Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
An aviation safety expert says the location of wind turbines as proposed by WPD Canada would be “unwise.”
Charles Cormier also told an Environmental review Tribunal hearing on an appeal of the province’s approval of a renewable energy application (REA) for the Fairview Wind project that the eight turbines could have a negative impact on growth at the Collingwood Regional Airport.
Collingwood, Clearview Township and Simcoe County have joined Kevin Elwood, Preserve Clearview, and John Wiggins in appealing the approval by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
“It’s a growing airport, a very busy airport,” Cormier told the tribunal during four hours of testimony.
Cormier has reviewed the turbine issue several times on behalf of the Collingwood Regional Airport, and rebutted the opinion of experts hired by WPD Canada that the turbines would have a negligible effect on aircraft movements.
While Manitoba is bending over backwards to foster cooperation and benefit for both rural and urban communities, the Ontario government is doing the opposite, says PostMedia writer Jim Merriam. In fact, the Wynne government has made it very clear what it thinks of rural/small-town Ontario –you’re there to supply our power and bury our garbage.
Although Manitoba and Ontario are neighbours, their differences far outnumber their similarities.
One of these differences is the way their leaders treat the rural-urban divide.
Brian Pallister, recently elected Conservative premier of Manitoba, has coined two new words: “rurban” and “urbal,” according to the Western Producer.
The Manitoba premier is trying to create a new reality in Manitoba, wherein his urban members of the legislature care about rural areas and vice versa. He is trying to convince legislators that, “You do not think about yourself. You think about your team.”
The new boss went on to say “there are rural situations that many people in the city don’t fully appreciate.”
In contrast, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has been all over the map on the same issue.
As recently as two years ago she denied the divide even existed. Then last November, she told a rural audience “the issue of bridging the rural-urban gap” has been on her mind since she was first elected in 2003.
The reasons for the divide are various, but some stand out.
No. 1 is the way this government has shoved industrial wind turbines down the throats of rural dwellers. The province is still approving new developments over the strongest objections of municipal leaders in a wide area of the province.
During the last provincial election, the Liberals told rural Ontarians their voices would be heard on wind farm developments.
Yet, in April, just weeks after awarding controversial contracts for five wind farms, Ontario said it’s opening bidding for double that amount of wind energy.
Recent approvals included a development in Dutton-Dunwich in southwestern Ontario where 84 per cent of residents who voted, didn’t want such developments.
In November 2013, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli testified before a legislature committee that municipalities wouldn’t be given a veto over projects but it would be “very rare indeed” for any to be approved without local backing.
The Ontario Liberal government claimed that concern about the impact on water quality was behind its decision to cancel wind power projects in the Great Lakes, not lost Liberal votes. The trouble is, there is no research being done on this issue. No surprise: there was never any research on the onshore 550-metre setbacks either…
Ontario wanted to be a leader in both onshore and offshore wind power development (Illustration: www.boem.gov)
Not only has the Ontario government ordered almost no research into wind farms on the Great Lakes since it banned them so it could do more research, it’s done none whatsoever on the worry that prompted the ban: the risk of poisoning Ontario’s drinking water with gunk stirred up from the lake bottoms.
The province has previously been very vague about what research it’s waiting for, and it’s now pretty clear why. There’s no indication that research is coming anytime soon.
Back in 2011, the province killed numerous projects to put industrial windmills out on the waters of Ontario’s big lakes, where the wind is strong and it’s easier to build really large wind farms — potentially generating as much power as a nuclear reactor — without enraging as many neighbours as wind farms on land can. The world had wind farms in oceans but not in freshwater lakes, and the government wanted more science done on how to build them safely, the province said at the time.
It was the second time we froze Great Lakes wind farms, after a shorter ban imposed before the 2007 election. The government lifted that one in 2008; the newer one is still in place.
Offshore wind farms were once a pillar of Ontario’s green-energy plans. We were going to spend some money and take some chances and become world leaders and reap the rewards. Officially, they still are — we just aren’t allowing any.
Plus the government is facing a $500-million lawsuit from one would-be wind-farm developer called Trillium Power, a roughly $500-million claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement from another called Windstream, and now an Ontario Provincial Police investigation over the alleged deletion of documents related to the decision to impose the second moratorium. All without a windmill to show for it.
Since 2011, the government’s received three studies on freshwater wind farms that it had underway at the time, and waited four years before commissioning two more in 2015. Together, the five studies look at protecting fish habitat, how windmill noise carries over water, a review of existing “coastal engineering” research on offshore wind farms, and what to think about when we eventually have to take worn-out windmills down.
None of them has much to do with what the Liberal environment minister who imposed the 2011 moratorium, John Wilkinson, says concerns him most about wind farms in the Great Lakes.
Wilkinson laid it out in a formal witness statement entered in the NAFTA case at an international tribunal in The Hague, which went into vastly more detail than the public announcement of the moratorium. That just cited a need for more scientific research generally, not on any specific subject.
“While I was briefed on many environmental concerns related to noise emissions, disturbance of benthic life forms, navigation, potential structural failure, safety hazards and decommissioning, the issue that heavily influenced my decision was the effect the construction of an offshore wind facility might have on drinking water,” his signed statement says. The Windstream project would have stirred up the bed of Lake Ontario in 100 places and “I was concerned about how this might displace the historically contaminated sediment on the lakebed and whether it would end up in the drinking water system.”
The statement elaborates for pages, talking about protecting both Canadian and U.S. water supplies and invoking Ontario’s experience at Walkerton, where a badly run municipal water system got contaminated with bacteria that killed seven people.
The ban was absolutely not about saving Liberal-held lakefront seats, it says. “It was a Solomon decision,” the statement says.
Wilkinson stands by the judgment.
“There’s a century of toxic industrial waste in the Great Lake sediments,” he said in an email exchange this week. “My decision was based on the principle we would not allow folks to disturb that pollution until we could reasonably predict the consequences and ensure no threat to drinking water, both ours and our American neighbours.”
He pointed to annual algae explosions in Lake Erie believed to be fed by phosphorus in fertilizer. Some kinds of algae release toxins that conventional water treatment can’t remove.
“Sediments at the bottom of the Great Lakes contain the cumulative phosphorus from agricultural runoff that has settled there over decades. If left undisturbed, it cannot feed an algae bloom. But there was no way to construct hundreds of proposed offshore wind turbines without stirring up the phosphorus and other contaminants,” Wilkinson said, and in his view the existing rules on protecting drinking water didn’t properly cover construction way out in the lakes.
On the face of it, that’s a totally reasonable thing to worry about. But here’s the thing. If you were worried about sediment and drinking water, you’d have somebody study sediment and drinking water, right?
Wilkinson was environment minister for eight months after he imposed the moratorium, until he lost his southwestern Ontario seat in the election later in 2011.
“I can’t tell you what happened regarding the science after I left government, since I don’t know,” Wilkinson says. “What I can say is my decision left the door open to small pilot projects to develop the science. I do recall that proponents, after I made the decision, rejected building pilot scale projects, citing economics.”
The current environment minister, Glen Murray, wouldn’t say whether he shares Wilkinson’s concerns about drinking water, because of the NAFTA case.
Municipalities vote for more say in wind power locations
May 25, 2016
Hard as it is to believe, with electricity bills soaring, hydro and nuclear power being wasted, and Ontario’s surplus power being sold at bargain-basement rates to neighbouring U.S. jurisdictions, Ontario still plans to let contracts for 600 more megawatts of expensive, intermittent utility-scale wind power.
The new bid process begins later this year.
Although the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) claims the citizens of Ontario have a “say” in where these huge power projects — which result in considerable impact on the environment and communities forced to have them — they still can’t “say” NO.
In March, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said it was “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract for wind power without municipal support—then the IESO announced five new contracts, three of which were in Not A Willing Host communities. One, Dutton Dunwich, had even held a referendum on the wind power bid, which resulted in a resounding 84 % NO vote, but a contract was awarded there anyway.
Now, more than 60 Ontario municipalities have told the Ontario government under Premier Kathleen Wynne that they don’t think that’s right — in future, the municipalities say, local or municipal support must be a mandatory requirement in wind power bids, not just a way to get more points in the bidding process for Large Renewable power projects.
Last evening, council in Prince Edward County voted unanimously to send that motion to Queen’s Park. The County is currently battling two high-profile wind power projects on the basis of the clear danger to wildlife, specifically the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat. The County is also on the flyway for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds each spring and fall.
Among the cities and municipalities which have passed the resolution are the City of Kawartha Lakes (which is itself the size of a county) and the second largest city in Ontario and Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa.
“Communities have good reasons for not wanting these huge power projects,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Wind power represents high impact on the environment, both natural and social, for very little benefit. What’s worse, wind power on this scale has no benefit in actions aimed at climate change. Everyone wants to do what’s best for the environment —this isn’t it.”
A list of municipalities that have passed the motion to date is here.
Poland has adopted a new law banning construction of wind farms close to dwellings and hiking project costs in a move which the industry says could hobble Poland’s move to renewables and away from coal.
Wind farms must be built at a distance from housing of at least 10 times the height of the turbine, or about 1.5 to 2 km, under the law which was adopted by the lower house of parliament on Friday.
projects in Poland, said that if the law was enforced it would be forced to write down the value of some of its Polish assets and would consider seeking potential compensation.
Representatives of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which designed the new regulations, said that it had to reform regulation of the industry and address citizens’ complaints about noise from wind farms.
“Because of the renewable energy madness we are reducing our GDP growth,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said, referring to subsidies granted to renewable energy sources.
European Union rules call for Poland, which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal, to produce 15 percent of it from renewable sources by 2020 versus around 12 percent currently.
PiS says the new regulations will not pose a risk to Poland attaining that target.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Jason Neely)
The Ontario PC Opposition says that the Ontario government could have used an “out” clause in its green energy contract with the Korean consortium including Samsung, that would have saved billions.
Photo: Toronto Sun
PC Finance critic says documents revealed during the gas plant cancellation inquiry shows that Samsung had missed several important deadlines which meant the government could have cancelled the contracts, saving over $5 billion.
Worse, said Fedeli in the Toronto Sun report, bureaucrats advised the government that the power contracted for in the agreement.
The Wynne government said it “won’t be distracted” by the accusations made by Mr Fedeli.
Read the full story in the Toronto Sun, here. http://www.torontosun.com/2016/05/19/liberals-left-15-billion-on-the-table-pcs
Rural Ontario is up in arms today over the apparent suspension of a one-of-a-kind wind turbine health investigation that may never happen.
Medical Officer of Health for Huron County Dr. Janice Owen became aware of numerous health complaints from people in her community shortly after she was hired a year ago by the current Huron County Board of Health. Owen began researching the issues last August and contacted many in the field researching the topic.
This February 4, Owen presented to her Board the outline and components of a wind turbine health complaints investigation stating that she had visited wind projects, sought information from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as well as Public Health Ontario and had spoken and heard from many members of the community.
In March this year the announcement of the new investigation was posted on the Health Unit’s website and immediately people suffering as a result of wind projects began to sign up. In April Dr. Owen was informed her services were no longer needed and she was put on administrative leave. This is a devastating blow to Huron County people exposed without consent to the acoustical emissions of wind turbines in proximity to their homes.
More questions than answers arose about the investigation’s future and were addressed on May 12 when the Board put the research on hold – likely permanent – stating that it seemed to be a duplication of a long term Ontario-wide public health survey with nothing to do with industrial wind adverse reactions.
“The people of Huron County do not want to become another Flint, Michigan. Health administrators and those tasked with the protection of our health and safety need to see this ground-breaking research through to the end,” says Gerry Ryan for the group Concerned Citizens for Health (CCH). “The eyes of communities around the world who are suffering the same fate as us are watching what happens in Huron County, Ontario. The wind industry is watching and the Ontario government whose policy this is are also watching.”
The CCH calls upon the temporary Medical Officer of Health Dr. Meriam Klassen to be courageous like Dr. Owen and find out where this investigation will take her. This is only fair.
The latest news out of Queen’s Park is that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals plan to deindustrialize Ontario. Of course they don’t call it that; they prefer the term “decarbonize.” But for an industrial economy, the government’s new climate action plan, leaked to reporters this week, amounts to the same thing.
The proposed scheme beggars belief. Having phased out coal-fired power, the province now plans to phase out natural gas, the only reliable alternative for non-baseload generation. Despite electric cars being extremely costly and unpopular, more than one in 10 new car sales will need to be electric, and every two-car household will have to own at least one electric car. All homes listed for sale will require a costly energy audit. Home renovations will have to be geared around energy efficiency as the government defines it, not what the homeowner wants.
Around the time that today’s high-school students are readying to buy their first home, it will be illegal for builders to install heating systems that use fossil fuels, in particular natural gas. Having already tripled the price of power, Queen’s Park will make it all but mandatory to rely on electricity for heating.
There will be new mandates and subsidies for biofuels, electric buses for schools, extensive new bike lanes to accommodate all those bicycles Ontario commuters will be riding all winter, mandatory electric recharging stations on all new buildings, and many other Soviet-style command-and-control directives.
The scheme is called the Climate Change Action Plan, or CCAP, but it would be more appropriately called the Climate Change Coercion Plan: the CCCP.
Reportedly there has been some pushback against this lunacy from within cabinet. While Environment Minister Glen Murray is driving it forward with enthusiasm, his colleagues with economic portfolios are expressing some reluctance. One imagines they have an intuitive sense the CCCP is misguided, but they struggle to say why.
Perhaps I can help. Even if one accepts mainstream climate science as interpreted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it does not imply that carbon dioxide emissions impose infinitely high costs and should be driven to zero. It only tells us that such emissions may impose modest external costs on other people that emitters should pay for. Nor does it tell us that those emission-related costs are greater than the costs of trying to stop climate change. In fact, the IPCC reports strongly suggest otherwise. Chapter 10 of the IPCC Working Group II report concludes that at low levels of warming (up to two degrees Celsius) the costs will be small relative to the impacts of other economic changes in peoples’ lives, and may well be negative (i.e., a possible net benefit from mild warming).
Translated into practical economics, we could assume that emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide causes a small amount of harm to other people: roughly between zero and 20-dollars’ worth. So emission-reduction policies that cost less than $20 per tonne to implement could be justified based on mainstream science and sound economics. Policies costing more cannot.
The Murray plan however is laden with policies that will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per tonne to implement — far more than the value of any environmental benefits they generate. They will drive away investment and employment, raise the cost of living and eliminate economic opportunities. No longer will Ontari-ari-ario be “A Place to Grow”; it will be a place to get the hell out of if you want a job and a decent standard of living.
No one is forced to have wind turbines on their land; communities shouldn’t be, either.
Ontario Farmer, May 17, 2016
By Jane Wilson and Warren Howard
Recently, a Mitchell, Ont. resident wrote to Ontario Farmer saying that the wind turbine siting process seems fair to him: “no one [has been] forced to have a wind turbine.”
We beg to differ: with almost 2,600 industrial-scale wind turbines now operating or under construction, the fact is thousands of Ontario residents have been forced to live with wind turbines, without any effective say in the matter.
The decision to host wind turbines should not rest with the few individuals who lease land for the project, but also with the entire community; many people can be affected by this decision.
The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed local land-use planning for wind power projects, at the same time as it overrode 21 pieces of democratically passed pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, the Environmental Bill of Rights — even the Places to Grow Old Act.
Can’t say NO
The result is a process in which citizens and their elected governments now have no “say” whatsoever. Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this past March that it would be “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract in a community that did not support turbines, but that’s exactly what happened.
Even a community that held a formal referendum, in which 84 per cent of residents said “no” to wind power, is now being forced to have turbines.
Compare this to the procedures for other forms of development: they are relatively open, in which the community is presented with detailed information and opportunities to comment on the type and scope of development proposed.
The opposite is true for industrial-scale wind power projects. Municipalities are asked for support with very little information on environmental, economic, or social impacts. In some cases, where the developer has determined formal municipal support is unlikely, the company simply files a document saying it “tried” to get municipal support but failed — the truth is, municipalities will meet with anyone. Failure to meet on such an important project should be a red flag to contracting authorities about the nature of the development and the degree of opposition to it.
The public information meetings held by developers often occur after municipal support is requested. A paper produced by a team of academics published this year termed these meetings “dog-and-pony shows” which is an indication of how much real information is offered.
Municipal support must be mandatory
Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) on the contracting process, which included: a requirement that all documents related to the project should be released prior to any public meeting or municipal consultation; the precise location of turbines must be revealed as well as a broader set of site considerations; there must be a process through which municipal government, community groups and individuals can comment on these documents and their accuracy; and last, municipal support must be a mandatory requirement of any contract bid.
It may be true as the letter writer suggests: no one is forced to have a turbine on their own property, but communities and neighbours should not be forced to have them either.
Before people sign for lease turbines, they need to talk to their neighbours (because the whole community will be affected by the decision to lease) and learn from the experiences in other communities where turbines are operating. They may discover that the small lease payments offered are not worth the impact on the community, and on their friends and neighbours.
The fact is, wind turbines result in high impact on communities for very little benefit. The Ontario government needs to respect the right of Ontario citizens to make decisions on wind power developments for themselves.
Jane Wilson is president of Wind Concerns Ontario. Warren Howard is a former municipal councillor for North Perth.
The Unifor wind turbine towers over a neighbourhood of 200 homes in Port Elgin. It would be illegal today. So far, the union has defied mandatory noise testing requirements, and ignored citizen concerns about the noise, and health impacts
Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union (formerly the CAW) owns and operates a wind turbine that generates revenue for the union through taxpayer subsidies. Plagued from its beginning by controversy and compliance issues, Unifor’s turbine continues to operate in defiance of mandatory noise audits and despite hundreds of noise complaints from families forced to live near it.
Unifor’s turbine is not only contentious, it should be illegal by today’s standards due to legislation that came into effect May 1st. But, it’s not the first time the turbine has had this problem. And, the union has always managed to solve it — with a little help from its friends in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).
Unifor’s wind turbine is a square peg the union forced into a round hole. Located at their Family Education Centre (FEC) in the tourist community of Port Elgin on Lake Huron, the turbine sits in a sports field adjacent to the facility’s parking lot. The 35-storey, 800kw turbine towers over a neighbourhood of about 200 homes with some as close as 210 m.
The union chose the FEC location over a remote plot of 128 acres of undeveloped land it owned about a mile away because, President Ken Lewenza said (in the Shoreline Beacon, Dec.20/11), the undeveloped land was “economically or environmentally unfeasible.” No sooner was the turbine built, the union subdivided the undeveloped land into building lots and sold them for substantial profit.
The union’s decision to locate its turbine in a densely populated neighbourhood posed many legislative hurdles. But, none the union hasn’t been able to handle — at least, so far.
In 2005, when Town Council objected to the turbine’s location, the union took the case to the provincial municipal board (OMB) and got the rejection overturned.
When noise modeling analysis showed that the turbine’s noise would exceed provincial standards for a rural community (making it illegal), the union and the MOE agreed to classify the rural neighbourhood as semi-urban to accommodate the increased noise. The turbine’s noise problem was solved. But, not for long.
Soon after, the MOE issued new legislation focused on health and safety, requiring turbines of its height and power to be located a minimum of 550 m from homes. Again, the not-yet-built turbine would be illegal. However, the MOE agreed to grandfather the union’s turbine approval certificate, exempting the turbine from the mandatory 550 m setback. The union had dodged another bullet. But, the turbine wasn’t yet in the clear.
New noise assessments on the turbine (due to the union’s decision to upgrade it to 800kw) showed it would again exceed provincial noise standards. Once more, it was illegal. This time, the union said …