Ontario wind farm approval process “appalling” says MP

Problems with noise, vibration and disturbed wells causes concerns about how projects get approved, and whether the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is actually regulating anything

Residents protesting North Kent II construction — 12 wells may have been affected by pile-driving for turbines

September 20, 2017

An article in the current edition of Ontario Farmer notes “growing concerns” about the impact of wind turbine construction activities on well water for residents in Chatham-Kent.

From the article by Jeffrey Carter:

The MP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington said provincial approval process for wind turbines in Ontario is “appalling”, especially in how it has impacted the northern part of his riding. Dave Van Kesteren said the federal approval process for pipelines is far more rigorous. “I don’t see that happening for wind farms,” Van Kesteren said. “Let’s go through a proper process and find out if there are concerns.”

Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope was asked about the interference with area water wells related to construction on the North Kent II wind power project, where as many as nine wells (it is now 12) wells are said to have been contaminated since pile-driving operations began.

Hope said the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has so far only reported six complaints that may be linked to the project. He also said the wells are not contaminated. Rather, the complaints relate to water turbidity and turbid water does not pose a health risk, he said.

Kevin Jakubec, spokesman for the Water Wells First group said there have been 11 complaints sent to the MOECC so far and others are expected. In three cases the water has been choked off and families are relying on temporary tanks and delivered water.

Earlier this week, power developer Samsung, while still refusing to accept responsibility for the water problems, said that the water it is shipping to families is for general use only but not for drinking.

Last week, the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, a coalition of several Ontario municipalities concerned about and affected by wind power operations, put out a news release demanding the MOECC take action.

“The Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group requests the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to respect the urgent need of the citizens of North Kent and the First Nation clans to see this issue remedied at once,” the Group stated in the news release, signed by Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Stewart Halliday.

Yesterday, September 19, the MOECC responded to a complaint and was prepared to take water samples from a home for testing, but refused because Mr Jakubec of Water Wells First was present.

The MOECC’s mandate is “Leading to healthier communities and economic prosperity through the protection of Ontario’s air, land and water.”

Wind Concerns Ontario urges anyone with well water problems in Chatham-Kent to contact the Ministry via the local office or by calling the Spills Action line at 1-800-268-6060. Be sure to get an Incident Report number from the staff person, and keep a log of your calls and comments. 

 

MOECC fails to act on wind turbine noise: CTV report

Turbines in K2 Wind power project were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations months ago. Since then, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has done nothing, says a report by CTV News London.

http://london.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=104066

September 13, 2017

Last spring, the MOECC determined that several industrial-scale wind turbines in the K2 Wind power development near Goderich, Ontario were operating out of compliance. This was the result of noise testing done by the Ministry, following numerous complaints by residents.

Former minister Glen Murray had promised action, saying there are rules to be followed, and his department would make sure they were.

Months later, nothing has been done. And residents continue to file reports of excessive noise and vibration daily.

In a report by Scott Miller of CTV London resident Mike Stachura says, “Nothing has changed…This is our home, we have to live here and we keep hoping the government will do something to help.”

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson raised the issue in the Legislature Tuesday, asking new minister Chris Ballard when the Wynne government was going to take action to protect residents’ health. The minister responded with criticism of the Opposition, and reverted to the government’s green energy mantra.

 

MOECC: we’re not getting complaints

The MOECC: if they don’t hear from you, they can say there are no problems

 

Wind Concerns Ontario has been urging people experiencing noise, vibration and other effects from being exposed to wind turbine noise emissions to report these to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

We have just received a letter that underscores the need to continue reporting.

In a letter from the District Manager in Ottawa regarding a wind power project in Eastern Ontario, he writes “… additional complaints in the area were not received by the ministry.”

And, he said, the wind power developer did not hold Community Liaison Committee meetings further than the mandated four events because  of a “lack of participation by members of the public.”

While the latter statement is not accurate (the power developer said at its very first meeting that it never intended to hold more than four), the message is clear: no reports of excessive noise to the ministry means NO PROBLEM.

Again, if you have experience with excessive noise, sound pressure, vibration, shadow flicker, or altered well water, please call the MOECC Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060 or, if you have the District Office telephone number and you are calling during business hours, call that.

Be prepared to give your location, any observations about weather, wind speed if you have it (you can get this from your cell phone), and any other observations about what you are experiencing.

Be sure to get an Incident Report number and keep a log of your calls.

If you do nothing, you are one-hundred-percent guaranteed nothing will be done.

 

Black well water protest continues in Chatham-Kent

September 6, 2017

Residents of Chatham-Kent who are concerned about reports that as many as 12 water wells may have been affected by pile driving activity during construction of the North Kent II wind power project continue their demonstration at the site today.

The power developer filed for an injunction against them last week, citing concern for the safety of construction workers. The demonstration has been peaceful, and was conducted through the Labour Day holiday weekend.

The campaign has been organized by local community group Water Wells First, which filed an appeal against the power project. The appeal was withdrawn when the appellants were not allowed time to have experts review a hydrology report submitted by the developer.

Chatham-Kent has asked the Ontario government to halt construction until the situation has been reviewed, and property owners affected have been offered free water testing by independent laboratories.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has taken no action.

For more frequent updates on the demonstration, please check on our Facebook page, and/or at Water Wells First.

New wind power projects filing for approval

September 6, 2017

The wind power developers awarded contracts in 2016 are now gradually filing for Renewable Energy Approval, in spite of the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power, and wind power is produced out of phase with demand to the extent it is estimate 70 percent of it is wasted.

The Otter Creek project (50 megawatts, Chatham-Kent, $218 million over 20 years) was just on the EBR for comment, and now the Romney Wind Energy Centre (60 megawatts, Chatham-Kent, $261 million over 20 years) has filed documents that are being screened for completeness.

Ontario does not need this new power.

Ontarians do not need more costs added to their electricity bills.

Ontario has shown it is unable — or unwilling — to deal with thousands of reports of excessive noise from projects already operating.

These contracts should be cancelled, not granted Renewable Energy Approval.

MOECC district office readiness in question on wind turbine noise reports

September 4, 2017

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston, south of Ottawa. Resident told: you’re the only one complaining [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

This past spring, Wind Concerns Ontario conducted an analysis of Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) response to reports of excessive noise and vibration(MOECC) and concluded the process for responding to citizen complaints is deeply flawed and largely ineffective. Global News ran a two-part investigative report on this information, which featured Ontario families who have been complaining about turbine noise for years, with no resolution.

More documents recently released under Freedom of Information (FOI) and correspondence with Ministry staff reveal problems with the Cornwall office that are further examples of a poor strategy for response. The documents and email also are a clear indication that the MOECC has completely abdicated its role as a regulator, and leaves resolution of any problems up to corporate wind power developers.

The Cornwall office up to now has only had to deal with any reports of excessive noise stemming from the 30-megawatt South Branch power project in and around Brinston, Ontario. Documents show that noise complaints were made even before the project began commercial operation in March, 2014.

No report number means no records?

Our initial request for information resulted in three records, which did not match Wind Concerns Ontario members’ experiences with this power project. It turned out, the Cornwall office had not been giving Incident Report numbers to people reporting, as is procedure, so their complaints were not recorded or tracked. On the advice of insider, we re-filed a request, this time asking for “investigative” reports and a handful — again, at odds with our members’ real-life experiences–was turned over.

In the records was an email from the Senior Environmental Officer to the power developer EDP Renewables, in which the MOECC staff member actually apologizes for passing along a complaint. [Emphasis ours]

Tuesday July 22, 2014

Hi Ken [Ken Little , EDPR project manager for South Branch]

Sorry about this

I received a noise complaint last week –not specific to any particular time last week, but a complaint of noise when the winds are from the west or south west. The resident lives [redacted] and is bothered by the noise from the turbine [redacted] The caller stated he cannot open his winds when the winds are from that particular direction due to the noise. …

Do you have any acoustic results for that specific turbine yet?

Excerpts from other complaints

May, 2014: There have been several nights when I am awakened with the window closed. I shudder to think of having the windows open all the time now …

March 20, 2014: I have had several sleepless nights when the wind is in the east direction as the sound waves of the turbines kept me awake from 12:30 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. until morning. [Redacted] Is there any way we can control the wind turbine motion for daytime hours only as [sic] they do not run from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.?

And, in one actual Incident Report:

June, 2014 IR 5006-9KYK5D: ..caller report last night was the 7th night since start-up of wind turbines as SBWF that she has been unable to sleep for the noise …Noise is described as drone of an airplane — very loud with windows closed.

MOECC noted: “acoustic monitoring conducted by tech support July 14-18 2014, report under review with noise engineer”

This summer, a Brinston area resident wrote to Minister Murray about the complete lack of response to her reports of excessive noise (she has had to sleep in her basement on occasion because of the noise and vibration), and an officer with the Cornwall Office telephoned her.

Here’s what she was told.

*Ministry staff were completely unprepared for wind turbine noise complaints.

*They still don’t really know what to do.

*They “lost” her records — even though she had so many reports that the MOECC actually installed equipment and did noise measurement for several days.

*Last, it was too bad they lost everything pertaining to her situation and reports but it didn’t really matter, she was told because “You’re the only one complaining.”

“Lost” records? Citizen complaints under the regulations “don’t matter”? And she was “the only one”, which is completely false?

Outrageous behavior for a regulator

Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter to new MOECC Minister Ballard, stating “This is outrageous treatment of a citizen of Ontario, who is simply following the process communicated to her by both the Government of Ontario and the wind power developer, who is mandated under its Renewable Energy Approval to act on and resolve any complaints of excessive noise.”

Moreover, WCO noted in its letter to the Minister, the Cornwall office is not ensuring compliance to conditions of the Renewable Energy Approval, specifically results of the compliance audit, which must be posted on the wind power project website, but are not. The response from the Cornwall Office (August 10, 2017):

Copies of the acoustic audits can be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.  I haven’t had a chance to check, but some reports have been included in the SBWF website– I assume you’ve already checked there.  Let me know if you are interested in pursuing an FOI request and I’ll direct you to the form and process.”

When WCO responded that the report is supposed to be public as per the protocol released by the MOECC in April 2017, the Senior Environmental Officer replies [emphasis ours] on August 10, 2017:

“Ah…I haven’t had a chance to review this new protocol in its entirety…there are some changes worth noting.  Thank you for bringing my attention to this.  I will be requiring the SBWF to post their reports on their website.  I’ll keep you apprised.

 

“This is completely inappropriate behaviour for a regulator,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote to Minister Ballard.

“The people of this particular area are now facing approval of a 100-megawatt power project by the same developer, this one close to TWO communities,*  and they have no assurance whatsoever that the Cornwall District Office is prepared, or even competent, to respond effectively to noise complaints.

“On behalf of our members, we ask that you investigate this situation. Government staff should be prepared to fulfill the department’s mandate, and carry out their responsibilities to the people of Ontario.”

As of September 4, 2017, the mandated compliance report is still not on the South Branch Wind Farm website.

****** BULLETIN****

We have just been informed by the MOECC that the EDP documents have been reviewed and found to be incomplete and cannot be posted at this time.

This project has been in operation for three years.

 

See the letter to Minister Ballard here: August28LetterMinisterBallardCornwalDO

Read WCO’s report on noise response by the Ministry 2006-2014 here: NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May9

*EDPR is about to file documents for Renewable Energy Approval for the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project, which will be close to the communities of Finch, Berwick and Crysler