The Unifor wind turbine: skirting the law on environmental noise

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

2016-05-13-1463145763-2844419-CreditKarenHunter.JPG

Photo: Karen Hunter

Huffington Post, May 18, 2016

By Karen Hunter

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 …

Read the full story here.

Ontario’s economic suicide plan: The Financial Post

The end of Ontario’s lifetime of economic progress…

Environment Minister Murray : the first time assisted death has been tried on a whole province, says Kevin Libin
Environment Minister Murray : the first time assisted death has been tried on a whole province, says Kevin Libin

The Financial Post, May 17, 2016

To get an idea of what Ontario could look like a couple of decades out under Liberal energy minister Glen Murray’s “climate action plan” — which was revealed in detail in Monday’s Globe and Mail — who better to rely on than the man himself, Glen Murray?

Back in 2008, when he chaired the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, Murray — along with his acting CEO, Alex Wood, now executive director of the Ontario Climate Change Directorate — offered up a plan that looked remarkably similar to the new Liberal cabinet document. In fairness, the NRTEE document hardly offered the perniciously micro-managed prescriptions for people and businesses that Murray has graduated to now. And this new plan, billed by the Liberals as a “once-in-a-lifetime transformation” for Ontario’s economy, may also prove the end of Ontario’s lifetime of economic progress. In an era where assisted dying is the big thing with Liberals, this could be the first case where it’s tried on a province.

The leaked cabinet document, reportedly signed-off on by Premier Kathleen Wynne, lists a jaw-dropping 80 or so policies including: The eventual ban on heating new homes and buildings with natural gas, with only electric or geothermal being legal; $4 billion to be doled out by a “green bank,” funded by carbon taxes, to subsidize retrofits of buildings to get them off natural gas; the requirement that homes undergo an “energy-efficiency audit” before they can be sold; and a stack of rules, regulations and handouts to get an electric car into every two-car household within eight years, including rebates, free electric charging, and plug-in stations at every liquor store. Naturally, there will be billions more in traditional government-spending programs on public transit, bike paths, upgrades for schools and hospitals, and “research” funds and centres of climate excellence, not to mention new ethanol fuel standards that will gratify the Liberals’ top corporate donors in the biofuel lobby.

 

Read the full Comment here.

Huron County health board pauses turbine noise health investigation

The claim that it might duplicate another study being done by Ontario is false: the Ontario Health Study is a general population study aimed at factors in health and chronic disease—it has nothing whatever to do with reports of health impacts from wind turbine noise. But everything to do with a Board that wants to make a political decision…

Huron Health Board claims duplication with a study that has nothing to do with wind turbine noise.
Huron Health Board claims duplication with a study that has nothing to do with wind turbine noise.

London Free Press May 16, 2016

Huron County has hit the pause button on plans to investigate health complaints by its residents about industrial wind farms.

Due to start this month, the probe of the impact of wind turbines by Huron County Health Unit has been put on hold by its board of health.

Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel, who chairs the board, said Monday the board wants to check with the province to ensure the work by the health unit doesn’t duplicate other efforts. No decision has been made to drop the probe, Hessel said.

“It just doesn’t make sense to duplicate. We are waiting for information to come back . . . We don’t want to get into duplication because we can’t afford to at a small level. We don’t want to get into a situation where we are throwing money away,” Hessel said.

Ontario is undertaking a health study and the Huron health board wants to know if wind turbines will be part of that work, Hessel said.

But the head of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of anti-wind farm groups, said the health unit has a legal obligation to investigate possible health hazards.

“As a registered nurse, I was frankly shocked at the way this board is trying everything it can to squirm out of its responsibility to the citizens under its care. I would expect them to listen to reports of problems, and then do whatever they can to help,” said Jane Wilson.

Huron County is home to more than 250 industrial wind turbines, with more under construction.

Some residents have complained at public meetings that noise from the turbines has caused sleep problems, anxiety and nosebleeds.

In announcing the study on its website, the Huron County health unit said the investigation was in keeping with its legislative duty to investigate potential health hazards to area residents.

Just as the investigation was to launch, the area’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Owens, was relieved of her duties by the health board.

Declining to provide details behind the departure, Hessel rejected suggestions by wind farm opponents Owens’ departure was connected to the probe and said the study would go ahead.

Owens has not responded to a request for comment.

At the health board meeting last week, where it was decided not to go ahead with the study immediately, a draft of the health unit survey was presented. …

Read the full story here.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO COMMENT

Given the rising number of complaints related to wind turbine noise and health impacts, such as sleep disturbance, the Huron County Board of Health has a responsibility to follow up and investigate these reports under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Part III.

The Ontario Health Study is a long-term study of determinants of health that lead to disease and chronic conditions such as diabetes—it is NOT related to wind turbine noise in any way. There is no “duplication.”

Any decision to halt the investigation and refuse to follow up on citizen concerns will be a political decision, not one based on the Board’s responsibility to the people under its care.

Ontario spills cheap hydro for expensive wind –and wants more

Ontario continues its buy-high, sell-low policy for electricity by wasting cheap hydro in favour of expensive, intermittent wind. And the government is contracting for more, says Parker Gallant.

Your energy future: losses by the million
Ontario’s economic future: losses by the million

Ontario Power Generation or OPG just released their first quarter 2016 results; while revenue increased 9.1% or $123 million, net income was down from $234 million in the 2015 first quarter — a drop of 47.4%.   The blame for the drop in net income was principally laid on the “Regulated-Nuclear Waste Management segment” caused by lower income from the “Decommissioning Segregated Fund.”

But they didn’t blame water spillage for hydroelectric power. Why? Because OPG now are paid for wasting what would cost ratepayers a miserly 4.4 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) delivered to the grid.

The spillage and waste of cheap hydroelectric power increased from .3 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 to 1.7 TWh in 2016; the OPG quarterly statement makes reference to that stating “Reducing hydroelectric production, which often results in spilling of water, is the first measure that the IESO uses to manage SBG [Surplus Baseload Generation] conditions.”

Bear in mind that power generation from wind which has “first to the grid” rights in Ontario, is the real reason for spilling hydro. That means ratepayers pick up the costs of spilled hydro at $44 million per TWh and at the same time, customers paid for surplus wind generation at $133 million per TWh or $226 million for the spilled 1.7 TWh. Ontario’s benevolent electricity ratepayers also picked up the cost of idling gas plants tasked with backing up wind and solar generation.  A rough estimate of those gas plant costs (we pay from $10K to $15K per MW per month) would be 9 cents/kWh, or about $150 million (to back up 1.7 TWh of wind generation). That  brings the total cost of wind generation displacing 1.7 TWh of spilled hydro to a cost of $450 million or 26.5 cents/kWh.

Do the math, Bob

Calculations are:

Wind generation cost @ $133/MWh (1.7 TWh @ $133 million per TWh = $226 million)

+ gas generation backup of 330 MW (assuming an average of $12,500 per MW per month and 60% capacity generation per MW) = $150 million

+ the cost of spilled hydro @ $44 million per TWh = $75 million for 1.7 TWh.

The total cost (without inclusion of steamed-off nuclear, cost of solar power, losses of revenue for exports, etc.) is

$451 million for the 1.7 TWh OPG spilled.

 

Cost to Ontario ratepayers for the 1.7 TWh OPG spilled cost ($451 million/1.7 TWh) = an average of 26.5 cents per kWh.

What this means: the Green Energy Act and its many flaws has created a situation where publicly and privately owned generators suffer no consequences from producing power “out of sync” with demand, and as a result, electricity ratepayers are penalized by paying six times the actual cost for a kilowatt of electricity (including a built-in profit).

Our Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli appears to lack the ability to apply basic math to the management of his portfolio, as is apparent from his April announcement that he wants another 600 MW of power we don’t need from wind.

© Parker Gallant

May 16, 2016

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

Appeal begins in Collingwood as record six appellants object to wind farm

Three municipal governments are among the appellants fighting the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and wind power developer, Germany-based wpd Canada. At issue, aviation safety and the economic survival of Collingwood (the latter not allowed as basis for an appeal.)

Hearing begins in Collingwood this morning: already a shambles
Hearing begins in Collingwood this morning: already a shambles

May 16, 2016

Six tables of lawyers make up the front of the room as the appeal against the Fairview Wind power project begins in Collingwood, Ontario. The Environmental Tribunal members for this appeal are Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins.

Already there are problems as both the Ministry of the Environment and the power developer have missed deadline for their evidence submissions related to aviation safety issues.

The power developer is claiming it cannot force the federal government to provide information for this appeal.

More details when available.

Hearings are scheduled for May 16, then 18-20, at the Collingwood Curling Club.

Eagles fair game for wind power developers, says US Fish and Wildlife

Do the math on what the agency supposed to protect the  environment and wildlife in the U.S. is proposing–it’s a death sentence. But, wind is green, wind is good.

Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2016

By Robert Bryce

166 COMMENTS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with protecting bald and golden eagles, is once again trying to make it easier for the wind industry to kill those birds.

Two weeks ago the agency opened public comment on “proposed improvements” to its eagle conservation program. It wants to extend the length of permits for accidental eagle kills from the current five years to 30 years. The changes would allow wind-energy producers to kill or injure as many as 4,200 bald eagles every year. That’s a lot. The agency estimates there are now about 72,434 bald eagles in the continental U.S.

Let’s hope Judge Lucy H. Koh is keeping an eye out. Last August, Ms. Koh, a federal judge in California, shot down the Fish and Wildlife Service’s previous “improvements.” In a lawsuit brought by the American Bird Conservancy, Judge Koh ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by declaring that it could issue 30-year permits without first doing an environmental assessment. Now the agency has drafted an environmental review and is still pushing for the 30-year permits.

Yet as Judge Koh noted in her ruling, one of the agency’s own eagle program managers warned that 30-year permits are “inherently less protective” and “real, significant, and cumulative biological impacts will result.”

A 2013 study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin estimated that wind turbines killed about 888,000 bats and 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) in 2012 alone. But wind capacity has since increased by about 24%, and it could triple by 2030 under the White House’s Clean Power Plan. “We don’t really know how many birds are being killed now by wind turbines because the wind industry doesn’t have to report the data,” says Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy. “It’s considered a trade secret.”

The new rule could further harm golden eagles, which are rarer than bald eagles and are being whacked by wind turbines in far greater numbers. Mr. Hutchins says that the lack of protection for golden eagles is “the biggest weakness of this whole rule.”

Stunning double standard

The double standard is stunning. In 2011 the Fish and Wildlife Service convinced the Justice Department to file criminal indictments against three oil companies working in North Dakota’s Bakken field for inadvertently killing six ducks and one phoebe.

Now see how the agency treats wind: In 2013 it submitted to the Federal Register that “wind developers have informed the [Department of the Interior] and the Service that 5-year permits have inhibited their ability to obtain financing, and we changed the regulations to accommodate that need.”

Nine months after being rebuked by a federal judge, America’s top wildlife protector is still bending over backward to accommodate an industry that is killing iconic wildlife while at the same time collecting huge subsidies from taxpayers. If there’s a better example of regulatory capture and crony capitalism, I can’t think of one.

Read the full article here.

Mr. Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is “Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong” (Public Affairs, 2014).

Ontario to spend $7-billion on climate change program

More than 12% of Ontario electricity customers can’t pay their bills now, but electric car owners will get free power to charge their vehicles, in new plan

Environment Minister Murray: new plan causing tension in Ontario Cabinet
Environment Minister Murray: new plan causing tension in Ontario Cabinet

The Globe and Mail, May 16, 2016

EXCLUSIVE

Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan

Read the full story here.

 

No autonomy for Ontario communities with Wynne government wind power push: Dutton Dunwich mayor

Cameron McWilliam sets the record straight on why Dutton Dunwich residents didn’t deserve a wind power contract … and why another community should not be responsible for that happening.

84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway.
84% of Dutton-Dunwich citizens said NO to proposed wind farm. They got one anyway. Why does another Ontario community get to make that happen?

London Free Press, May 13, 2016

I want to be certain the nature of my concern with regard to the awarding of the industrial wind turbine project in my community, the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich, is understood.

As the mayor of Dutton Dunwich, it is my responsibility to represent the citizens in my community. We spent the time and resources to survey the entire community about IWTs and asked for responses from every adult. Eighty-four per cent of the 1,503 who responded stated they were not in favour of having wind turbines. Our total adult population is 3,020. Based on this response, council stated it was not in favour of an IWT project coming to Dutton Dunwich.

Council and staff took action and had community meetings and requested delegations with the Minister of Energy. We were granted several delegations, both with the minister of energy as well as the parliamentary assistant to the minister. We prepared briefs and presented them. Each of these stated we did not want this project.

Nevertheless, on March 10, we learned that IESO had decided to award an American wind development company, Invenergy, a contract for an IWT project in Dutton Dunwich.

This is very disappointing news. It can never be good news to see the people you represent have no say and no power as it relates to the land they live on and decisions about what happens in their community.

I realize a small number of landowners did sign options to lease with the wind company, but this pales in comparison to the number of citizens who voiced opposition to this project.

I appreciate the work Geordi Kakepetum, chief executive of NCC Development, identified in his April 30 column, Northern natives have wind energy expertise, with regard to seeking solutions to challenges faced by his communities, such as replacing diesel fuel use with more sustainable sources of electricity like solar. In fact, I applaud his ingenuity, intelligence and business acumen, as well as that of NCC Development and the First Nations communities involved.

I also celebrate the fact he and the other decision-makers in these communities will be able to choose where to spend revenue and savings from these investments on important community priorities. This is a good example of communities having voice and autonomy. Any community looking after its vital needs is to be commended. It is no wonder he is proud.

On the other hand, I do not accept the gain in power Kakepetum speaks of should be at the expense of the citizens of Dutton Dunwich.

There are a number of communities that stated they were willing to host IWT projects, yet their applications were not successful. Given the provincial government’s statements with regard to taking communities’ preferences into account regarding the location of IWT projects, I am left deeply disappointed for my community.

None of the benefits highlighted by Kakepetum make up for the fact the citizens did not want the project.

My community is now divided. The calculations of revenue to be received by this project seem to vary widely, depending on who reports them.

We calculate a tax revenue vastly different. The construction and rezoning of farmland results in an assessed value of approximately $100,000 per IWT. Based on the 2016 industrial tax rate, and assuming annual increases of three per cent over 20 years, the proposed 20 industrial wind turbines would provide about $1 million in property tax from the province through Chicago-based Invenergy to the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich. Annually this would be $50,000 on average to Dutton Dunwich. Over this same period, the County of Elgin would receive about $740,000 in property taxes and the province would collect about $830,000 for education purposes. The aggregate property tax collected by all three levels would be about $2.5 million. This is significantly less than the $4 million estimated for Dutton Dunwich tax revenue alone.

Regardless, no financial incentive will make those opposed to the turbines feel better about their loss of autonomy and concern for their community.

In conclusion, I regret that the voices of the people of Dutton Dunwich were disregarded by the province for this important decision, which has significant implications for the life of our community.

 

Ontario citizens fighting to protect environment, communities from wind power push: WCO

More than one ‘tough guy’ needed to restore democracy in Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario president says. We all need to be in this fight.

NoMeansNo_FB (2)

Responding to an opinion by farmer Ian Cummings in the April edition of Farmers Forum, Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote:

We know that many citizens of Ontario are working hard to protect their communities, their families and yes, the environment from this government’s unfounded and unnecessary push for wind power projects in rural/small town Ontario.

Many people are spending hundreds of thousands of after-tax dollars to appeal wind power project approvals where there will be harm to the environment and risk to human health.

Mr. Cumming spins a colourful story but to suggest all that’s needed is a local tough-guy character to scare the wind power developers out of town is uninformed, unrealistic and frankly insulting to your readers and the citizens of Ontario.

What we have are huge, multi-national, multi-billion-dollar corporations which feel entitled by the current provincial government to bully their way into our communities.

There are no single heroes to chase them out of town: it takes all of us to insist on a return to democracy in Ontario.

Jane Wilson

President, Wind Concerns Ontario

Ottawa

 

 

Wind turbines an invasion of Ontario’s power grid, says engineer

Wind turbines are not just an eyesore in Ontario says retired engineer Jim McPherson, they are responsible for unreasonable increases in electricity bills, affecting quality of life and business competitiveness.

An excerpt follows:

Toronto Sun, May 8, 2016

In his April 26 Letter to the Editor, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli wrote that “for the first time the cost of producing electricity from wind is below the average cost of producing electricity in Ontario.”

Using this Orwellian “doublespeak”, Chiarelli failed to mention that under his 20-year “Feed-in Tariff” (FIT) contracts, we pay wind energy corporations much more, not less, than the rates we pay for each kilowatt of the hydro, nuclear or gas-generated electricity that wind energy replaces. In addition, in Ontario, most wind and solar energy is generated when not needed.

In fact, wind and solar “farms” have become troublesome “gridmonsters”. They are uncontrollable, cruel and unreasonably costly.

Gridmonsters have a licence not only to kill, but also to bill.

Enabled by Ontario’s Green Energy Act , they drive up electricity prices while ravaging rural neighbourhoods and wildlife. They are malignant tumours attached to our electricity grid. They will continue to force electricity rates to rise unless we act now to bring them under rigorous control.

When gridmonsters were in their infant stage, we were able to store their fluctuating output in rechargeable batteries for later use in electric cars or household power. But they have grown much too big for batteries, and they keep growing because governments keep feeding them subsidies.

Gridmonsters were created by huge wind and solar corporations that lobbied governments for subsidies that guaranteed ongoing profits. That was the beginning of the scam, to which governments and citizens succumbed because of our fear of climate change.  But unlike other energy sources, the sun and the wind cannot be turned on and off when demand fluctuates.

On dark and still nights, gridmonsters lurk in rural fields. Then, when the sun shines or the wind blows, they invade power transmission lines. With government permission, they replace cheaper electricity from hydroelectric power, nuclear, or gas plants. Electricity rates then rise. When the wind dies or when the sun is obscured, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) routinely fires up recently-added backup natural gas power plants.

Rates routinely rise again.

Whenever we can’t find consumers for this unneeded electricity, we pay solar and wind energy producers to not produce power. Rates rise more!

Gridmonsters keep metastasizing. Ontario is exporting more and more excess green energy to Quebec or Michigan, at a loss of millions more dollars every month.

Rates keep rising.

Amazingly, the Ontario government recently invited proposals for even more subsidized, unneeded and unreliable wind factories and solar farms. …

Read the entire article here.