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

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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

 

 

 

How Ontario could have saved billions: doing nothing on electricity file

Wind turbines pockmark Ontario’s landscape, says Kelly McParland, producing excess power at marked-up prices, using heavy subsidies

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

“They fell for all that “green energy” stuff, can you believe it?”

Photo: Canadian Press

National Post, February 25, 2016

Ontario premiers have a weak spot for pithy little slogans they can use to brush away troublesome matters.

“There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing,” Dalton McGuinty loved to say whenever stuck for an explanation for some horrific mistake. Why did his government spend $1.2 billion to not build two power plants after repeatedly insisting the projects would go ahead come hell or high water? Well, “there’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.” Smile. Next question.

His successor, Kathleen Wynne, has adopted a catchphrase of her own. “The cost of doing nothing is much, much higher than the cost of going forward ,” she’ll say when confronted with questions about some expenditure that has heads exploding across the province.

She deployed it Wednesday while seeking to justify the new tax on Ontarians that will accompany her cap and trade plan. Gasoline prices are expected to rise 4.3 cents a litre, while natural gas bills will increase about $5 a month.

Just in case the increases annoy Ontarians, Wynne came prepared: “The cost of doing nothing is much, much higher than the cost of going forward and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” she declared.

That’s debatable, and it raised an obvious question: Wynne’s Liberals have been in power since 2003. If the province has been “doing nothing,” who, precisely is to blame? And why are motorists and homeowners expected to pay the price now?

The reality is that the Liberals have been doing a great deal — much of it expensive, wasteful, ill-considered and counterproductive. Windmills now pockmark vast stretches of the countryside, producing excess power at marked-up prices supported by heavy subsidies. An Ontario Chamber of Commerce report indicated demand for power has fallen 8% since the Liberals came to power, due to a stagnating economy, but generation has increased 13%, producing a surplus of unneeded electricity. Twenty percent of businesses say the soaring costs could force them to shut down within five years. Rates rose in October, and again in January.

Read the full article here.

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

Ontario’s broken promises on funding for health care and jobs

Ontario’s nurses are campaigning for more health care dollars. If only they hadn’t believed the government’s promises …

The Truth Hurts

Back in January 2012, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) issued its Research Paper # 3. The paper was directed at the provincial government and called for increased health care spending including adding 9,000 registered nurses to the sector.

One of the recommendations in the paper was: “To fulfill the 2009 G20 Pittsburg commitment to put quality jobs at the heart of economic recovery – part of the coordinated G20 stimulus plans to which Canada was a signatory – the Ontario government should work with the federal government to establish job creation targets in various areas. This should include job-intensive green job creation and fully subsidized skills training programs accessible to all unemployed and underemployed workers.”

Disaster for health care

Fast-forward four years: the ONA is running TV ads focusing on nursing layoffs at hospitals and reduced health care funding throughout the province. Layoff notices have been appearing regularly since release of the Research Paper. The ONA’s President, Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, has been outspoken about the health care cuts as in a February 2016 media release where she says “that 2016 is turning into a ‘disaster’ for patient care and it’s now hitting Toronto hospitals.”

It is ironic that the ONA appeared to support Ontario’s Liberal government in the last election, even giving $100,000 to “Working Families,” the coalition of unions that used union dues to paint the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario as not worthy of election. Almost $2.5 million was spent to accomplish that task. The ONA, whose members pay high union dues, spent $687,000 in total.

Billions lost in cheap power exports

Had the ONA re-considered their recommendation to “include job-intensive green job creation” in Research Paper # 3 and instead examined the fall-out from the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), they might have taken a different tack.  As I noted in an earlier article, just the cost of Ontario’s net exports of electricity from 2007 to 2015 removed almost $4.5 billion from ratepayer pockets. That $4.5 billion would have gone a long way to ensure both the retention of registered nurses and the hiring of recently graduated RNs.

Believing the Ontario Liberal government promises of job creation with the GEA, and endorsing it, the ONA may have exacerbated the continuing cuts to health care. Many earlier studies out of the EU noted that, rather than creating private sector jobs, renewable power developments actually caused the demise of private sector jobs in ratios as much as five to one.  Tax dollars need to come from the private sector and those jobs promised by the McGuinty-led government were simply a pipe dream.

The ONA may also have been led astray by George Smitherman when he set up a $40-million irrevocable trust to save nursing jobs referred to as the Nurses Retention Fund, but only a very small portion of the fund has actually gone to retain jobs.  While the $40 million is a long way from the $4.5 billion mentioned above, it would appear to have done little to support Registered Nursing jobs, perhaps because of the way it was setup by the former Minister of Health.

The ONA should ask the government to focus on wasted tax dollars both within the health care portfolio and elsewhere, including the Energy Ministry where billions of dollars are being wasted annually.

(C) Parker Gallant

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see a news release on a report issued today by the CD Howe Institute on poor governance in Ontario’s electricity sector. An excerpt: “If a disproportionately large amount is dedicated to unnecessary electricity projects, then that amount is not available to meet other needs such as transportation, schools and hospitals.”

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.

 

Ontario’s energy literacy plan focused on the wrong people: Parker Gallant

As Ontario loses millions in one day due to cheap power exports, while hospitals are cutting services and laying off staff, who’s really in need of energy education?

Energy Literacy: great idea, but it’s the government that needs training

Bob Chiarelli doesn't understand how losing millions in one day is a bad thing; maybe HE needs the 'energy literacy' training
Bob Chiarelli doesn’t understand how losing millions in one day is a bad thing; maybe HE needs the ‘energy literacy’ training

The Media Release issued by the Ontario Ministry of Energy February 19, 2016 could not have come at a worse time for them.  The release stated the Ministry was investing $1.35 million in “Energy Literacy to Help Fight Climate Change.”  The money is aimed at educating our children from kindergarten to grade 12 about how to “conserve energy and help fight climate change.”  One assumes the cost of the program will be picked up by Ontario ratepayers.

February 19, 2016 was a day to make that particular announcement as it turned out to be quite the day for power generation by industrial wind turbines (IWT). The wind seemed to be blowing hard in Turbine Ontario but demand was relatively low. That meant the intermittent and unreliable energy generated by the IWTs out of phase with demand was surplus to Ontario’s needs.

As the weekend proceeded things grew even worse for the Energy Ministry as the wind kept blowing on February 20th and demand was very low.  Market watchers such as Scott Luft noted that, and posted a “Worthless Wind” article on his website. Shortly after, I found myself on Steve Aplin’s website where he posted an interesting parable comparing IWT generation in Ontario for January to a very unreliable car.

Electricity generation from IWT on news release day was large, reaching over 48,000 megawatt hours (MWh) and another 26,000 MWh were curtailed (not generated), but resulted in costs for ratepayers. Curtailed generation is paid for and charged to ratepayers.

As it turned out, Ontario was also exporting a lot of surplus generation with almost 70,000 MWh leaving the province via the grid to support our neighbours in New York, Michigan, etc. The lack of demand in Ontario and the surplus generation had the usual effect on the price of that exported power as the HOEP (hourly Ontario export price) had a negative value of 9 cents per MWh. The exported surplus cost $7,000. The actual production cost, however, was over $100/MWh so total cost to Ontario’s ratepayers was $7 million dollars. 

The actual source of the exported power is indeterminable, but we can reasonably suggest the cost of the electricity generated by IWTs and the cost of the curtailed generation from those IWTs.

The best estimate of the average price of a MWh of IWT generated electricity is $123.50/MWh, so the 48,304 MWh that wind generated on February 19, 2016 cost Ontario ratepayers $5,965,544 and curtailed generation of 28,805 MWh, estimated at $120/MWh means electricity NOT generated cost ratepayers $3,096,600. In total, wind cost Ontario’s ratepayers $9,062,144 for power we didn’t need—in just one day. That is without factoring how much hydro may have been spilled, how much nuclear may have been steamed off, and how much its excess production may have driven the HOEP market down, depressing export earnings.

When you realize we also paid gas plants to idle, etc., you would be justified in asking, Who in hell designed this system as they obviously can’t be “energy literate” or know anything about conserving energy or ratepayer dollars!

The $1.35 million earmarked for energy literacy should be used to train the various politicians in the Wynne cabinet starting with the Energy Minister.

©Parker Gallant,

February 22, 2016

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: What could that $7 million lost do for Ontario’s health care? According to the pre-budget submission prepared by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, many Ontario hospitals and health units are facing serious budget shortfalls and their ability to provide care is compromised. For example, “Quinte Health Care is predicting a $12 million gap between expenses and operating funding for 2015-16.” Ontario lost half the amount Quinte Health would need for one year in ONE DAY on February 19th.