Marine safety an issue in Amherst Island appeal

The water flows are the circulatory system for the entire ecosystem, biologist tells Tribunal.

Aquatic biologist Les Stanfield testifies before the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing of an appeal to 26-turbine project on Amherst Island. Stanfield was critical of a consultant’s report examining water flow on the small island. “You must understand how the water flows to assess the risk of such a project on wetlands, plants, reptiles and amphibians,” said Stanfield. “These are vital corridors. They are the circulatory system of the entire ecosystem.” Photo: Wellington Times

The Wellington Times, February 12, 2016

Amherst Island residents see industrial wind turbines as an assault on their way of life

It is surely an understatement to say life on Amherst Island is highly dependent on the ferry that steams across the channel twice an hour between Millhaven and this teardrop of land situated just a few kilometres east of the tip of Cressy Bayside.

There is no gas station. No place to buy bread or milk. For some the 400 residents who live on this small island (20 kilometres long and seven kilometres wide), the isolation is an acquired lifestyle—bearing the promise of quiet and solitude. For others, it is all they have ever known.

Everyone relies, in one way or another, on the ferry for the essentials of life. So when an Oakville-based industrial wind developer first proposed constructing dozens of the massive machines on the island, the first searing concern was what a major industrial project would mean to their connection to the mainland.

They were assured that part of the approval process would include a Marine Safety and Logistics Plan—detailing how turbines would be transported across the channel and the measures established to protect the ferry lane.

But no Marine Safety and Logistics Plan was ever produced. Nevertheless, the developer Windlectric—a subsidiary of Algonquin Power—obtained a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

Residents and members of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) appealed the REA. Currently, an Environmental Review Tribunal is hearing the matter in a country church on the island. But they won’t hear about the lack of a marine safety plan—

Read the full story here.

Amherst Island ferry:If the power project proceeds, it will be accompanied by barges carrying fuel and construction material
Amherst Island ferry: If the power project proceeds, it will be accompanied by barges carrying fuel and construction material

Ontario’s electricity sector ‘chaos’: Tom Adams

Ontario government headed to court over NAFTA challenge

Tom Adams Energy, February 12, 2016

Tom Adams
Tom Adams: Ontario engaged in fiscal and legal shenanigans

Ontario Gas Scandal Doppelgänger

On Monday, a NAFTA arbitration panel will start oral hearings in Toronto arising from a dispute between the Delaware-incorporated renewable power developer, Windstream Energy, and the Government of Canada (notice how awkward it is for the public to attend). At stake is Windstream’s claim for damages of $475 million plus interest and costs over an alleged breach of NAFTA obligations by the Ontario government. Windstream had a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) contract granted by the Ontario Power Authority in 2010 to develop a 300 megawatt, 130-turbine offshore wind project west of Wolfe Island, but says it was thwarted by the Ontario government prior to construction.

My main interest in the Windstream litigation is how it illuminates the chaos inside official Ontario’s administration of the province’s electricity future. The case also illustrates how international trade agreements can leave the federal government on the hook when provincial government engage in shenanigans, an important but previously known fact of life in our imperfect federation. (As if our provincial governments need more incitement for irresponsibility.)

Read the full post and associated documents here.

WPD contentious Fairview wind power project approved at 11th hour

Ontario was hours away from a court hearing when it granted approval for the Fairview wind power project
Ontario was hours away from a court hearing when it granted approval for the Fairview wind power project

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change yesterday announced the approval of the Fairview Wind “Farm” in Clearview Township, Simcoe County (EBR 012-0614). The power developer is WPD Canada, a division of the WPD group, headquartered in Germany.

The Fairview project was hours away from a hearing as a result of a writ of mandamus, in which a request is made of the court to order a government body to perform a duty. In this case, WPD wanted the government to issue an approval of the project, which it had not done. The FIT or Feed In Tariff contract had actually expired in December, but the writ was filed earlier in 2015.

WPD threatened legal action in the case of the White Pines project in Prince Edward County, where approval took many years due a number of environmental issues associated with the power project.

The Fairview power project was the subject of a consultants’ report which concluded that the wind power project would pose a danger to aviation safety, and would have a negative impact on the economy locally. The power project would only serve “narrow private interests,” the consultants wrote.

The power project was also the subject of private litigation several years ago, when local property owners tried to sue for loss of property value and nuisance. The court found that there was some substance to their concerns, and that property values might have already been affected simply by announcement of the proposed project,  but in any event, ruled that the property owners could not properly sue until the project was actually approved.

That would be now.

Insiders say that the government had expressed concerns about the Fairview project which is why approval had been delayed. Has the government “blinked” against the power wind industry and actually thrown this fight to the public to deal with via appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal, and the courts?

Ontario’s energy management policy reveals itself to be more convoluted and bizarre, every day.

Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson was quick to comment on the danger to public safety posed by the Fairview power project.

At present, only the North Kent I and Henvey Inlet projects remain without approval. For the list please see the project tracking document by Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) executive member Orville Walsh here: REA Status Update Feb 11 2016

Wind power developer sues Ontario over contentious project

The Thunder Bay area project was opposed by the Fort William First Nation and the community

Another beautiful Ontario location: perfect for power machines, right?
The Nor’Wester Escarpment–Another beautiful Ontario location: perfect for power machines, right?

Wind farm dead, but law suit alive

Chronicle-Herald, February 10, 2016


The Toronto energy company that proposed to build an ill-fated wind farm on the Nor’Westers escarpment is proceeding with a $50-million lawsuit against the Ontario government, despite having dropped an appeal of a provincial decision against the project.

“Upon careful consideration, we have decided to not appear before (Ontario’s) Environmental Review Tribunal, and instead pursue a remedy at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,” Horizon Wind spokeswoman Nhung Nguyen said Tuesday in an email.

Horizon withdrew its appeal to the tribunal on Jan. 25. The appeal had been launched last fall, after the Ministry of Environment said the proposed 16-turbine wind farm south of Thunder Bay couldn’t go ahead over lingering concerns over potential impacts on moose habitat.

In its lawsuit against the ministry, Horizon claims the province committed “negligent misrepresentations and misfeasance of public duty.”

None of the allegations in the suit’s 33-page statement of claim have been proven in court.

The lawsuit alleges that the ministry was “unlawfully influenced by the Ontario cabinet and the premier’s office” when it delayed the issuing of the project’s approval. …

Read the full story here.

First Nation, community group applaud power developer withdrawal

Environmental impacts from Thunder Bay area wind “farm” would have been significant and irreversible


TB Newswatch, February 9, 2016

By Jon Thompson,

THUNDER BAY — Horizon Wind has withdrawn its appeal to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, effectively ending its decade-long pursuit of a wind farm on the Nor’Wester escarpment.

The company filed the appeal in July of 2014 after the Ontario Power Authority terminated its Feed-In-Tariff contract, citing a lack of progress on the proposed 32-megawatt wind turbine farm.

Horizon had been fighting a Fort William First Nation court injunction over land rights and the company had to drop a $126-million lawsuit it filed against the City of Thunder Bay over the project’s location.

It was also facing outspoken opposition from Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro and a grassroots mobilization of neighbours and conservationists.

Nor’Wester Escarpment Protection Committee president John Beals estimates his group has spent $150,000 and countless volunteer hours to oppose the wind farm.

“Fort William First Nation has done the lion’s share of the work with their concerns and we’re proud to take our hat off to them and say, ‘job well done,'” Beals said.

“Their rights are being acknowledged today.”

Read the full story here.

From powerhouse to empty house: Wynne government energy policy

Ontario’s mismanagement of the power sector is causing business to flee, consumers into poverty, and disastrous social costs for rural communities

London Free Press, February 8, 2016

By Jim Merriam

Premier Kathleen Wynne (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)
Photo: Toronto Sun

It’s to be hoped the Fraser Institute didn’t spend much money on its recent study of the fiscal performance of Canada’s premiers.

Every resident of Ontario able to sit up and take nourishment — probably including Wiarton Willie last week — has known the study’s conclusion for a long time: Premier Kathleen Wynne is doing a lousy job of managing Ontario’s economy.

Wynne, with the help of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, has reduced Ontario from a powerhouse to an empty house.

On almost every file Wynne’s government is found wanting if not severely under water, to borrow a phrase from the mortgage industry.

The worst is energy. The cost of power in the province has forced industries to close and some families to choose between heat and groceries.

A columnist in a Toronto newspaper recently suggested the heat-vs.-food statement is an exaggeration. He should spend a few minutes listening to clients at food banks in rural areas. But I digress.

Much of the high cost of power is associated with renewable energy production.

A new study from the University of Ottawa confirms what we’ve been saying all along: Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand.

Stewart Fast, who headed the study, said, “It was a gold rush, basically.” Since those involved kept details secret to avoid giving their competitors an edge, residents didn’t know what their neighbours were planning.

“That is really the worst way to go about something that you know is going to have a big impact on landscape and people,” he said.

In defence of renewable energy, we keep hearing from our urban cousins how much money farmers are earning by allowing turbines on their land. Although true on the surface, there’s much more to that equation, said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Just one question is the impact of the presence of a turbine on the farm owner’s financing. …

Read the full story here.

Wind turbine noise emissions and serious health effects: Dr Robert McMurtry OC speaks out

A key sign of adverse health effects due to wind turbine noise emissions is the fact people improve when they are away from the noise, eminent physician says

These are the latest installments in the series of videos produced for Save the South Shore in Prince Edward County, where two wind power projects have been approved, and endanger not only the natural environment but also human health.

The videos in the series include statements by Dr Robert McMurtry (former Dean of Medicine at Western University and a member of the Order of Canada) and Garth Manning QC (retired).

See the videos here.

Electricity costs up 97 percent in Ontario: power surplus exports rising

wind contract banner

Ontario gives away $4.5 billion ratepayer dollars; persists in directive to add more wind and solar

The GA or Global Adjustment first made its appearance on IESO’s Monthly Market Report in January 2007. As noted in the chart below, that year, the GA finished 2007 at $3.95 per megawatt hour (MWh) which means it cost Ontario’s electricity ratepayers about $600 million for the full year. In, 2015 the GA was just shy of $10 billion.

To be fair, the GA includes the price of “contracted” power, less the value given to it on the hourly Ontario electricity price (HOEP) market. As a result of Ontario’s high surplus of generating capacity and the intermittent presentation of wind and solar in periods of low demand, has resulted in the HOEP showing declining values. Despite declining values the cost of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity increased from an average of 5.43 cents/kWh to 10.7 cents/kWh from November 1, 2007 to November 1, 2015 — up 97%. The upsetting part, and a driving force behind the 97% increase is surplus generation sold to our neighbours. We sell excess output to New York and Michigan, etc. without inclusion of the GA. The GA lost on those sales is charged to Ontario ratepayers and has become increasingly large. The chart indicates the “intertie flows” (exports/imports netted) initially cost Ontario ratepayers $20 million for 2007, but that has increased, and representing more $1.3 billion for 2015.

It is anticipated the annual cost of subsidizing surplus exports will continue to climb.

Scott Luft notes results for January 2016 are 20% higher than January 2015 for the cost of electricity as the HOEP was lower despite what Ontario’s Liberal government says about pricing stabilizing. With plans to add 500 MW of capacity for wind and solar, the climb will continue for at least another two years. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli recently stated: “Our government’s focus is now on preparations for the next long term energy plan and the ways in which we can continue to drive down costs for Ontarians”. (Note to the Minister: a 97% increase does not “drive down costs”!)

Further reference to the chart points out addition of more wind and solar over the past nine years has driven up the percentage of renewables exported. The “Net Intertie” (net exports) increased from 19.6% in 2007 to over 57% in 2015.

What the Energy Minister needs to accept is this: we don’t need more intermittent and unreliable power.

That message is not getting through, despite evidence presented by the Auditor General of Ontario on several occasions and by numerous critics in the media.

Costing ratepayers $4.5 billion in after-tax dollars to help our neighbours is what’s happened. Perhaps Minister Chiarelli could suggest to Finance Minister Charles Sousa, that the money extracted from ratepayers provides no benefits to Ontarians. Perhaps a tax receipt is in order — that would help cash-strapped citizens, but there is a better idea.

The Energy Minister needs to immediately recall his directive to the IESO to acquire another 500 MW of contracts for intermittent wind and solar power.

© Parker Gallant,
February 7, 2016

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

Year Net Intertie 1. Global Adjustment Cost to Ratepayers % of Renewables to Wind Solar &
TWh 2. Million of $/TWh GA X Net Intertie Net Intertie Biomass generation
2015 16.86 TWh $77.80 $1,311 57.20%        9.65TWh
2014 15.15 TWh $54.59 $846 47.00%        7.12TWh
2013 13.40 TWh $59.22 $794 48.50%        6.50TWh
2012 9.90 TWh $49.23 $487 59.60%        5.90TWh
2011 9.00 TWh $40.48 $364 56.70%        5.10TWh
2010 8.80 TWh $27.18 $239 46.60%        4.10TWh
2009 11.30 TWh $30.56 $345 31.00%        3.50TWh
2008 10.90 TWh $6.12 $67 22.00%        2.40TWh
2007 5.10 TWh $3.95 $20 19.60%        1.00TWh
       Totals 100.40 TWh $4,473     37.00TWh

Ontario turbine noise regulations not adequate: WCO to Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Turbines at Port Alma: noise regulations not adequate, protocols not providing a complete picture, Wind Concerns says
Turbines at Port Alma: noise regulations not adequate, protocols not providing a complete picture, Wind Concerns says

February 5, 2016 —

Ontario’s current noise regulations are not thorough enough to protect the health of citizens, and proposed new regulations will be worse, Wind Concerns Ontario has informed Ontario’s new Environmental Commissioner (ECO) in a letter.

“The present regulation is built on the World Health Organization’s night time noise limit for road, rail and airport noise of 40 dB(A). The noise standard generated the 550 metre setback used by Ontario.  The effectiveness of that standard to wind turbines has always been questioned, but the learning from the impact of existing projects in Ontario on residents that are living among the turbines suggests that the current setbacks are not sufficient to prevent serious health issues,” president Jane Wilson wrote.

“We understand that the MOECC has received over 2,700 complaints about wind turbine noise [over a five-year period] but even with a Freedom of Information request, we have not been able to get even summary details on these complaints.

“No information is available on the follow-up that the MOECC has undertaken on these complaints or steps taken to address these real concerns.

“In most organizations, that level of negative feedback on a program would trigger a serious review of the policy that is triggering them,” Wind Concerns asserted.

While new regulations have been proposed there is no mention of infrasound or inaudible noise which the newer more powerful turbines now being built and proposed around Ontario produce, WCO said in the letter.

“The rating of wind turbines being installed in Ontario has increased considerably since the Ontario standards were established with no change in the regulations to ensure the protection of affected residents,” WCO said. “With the newer 3+-megawatt (MW) wind turbines involved in the most recent projects, reports coming to us indicate that health issues are surfacing sooner and the symptoms are more severe. ”

Recent research and reports, including one by the Canadian Council of Academies, indicates that use of the A-weighted measurement for noise does not provide a complete picture of wind turbine noise emissions. The letter cites the Cape Bridgewater study by Steven Cooper of Australia, and testimony by Dr. Paul Schomer at the appeal of the White Pines project, and states, this is further proof that the Ontario regulations are inadequate.

While the current view is that wind power projects may be beneficial to the environment, the fact is that due to the intermittent nature of wind power generation, more power generation from fossil-fuel sources is required, which may result in more greenhouse gas emissions, Wind Concerns Ontario said, referring to a report from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.

“Addressing these concerns should be an urgent priority,” the letter concluded.

To see the full letter, click here: letterforenvironmentcommissionerfinal






Ontario wind power policy failed rural communities, says university research team

“Top-down” policy ignored community concerns, health impacts, research team says

3-MW turbine south of Ottawa at Brinston: Ontario. Communities had no choice. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

3-MW turbine south of Ottawa at Brinston: Ontario. Communities had no choice. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

Ottawa Citizen February 3, 2016

By Tom Spears

Ontario brought in wind energy with a “top-down” style that brushed off the worries of communities where the massive turbines now stand, says a University of Ottawa study.

The 2009 Green Energy Act gave little thought to the transformation that wind farms bring to rural communities — problems that even revisions to the act “will only partially address,” writes a group headed by Stewart Fast.

Fast personally favours wind energy, “but only if it’s done right.”

In Ontario, he says, much of it wasn’t.

Read the full story here, including comments from Wind Concerns Ontario president, Jane Wilson.