks told the Tribunal that CAIRE, an unincorporated organization, was made up of approximately 120 people who support the wind project and that virtually all of them lived on Amherst Island. He added that all of the landowners who will have turbines on their properties are members of the group,

He gave a brief perspective of the evolution of Amherst Island’s demography as well as his opinion on the agricultural and cultural development of the Island.

Mr. Welbanks described his organization’s involvement with the project and the actions they took to educate the members on the advantages and disadvantages of the project. He explained how they reassured themselves on health and the environment issues. He stated that he was satisfied with how their concerns were addressed by the Proponent. He added that they worked with the company on every aspect of any matter that related to their properties and raised issues of concern. He trusted that the proponent spent a significant amount of money to respond to their concerns. He said that one member of his group had been actively supporting and promoting the protection of the habitat in the Owl Woods and that some members were participants in the program to replace bird habitat. He concluded that his group had entire confidence in Algonquin Power.

The Tribunal asked questions about the financial compensation of its members and also asked clarification about the composition of the group and the different status of 120 members of the non-incorporated group. Mr. Wellbanks confirmed that they were receiving remuneration for turbines and that members of his group were direct or indirect family members and that there were all non-solicited and volunteer members. He added that all the members of the community would benefit significantly because of Windlectric’s generous contribution to the Benefit Agreement Fund. When the Panel asked his opinion on what the 120 members significance in terms of support for the project, Mr. Welbanks extrapolated on some provincial statistics to answer that according to him it would be 80% of support for the project.

Mr. Welbanks responded to a question form APAI’s lawyer by admitting that the community was divided on the issue but overall islanders were all friends. When asked if he agreed that there were better location than others for siting of the turbines, he defended the stating that the size of the project was greatly reduced. 

Dr. Kenneth Mundt 

Dr. Mundt who was qualified as an epidemiologist, listed his current and past employment. The Approval Holder’s lawyer walked him through some parts of his Witness Statement and asked him to elaborate on specific area.

After defining epidemiology, he talked about epidemiological study approaches versus other approaches. He described the many variations of both cohort and case-control studies with different strengths and weaknesses. He then discussed the differences between the case reports and case series and the use of self-reported accounts of symptoms or disease experience.

He was then asked to explain the determinants of the quality of epidemiological studies. He stated that in epidemiological studies, disease in a population is preferably characterized using measures of disease incidence vs. prevalence. He then talked about bias which refers to systematic (or methodological) errors that lead to inaccurate and potentially invalid or even misleading study results. He explained the different types and bias and the effects on studies.

In a second part he referred to his role in the Review of Epidemiology literature on wind turbines. He referred to a comprehensive review and synthesis of the peer-reviewed, published epidemiological literature specifically addressing potential health impacts of noise emissions from industrial wind turbines. He gave details of a total of 29 peer-reviewed published reports.

Finally he was asked to give his opinion on Dr. Phillips’ Witness Statement.

He concluded that based on his comprehensive review and synthesis of the published peer-reviewed epidemiological literature on the impact of industrial wind turbine noise emissions on human health identified only some inconsistent statistical correlations between the presence of industrial wind turbines and self-reported “annoyance,” but not that such exposures cause any disease or that exposure to wind turbine noise causes harm to human health, let alone serious harm to human health.

He added that while the literature inconsistently associates turbine noise with “annoyance,” the medical literature does not equate annoyance with disease or “serious harm to human health”. He added that he was unable to find the term “annoyance” in any medical dictionary, and when this term was used in the medical literature it was usually to describe the opposite end (i.e., the lowest extreme) of the spectrum of complaints. Furthermore, the 10th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) – the current compendium of all classified diseases – does not include “annoyance” as a disease entity.

On his systematic review and synthesis of the published, peer-reviewed

epidemiological literature, he concluded to a reasonable degree of scientific and epidemiological certainty that it is more likely than not that the operation of the wind turbines associated with the Amherst Island Wind Project will not cause “serious harm to human health”.

In cross-examination, he admitted never have been on Amherst Island and not having done an analysis of its population and other potential factors. He also acknowledged that he was not aware of the Island demographic. He disputed that the fact that a study that he co-authored in 2014 was biased even though a study footnote indicated that the study was funded by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)

Bombastic bombardment: Parker Gallant on Ontario news release barrage

Embedded image permalink

Or, just forget the whole thing

Ontario news releases are not really “news” says Parker Gallant

Wow! Signing up to receive updates from the Government of Ontario apparently means your e-mail in-box will pile up with a myriad of announcements that, on the surface, seem focused on making one believe the Ontario Liberal government is creating a utopia for everyone.

On December 7 three media messages popped up in my in-box: the first was all about putting HOT (high occupancy toll lanes) on the QE to relieve congestion. The Province’s oldest divided highway has apparently not been paid for yet, even though it opened in 1939; hence we need to put in toll lanes!

The second message was all about how Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba had signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) “to facilitate their intent to link the cap and trade programs in Ontario, Québec and Manitoba under the Western Climate Initiative, further strengthening North America’s largest carbon market.” I was a little confused about what “ to facilitate their intent to link the cap and trade programs” actually meant until I read Premier Wynne’s quote which said: “Greenhouse gas emissions do not recognize borders, so climate change cannot be fought by individual governments alone. The new MOU on climate change among Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba commits us to collaborating on a broad range of initiatives, including cap and trade, to address climate change and meet emission targets. We can accomplish much more when we work together — only through our continued cooperation can we succeed in building a sustainable and prosperous world for future generations.”

Read more Bombastic bombardment

French dairy farmer sues over harm to cows from wind farm infrasound

Voice of America News, December 10, 2015

French Farmer Sues Wind Farm Over Stressed Cows

Published December 10, 2015

France, host of the U.N. climate conference, prides itself on being one of the world’s top innovators in wind energy technology, and wind turbines have become a symbol of the country’s commitment to clean energy. But the French government is coming under fire from farmers and others who say the proximity of some of the turbines is hurting wildlife and cattle. VOA Europe Correspondent Luis Ramirez went to a dairy farm in the northern Picady region to get one farmer’s story.

Click here for video report.

Related story here.

Ontario turbine setback A-OK with wind industry-paid physician

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

December 8

 

On Day 19 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project heard the testimony of Dr. Robert McCunney, an expert witness for developer WPD.

Robert McCunney, MD, has a Boston clinical practice and is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   Funded by the Canadian and American Wind Energy Associations, he headed teams in both 2009 and 2014 that produced status reports such as the recent “Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature.”   Though not licensed to practice medicine in Ontario, Dr. McCunney has testified on behalf of the wind industry at other ERT hearings.

The Tribunal qualified Dr. McCunney as “a medical doctor specializing in occupational and environmental medicine, with the particular implications of noise exposure.”

WPD counsel James Wilson asked Dr. McCunney to comment on wind turbine sounds.  He said that noise is characterized by loudness and pitch, low frequency is associated with vibrations, and infrasound is inaudible below 107 db(A).  The last feature also occurs in the natural environment (e.g., wind and waves) and in actions of the human body such as breathing.  Turbine infrasound cannot be distinguished beyond 300m.

Dr. McCunney’s 2014 literature review, based on 162 published papers, concluded that “(1) infrasound sound near wind turbines does not exceed audibility thresholds, (2) epidemiological studies have shown associations between living near wind turbines and annoyance, (3) infrasound and low-frequency sound do not present unique health risks, and (4) annoyance seems more strongly related to individual characteristics than noise from turbines.”   Nothing Dr. McCunney has read since publication changes his opinions.

In cross-examination, APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie established that Dr. McCunney has never treated anyone complaining of turbine-related symptoms or conducted any original field research. Though he lives near a wind turbine, his home is 1500m away.

Mr. Gillespie asked Dr. McCunney to confirm the findings in several studies cited in his literature review that turbine sounds annoyed 7-18 percent of nearby residents.  But Dr. McCunney said this is similar to other environmental noise.  Moreover, he does not accept the concept of “wind turbine syndrome,” in which a number of symptoms are associated with wind turbines and disappear in their absence.

Dr. McCunney was then asked to consider the 2015 Australian Senate inquiry, which received almost 500 worldwide submissions on wind turbine noise.  He said he had not read it, but he was critical of its reliance on a range of unverified reports rather strictly published studies.  He did accept, however, the finding that the “distinction between direct and indirect effects is not helpful.”

Finally, Mr. Gillespie asked at what distance from turbines complaints would cease.  Dr. McCunney expressed confidence in Ontario’s 550m minimum setbacks.

In re-examination WPD’s Wilson asked about sleep anxiety and deprivation, which can lead to serious medical conditions.  Dr. McCunney said no study shows a causal relation between these symptoms and wind turbines.   His 2014 literature review identifies “longitudinal assessments of health pre- and post-installation” and “enhanced measurement techniques to evaluate annoyance”—but not sleep problems—among “further areas of Inquiry.”

Henri Garand, APPEC

Get hydro prices down, Niagara On The Lake Hydro demands Energy Minister Chiarelli

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE HYDRO

NEWS RELEASE

NOTL Hydro Board challenges Minister of Energy to debate 

Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro provides 11 Recommendations on Reducing the Cost of Electricity

“No new contracts”

 

December 9, 2015 Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON – The Board of Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro would like to invite and challenge the Minister of Energy to a public debate on the historical, present and future plans on how to get the cost of electricity down and more manageable for the average consumer.  Discussions and input from all interested parties are welcome.

The recently released Report of the Ontario Auditor General (AG report) has highlighted significant mismanagement of the electricity industry in Ontario that has substantially increased the cost of electricity to our customers.  To reduce the current and future cost of electricity, it is clear that immediate and drastic actions are required.

As a local electricity distribution company, Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro deals directly with the electricity consumer and sees the challenges the high prices are causing.  Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro therefore recommends the following immediate actions to assist our customers.

  1. Immediately cancel the FIT and MicroFIT programs and immediately cease signing any new contracts. We cannot afford any more above market costs to be built into future pricing.
  2. Calculate and transfer the present value of the excess pricing in the existing FIT and MicroFIT contracts to the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation (OEFC) in a manner similar to that done with Ontario Hydro and the Non-Utility Generation contracts at the time of the market opening. This would remove these costs from the current pricing.
  3. Re-instate the Debt Retirement Charge for residential customers. It was never right just to eliminate this for residential and not business customers. This charge will be needed to pay down the above excess pricing cost (Recommendation #2) for years and decades to come. Annual transparent reporting from the OEFC will be required to show how this new debt is being paid down.
  4. Stop all provincial Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) programs. This will save $300 million per year per the AG report. CDM Is not needed in a surplus environment and consumers will undertake their own CDM activities based on market prices.
  5. Review the pricing of exports. While we have no experience in this area other experts have suggested that better prices could be obtained on the excess generation we are forced to export through more pro-active management of this activity.
  6. Eliminate the Meter Data Management and Repository (MDM/R). This is a redundant service whose cost is part of the Wholesale Market Service Rate on the customer bill. Local distribution companies get the needed information elsewhere.
  7. Eliminate the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). This is a tax designed to fund a social program; support to low income customers. Providing refundable income tax credits would be more progressive and more efficient.
  8. Separate the transmission and distribution businesses of Hydro One as proposed in the initial report by Ed Clark. The transmission business would remain publicly traded with private investors and the Government of Ontario could sell additional ownership for infrastructure funding.
  9. Break-up the Hydro One distribution business into multiple smaller local distribution companies with local governance. Parts of this business could also be sold to local distribution companies. It is clear from the AG report that management of the Hydro One distribution business needs to be brought closer to its customers. We believe significant cost savings and improved customer service can be achieved by this action.
  10. Tender the sale of Hydro One Brampton. We have no objection to the proposed LDC merger but as a taxpayer we wonder if the Government of Ontario is getting the best price for this asset.
  11. Restore OEB oversight over all aspects of the electricity industry. A truly independent regulator is needed to protect Ontario electricity consumers. Bill 135 should be amended to provide this.

 

The cost of electricity for the Ontario consumer has risen by around 50% over the last ten years.  Electricity costs are largely made up of generation, transmission and distribution costs.  Transmission and distribution costs (for most distribution companies though Hydro One is a notable exception) have largely gone up at around the rate of inflation which has been around 18% (over 10 years).  The cost of generation has risen by over 110% during this time.  More details as to why the generation costs have risen so high can be found in the Auditor General’s report.

 

ABOUT NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE HYDRO

Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro distributes power to over 8,800 customers in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We are committed to operating as a sustainable high-performance, customer-driven business and to providing the highest standard in safety, service and reliability. NOTL Hydro was the 2014 ENERGY STAR® Utility of the Year (Regional Category) in Canada. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is the 100% shareholder of the corporation.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Tim Curtis

President

Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro Inc.

Fact Sheet:

 

Increase in Cost of Electricity

Niagara-on-the-Lake Residential Customer (800 kwh) – Monthly Cost
January 1, 2006  

₵/kwh

January 1, 2016  

$/kwh

 

$ Change

 

% Change

Electricity $40.40 5.05 $86.13 10.77 $45.73 113%
Delivery Charge $34.37 $37.26 $2.89 8%
Regulatory Charges $5.54 $5.23 -$.31 -6%
Debt Retirement Charge $5.60 -$5.6 -100%
Total before HST $85.91 10.74 $128.62 16.08 $42.71 50%

 

 

Comparable Canadian City Electricity Costs

Total electricity cost before taxes  (1,000 kwh) – April 1, 2015
Montreal, QC $   71.91
Winnipeg, MB $   81.09
Vancouver, BC $ 102.90
Edmonton, AB $ 115.47
St. John’s. NL $ 115.53
Calgary, AB $ 116.55
Moncton, NB $ 122.98
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON $ 135.18
Toronto, ON $ 143.07
Regina, SK $ 143.72
Ottawa, ON $ 148.62
Charlottetown, PE $ 156.17
Halifax, NS $ 160.30

Source:  Hydro Quebec ”Comparison of electricity prices 2015”

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