Wind power developers dangle financial inducements in return for municipal support FOI docs reveal

February 29, 2016

Bon Echo Residents Against Turbines (BEARAT)  has published the documents its lawyer received under a Freedom of Information request, pertaining to communication between wind power developers (the very litigious) NextEra and RES Canada and the municipality of Addington Highlands.

Addington Highlands, you will recall, was where Council allowed an online poll to ascertain support from the taxpayers, got a vote of 81% AGAINST the power projects … and went on to approve it anyway.

From BEARAT:

Last fall, through our attorney, BEARAT submitted two sets of freedom of information requests. The first was to Addington Highlands (AH) Council with regards to their communications with the proponents. The second was to the Province of Ontario and was also focused on their communications with the proponents.

All material received to date can be found on the Resources page on BEARAT.org (Please note the FoI document is a large file, it may be slower to load than usual.) There is a lot of material to go through, and we have. The following is a summary of observations we note from the communications.

“Get the deal done”

COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN COUNCIL AND PROPONENTS

  • All comms between Council and Proponents came via the Township Clerk. There were no direct communications between individual Councillors and the Proponents.
  • It is clear that the Clerk was instructed to expedite the deal with the Proponents. The comms show a clear tone of getting the deal done.
  • With one exception, there is no content concerning due diligence, risks or negative impacts on Township.
  • AH Township asked NextEra who they should contact regarding other area’s experience with NextEra and turbines. AH Township was referred to a NextEra-owned company.
  • Council did consult with another Township on their experience with NextEra, but they did indeed contact a NextEra-owned company in Chatham Kent: not exactly an unbiased source of information.
  • 2015-04 Confirmation that AH was prepared to sign off in early April (before any public consultations or due diligence). Curiously, there is no record of what communications transpired before this email.
  • For both Proponents one can surmise from reviewing the Proposed Agreements that funds for AH were explicitly tied to Municipal support for the projects.
  • The Municipality accepted a survey that indicated 81% of area residents and property owners were opposed to the proposed project, and had agreed to a criteria to review proposals before voting on whether to support them. At the urging of Proponents, who made clear that inducements were in jeopardy if official acts by Council were not completed on their timeline, Council ultimately disregarded their own motion and acted in the best interests of the Proponents, instead of the public interest. 
  • Reeve Hogg has stated repeatedly his position for supporting wind turbines was directly the result of financial inducement from the proponents, as opposed to general support for the actual proposals. There is no link between Reeve Hogg’s championing of a motion of support and renewable energy. Hogg made plain he was voting in favour of having access to community vibrancy funds.
  • Council was divided 3-2 on the issue. Councillor Yanch, a supporter of the municipal support motion, is in an apparent or real conflict of interest as a result of being a part owner of an aggregate business. This business could be expected to benefit directly or indirectly, either by an order related to wind turbine installation or as a result of increased local demand due to other companies winning contracts from proponents. Yanch refused to declare a conflict. If she had, the vote would have gone 2-2 and lost on division.
  • NextEra and RES Canada officials are seen repeatedly in emails to leverage the community vibrancy funds as inducements to cause municipal officials to undertake official acts with their power under the Municipal Act in exchange for those inducements.
  • It is clear and reasonable from what went on in Addington Highlands that the ‘municipal support’ materials being used to justify the projects in the community are tainted and should be discredited from positively impacting the approval process of any of the projects proposed for the community. 

 

See the documents on the BEARAT website here.

Wind killing Ontario electricity market, says analyst

Energy analyst Scott Luft has been following the last few windy days, and has documented what sales of surplus power has done to Ontario. It’s not good. It’s really bad, in fact.

Wind kills Ontario market

image

Ontario’s electricity market hasn’t had a positive hourly rate in 62 hours.

Apologists could offer a variety of contributors to the pricing, but I won’t.

Wind forecast, provided by the IESO in their hourly “Generators Output and Capability Report” updates, show the highest 14 hours of potential wind production in the history of the province during the 62 hour period, including a record 3695 megawatts for hour 14 this afternoon.

Ontario currently has about 4000 megawatts on wind capacity attached to the IESO’s grid – although the IESO is still only showing 3,234 MW in its summary of supply.

No records have been set for output to the grid from Ontario’s Industrial Wind Turbine over the period, because the grid can’t accept all the supply. My estimates show as much as 6000 megawatts curtailed, or dumped on exporters, during the 2 ½+ days.

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There are costs to this windy weekend. Today the IESO estimated the February global adjustment charge, to be added to the bills of Ontario’s consumers, at $96.78/megawatt-hour (MWh) – which will bring the average rate up above the $107/MWh regulated price plans of households average. At that rate, curtailed wind and nuclear and excess dumped into New York and Michigan had a value of over $27 million in these 62 hours.

The numbers might be confusing. I’ve noticed many people now provide data in units of housing, expecting people to understand that.

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Maybe simpler units would be number of residential Ontarios. The data on this chart ranges from the equivalent of half of Ontario’s households (~5 million) to a little over all of them.

spreadsheet

Wind farm will cause serious irreversible harm to wildlife, Tribunal finds

South Shore of Prince Edward County: [Photo Court Noxon, courtesy Point To Point Foundation]
South Shore of Prince Edward County: [Photo Court Noxon, courtesy Point To Point Foundation]
The decision on the appeal of the White Pines wind power project in Prince Edward County was released yesterday: the Environmental Review Tribunal found for the appellant and the environment (in part), in that serious and irreversible harm would result to the endangered Blandings turtle and the little brown bat. The Tribunal also noted risk to migratory birds.

This is a victory for a very hard-fought battle as members of this community fought to save the environment from Ontario’s own Ministry of the Environment.

See the decision in various formats here.

Statement from Orville Walsh, president of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County:

We are pleased to announce that APPEC’s appeal of wpd’s White Pines Wind Project has been upheld in part.  The Tribunal has found that the White Pines project will cause serious and irreversible harm to Little Brown Bats and to the Blanding’s turtle.   
 
The Tribunal did not find serious and irreversible harm to human health, to hydrology or to migratory birds. However in regards to the latter the Tribunal did note that this wind project presents a significant risk of serious harm to migrating birds and that the project site was poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.
We are cautiously elated!  The Tribunal acknowledges that engaging in this wind project in accordance with the REA (Renewable Energy Approval) will cause serious and irreversible harm to animal life.  Therefore wpd no longer has an REA to stand behind.  
 
The ERT has ordered a hearing of submissions with respect to potential remedies. 
 
The board will be studying the decision over the weekend and following consultation with our legal counsel Eric Gillespie, will have more information to give you next week. 
 
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC
Please go to the Save the South Shore website for information on how to donate toward the legal costs of this fight for the environment. The work done by the community groups in Prince Edward County, Eric K. Gillespie’s legal team, and the witness statements benefit everyone in Ontario.
ToughonNature

Counties, town join forces to fight wind farm

Negative economic impact, danger to aviation safety from wind ‘farm’ planned near airport cited as reasons for appeal of wind power project

CTV News February 25, 2016

http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=816331

http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/simcoe-county-joins-clearview-and-collingwood-to-appeal-wind-farm-decision-1.2792631

 

 

 

Government wind farm noise measurements questioned by acoustics consultant

Ministry of Environment noise study for wind power project was done using average wind speed at a “particularly quiet site” says consultant hired by Kincardine: increase in sound from wind alone is “staggering”

Kincardine Independent, February 24, 2016

GROUNDBREAKING INFRASOUND STUDY RESULTS UNVEILED

By Barb McKay

An acoustics engineer is questioning the Ontario government’s methods for setting baseline sound limits for wind turbines after field testing was recently conducted in Kincardine.

Todd Busch, project manager for Swallow Acoustic Consultants Ltd., was in front of the Municipality of Kincardine council during its meeting last Wednesday to go over data from a study conducted within the boundaries of the Armow Wind Project last fall. Swallow was contracted by the municipality to study baseline acoustic and infrasound levels prior to the 92-turbine, 180-megawatt project becoming operational.

Engineers conducted interior and exterior sound testing at five homes within the project area between Oct. 30 and Nov. 14, 2015, using special microphones designed specifically to record infrasound (sound not picked up by the human ear). The sound measurements account for sound levels from wind in exterior testing.

Busch said when a noise impact study was conducted with audible sound testing for Armow Wind in 2013, engineers who did the study declared that the project would comply with Ontario Ministry of the Environment noise limits for industrial wind turbines. He said the study was done using an average wind speed at a particularly quiet site and a measurement of seven decibels was added to factor in sound levels at a higher wind speed. In the noise impact assessment summary, Busch said sound levels were calculated at between 37 and 39.8 decibels. The noise level limit set by the province is 40 decibels. Infrasound levels were not tested.

Busch said the report that was generated from the noise impact study did not explain why seven decibels was assumed for higher wind speeds and he questions the mehodology used to measure residual noise levels in the background environment. He does not believe the study factored in noise levels associated with wind and therefore is concerned the testing was compromised.

“We placed our microphones within 10 metres of where the noise impact assessment (study) microphones would have been,” Busch said. “A measurement of 39.8 decibels would be a candidate for scrutiny.”

Testing by Swallow generated acoustic sound levels of between 37 and 57 decibels outdoors and 20 to 40 decibels indoors. Infrasound levels measured between 57 and 88 decibels outdoors and 53 to 72 decibels indoors. He said the increase in sound from wind alone is staggering and should be explored further.

“We have been told many times from the provincial government that we can’t measure infrasound,” councillor Randy Roppel said. “Can you?”

“We did,” Busch replied.

Read the full story here

Health affected residents to present to Huron County Health Unit March 3rd

aboutus

“Can’t pretend these people don’t exist.”

Lakeshore Advance, February 24, 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016 @ 9:00 a.m. at 77722 London Rd. in Clinton, ON., Jeanne Melady and Gerry Ryan will be making a presentation at the Huron County Health Unit on industrial wind turbines and the adverse health impacts experienced by Huron County residents. This meeting is open to the public. Please show your support by attending.

 Shaun Gregory from the Huron Expositor wrote an article in November 2015 entitled,“Residents say some children are allegedly receiving nosebleeds from wind turbines.” The article detailed a meeting between the wind company and the community in the St. Columban Wind project.  It was standing room only as thetestimonials from 14 households were read aloud and projected onto a screen. 

 In response, Huron County affected residents have been reaching out to one another and relaying similar experiences and forming informal support groups.  In Huron County, there are 6 Industrial Wind projects consisting of over 300 industrial wind turbines – St. Columban, Kingsbridge 1, K2, Varna Bluewater, Goshen, and Grand Bend. 

What was remarkable about the St. Columban community meeting was that the wind company admitted the health effects reported were common occurrences for most of the wind projects throughout the province.

Even Health Canada, and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANwea) have acknowledged that people living in the vicinity of wind turbines, at the distances permitted by the Ontario government, can result in a significant percentage of residents being highly annoyed by audible noise, and in particular low frequency noise – a tonal signal of sharply rising and falling pulses.  This contributes to well-known noise stress effects including: sleep disturbance, psychological distress, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, panic, episodes of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep.  In addition, it is recognized that chronic strong annoyance can lead to an increase in disease.

 A letter by the HCHU to a family with seven children under the age of 18, that began experiencing many of the above symptoms when the turbines became operational, was that the HCHU would “stay up to date on the latest evidence” and expressed that it would take many years of better measurements and of the people exposed to determine cause and effect. 

Currently, the health unit has no plans to gather and track health complaints of local residents living within these electrical generation facilities.  There is no mechanism in place to determine the scope and severity of the health problems being experienced by Huron County residents living in close proximity to poorly sited turbines. 

 As a community, it is unacceptable to continue to put our “heads in the sand” and pretend these people do not exist. They are our friends, family and neighbors.Ignoring the health impacts being experienced will only lead to further negative emotions including anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, withdrawal, helplessness, depression, anxiety, agitation, or exhaustion.

 The presenters will be requesting the formation of a working wind turbine committee to include affected residents living in close proximity to industrial turbines.  The goal being to develop a method to accurately track complaints, produce a study to determine the scope and severity of the problem in Huron County, and to develop solutions.

 For more information, or to connect with health affected residents in your area, please contact: huronwindaction@gmail.com or phone (519) 529-7624.

Please show your support by attending on March 3, 2016 @ 9 am @ the HCHU.

Mike Stachura

Billions spent on electricity in Ontario with no analysis or oversight: CD Howe Institute

“It is remarkable that the expenditure of billions of dollars can be made with the stroke of a pen with virtually no oversight.”

February 24, 2016 – The government of Ontario should move away from controlling electricity planning, according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report. In “Learning from Mistakes: Improving Governance in the Ontario Electricity Sector,” author George Vegh argues that the government should face more checks and balances when spending electricity ratepayer money. The government should only set broad policy objectives and not make choices on which technologies and which suppliers should receive government contracts.

Over the last 10 years, the government has directed the expenditure of billions of dollars of public money on electricity projects with virtually no oversight or checks and balances. During this time, Ontario consumers have seen a large increase in electricity prices, with more to come.

“It is remarkable that the expenditure of billions of dollars can be made with the stroke of a pen with virtually no oversight,” commented Vegh.

In response to concerns about the rising cost of electricity and poor governance, most notably from the Auditor General’s report last December, the Ontario government has touted its proposed Bill 135 as the solution. However, far from solving the concerns about electricity-sector governance, the proposed Bill entrenches and expands the status quo and provides no role for oversight of government electricity directives.

The author proposes the following recommendations to improve the system:

  1. Move away from a central planning model towards a locally based supply obligation that aligns accountability with responsibility.
  2. Even if the government is to maintain its central role in setting outcomes, it can reduce its role in picking winners and losers. This requires increased reliance on market mechanisms, including requests for proposals, and capacity markets to meet operational and capacity needs based on demonstrable system requirements.

Vegh concluded: “Rather than extend and entrench the problems, Bill 135 should provide the opportunity to correct them.”

Click here for the full report.

The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. Widely considered to be Canada’s most influential think tank, the Institute is a trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.

For more information contact: George Vegh, Counsel, McCarthy Tétrault, and Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto Law School and Osgoode Hall Law School; 416-865-1904, or email: kmurphy@cdhowe.org.

 

How can we help people living with wind turbines? Poland Human Rights Commissioner asks

Rise of complaints about deterioration of health due to wind turbine noise emissions prompts Poland to act

stopwiakatrom.eu February 21, 2016

Poland’s Ombudsman stands up for the rights of residents living near wind farms

How can we help people who have wind turbines above their homes?

Earlier this month Poland’s Commissioner for Human Rights (CHR) addressed this question to three competent Ministers, for the Environment, Infrastructure and Construction, and Health, demanding that the rights of people residing in the vicinity of wind farms be adequately protected.

The official website of Poland’s CHR explains (in English) that:

“The Commissioner’s Office receives more and more letters from citizens complaining about a deterioration of their health due to the wind turbines’ influence, as well as about the wind farm locating and building procedures. During a meeting with dr. Bodnar, the residents of the Suwałki Region also expressed their concern about the safe placement of wind farms. The Commissioner has contacted the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Infrastructure and Construction on that matter.”
(https://www.rpo.gov.pl/en/content/rights-residents-living-near-wind-farms).

The page also includes links to a report on dr. Bodnar’s meeting with residents of the Suwalki region and to the three official intervention letters addressed to the Ministers for the Environment, Infrastructure and Construction, and Health.

How can we help people who have wind turbines above their homes?
„We visited the Suwalki region…
The Ombudsman to the Environment Minister Szyszko:
How can we help people who have wind turbines above their homes?”
Source: official website of Poland’s Ombudsman
– https://www.rpo.gov.pl/en/content/rights-residents-living-near-wind-farms

Importantly, this is the second time that a Polish Ombudsman has intervened on behalf of the people affected by the untrammelled construction of wind farms in Poland.

In August 2014 the then Commissioner for Human Rights, professor Irena Lipowicz, wrote a letter to Polish Prime Minister demanding the introduction of proper setbacks from residences. The letter stated that „since the current legislation does not provide for the minimum distances from residential areas to be observed in the siting of wind farms, there exists a risk of violation of the constitutional rights to the protection of health and to the legal protection of human life (Articles 68 and 38, respectively of the Constitution of Poland)”.

The 2014 letter further pointed out that:

“As numerous scientific publications demonstrate, wind turbines unquestionably impact human health by emitting low frequency noise, infrasound, acoustic and optical impacts or pulsation (…)
(Therefore,) the Commissioner for Human Rights asks for immediate action to be taken with a view to developing and systematizing technical norms that may afford an adequate level of protection to the health of residents living in the area adjacent to wind farms.”

This letter in Polish can be found here: http://www.brpo.gov.pl/pl/content/do-prezesa-rady-ministrow-ws-uregulowania-minimalnych-odleglosci-farm-wiatrowych-od-zabudowy

That letter sent to the Prime Minister Donald Tusk by Ombudsman Lipowicz in mid-2014 did not prompt the then coalition government of the Civic Platform and the Polish Peasant Party to take any significant steps to comprehensively address the regulation of siting wind farms in Poland. As a result, in early 2016 wind farms are still being built as close as 300 metres from human dwellings.

It is important to note that both Polish Ombudsmen, prof. Lipowicz in 2014 and dr. Bodnar at present, are appointees of the ruling coalition that lost power in the Fall 2015 to the Law and Justice Party. Moreover, the Law and Justice Party opposed the appointment of Dr Bodnar in 2015 on the grounds that his leftist views are not representative of the Polish public opinion. This shows that the issue of wind farm regulations transcends any political or ideological divides in Poland.

It is also worth recalling that former Prime Minister Tusk is the current President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union.

A regional newspaper Współczesna.pl interviewed some of the residents whose plight prompted Ombudsman Bodnar to intervene with the government ministers. One local resident, Elzbieta Pietrolaj, whose farm is surrounded by five wind turbines, one of which is located 450 metres from her home, said: “With the slightest breeze you can’t sleep a wink because of the booming noise”. The newspaper explains that Ms Pietrolaj is ailing. “I am constantly nervous. In these conditions it is difficult to get better.” (source: http://www.wspolczesna.pl/wiadomosci/suwalki/art/9414563,wiatraki-na-suwalszczyznie-mieszkancy-wiatraki-zabraly-cisze-marzenia-i-spokoj,id,t.html).

We encourage international media to contact the office of Commissioner for Human Rights for further information.

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Aleja Solidarności 77
00-090 Warszawa
Poland
phone (+ 48 22) 55 17 700
fax (+ 48 22) 827 64 53
biurorzecznika@brpo.gov.pl

Article authored by: stopwiatrakom.eu
kontakt@stopwiatrakom.eu

Collingwood fears for aviation safety, to appeal wind farm

A plane hitting a turbine or being blown off course would meet [the test] for serious harm to human health, says lawyer

Simcoe.com February 18, 2016

Collingwood Regional Airport

Collingwood Regional Airport: an appeal will cost more than $100,000

The Town of Collingwood will be appealing the province’s decision to approve a wind farm south of Stayner near the Collingwood Regional Airport.

In a unanimous decision on Thursday evening, council instructed its legal counsel to draft and file a notice of appeal of the decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Last week, the province approved WPD Canada’s plan to construct and operate eight turbines west of Stayner.

Council received a presentation from its lawyer, Richard Butler of Willms & Shier. He said of the 199 renewable energy projects in Ontario, only two have been rejected. He said 120 have been appealed and only two have been overturned.

“The vast majority of appeals are either abandoned or unsuccessful,” he said.

The Environmental Review Tribunal is an arm’s length body that has the authority to confirm, amend or revoke a decision. He said appeals must be based on two criteria: the decision will cause serious harm to human health, or cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.

“I think applications and approvals really speak to the uphill battle that opponents of wind projects face,” he said.

Butler said Collingwood would likely be appealing on the basis the turbines would cause harm to human health.

“A plane hitting or blown off course would meet serious harm to human health,” he said.

Butler said the municipality would likely need a risk assessment completed, which would determine the likelihood of a plane hitting a turbine. He said this could be done within a matter of weeks.

The town would need to prove “more likely or not, during the lifetime of the turbines, there would be a collision.”

Read the full story here.

George Smitherman and the 1 percent

Revisiting former energy minister George Smitherman’s claim Ontario’s Green Energy Act would only cost 1 % a year. He was off a bit.

How much is the Green Energy Act costing us? (Hint: it's more than 1%)
How much is the Green Energy Act costing us? (Hint: it’s more than 1%)

Shortly after former Energy Minister, George Smitherman introduced Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) in the Ontario Legislature, he appeared before the Standing Committee on General Government and was given 10 minutes.  One of the points he made was:  “We anticipate about 1% per year of additional rate increase associated with the bill’s implementation over the next 15 years.”

Mr. Smitherman was called on earlier this week to answer questions (presumably under oath) about a NAFTA action brought against Canada as a direct result of the GEA. The action was brought by Windstream Energy of the U.S. regarding its planned, offshore 300-megawatt (MW) capacity wind power development in Eastern Lake Ontario, the WWIS or Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals.

The testimony of Mr. Smitherman was reported on by Tom Adams who attended the hearing.  It should be noted the action is seeking $475 million and Mr. Smitherman was appearing on behalf of the plaintiff not in defense of Canada’s taxpayers.

If I were relying on anyone for testimony in respect to an issue such as this, my instinct would lead me to avoid seeking Mr. Smitherman’s help. The reason I say that is because of what he told the Standing Committee back in 2009, and what has happened since.

About that 1% forecast

The January 2016 reports from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) and the Global Adjustment Mechanism (GA) are now out. When one compares the costs of the commodity (electricity) to January 2015 results, the increase is nothing short of a shock.

The combined HOEP and GA for 2015 was $80.23/MWh or 8.02 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh); that’s before before the 10% reduction that came from the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB)1. Which means the delivered cost of a kWh of electricity was 7.2 cents for most “Class B” ratepayers.   The values for January 2016, on the other hand, are $105.48/MWH or 10.55cents/kWh, combining the HOEP and the GA.

What that means is, the cost of the commodity (electricity) increased by $33.27 (3.33cents/kWh) year over year or, in percentage terms, the price jumped 41.5% … in just one year.

Wouldn’t we all love to cross examine Mr. Smitherman right now. We could perhaps inquire about his math skills and why he testified in 2009 that future electricity prices as a result of the GEA would be just 1% per year!

© Parker Gallant.

February 18, 2016

  1. The OECB ceased effective January 1, 2016.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario or its policies.