Ontario government failed to respond to wind turbine noise reports, documents show

Incident reports released under Freedom of Information show government unable or unwilling to act on noise complaints from residents living near wind power projects

Turbines near Huron County home: Ontario citizens were promised help for concerns about health, instead they got a flawed, less than responsive system

OTTAWA, May 31, 2017—

Documents recently released by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) under Freedom of Information show a deeply flawed process for responding to complaints of excessive noise levels from industrial-scale wind turbines, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

Documents released to Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups and citizens, show that almost 3,200 reports of noise complaints were made in 2006-2014. In more than half, the government took no action.

“When Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, he promised the people of rural Ontario to address concerns about health and safety from the turbines,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said. “But they already had multiple complaints about wind turbine noise from 2006 onward, and they were unable and even unwilling to deal with them. This is failure of a government to protect people.

“Their goal appears to be protecting the interests of power development corporations instead.”

Ontario families called the MOECC hotline to report sleep disturbance, headaches, and dizziness from the wind turbine noise emissions. Some were desperate and reported not having slept for days, even weeks at a time.

The reports show, however, that ministry staff had no protocols or guidelines to deal with noise complaints and that high-level directives blocked staff from responding. Staff were told to rely on computer noise models provided by power developers instead of actual noise measurement.

“The noise models said that the turbine noise levels were safe, and within regulations,” Wilson explains, “but complaints continued — the Ministry did nothing. The MOECC chose power developers, their ‘clients,’ over Ontario families.”

Many reports referred to vibration or “pulsing” sensations from the huge turbines, but the MOECC restricted responses to audible noise alone.

“People just gave up and stopped calling,” Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says. “Then, in many cases, the Ministry simply closed their files. There was no help for these people from their government.”

A revised Compliance Protocol was released by the government on April 21, but contains no substantive change to the complaint process.

Wind Concerns Ontario recommends that no more approvals or Notices To Proceed be granted for wind power projects, and that the government develop and enforce new, tougher noise standards.

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, families and individuals concerned about the effects of industrial-scale wind turbines on the environment, the economy, and human health.

Read the report on the documents, here: NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May9

 

Excerpts from MOECC Pollution Report documents, provided to Wind Concerns Ontario.

“ … noise emissions are causing an adverse effect..” Note by MOECC field officer, March, 2010

“…no resources for after-hours monitoring…” Note by MOECC staff November, 2015

[Wind turbine noise] “Sounds like a jet engine roaring” Citizen report, March, 2013

“House [is] vibrating…” Citizen report, February, 2011

“Staff have no options to address complaint” MOECC staff, November 2015

Family, young children forced from home by wind turbine noise

Weekend on the farm? Or, a visit to a power plant?

Victoria Day weekend in Canada is a time for picnics and fun with family and friends, for many people.

One set of grandparents living on a farm in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township in Huron County thought that would be fun too, and were looking forward to having their two young granddaughters come and stay for a lovely weekend in the country.

But it was not to be.

Early on the morning of the holiday Sunday, the grandmother said, “there was a horrible tonal* noise  whine and whooing that made staying on the second level of our home intolerable.”

Later on that same morning, she said, she had “severe pressure and pain” in her ear.

Then, “Our eight year old granddaughter complained of a ‘sore forehead’.” The child has complained of sore ears at times in the past while visiting her grandparents’ home, but never at any other time.

Outside that morning the family discovered, the whining and whooing noise was everywhere.

“We had to leave here [our home] with those little girls,” the grandmother said.

“We have no freedom to do as we want in our private surroundings. It makes me weep.”

The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, like so many other families forced to endure the noise and vibration from wind turbines, have reported the turbine noise and vibration to authorities on numerous occasions. They live with 11 wind turbines within two kilometres of their home, the closest of which is just over 700 metres from the house.

On the Victoria Day weekend, they filed a complaint with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change District Office, and added this statement:

“You are harming us.” 

Ontario Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray recently promised in the Legislature  that his staff were responding to such complaints and that they would ensure the rules on noise emissions would be enforced.

Ontario families who did not ask to be exposed to these noise emissions deserve to have the Ministry fulfill its mandate, and protect all citizens from harm.

The Spills Action Line for the MOECC can be reached at 1-800-268-6060 to report excessive wind turbine noise, vibration and shadow flicker. If you call during business hours, you will be referred to the local Business Office. From the website:

You must report a spill if it:

  • harms or causes material discomfort to any person
  • injures or damages property or animal life
  • impairs the quality of the natural environment air, water or land
  • causes adverse health effects
  • presents a safety risk
  • renders property, plant or animal life unfit for use
  • leads to the loss of enjoyment of the normal use of property
  • interferes with the normal conduct of business

  • Pure tones are wave forms that occur at a single frequency. Tonal noise is generated by rotating equipment at a predictable frequency relating to the rotational speed of the shaft and the number of compressor vanes, fan blades, engine pistons, gear teeth, etc.

Wind power in Ontario: expensive, unneeded, wasted

Surplus, exported power in April could have powered half of Ontario’s homes. Instead, it’s gone … and so is your money.

Ontario’s Minister of Energy claims that Ontario needs a “reliable, efficient and clean electricity system that comes from a number of sources” [sic] but the stats from this past April put the boots to any notion of wind power being “reliable” or “efficient.”

Parker Gallant and Scott Luft have both looked at the report from the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO, and found that not only was demand at an all-time low that month (the lowest since the IESO began keeping records) but also that curtailed wind power (power we pay the wind power developers for, but do not accept on the grid because it isn’t needed) was at an all-time high.

Two Auditors General have noted that wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario—it seems things are just getting worse.

 

Here’s how Parker Gallant describes it on his Energy Perspectives blog:

For the month of April 2017, wind power generated and curtailed (521,056 MWh) was 1,374,873 MWh, for a cost of  approximately $182 million.

Curtailed wind in April was the highest on record since we began paying for it back in September 2013!

Here’s the fatal math:

net exports of 1.3 million MWh +

the 521,000 of curtailed wind = 18.7% of total Ontario demand.

Combined, the 1,832,176 MWh at the HOEP price of $11.14/MWh and 1.11 cents/kWh and what do you get? Enough power for more than 2.4 million average households (over 50% of all households in the province) with their average need for power at a cost of only $8.35 — for the whole month.

Curtailment of wind is getting worse, as Scott Luft documents, in a chart from his Cold Air Online blog. Curtailment has doubled in the past three years–money for power we don’t need.

 

Analyst Marc Brouillette in a report prepared for Strategic Policy Economics on the supply mix for power in Ontario, said that ” over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supply capability, and wind generation will not match demand in the OPO Outlook future projections as 50% of the forecasted production is expected to be surplus.” (Page 20)

Seventy percent of wind does not benefit us, and fully 50% is surplus.

Meanwhile, the Ontario government claims they are trying to get electricity bills down, but it appears they are not considering the option of cutting costs.

The contracts given out for $3.3B in new wind power in 2016 should be cancelled, as well as contracts for any projects not yet built, such as the Amherst Island project which has been dubbed “the worst place” for wind turbines because of its effect on migratory birds and other wildlife, to say nothing of a heritage Loyalist community.

Cancel the contracts, Premier Wynne.

Wind forecast: you’ll be paying more for electricity in Ontario

Parker Gallant compares power output from wind and the cost to consumers between 2010 and 2016: we’re paying more for intermittent wind power, produced out-of-phase with demand

More wind=more cost [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]
In 2010, industrial wind turbines (IWT) in Ontario represented total installed capacity of approximately 1,200 megawatts (MW); they generated 2.95 terawatt hours (TWh*) of transmission (TX) and distributed (DX) connected electricity.  The power from wind cost Ontario’s ratepayers about $413 million for those 2.95 TWh, about 2.1% of total 2010 consumption.  The cost of IWT generation in 2010 was 3.1% of total generation costs (Global Adjustment [GA] + Hourly Ontario Energy Price [HOEP]) and represented 33.5% of “net exports”** of electricity to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and others.

Jump to 2016: wind turbines represented installed capacity of almost 4,500 MW, and generated and curtailed*** TX and DX connected electricity totaling 13.15 TWh.  The cost to Ontario’s ratepayers jumped to $1,894.3 million — about 12.2 % of total generation costs.  The 13.15 TWh of generation was 7.9% of Ontario’s total consumption but 94.9% of net exports.

The cost per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by wind in 2010 was 14 cents and in 2016 it had increased to 17.5 cents, despite downward adjustments to the contracted values between 2010 and 2016.   That cost doesn’t include the back-up costs of gas generation when the wind doesn’t blow and we need the power, nor does it include costs associated with spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear, but it does include the cost of curtailed wind, which was 2.33 TWh in 2016 and just shy of total wind generated electricity in 2010.

In the seven years from 2010 to 2016, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers picked up total costs of $7.746 billion for 56.9 TWh of grid-accepted and curtailed (4.9 TWh) wind-generated electricity.   The actual value given to those 56.9 TWh by the HOEP market was just shy of $570 million meaning ratepayers were forced to pick up the difference of $7.166 billion for power that wasn’t needed.  The foregoing is based on the fact we have continually exported our surplus generation since the passing of the Green Energy Act and contracted for IWT generation at above market prices.

During those same seven years, Ontario had “net exports” of 85.95 TWh while curtailing wind, spilling hydro and steaming off nuclear. And, at the same time, we were contracting for gas plant generators that are now only occasionally called on to generate electricity yet are paid considerable dollars for simply idling!

Refinancing wind payments

As noted above the cost of wind generation in 2016 was almost $1.9 billion and represented 15.3% of the Global Adjustment pot. That cost was close to what was inferred in an Energy Ministry press release headlined: “Refinancing the Global Adjustment” but suggesting it was taxpayer owned “infrastructure”:  “To relieve the current burden on ratepayers and share costs more fairly, a portion of the GA is being refinanced. Refinancing the GA would provide significant and immediate rate relief by spreading the cost of electricity investments over the expected lifecycle of the infrastructure that has been built.”

What’s really being refinanced is a portion of the guaranteed payments to the wind and solar developers who were contracted at above market rates! So, what is being touted as a 25% reduction includes the 8% provincial portion of the HST and a portion of annual payments being made to wind and solar developers for their intermittent (and unreliable) power.

Premier Wynne’s shell game continues!

Parker Gallant,

May 22, 2017

Note: Special thanks to Scott Luft for his recent chart outlining the data enabling the writer to complete the math associated with this Liberal shell game!

 

*    One  TWh equals 1 million MWh and the average household in Ontario reputedly consumes 9 MWh annually, meaning 1 TWh could power 111,000 average household for one year.

**   Net exports are total exports less total imports.

*** Ontario commenced paying for “curtailed” wind generation in September 2013.

 Re-posed from Parker Gallant’s Energy Perspectives

 

April stats show wind power not low cost; millions spent for unneeded power in Ontario

How badly were ratepayers hit? Millions upon millions for power produced out of phase with demand…

Millions wasted in April alone

While the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the trade association for the wind power industry and vested interests, continues to maintain that wind power cannot be contributing to Ontario’s rising and unsustainable electricity bills, the facts indicate otherwise. The figures for April 2017 show wind power produced out-of-phase with demand, causing power from other, clean sources to be wasted, and wind power producers paid not to add power to the Ontario grid.

Here is Parker Gallant’s analysis.

 

The Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO’s 18 month outlook report uses theirMethodology to Perform Long Term Assessments” to forecast what industrial wind turbines (IWT) are likely to generate as a percentage of their rated capacity.

The Methodology description follows.

“Monthly Wind Capacity Contribution (WCC) values are used to forecast the contribution from wind generators. WCC values in percentage of installed capacity are determined from actual historic median wind generator contribution over the last 10 years at the top 5 contiguous demand hours of the day for each winter and summer season, or shoulder period month. The top 5 contiguous demand hours are determined by the frequency of demand peak occurrences over the last 12 months.”

 The most recent 18-month outlook forecast wind production at an average (capacity 4,000 MW growing to 4,500 MW) over 12 months at 22.2%, which is well under the assumed 29-30 % capacity claimed by wind developers. For the month of April, IESO forecast wind generation at 33.2% of capacity.

April 2017 has now passed; my friend Scott Luft has posted the actual generation and estimated the curtailed generation produced by Ontario’s contracted IWT.   For April, IESO reported grid- and distribution-connected IWT generated almost 703,000 megawatt hours (MWh), or approximately 24% of their generation capacity. Scott also estimated they curtailed 521,000 MWh or 18 % of generation capacity.

So, actual generation could have been 42% of rated capacity as a result of Ontario’s very windy month of April 2017, but Ontario’s demand for power wasn’t sufficient to absorb it! April is typically a “shoulder” month with low demand, but at the same time it is a high generation month for wind turbines.

How badly did Ontario’s ratepayers get hit? In April, they paid the costs to pay wind developers – that doesn’t include the cost of back-up from gas plants or spilled or steamed off emissions-free hydro and nuclear or losses on exported surpluses.

Wind cost=22.9 cents per kWh

For the 703,000 MWh, the cost* of grid accepted generation at $140/MWh was $98.4 million and the cost of the “curtailed” generation at $120/MWh was $62.5 million making the total cost of wind for the month of April $160.9 million.   That translates to a cost per MWh of grid accepted wind of $229.50 or 22.9 cents per kWh.

Despite clear evidence that wind turbines fail to provide competitively priced electricity when it is actually needed, the Premier Wynne-led government continues to allow more capacity to be added instead of killing the Green Energy Act and cancelling contracts that have not commenced installation.

* Most wind contracts are priced at 13.5 cents/kilowatt (kWh) and the contracts include a cost of living (COL) annual increase to a maximum of 20% so the current cost is expected to be in the range of $140/MWh or 14cents/kWh.

(Re-posted with permission from Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives)

CanWEA wrong on energy costs: wind, solar not low-cost

“Assertions are complete nonsense … only wilful blindness would suggest that wind and solar are low cost”

UWaterloo Prof Natin Jathwani, Executive Director Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy: Big Wind guilty of wilful blindness on energy costs?

Recently, energy analyst and occasional columnist for The Financial Post Parker Gallant wrote that the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) was hitting back at allegations that wind power was contributing to Ontario’s rising electricity bills.

Ontario representative Brandy Gianetta said wind power was a low-cost energy source, and she referred to University of Waterloo professor Jatin Nathwani for support.

Trouble is, she was wrong.

Professor Nathwani took the time to correct CanWEA’s statements in an email to Parker Gallant, published on his Energy Perspectives blog today.

Here is Professor Nathwani’s email:

Dear Mr Gallant:

In your Blog, you have cited Ms. Giannetta’s post on CanWEA’s website on April 24, 2017 as quoted below:

Her article points to two articles that purportedly support the “myth” she is “busting,” but both require closer examination. She cites Waterloo professor Natin Nathwani’s, (PhD in chemical engineering and a 2016 “Sunshine list” salary of $184,550) article of March 6, 2017, posted on the TVO website, which supports Premier Wynne’s dubious claims of “a massive investment, on the order of $50 billion, for the renewal of Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure.” Professor Nathwani offers no breakdown of the investment which suggests he simply took Premier Wynne’s assertion from her “Fair Hydro Plan” statement as a fact! It would be easy to tear apart Professor Nathwani’s math calculations — for example, “The total electricity bill for Ontario consumers has increased at 3.2 per cent per year on average” — but anyone reading that blatant claim knows his math is flawed!

First and foremost, the record needs to be corrected since Ms Giannetta’s assertions are simply incorrect and should not be allowed to stand.

If she has better information on the $50 billion investment provided in the Ministry of Energy’s Technical Briefing, she should make that available.

 The breakdown of the investment pattern in generation for the period 2008-2014 is as follows:

Wind Energy $6 Billion (Installed Capacity 2600 MW)

Solar Energy $5.8 Billion (Installed Capacity 1400 MW)

Bio-energy $1.3 Billion (Installed 325MW)

Natural Gas $5.8 Billion

Water Power $5 Billion (installed Capacity 1980 MW)

Nuclear $5.2 Billion

Total Installed Capacity Added to the Ontario Grid from 2008-2014 was 12,731 MW of which Renewable Power Capacity was 6298MW at a cost of $18.2 Billion.

For the complete investment pattern from 2005 to 2015, please see data available at the IESO Website.

In sum, generation additions (plus removal of coal costs) are in the order of $35 billion and additional investments relate to transmission and distribution assets.

I take strong exception to her last statement suggesting that the 3.2 percent per year (on average) increase in total electricity cost from 2006 to 2015 in real 2016$. The source for this information is a matter of public record and is available at the IESO website.

Ms Giannetta’s assertion is complete nonsense because she does not understand the difference between electricity bill and generation cost. Let Ms Gianetta identify the “blatant flaw.”

As for the electricity bill that the consumer sees, there is a wide variation across Ontario and this is primarily related to Distribution.

The Ontario Energy Board report on Electricity Rates in different cities provides a view across Ontario:

For example, the average bill for a for a typical 750kWh home Ontario comes is $130 per month.

In Toronto it is $142, Waterloo at $130 and Cornwall at $106. On the high side is Hydro One networks is $182 and this is primarily related to cost of service for low density, rural areas.

Your Table 2 Total Electricity Supply Cost is helpful and correctly highlights the cost differences of different generation supply.

Only wilful blindness on Ms Giannetta’s part would suggest that wind and solar are coming in at a low cost.

Warmest regards

Jatin Nathwani, PhD, P.Eng

Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy

Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE)

Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Environment Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA)

University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON

Wind turbine infrasound can harm health, new research paper says

‘What you can’t hear, can’t hurt you’ notion shown to be false

The wind power industry, Health Canada, and the Ontario government insist that infrasound cannot be heard, and therefore it cannot hurt you.

CanWEA went so far as to pay for a study done by MIT in 2014, that concluded infrasound near wind turbines does not exceed audibility thresholds* and is therefore not a health risk.

Turns out, they are wrong.

All of them.

A paper just published by a team of German researchers, believed to be the first of its kind, documented “changes of brain activity across several regions in response to prolonged, near-threshold IS [infrasound] …”

The peer-reviewed paper, Altered cortical and subcortical connectivity due to infrasound administered near the hearing threshold – Evidence from fMRI, was published by a team of researchers led by Markus Weichenberger of the Max Plank Institute for Human Development.

“For decades,’ the research team wrote, “it has been a widely held view that IS [infrasound] frequencies are too low to be processed by the auditory system. … Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing consensus that humans are indeed receptive to IS and that exposure to low-frequency sounds can give rise to high levels of annoyance and distress.”

The authors then stated that the idea that sound needs to be perceived in order to exert effects on humans “falls short when aiming at an objective risk assessment of IS.”

The team then set out to investigate whether IS “near the hearing threshold” can affect brain activitiy and what the effects of stimulation might be.

An excerpt:

” … our results also allow us to draw some preliminary conclusions on potential long-term health effects associated with (sub-)liminal IS stimulation. It has been reported in several studies that sustained exposure to noise can lead to an increase of catecholamine- and cortisol levels [114116]. In addition, changes of bodily functions, such as blood pressure, respiration rate, EEG patterns and heart rate have also been documented in the context of exposure to below- and near-threshold IS [117118]. We therefore suggest that several of the above mentioned autonomic reactions could in fact be mediated by the activation of brain areas such as the ACC and the amygdala. While increased local connectivity in ACC and rAmyg may only reflect an initial bodily stress response towards (sub-)liminal IS, we speculate that stimulation over longer periods of time could exert a profound effect on autonomic functions and may eventually lead to the formation of symptoms such as sleep disturbances, panic attacks or depression, especially when additional risk factors, such as an increased sensibility towards noise, or strong expectations about the harmfulness of IS are present.”

And, ” Transient upregulation of these brain areas in response to below- or near threshold IS may thus reflect an initial stress response of the body, eventually promoting symptom formation as stimulation occurs repeatedly and additional risk factor[s] come into play…”

Read the entire open-access paper here.