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.

Amherst Island raises funds to protect environment

Citizens engaged in an appeal of the approval of a huge wind power project that will threaten wildlife and change a heritage landscape

Owls, Blandings turtle, and migratory birds all at risk from Amherst Island power project
Owls, Blandings turtle, and migratory birds all at risk from Amherst Island power project

February 17, 2016

The Association to Protect Amherst Island has formally launched a fund-raising campaign to assist with its legal actions against the huge Windlectric wind power project. An appeal is underway, with more hearings scheduled before the Environmental Review Tribunal in coming weeks, and a Judicial Review has been filed, based on details of the approval of the power project despite clear inaccuracies and inadequacies in the application.

More details:

The MOECC approved Windlectric’s Renewable Energy Application on August 24, 2015. Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro, approved an Overall Benefit Permit on the same day to allow Windlectric destroy the habitat of grassland birds on the Island.


Turbines are planned beside the world famous Owl Woods. Located on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway, the Island is a refuge for 11 species of Owls, wintering raptors, and grassland birds. 34 Species at Risk will be impacted.


The Ontario government claims to be a leader in environmental action but approval of a huge wind power project on Amherst Island will harm, not help the environment, say community leaders. “Approval of this turbine project indicates the hypocrisy of the government’s wind power program,” says Michele Le Lay, spokesperson for Association to Protect Amherst Island. “Constructing and operating wind turbines here will do great harm to the natural environment.”

 

After just one day, the group had raised over $2,600 toward its goal of $200,000.

Go to the fund-raising website here.

Planned devastation of Amherst Island, wildlife and Ontario economy
Planned devastation of Amherst Island, wildlife and Ontario economy

No permit for illegal Falmouth turbines, says MD

FalmouthTurbines

The health problems are real

 

Falmouth, MA-area physician who specializes in psychiatry and who has training in sleep deprivation, Dr William Hallstein, has written a letter to local zoning officials. He urges them not to issue a permit for the Falmouth wind turbines which were illegally constructed, and for which a permit is now being sought.

Here is an excerpt from his letter:

The sensations are real and disturbing. It is totally clear to me that I could not live within the radius of influence of the turbines, and I have no idea how the neighbors who are in the turbine area can sustain a healthy quality of life. Against the backdrop of what I have learned from personal experience with the effect of the turbines I see the Town of Falmouth trying to crush the residents impacted by the turbines.

and

I am writing because I have witnessed Town of Falmouth officials and members of other boards trivialize symptom reports from people who are stalwart residents of the Town of Falmouth. I have witnessed attempts by town officials and other board members to discredit people whom I believe the wind turbines are hurting. Furthermore, all the Wind I neighbors I have examined are passionate about the need for sustainable energy in an effort to reduce fossil fuel dependence.

I see no honest way for the ZBA to issue a permit for the Falmouth wind turbines.

 

 

Read the entire letter to the Zoning Board here: Jan 2016 William Hallstein, MD letter to Falmouth

You may also wish to view a documentary on the Falmouth experience, prepared by PBS station WGBH here.

Niagara Field Naturalists warned of impacts of wind power project on wildlife

The Short-eared owl: one of many species affected by Niaga wind power project. But we'll never know how many, due to incomplete or absent studies
The Short-eared owl: one of many species affected by Niagara wind power project. But we’ll never know how many, due to incomplete or absent studies

Huge Niagara project to be built in Blandings turtle habitat, on migratory bird pathways, and near wetlands. Wind power developers get a free pass under the Green Energy Act

 

Niagara area resident Loretta Shields recently gave a presentation to the Niagara Peninsula Field Naturalists on the impact of wind power development on the environment and specifically, the fact that the Green Energy Act allows corporate wind power developers to escape the protections afforded by Ontario’s laws created for endangered and at-risk wildlife.

Here is an excerpt from a report on the presentation:

One serious concern of the project approval is the incomplete physical site investigations within the 120-metre zone of investigation for the industrial wind turbines. In most of the turbine locations, the 120-metre zone of investigation includes neighbouring lands where the landowners are not participants of this project.  Loretta showed several field notes where the surveyors for this project could not fully conclude the ecological land classification within the survey area (i.e., “interior not visible, only edge”);  30 percent of the field notes were inconclusive for reptile hibernacula, bat roosting areas, stick nests and vernal pools.

While the Renewable Energy Regulations do allow for alternative site investigations (surveys from the roadside instead of physical site surveys), these must be supported by an explanation as to why it was not reasonable to physically survey the site. An explanation (other than it was not reasonable) was not provided in the Natural Heritage report provided by the wind energy company, but the project was approved nonetheless.

Read the full report here: LorettaShieldsPresentationReport

ToughonNature

Big Wind lobby group pulls out of B.C.

Province not likely to adopt utility-scale wind power in the next decade; commitment to “firm, cost-effective energy” from hydro

 

Alaska Highway News, February 13, 2016

The country’s largest wind energy organization has announced it is pulling out of British Columbia to chase better opportunities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  

Jean-Francois Nolet, vice-president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), made the announcement in a letter to members of the association’s B.C. caucus Feb. 5, and obtained by the Alaska Highway News.

“In the last few months we have seen significant new commitments to renewable energy in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but much work remains to be done to make those commitments a reality,” Nolet wrote. 

“At the same time, despite the hard work and efforts of CanWEA and other stakeholders over many years in British Columbia, we have not yet secured any significant new opportunities for wind energy in the province and both the B.C. Government and BC Hydro have indicated that they do not expect to proceed with a new call for power within the next decade.”

In response, CanWEA determined it must shift its focus from B.C. to emerging markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan. With the announcment comes the closure of CanWEA’s B.C. office. Regional director Ian Baille will be leaving the organization.

– See more at: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/canadian-wind-energy-association-pulls-out-of-b-c-1.2172268#sthash.3dn7KrhG.dpuf

Big Wind new gambit in UK criticized as a “new con”

Ovenden Moor Wind Farm Yorkshire England UK
Ovenden Moor Wind Farm Yorkshire England UK Photo: The Telegraph

“No place for subsidizing wind–a failed medieval technology” — Tory MP Owen Paterson

 

The Telegraph, February 13, 2016

Ministers have been accused of planning a U-turn that would see consumers fund new onshore wind farms through green levies.

The Government confirmed it was “looking carefully” at a wind industry proposal to continue public financial support for new turbines, despite a manifesto pledge to halt expansion.

Critics described the proposal as a con, and said the Conservatives’ policy had been “crystal clear” that the subsidies would stop.

Under the plan, households would still be forced to pay millions of pounds on their energy bills to fund new wind farms – but the payments would no longer be defined as subsidies.

The wind industry’s plan hinges on the fact that no new power plants are commercially viable to build at the moment without extra financial support from bill-payers.

If wind farms can be built at lower cost to consumers than alternatives, such as new gas plants, then payments to fund them should no longer be classed as “subsidy”, the industry argues.

Hard-working energy consumers will not be conned by a change in name. The Conservative manifesto was crystal clear that public subsidies for onshore wind will stop”

Owen Paterson, Tory MP and former environment secretary

Read the full story here.

Former Wynne government minister on Ontario’s debt: dangerous

Former Finance and Energy Minister Dwight Duncan offers his opinion on Ontario’s debt and how it got to be so significant. He should know: a lot of it is his fault, including long-term contracts for wind power.

Dwight Duncan, former Finance Minister: Ontario debt "dangerous". He oughta know.
Dwight Duncan, former Finance Minister: Ontario debt “dangerous”. He oughta know.

Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s former Minister of Energy and Minister of Finance has found a new calling as a columnist with QP Briefing, the reputed eyes and ears at Queens Park.  QP Briefing catchwords on their website are “exclusive coverage, trusted analysis.” One might wonder how, after reading the first two columns Duncan wrote for them, truthful that claim might be.

Duncan on debt: Mr. Duncan’s first column was very critical of Ontario’s increasing debt : “A province that is dangerously ill equipped to face the next, and inevitable, economic downturn.”

Isn’t it ironic that a former Minister of Finance, who presided over several budgets that continued to increase Ontario’s debt, should now be criticizing the results of his own work, which collectively increased Ontario’s debt by well over $60 billion? He notes the fastest growing expense line coming out of the budget for 2015/16 is “interest.”   He also now claims the increasing interest expenses are “an enormous wealth transfer.”

Nowhere in the article does he accept any blame for the mess he played in creating it. Near the end of the column he compliments the Wynne government for “speaking out about an optimum net debt to GDP ration” and about linking spending to public transit spending.  He also expresses happiness for the election of the Trudeau government, but has concerns that “federal transfers” may be reduced.  Guess he didn’t see that one coming; if he had, maybe he would have stopped spending?

Duncan on the AG and the energy file: Duncan’s second column is simply a beat-up on the Ontario Auditor General for her damning report on Ontario’s management of the electricity sector.   He claims the report was out of context.  He even goes as far as to refer to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli as one of the “most solid ministers.”

Duncan goes on to make audacious claims about diesel generators in some cities, OPG being near bankrupt, no new “significant” generation capacity added in 20 years, no renewables, no “significant” transmission investments, no conservation programs, etc. etc. when the Ontario Liberals gained power.   But he fails to remind the reader that, as Minister of Energy, he launched many of the programs that have been roundly criticized by the current Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk and her predecessor, and that have caused electricity rates to skyrocket in Ontario.

We should be reminded of Energy Minister Duncan’s achievements: he brought us “smart meters”; he brought us long-term contracts for industrial wind turbines and solar panels at high prices (before the launch of the FIT program); he brought us conservation spending ($400 million per year for three years); he created the Ontario Power Authority; he brought us new gas plants (big and small) to back up wind and solar; and how he pushed us to reduce consumption in a time of power surplus. All these actions by Dwight Duncan, Minister of Energy, drove up electricity prices.

We should remember too that Dwight Duncan was and presumably still is a fan of “cap and trade” and he pushed for increased pension funding from the federal government. We haven’t seen the last of his effects on our electricity bills or our cost of living.

One of Duncan’s famous quotes while in office was: “We’re not going to spend $1.6 billion on technology that doesn’t help climate change. That’s just dumb.” That was about installing anti-pollution scrubbers on the province’s coal plants in 2007.  The fact is, the cost of “smart meters” alone exceeded the scrubber costs. The logic behind that kind of thinking presumably led him, as the Minister of Finance, to rack up huge deficits, increasing the province’s debt levels by over $60 billion during his time in that portfolio.

In my humble opinion QP Briefing should not have engaged Mr. Duncan as a columnist as he has, so far, demonstrated a bias. He believes what he left behind was commendable and now seeks to justify it all, despite the burden placed on Ontario’s taxpayers and ratepayers.

© Parker Gallant

February 14, 2016

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Duncan’s gig as a QP Briefing columnist is strictly a sideline; his day job is being a “Strategic Advisor” at law firm McMillan LLP

Mr. Duncan’s comment about the coal plant scrubbers is interesting: the province has gone on to spend many more billions on wind power, which doesn’t help climate change either.

Another green energy Wynne-McGuinty blow-up: Financial Post

Gas plant scandals, soaring power rates, declining electricity output, massive subsidies to money-losing wind and solar, non-stop bafflegab from government ministers: when will it stop?

Outgoing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (right) and incoming premier Kathleen Wynne pose for media after a meeting at the Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, January 28, 2013.

Happier times: Premier Wynne and former Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2013. Driving the bus … over a cliff for taxpayers.

The Financial Post, February 13, 2016

Debris from the exploding Ontario Liberal green energy rocket continues to land on the hapless citizens of the province. Gas plant scandals, soaring power rates, declining electricity output, massive subsidies to money-losing wind and solar, non-stop bafflegab from government ministers: when will it stop?

Not now, and maybe never.

Details of the latest meteorite-sized chunk of the Dalton McGuinty/Kathleen Wynne green power blow-up are on display at the blog of energy consultant Tom Adams, who formerly served on the Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator board of directors and the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy board of management

Adams picks up a story that made brief headlines in late 2012 when Windstream Energy, a U.S. company, filed a NAFTA complaint claiming $475 million in damages. The company says it had a contract with the government-controlled Ontario Power Authority at 19 cents a kilowatt/hour to build an offshore wind farm near Wolf Island in Lake Ontario near Kingston.

Read the full story here.