MOECC, RES Canada discriminate against francophones in Eastern Ontario

Save The Nation protester: no way to read the documents and participate in the consultation process

May 31, 2018

We learned today from Sauvons La Nation/Save The Nation (one of the 30 community groups in our coalition) that the wind power developer responsible for the Eastern Fields power project, RES Canada, has refused to provide documentation on the project in French.

La Nation, according to Statistics Canada, is about 70% francophone; the Township of Champlain’s francophone population is about 62%.

According to a spokesperson for Sauvons La Nation, RES Canada told community members it would cost too much to translate all the documentation.

RES Canada stands to make about $7 million a year from the 32-negawatt power project.

The MOECC translated a small portion of the documentation in the introduction but is alleged to have told the community, the documents aren’t really for the general public anyway.

Right now, Eastern Fields is currently posted on the Environmental Registry for comment. Residents have been asking for French documentation prior to the June 2nd deadline but to no avail. The result is, francophone residents who will be affected by the Eastern Fields project, for which there are significant environmental concerns, have been excluded from participating in the legislated public consultation process. The community has made its concern over this power project known in many ways, from presentations, public meetings that attracted hundreds, and hundreds of signatures on a petition taken to Queen’s Park.

Discrimination

Of all the ways the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has excluded the people of Ontario and abused rights to due process, this has surely got to be one of the most egregious.

Wind Concerns Ontario contacted the Senior Project Evaluator for Eastern Fields — she’s away.

We contacted an official in the Minister’s Office whose name was given to us — he’s away until after the election.

We also contacted the Office of the Human Rights Commission for Ontario: no response.

What the MOECC should do:

-require RES Canada to provide documentation in French

-provide it to the residents in the areas affected by Eastern Fields

-embark on a new 45-day comment period.

It was interesting the Ontario’s premier was in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell today, the riding in which Easter Fields would be built, if approved, and spoke about the importance of francophones in Ontario.

When it comes to wind power projects, apparently, francophone Ontarians can be ignored and discriminated against like everyone else in Ontario’s rural communities.

 

#MOECC

 

How to save $2 billion a year in Ontario on the energy file: Parker Gallant

Re-posted with permission from Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives.

Parker Gallant : Has a few ideas [Photo: Metroland Media]

If I were the new Minister of Energy …

On June 8, after the Ontario election, Ontario’s new premier – whoever that is – will be thinking of selecting a new Minister of Energy. With the challenges in that portfolio, the immediate question for anyone considering accepting the job would be, how can one fix the electricity side of the portfolio after the damage done over the previous 15 years by my predecessors?

Here are a few “fixes” I would take that to try to undo some of the bad decisions of the past, if I were the new energy minister.

Green Energy Act

Immediately start work on cancelling the Green Energy Act

Conservation

Knowing Ontario has a large surplus of generation we export for 10/15 per cent of its cost I would immediately cancel planned conservation spending. This would save ratepayers over $433 million annually.

Wind and solar contracts

I would immediately cancel any contracts that are outstanding, but haven’t been started and may be in the process of a challenge via either the Environmental Review Tribunal) or in the courts.    This would save ratepayers an estimated $200 million annually.

Wind turbine noise and environmental non-compliance

Work with the (new) MOECC Minister to insure they effect compliance by industrial wind developers both for exceeding noise level standards and operations during bird and bat migration periods. Failure to comply would elicit large fines. This would save ratepayers an estimated $200/400 million annually.

Change the “baseload” designation of generation for wind and solar developments

Both wind and solar generation is unreliable and intermittent, dependent on weather, and as such should not be granted “first to the grid rights”. They are backed up by gas or hydro generation with both paid for either spilling water or idling when the wind blows or the sun shines.

The cost is phenomenal.

As an example, wind turbines annually generate at approximately 30 per cent of rated capacity but 65 per cent of the time power generation comes at the wrong time of day and not needed. The estimated annual ratepayer savings if wind generation was replaced by hydro would be $400 million and if replaced by gas, in excess of $600 million.

Charge a fee (tax) for out of phase/need generation for wind and solar

Should the foregoing “baseload” re-designation be impossible based on legal issues I would direct the IESO to institute a fee that would apply to wind and solar generation delivered during mid-peak and off-peak times. A higher fee would also apply when wind is curtailed and would suggest a fee of $10/per MWh delivered during off-peak and mid-peak hours and a $20/per MWh for curtailed generation.  The estimated annual revenue generated would be a minimum of $150 million

Increase LEAP contributions from LDCs to 1 per cent of distribution revenues

The OEB would be instructed to institute an increase in the LDC (local distribution companies) LEAP (low-income assistance program) from .12 per cent to 1 per cent and reduce the allowed ROI (return on investment) by the difference.  This would deliver an estimated $60/80 million annually reducing the revenue requirement for the OESP (Ontario electricity support program) currently funded by taxpayers.

Close unused OPG generation plants

OPG currently has two power plants that are only very, very, occasionally called on to generate electricity yet ratepayers pick up the costs for OMA (operations, maintenance and administration). One of these is the Thunder Bay, the former coal plant converted to high-end biomass with a capacity of 165 MW. It would produce power at a reported cost of $1.50/kWh (Auditor General’s report). The other unused plant is the Lennox oil/gas plant in Napanee/Bath with a capacity of 2,200 MW that is never used. The estimated annual savings from the closing of these two plants would be in the $200 million range.

Rejig time-of-use (TOU) pricing to allow opt-in or opt-out

TOU pricing is focused on flattening demand by reducing usage during “peak hours” without any consideration of households or businesses. Allow households and small businesses a choice to either agree to TOU pricing or the average price (currently 8.21 cents/kWh after the 17% Fair Hydro Act reduction) over a week.  This would benefit households with shift workers, seniors, people with disabilities utilizing equipment drawing power and small businesses and would likely increase demand and reduce surplus exports thereby reducing our costs associated with those exports.  The estimated annual savings could easily be in the range of $200/400 million annually.

Other initiatives

Niagara water rights

I would conduct an investigation into why our Niagara Beck plants have not increased generation since the $1.5 billion spent on “Big Becky” (150 MW capacity) which was touted to produce enough additional power to provide electricity to 160,000 homes or over 1.4 million MWh. Are we constrained by water rights with the U.S., or is it a lack of transmission capabilities to get the power to where demand resides?

MPAC’s wind turbine assessments

One of the previous Minister’s of Finance instructed MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp,) to assess industrial wind turbines (IWT) at a maximum of $40,000 per MW of capacity despite their value of $1.5/2 million each.   I would request whomever is appointed by the new Premier to the Finance Ministry portfolio to recall those instructions and allow MPAC to reassess IWT at their current values over the terms of their contracts.  This would immediately benefit municipalities (via higher realty taxes) that originally had no ability to accept or reject IWT.

Do a quick addition of the numbers and you will see the benefit to the ratepayers of the province would amount to in excess of $2 billion dollars.

Coincidentally, that is approximately even more than the previous government provided via the Fair Hydro Act. Perhaps we didn’t need to push those costs off to the future for our children and grandchildren to pay!

Now that I have formulated a plan to reduce electricity costs by over $2 billion per annum I can relax, confident that I could indeed handle the portfolio handed to me by the new Premier of the province.

Parker Gallant

Citizen group files appeal of Ottawa-area wind power project approval

NEWS RELEASE

Community group to appeal wind power approval

Well-water protection, noise are issues of concern

For immediate release

Ottawa, May 29, 2018 – A community group has filed a formal appeal of the Renewable Energy Approval given by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for the “Nation Rise” wind power project.

“People in our quiet rural communities are unhappy with the prospect of an industrial-scale wind power project, particularly due to concerns about noise emissions from the wind turbines,” says Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont. “This 100-megawatt power project is very large in scope, spanning 12,000 acres. The plans are for 33 industrial wind turbines, equivalent to 60-storey office buildings.  It will have a huge impact on our communities.”

Of prime concern is the potential to damage well water supply, as a result of the drilling and pile-driving necessary to anchor the top-heavy turbines. “Of the 33 proposed turbines, 31 are slated to be directly on top of what the MOECC has designated as ‘highly vulnerable aquifers’,” says Benke. “Up to 10,000 wells for villages, homes, farms and businesses between North Stormont and almost to the Ottawa River to the northeast, depend on this fragile source of water.”

Water wells in the Chatham-Kent area have been contaminated with black sediment following turbine construction last year, and there are calls for a public health investigation as a result.

“We are very worried about what could happen to our water,” says Benke.

Noise is a serious concern too, especially because the MOECC has received thousands of noise complaints in Ontario, but few have been resolved, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

“The reports we obtained from the MOECC under Freedom of Information show that the Ministry has not responded effectively to reports of excessive turbine noise, and instead relies on hypothetical, computer-generated noise models from the turbine manufacturers. Meanwhile, families can’t sleep at night—some have even abandoned their homes,” says Wilson. “That is not the protection of the environment and health Ontarians expect from their government.

“With so many reports of problems, the people in the North Stormont area are right to be concerned,” Wilson adds.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 5th, tentatively in Finch, Ontario.

The Nation Rise power project will be located about 40 km southeast of Ottawa, and includes the communities surrounding Finch, Berwick and Crysler. It is being developed by Portuguese power developer EDP Renewables.

SOURCE: Wind Concerns Ontario, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont

CONTACT: Margaret Benke macbenke@aol.com  Jane Wilson president@windconcernsontario.ca

www.windconcernsontario.ca

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

 

Most of the turbines planned will be constructed on a “vulnerable aquifer” that serves 10,000 wells in Eastern Ontario

Ontario Environment ministry under fire over Chatham-Kent water wells

Ontario Groundwater Association warned about the effects of wind farm development over sensitive hydrogeology — but was ignored

 

Experts are lined up against the MOECC in their views on what’s happening in Chatham-Kent [Photo: Council of Canadians]

In the current edition of Ontario Farmer is a report on the status of Chatham-Kent wells which residents say have been contaminated by sediment; they link the failure of the wells to wind turbine construction.

Here are excerpts from the article in Farmers Forum  by Jeffrey Carter.

With opposition parties and others calling for an official health hazard investigation, the Ontario government finds itself under increasing scrutiny over groundwater complaints in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

According to [community group] Water Wells First, upwards of 20 wells in the former townships of Dover and Camden have been impacted. The group blames wind farm development in the area for the problem and feel they have the evidence to prove it — before and after measurements of turbidity specific to the North Kent Wind project led by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Development.

It’s the type of approach supported by University of Waterloo geological engineer Maurice Dusseault who questions the parameters used by Golder and Associates, a consulting firm hired by Samsung and Pattern, to conclude turbine construction an operation could not possibly have impacted groundwater in the area.

Low-frequency vibration created by piledriving during wind turbine construction and operation may have led to turbidity issues, Dusseault said, something it appears Golder and Associates did not measure.

Under scrutiny as well is the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), which approved the wind farm developments. The MOECC has repeatedly cited the opinion of Dr. David Colby*, the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health over concerns wells may have been compromised.

{Colby] has not seen any of the results from water tests conducted by Water Wells First that show exponentially higher levels of turbidity following the construction and operation of North Kent Wind turbines.

“I don’t want to come across as unsympathetic but really there’s no connection to wind turbines,” Colby said.

The executive director of the Ontario Groundwater Association Craig Stainton gives little weight to Dr. Colby’s opinions on the matter and said the MOECC response to the well water complaints has been sorely lacking. Had the MOECC heeded warnings that wind farm development posed a threat to the groundwater of the area, the current controversy would likely have been avoided, he said.

Third-world conditions

“If the MOECC were doing what they should be doing, what they’re supposed to be doing, they would have known what these developments would do. When you get into the science, and there’s reams of it, this has been going on in Europe for years and they are years ahead of us.”

“It’s despicable. They have created third-world conditions for those homeowners.”

The aquifer in the north part of Chatham-Kent is well known to well drillers operating in the area. It is both shallow, roughly 50 to 70 feet below the soil surface, and fragile, and is located just about the Kettle Point Black Shale formation common to the area.

Stainton is concerned that even if the operation of the turbines is ended, the aquifer may have been permanently damaged.

 

TEST RESULTS

Tests paid for by Water Wells First and conducted by an independent lab showed elevated levels of particulates and heavy metals including:

  • lead
  • arsenic
  • mercury
  • uranium

 

*WCO note: Dr Colby has acted as a paid advocate for the wind power industry, and has published a paper for both the Canadian and US wind power lobby groups

 

Ontario government approves new wind farm over “vulnerable aquifer”

May 8, 2018

The Ontario government announced late in the day last Friday it had given Renewable Energy Approval (REA) to the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, proposed by Portugal-based EDP Renewables.

The project is proposed for North Stormont, between Ottawa and Cornwall.

Many comments were received by the government during the comment period for the power project, many of which related to the unusual geology of the area.

In fact, according to a map of the project, almost every single wind turbine will be located over what is designated as “vulnerable aquifer.”

Ontario has already seen the results of wind turbine construction over fragile hydrogeology (though denied by the government), in Chatham-Kent where water wells have been disturbed such that at least 20 families do not now have water from their own wells. Several parties are now calling for a public health investigation.

Nation Rise map: the fine pink striped area is all “vulnerable”

In the case of the Nation Rise project, the ministry responded in the notice (emphasis is ours):

Impacts to groundwater
Concerns were raised that ground-borne vibration generated during construction (pile-driving) and operation of turbines (blade rotation) may impact well water quality. These concerns were based on allegations and complaints that ground-borne vibration generated during pile driving and blade rotation of wind turbines in another area of the province has impacted well water quality. Concerns were also raised regarding the potential for other project-related activities to contaminate groundwater.

Upon review of the groundwater aspects of the application, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has decided to include a series of conditions in the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) related to groundwater and ground-borne vibration monitoring. Among these conditions is the requirement for the proponent to: not commence pile driving or blasting activities until groundwater monitoring and ground-borne vibration monitoring plans are submitted to and approved by the MOECC; implement groundwater monitoring and ground-borne vibration monitoring during various project phases; and implement a well water complaint response plan/protocol and contingency plan, as necessary.

and

Geological/geotechnical concerns and impacts as a result of natural hazards
Concerns were received regarding the viability of installing the project within leda clays and the potential impacts of the project as a result of natural hazards, such as landslides and earthquakes. Concerns were also received regarding the potential for the project to facilitate the development of a landslide.

To ensure that the project will be safely constructed in this geological setting, as a condition of the REA the proponent will not be permitted to commence construction of turbine foundations and access roads until a detailed geotechnical report has been submitted to and approved in writing by the MOECC.

One would think that, given the seriousness of these concerns, and irreversibility of any damage to the aquifer, the Ministry would have required these reports before issuing an approval.

Residents have other concerns including effects of being exposed from the noise emissions from that many wind turbines which will also be among the most powerful in the province. That concern is magnified by the fact that this new wind power project did not have to abide by Ontario’s newest set of rules for wind power generators, but was able to opt for the less strict, older guidelines. It is possible that many turbines will be out of compliance with new regulations the minute they begin operation.

If the project goes ahead.

The community is now pondering next steps, which could include an appeal of the approval.

For more information, contact Concerned Citizens of North Stormont : http://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/

or Wind Concerns Ontario at contact@windconcernsontario.ca

#MOECC

Ontario Environment Minister served with summons on violation of the Environmental Protection Act

“We had no choice” : Wind Concerns Ontario on taking legal action regarding wind turbine noise reports

NEWS RELEASE

Citizens’ group charges Environment Minister with violation of Environmental Protection Act

May 1, 2018, Toronto, 10:00 EDT – The president of Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a volunteer-led coalition of 30 community groups and many Ontario families, has filed a private prosecution against the Honourable Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), for violating Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

Private prosecutions are important tools in empowering private citizens to hold those persons in power to account.

The EPA prohibits anyone from permitting the “discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect.” Adverse effects listed in the EPA include “an adverse effect on the health of any person,” “harm or material discomfort to any person” and “loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.” (Section 14 subsections 1 and 2)

“We don’t take this step lightly,” says Jane Wilson, WCO President and a Registered Nurse, “but with the MOECC not responding to thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, which is affecting sleep and health for Ontario families, we had no choice. These are examples of adverse effects that Minister Ballard should not be permitting to continue.”

WCO recently received MOECC documents under a Freedom of Information request that showed thousands of unresolved reports of noise, many with staff notes about sleep disturbance and health impacts. Between 2006 and 2016, there were more than 4,500 recorded reports, 35% of which contained staff notes about adverse health effects; between 2015-2016, the MOECC response rate to the reports of excessive noise was less than 7%.

“Citizens report going without sleep for days, weeks, even months,” said Wilson. “Sleep disturbance is linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Mr. Ballard, as steward of environmental protection in Ontario, is responsible for allowing this environmental noise pollution to continue.”

On April 30, 2018, Mr. Ballard was served with a summons to appear before the court on May 17, 2018.

CONTACT: Jane Wilson  president@windconcernsontario.ca

www.windconcernsontario.ca

 

Excerpts from Ontario resident wind turbine noise reports:

“You have done nothing to help myself or my family. How many times [do we have to complain] before the MOECC will do something?”

“Another week has passed with no response from you. It has been terrible here off and on the past week …continue to be unable to get a good night’s sleep.”

“When will you reopen our file and help us?”

“We just want to sleep…”

“After a week of east wind and no sleep in our house this has become intolerable … it is up to you to address this”

 

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s reports on the MOECC pollution Incident Reports here.

The 2017 report on noise complaints 2006-2014 NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May1

The 2018 report on noise complaints 2015-2016 Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL

 

Legal foundation for a private prosecution

Ontario Private Prosecution

 

#MOECC