‘Resounding condemnation’ of wind power bid process: WCO on comments to IESO

The IESO asked for comments on its Large Renewable Procurement process. Looks like nobody is happy, least of all Ontario citizens and the municipalities that would be forced to have the power projects.

Communities have valid reasons for objecting to huge power projects but government is not listening [Photo: Prince Edward County]
Communities have valid reasons for objecting to huge power projects but government is not listening [Photo: Prince Edward County]
London Free Press, June 3, 2016

John Miner

The agency setting the ground rules for the next multi-billion-dollar round of wind farm development in Ontario says it can only go so far to meet demands for changes in its program to acquire more electricity.

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which picked the winners in the last round, asked residents, wind farm developers, municipalities and First Nations how the controversial program could be improved.

A persistent theme in the 120 pages of responses was a call for municipalities to be given a veto over developments, a power stripped away by the Liberal government — to the anger of many municipalities — when it launched its green energy program.

“Municipal support must be a mandatory requirement. There must be greater consideration given to the impact of the power projects on the community, and on the people who must live near them,” wrote one respondent.

But Adam Butterfield, IESO’s manager of renewable energy procurement, said such a decision would have to be made by the provincial government.

“The feedback we get will be communicated up to the Ministry of Energy for them to consider any related policy changes. We provide our advice, as we always do, on these aspects. But at the end of the day there are some policy ones, such as the veto aspect, that are in the government’s purview,” he said.

In Southwestern Ontario, home to the largest wind farms in the province and the most wind turbines, the Liberal government’s decision to take away local control over where the highrise-sized turbines can be built left many centres joining a movement of so-called “unwilling host” communities for energy projects.

Butterfield said he doesn’t know how the government will respond to the latest feedback.

“To date they have been pretty firm that renewable energy is a provincial issue and so they haven’t been amenable to considering a (local) veto. We will provide the feedback up and see where things go over the course of the summer.”

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a provincial coalition opposed to wind farms, said the survey responses show the process doesn’t respect Ontarians and their wishes for how their communities develop.

“The point is made repeatedly that the process for locating renewable power projects differs from any other sort of development — that there is little openness or transparency, and that municipalities ought to have real ‘say’ in where these power projects go,” Wilson wrote in an email.

“The comments are a resounding condemnation of the procurement process,” she added.

The IESO has been instructed by the government to procure another 600 megawatts of wind energy, with the contracts awarded by 2018.

The generating capacity is being added at a time when the IESO’s own forecasts project Ontario will remain in a surplus power position for at least a decade.

A report last year by Ontario’s auditor general concluded Ontarians paid $37  billion extra for power over the last eight years because of the government’s decisions to ignore its own planning process for new power generation projects.

Along with suggestions for a municipal veto, other respondents to the IESO survey called for more openness by companies about their plans and an end to non-disclosure agreements with property owners.

“Proponents intentionally misled, failed to follow the process (meeting and information distribution), and used other methods to ensure the community was misinformed and had little time to respond,” wrote one. …

Read the full news story here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This spring, 72 Ontario municipalities have formally passed a resolution demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement in wind power project bids. See the list of municipalities under our MUNICIPAL RESOLUTIONS tab.

NoMeansNo_FB (2)

Huron County considers partnership on health investigation

Blackburn News, June 3, 2016

Huron Considering University Partnership On Wind Turbine Study

A study being proposed by the Huron County Health Unit on the health impacts of wind turbines may take a new direction.

Health Board Chair Tyler Hessel explains the board had a few concerns about the study, including what they were going to do with the information they collected, and how much it was going to cost them.

Hessel says the University of Waterloo is working with Wind Concerns of Ontario on a study similar to the one the Health Unit was proposing, but it would go into more detail and so they’re exploring the possibility of partnering with the university.   That would give them access to a more scientific study done by a group with better human and financial resources.

They have invited a spokesperson from the university to speak at a future Health Board meeting to discuss a partnership.

Hessel adds his understanding is the university is looking at testing in specific areas and in specific homes and doing very detailed analysis.

Ontario lacked scientific evidence to approve wind projects safely: Ottawa Citizen

Further proof that Ontario’s Green Energy Act was not based on any real scientific evidence, or that its setbacks and other regulations were really created for public safety. Former Energy Minister George Smitherman’s testimony is revealing.

Reevely: Ontario’s wind-power decision makes it look like a ‘banana republic,’ ex-deputy premier tells tribunal

Ottawa Citizen, June 2, 2016

By David Reevely

George Smitherman was Ontario's energy minister in 2008 and 2009.

George Smitherman, former Energy Minister: no one told him there was a problem with offshore wind farms. But no one had a problem with the lack of science for onshore wind power, either.

The Ontario government would not have bailed out on its plans to allow wind farms in the Great Lakes without agreement from the premier’s office, Dalton McGuinty’s former deputy testified at an international tribunal dealing with some of the fallout of that 2011 decision.

“Every time there’s a decision of significance it’s coming with an intervention from the centre,” George Smitherman testified. That could have meant the premier, it could have been meant his chief of staff or principal secretary. Maybe the premier’s office would have initiated it, maybe a minister would have. “(B)ut the central command and control would be a consistent element, no matter the pathway.”

That’s directly opposite to the way the Ontario government says it decided to abandon a big chunk of its green-energy plan.

Smitherman was the energy minister and deputy premier who pushed that plan through but was no longer in with government when the decision was made to call off the plan. The plan included ways to let private companies install hundreds of windmills several kilometres out in the province’s big lakes.

Since then, the government has commissioned zero research on the subject. Wilkinson lost his seat later in 2011 but the moratorium he imposed is still in place.

The government is being sued by one would-be wind-farm builder and has been taken to an international court by another, which claims it was specially harmed because it’s American — a no-no under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The two companies are demanding about $500 million each in compensation for their blown projects.

Both of them were very large wind farms that would have been built at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, off Kingston. Either would have generated as much power as a nuclear reactor.

Both companies allege the premier’s office had to be involved in the decision to cancel their projects, and numerous others elsewhere in the province, all in one February 2011 announcement, and the fact that it’s produced almost no documentation of that involvement shows deceit and impropriety. The Ontario Provincial Police are investigating it as a criminal matter.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, heard that NAFTA case between Windstream Energy and the Canadian authorities over two weeks in February and three arbitrators are working on a decision. The court posted transcripts of the sworn testimony on Wednesday.

In Smitherman’s testimony, he said that if Wilkinson decided personally to ball up a whole section of the province’s green-energy plan, that was like no other decision he saw in six-plus years in government. The environment minister would have had that authority but in real life ministers simply did not make calls that important on their own.

Smitherman was not involved in the decision to scrap Great Lakes wind projects, which came after he quit provincial politics to run for mayor of Toronto in 2010, he acknowledged.

“I wasn’t there at the time,” he testified, “but I can say that in every other decision of a similar circumstance or magnitude, the person that declares the consensus is the head of the government, that’s the premier or one or two of his most senior staff.”

Wilkinson testified that the decision to cancel all the lake wind projects was his alone.

“I did not discuss the issue of offshore wind development with the premier or seek his counsel before I made the deferral decision, and he did not attempt to influence my decision in any way,” Wilkinson testified.

The premier’s office was told and backed him up, Wilkinson said, and McGuinty’s chief of staff Chris Morley was involved in planning how to communicate the decision — including vetoing a draft of a press release from Wilkinson’s ministry — but Wilkinson wasn’t acting on any orders, he said.

(Neither McGuinty nor Morley testified in the case.)

Wilkinson reached the decision abruptly when his deputy minister couldn’t assure him the government had enough science on hand to be sure that dozens of foundations for windmills could be sunk into lake bottoms without swirling up toxic metals and fertilizer residue that could lead to dangerous algae blooms, he said.

Nobody ever brought that up while Smitherman worked for years on Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act, the ex-minister of energy said. Nobody objected that the province lacked the scientific expertise to approve wind projects safely. Everyone knew for years that the government was planning to pay high prices for all sorts of wind-based projects — through a thing called a feed-in-tariff — to boost Ontario’s renewable-energy industry.

“The rollout of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act was lengthy,” Smitherman testified. “At no time whatsoever did colleagues of mine, formally or informally, raise concerns with me with respect to the implementation of wind power as one of our chosen fuel sources for the feed-in-tariff.”

Read the full story here.


Canada shines spotlight on wind turbine noise at world conference

Several speakers from Canada were invited to make presentations at the recent Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Spring Meeting. Speakers from around the world were present at the event, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the last week of May.

Health researcher and retired pharmacist Carmen Krogh delivered a paper co-authored with Ontario epidemiologist Jeff Aramini, titled “A case study in Canada: exploring research challenges of industrial wind turbines and health.”

The Krogh-Aramini paper stated that the topic of adverse health effects associated with industrial wind turbines (IWT) is controversial and debated worldwide. Some residents living in proximity to wind energy facilities report symptoms of sleep disturbance, annoyance, headaches, ear pain/discomfort, mood disorders, stress, cardiac and blood pressure effects, reduced quality of life and other adverse effects. In some cases, research initiatives have been the result of individuals’ complaints. The research is challenged in part by the complexities and numerous variables associated with this subject. A range of IWT research approaches, sometimes in combination with each other, has been used including self-reporting surveys, investigations and acoustical measurements.

Health Canada study not designed to find cause and effect

There are gaps in the research today, Krogh said. The $2-million study done by Health Canada was a large-scale, cross-sectional, randomized, epidemiological wind turbine noise and health study which the government department stated at the outset had limitations, would not be definitive, and would not permit any conclusions to be made with respect to causality. Krogh reviewed some of the inherent challenges of studying health effects associated with wind energy facilities and will consider the role of those individuals reporting adverse health effects. She identified several gaps in the Health Canada research. 

Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, now a professor in radiology at McGill University, presented a paper, “Industrial wind turbines and adverse health effects: Where we are, where we need to go, and the need for regulations and predictive models to recognize human physiology”.

Research over the past few years in several areas of human physiology has progressed, Dr.Nissenbaum said. We have begun to reveal “the mechanisms by which sleep disturbances result in adverse health effects, over both short and longer durations,” Dr. Nissenbaum said. However, he added, current government regulations have not kept up with the new learnings.

Regulations not current with research

“Local regulations regarding noise (Soundscape) limits and methods of measurement were designed prior to current understandings of human sensory and reactive physiology,” Dr. Nissenbaum said. “Instrumentation and modelling geared towards satisfying those regulations are by implication lacking because they do not capture or predict physiological responses to IWT noise. According to the principles of Soundscape, and given the subtleties of human physiology, humans remain the best instruments available for detecting objectionable noise and identifying adverse health effects. Regulations, measurement methods, and predictive models must adapt to current understandings of human physiology to best protect human populations.”

Research must begin with people, said Dr. Robert McMurtry, professor of medicine at Western University. His presentation, “Patient-Centred Medicine and Soundscape” focused on the need for care and research to start with people and their experiences with wind turbine noise.

“According to Bray (2012),” Dr. McMurtry said, “exposed people are ‘objective measuring instruments whose reports and experiences must be taken seriously and quantified by technical measurements’.” Health care providers need to consider applying patient-centred medicine in evaluating the impact on those exposed to wind turbine acoustical energy.

Dr. David Michaud of Health Canada also presented a paper, “An evaluation of how nightly variations in wind turbine noise levels influence wrist actigraphy measured sleep patterns” based on a study of sleep experience among over 250 people living between .25 and 1 km from a wind turbine. Michaud advised the audience that Health Canada is conducting a more refined analysis to assess wrist actigraphy measured sleep patterns regarding nightly variations in wind turbine operations. He also commented that some of the feedback relating to research gaps was valid.

A case study in wind turbine noise emission evaluation was presented by Andy Metelka of Acton, Ontario, principal in Sound and Vibration Solutions Canada Inc., in a paper “Measurements of infrasound blade pass frequencies inside multiple homes using narrowband analysis”.

Previous measurements in homes near wind turbines indicate higher pressure levels below 10Hz than audible pressure levels measured at the same time and location (ASA Vol 20, 2013 Dooley &Metelka), Metelka said. Long-term measurements of Infrasound pressures appear inside multiple homes as wind speed and wind direction vary. Metelka took data from four Ontario homes and compared broadband infrasound levels from wind to tonal infrasound Blade Pass Frequencies. In both cases broadband infrasound and blade-to-tower pressures increase with wind.

Other speakers at the international conference included Steven Cooper of Australia, who conducted the Cape Bridgewater study, and Paul Schomer.

Wind Concerns Ontario will provide links to the papers when they are available publicly.

Huron County Board of Health to consider collaboration on health investigation

June 2, 2016

At the June meeting of the Huron County Board of Health meeting today, the (acting) Medical Officer of Health suggested collaborating in an investigation with the University of Waterloo as a means of addressing the Board’s concerns with the current follow-up project.
Collaboration with the University of Waterloo would provide a wider purpose to the proposed Huron Health Unit investigation of health complaints.
Wind Concerns Ontario has been exploring the possibility of investigating health/noise complaints with the University of Waterloo for some time.
 As the work being done in Huron County would provide good input into the investigation, Wind Concerns approached the Medical Officer of Health as requested by the University of Waterloo during a recent teleconference, to see if there was interest in a collaborative approach.
Though more discussions are pending, we see this as a positive development. More information will be provided when available.
Jane Wilson, RN
Wind Concerns Ontario

Collingwood wind turbines will be ‘very dangerous’ for pilots, safety expert testifies

An aviation safety expert was “grilled” by lawyers for the Ontario government and the wind power developer. He maintains that the planned Fairview Wind power project represents a clear danger to airport operations and pilots.

Bayshore Broadcasting, June 2, 2016

Small plane landing at Chatham-Kent airport; several turbines were disallowed due to threat to safety
Small plane landing at Chatham-Kent airport; several turbines were disallowed due to threat to safety

Wind Turbine Opponent Grilled

Thursday, June 2, 2016 7:29 AM by Ken Hashizume
Charles Cormier says Mega Turbines simply too close to Collingwood airport.
(Collingwood) –  An aviation consultant returned to the stand at the Environmental Review Tribunal in Collingwood today.

Lawyers for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and WPD Canada cross-examined Charles Cormier, who was retained by the municipalities fighting mega wind turbines.

Charles Cormier testified that the turbines planned at the Stayner-Clearview field will be very dangerous to normal flight operations.

He said with pilot multi tasking all the time, a catastrophe is likely with the turbines so close to the approach to the runway.

Cormier said if the turbine is built in the approved location, the start point for approaches at the facility would have to move 4-thousand feet, well beyond the existing property boundaries.

Citing studies that blade turbulence from the turbines can extend out 15 diameters of the rotors, Cormier said the entire aerodrome would exhibit severe potential for aircraft accidents.

Lawyers representing the turbine developers have argued that planes can make their landing approaches from a higher altitude to avoid the turbines.

But Cormier told the hearing he designs approaches to bring planes in as low as possible to inspect the runway for vehicles and wildlife.

When obstacles are placed in the way, the only alternative is to make the approaches higher.

But, at 1000-feet, Cormier said, an aircraft may still be in cloud and unable to see what’s coming.

Cormier said there is not enough land available to mitigate the problem, so the investment in the aerodrome would be lost.

Both counsellors suggested that Transport Canada letters on the subject said safety concerns could be addressed by lighting the turbines.
But Cormier said the turbines are simply too close.

He cited Chatham-Kent were 19 turbines were cancelled because they presented obstacles to the airport. In that case they were planned at 1 to 1.3 miles from the flight path.

At Stayner-Clearview they would only be .4 of a mile away.

Read the full story here.