Why the Green Energy Act had to go: PostMedia editor Lorrie Goldstein

Good riddance to toxic Green Energy Act

PostMedia

September 21, 2018

OPINION

By Lorrie Goldstein

The new Belle River project by Samsung will cost about $700 million, and is an example of the damage brought by the Green Energy Act.

 

By scrapping the Green Energy Act, passed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty in 2009, Premier Doug Ford is ending one of the worst legislative disasters ever inflicted on the people of Ontario.

Ford ran on repealing the GEA and the end of this appalling legislation cannot come soon enough.

The GEA is largely responsible for Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity prices.

It’s the reason we’re paying outrageously high prices for green energy the Liberals didn’t need in order to eliminate coal power, which was actually done using nuclear power and natural gas.

The jobs the Liberals promised under the GEA never materialized, according to former Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 annual report.

The GEA made Ontario’s energy grid less efficient because it required the province to buy expensive and unreliable wind and solar power from green energy developers under 20-year contracts, before purchasing other forms of energy.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported in 2016 that Ontario electricity consumers had overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy, because the Liberals ignored the advice of their own experts on how to price it.

The GEA led to the gas plants scandal, because the Liberals had to frantically build new natural gas plants to back up the unreliable power they were getting from wind and solar energy, then scrapped the gas plants planned for Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election.

As PC Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said Thursday, the GEA took away the planning rights of municipalities, which will now be restored, leaving them without any say in the location of green energy infrastructure.

That deprived Ontarians of natural justice, turning neighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately-owned lands in rural communities for massive wind turbines and solar farms, with the projects then sprung on those communities as a fait accompli, in which they had no meaningful say.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, still ranting about Ford cutting the size of Toronto council in half, voted with the Liberals to pass the GEA, a far more sweeping attack on municipal governments.

Under the GEA, the Liberals abdicated from the proper role of government, which is to balance public and private interests.

Instead, they became cheerleaders for the wealthy green energy lobby.

Citizens opposed to green energy projects imposed on their communities faced the impossible task of fighting the industry and the Liberal government.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported by the CBC, revealed the Liberals ignored warnings from their own environment ministry that the province needed stricter noise limits on turbines, had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them, and that computer models for determining residential setbacks were flawed.

In 2011, when McCarter investigated the Liberals’ renewable energy strategy built around the GEA, he reported his auditors had to start from scratch, because the Liberals, incredibly, “had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.”

McCarter warned the GEA had, “created a new process to expedite the development of renewable energy by providing the Minister (of Energy) with the authority to supersede many of the government’s usual planning and regulatory processes … As a result no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate” its financial impacts.

Ford is right to scrap the GEA. 

The tragedy is that the economic damage it caused under the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals will be felt for decades to come.

Former Ontario government “specifically designed” practices to hide debt: Fedeli

Fair Hydro Plan “specifically designed” to hide debt

September 21, 2018

News report: CTV News

In a shocking speech in Toronto this morning, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the provincial debt is $15B, a fact that was hidden from the public by the former government.

In fact, during the pre-election period this year, the Wynne government claimed it would have a “small surplus” when the reality was a deficit of more than $3B.

The Global Adjustment charge on electricity bills and the Fair Hydro Plan were “specifically designed” to hide billions in debt.

The bad practices started early on with the Green Energy Act, Fedeli said, in which Liberal insiders were given lucrative contracts for wind power projects to supply power Ontario didn’t need.  The government started the process to repeal the Green Energy Act, which was supported by the NDP in 2009, yesterday.

Mr. Fedeli said that the Ford government plans to enact solid financial management.

They could start by cancelling the Romney Wind and Nation Rise wind power projects, which would represent savings of $700 million.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Ontario cancels “disastrous” Green Energy Act

Protesters march in Picton, Ontario over a large wind power project. Goodbye, GEA (Photo Wind Concerns Ontario]

September 20. 2018

The new Ontario government has cancelled the Green Energy Act in an announcement today, ending so-called “sweetheart” deals for expensive renewable energy that hiked consumers’ power bills and brought hardship to Ontario rural communities through forced industrialization.

Wind Concerns Ontario has long advocated for cancellation of the act which promoted large-scale wind power projects, without any cost-benefit or financial analysis, as was recommended to the McGuinty-Wynne governments by two Auditors General.

“This is the first step in the unwinding of the terrible damage done to our quiet rural communities,” said president Jane Wilson. “We know that the Green Energy removed democracy for our towns, hamlets and villages and forced upon them huge, noisy power generators that had enormous environmental, social and human impacts. Those impacts are still being felt as people are living with the noise and vibration, enduring endless sleepless nights and a range of harmful health effects from exposure to turbine noise emissions.”

The government News Release follows:

 

 Ontario’s Government for the People Introduces Legislation to Repeal the Green Energy Act

Municipalities to have final say on new energy projects

 

September 20, 2018

 

TORONTO — Ontario’s Government for the People is delivering on its promise to repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure, announced today.

The original Green Energy Act led to the disastrous feed-in-tariff program and skyrocketing electricity rates for Ontario families, and took away powers from municipalities to stop expensive and unneeded energy projects in their communities. Under the last government energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.

“The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history,” said Minister Rickford.

“Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind-farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need.” Minister McNaughton added. “Today we are proud to say that the party with taxpayers’ money is over.”

The ministers announced that the government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will fully strike the Green Energy Act from the province’s books. This will include repealing provisions that stripped away the power of local municipalities to block unwanted wind and solar farms.

“The Green Energy Act allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario,” said Minister McNaughton. “But we believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities.”

The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop approvals for wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated. This would put the brakes on additional projects that would add costs to electricity bills that the people of Ontario simply cannot afford.

“One of the first actions your government took was to cancel 758 expensive and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for the people of Ontario, saving $790 million for electricity customers,” said Minister Rickford. “The days of sweetheart deals for energy insiders and unpopular projects forced on local municipalities are over.”

QUICK FACTS

  • According to the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Energy System Operator, wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electricity bills in 2017.
  • Wind and solar represent just 11 per cent of total generation in Ontario, but reflect 30 per cent of Global Adjustment costs that are borne by electricity customers
  • In 2017, 26 per cent of electricity generated from wind and solar was curtailed, or wasted. This is electricity that Ontarians paid for, but didn’t need or use.

 

 

Natasha Demetriades

Communications Branch

natasha.demetriades@ontario.ca

416-327-3855

Available Online

Disponible en Français

 

The unconvincing spin on wind power in Ontario

September 19, 2018

Ontario: not the perfect picture for industrial-scale wind power

Parker Gallant’s latest posting is in response to a new document from Canada’s wind power lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA.

CanWEA is carrying out an energetic campaign of persuasion as it is concurrently trying to promote a massive build of wind power in Alberta and Saskatchewan and defending its record in Ontario. With a new government that has pledged not only to cancel new contracts for huge unnecessary wind power projects (mostly, but not quite, done–Romney and North Stormont are still in process), but also to renegotiate existing contracts where possible.

That’s bad news for the trade association hoping to keep the gravy train going.

So, they have created a detailed characterization of the “success” wind power has been in Ontario. There is no mention of the inarguable environmental impacts, or of the thousands of formal reports of excessive wind turbine noise and adverse health effects–in some cases, so extreme people have been forced to leave their homes.

While the wind power projects may be able to “prove” compliance, using a very flawed protocol, the fact that hundreds of complaints are filed each month is a sure indicator of serious problems.

Here is Parker Gallant’s take on the CanWEA promotion piece.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

NOTE: If you are experiencing problems with wind turbine noise/vibration/sensation, stray voltage from wind power infrastructure, or disturbed well water, it is absolutely imperative that you file complaints with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The new government needs to know there are problems, and the public service needs to understand it is not status quo from the previous, pro-wind at any cost government.

Call the Spills Line 1-866-MOE-TIPS any time, be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of your call and the circumstances leading to your call. You may also call the individual wind power operator for the power project you believe is affecting you.

Australian independent review spurs lawsuit over wind turbine noise

ABC News

Gippsland, Australia, September 13,m 2018

Noise from a wind farm in Victoria’s Gippsland is having an adverse impact on the comfort and wellbeing of residents living at surrounding properties, a new report commissioned by a local council has found.

According to the South Gippsland Shire Council, this could set a new precedent in how planning decisions are made about where wind turbines are built.

The council said the report it commissioned into the Bald Hills Wind Farm at Tarwin Lower found two surrounding properties were experiencing noise levels that were problematic.

Council chief executive Tim Tamlin said the report by public health consultants James C Smith and Associates found noise from the wind farm, which has operated since 2015, could be having a negative impact on residents’ personal comfort and wellbeing.

Supreme Court orders independent report

It is the latest development in an almost two-year saga involving the wind farm, which has 52 turbines on farmland about 150 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.

The report came after a resident living near the wind farm lodged a “nuisance” complaint about two years ago under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, claiming noise from the wind farm turbines was affecting nearby houses.

An initial investigation by the council found there was no impact from the wind turbines.

But the complainant challenged the decision and the Supreme Court ordered the council to commission an independent report — costing more than $33,000.

The report found “wind farm noise was clearly audible” at two residences with windows and doors shut.

And in one case the noise was so loud at a neighbouring house it “intruded into conversation between investigators and (the couple)”.

“Thus corroborating that wind farm noise was clearly audible in dwellings and, at times, intrusive.”

The report also found “there is a nuisance caused by windfarm noise in that the noise is audible frequently within individual residences and this noise is adversely impacting on the personal comfort and wellbeing of individuals”.

Clients entitled to sleep: lawyer

The impact on people’s health from wind turbines, known as wind turbine syndrome, has long been debated.

A new study on wind farm noise is being undertaken by Flinders University in Adelaide in a bid to establish once and for all how noise from wind turbines can affect health.

The lawyer representing residents opposed to the Bald Hills Wind Farm, Dominica Tannock from DST Legal, said her clients were entitled to be compensated for any noise intrusion on their properties.

“What I would say is that our clients weren’t objectors to the wind farm, they were objectors to the noise emissions from the wind farm that are obtrusive and affecting their sleep.

“The council has to make a decision, as to whether there is a nuisance under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. We say the council must adopt the report of its experts.”

Ms Tannock said if they made that decision, then action must be taken to remedy it.

“My clients like where they live, and they have been living there for many years. The argument is that the wind farm should not intrude into their homes.

“And if it does, then the wind farm may have to stop operating at night, if they can’t control the noise emissions. And, or, they might have to pay my client’s compensation.

“My clients are entitled to sleep in their homes.

“The wind farm must comply with the noise emissions of the permit and it also must not be a noise nuisance. It’s an offence under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to cause noise emissions on another person’s land.”

Councils call for wind farm clarity

Mr Tamlin said the council was trying work out the implications of the report and wanted the Victorian Government to provide clarity on the issue.

He said local councils could effectively be sidelined from the approval process for a wind energy plant, via the relevant planning act, but then have to deal with the fallout if there was a complaint under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

“The wind farm has a planning permit, under the Planning and Environment Act, to operate and is compliant with its noise standards,” Mr Tamlin said.

However, he said the consultants’ report had found noise nuisance for two surrounding residents, causing a conflict between the two relevant pieces of legislation.

“Then council finds itself in the middle and what’s worse, our residents find themselves in a situation which should never has occurred,” Mr Tamlin said.

“This is something the Victorian Government needs to resolve, for the sake of the renewable energy sector and all those involved in the establishment of wind farms.”

The report comes in the same week that Premier Daniel Andrews revealed the Government had signed contracts with six solar and wind farms, guaranteeing a minimum wholesale energy price for the companies.

It is an issue the peak body for councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), also wants addressed.

At the MAV’s state conference in May, the association agreed to lobby the Victorian Government to, “address inconsistencies between two pieces of legislation which covers wind farm approval and regulation”.

A statement from the Bald Hills wind farm said they “are not in a position to make any further comment” until they have had more time to review the report but said the operation was “compliant with the noise limits stipulated in its planning permit”.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, said there is a thorough assessment for all wind farm applications which considers factors such as noise and the potential impact on nearby residences.

“The project has complied with the noise limits in its permit conditions, it is up to the council to assess the findings of this report and determine if further action is required,” the spokesperson for Mr Wynne said.

Key points

  • An independent report commissioned by the South Gippsland Council found that two properties were experiencing problematic noise levels
  • The report followed the lodging of a nuisance complaint by a local resident under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act
  • The Supreme Court ordered the council to commission the independent report
  • South Gippsland Shire Council is demanding clarity from the State Government

Read the article here.

Wind turbine angst on Amherst Island: will the island community heal?

“Friend against friend”: Of the 420 people on Amherst Island, 350 opposed the “Windlectric” wind power project, Farmers’ Forum reports. The result is a community ripped apart, that may never come together again

Turbines on tiny Amherst Island. [Photo from Association to Protect Amherst Island]
September 8, 2018

Republished from

FARMERS FORUM

By Tom Collins and Patrick Meagher

Amherst Island — The blades on 26 new wind turbines on Amherst Island started turning in mid-June following a decade-long battle that divided the small island community west of Kingston and turned friend against friend.

Some people still don’t wave to neighbours. Others decline to buy products from those who hold an opposing view, at the Saturday morning market.

The island (population 420) is now home to the fourth operating wind energy project in Eastern Ontario. About 350 islanders joined an association to stop the turbines. There are 86 turbines on the next island over, Wolfe Island, five more turbines just west of Kingston [Ernestown], and 10 at Brinston, 20 minutes southeast of Kemptville.

A Prince Edward County project that was under construction was recently cancelled by Premier Dog Ford as a cost-saving measure.

Several people said the Amherst Island community–you take a ferry to get there–was mostly split between two factions: the anti-turbine group included those who moved to the island since the 1990s and don’t own much land. The pro-turbine group consists of generational families with plenty of space to host turbines.

Sheep farmer Dave Willard, whose family has lived on the island since 1850, has two turbines on his farm and said while things have gotten better, there are still four people who won’t wave to him when he passes by.

“These are not people I grew up with,” he said, adding that turbines are divisive because of the visual aspect. “It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t bother me much.”

There are 17 landowners hosting the 26 turbines. Willard says while there will be good years and bad years, he estimated he won’t earn less than $10,000 a year from each turbine. “It doesn’t matter. If it were $2,000 a year, that would be fine by me,” he said.

Sheep farmer Cherry Allen at Flat Foot Farm is Willard’s neighbor and used to have 1,600 ewes. But they had to cut back to 600 because of the turbine construction on land they rented.

Allen, who runs the farm with partner Mark Ritchie, said they run a closed flock and it will take about three or four years to get back to 1,600 ewes.

Allen, who opposes the turbines, said that one of Willard’s turbines is 700 metres from her house. She said she can hear the turbine but it’s far enough away that she blocks out the noise.

While she doesn’t find them an eyesore, “they remind me of all the angst that has gone on before this and is still going on,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think the community will heal for a generation. “It’s going to take that long to rebuild. It’s pretty sad.”

Sheep farmer Ian Murray of Topsy Farms said his farm was approached several times by Algonquin Power to host a turbine. The farm is run by five partners and Murray said one of the partners didn’t like the look of the turbines.

Too much control by the power developer

Murray felt the wind companies wanted too much control. “We felt it was inappropriate for Amherst Island,” he said. “Saying that, I have no problem with my neighbours…. I have a big problem with the previous Ontario government, making things so lucrative.”

Homeowner Laurie Kilpatrick said the wind carries the noise that can sound like an airplane that never arrives, or a constant “swish, swish, swish.”

The last of Brian Little’s four children headed off to university this year,so Little put the family’s island home up for sale. He can see eight turbines from his back deck and hasn’t had an offer in the six months he’s tried to sell. He’s also close to a substation where all the turbine electricity is collected.”

They don’t do anything

“Prior to the Green Energy Act, you couldn’t build within 1,100 metres of a residence or school. In our case, the substation is 400 metres from our house and 700 metres from an elementary school.”

“It frustrates me that they don’t do anything. We have more than enough electricity in this province.”

Little has a point. Other sources of energy can provide enough power in the province. As it stands, Ontario sells excess power at a loss to U.S. states and Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America.

Looking at one weekend in July, Ontario’s wind power produced 1.3 per cent of Ontario’s demand for energy, and there were 2,515 turbines operating in Ontario, as of December, the vast majority in Western Ontario, said Parker Gallant, a green energy critic who writes an energy sector blog.

He estimated that wind power costs Ontario taxpayers a net loss of $1.9 billion per year.

 

 

 

Wind turbine noise affects children too: who is looking out for them?

Off to school: but did they get any sleep? These boys have 7 turbines within 1500 metres of their family home near Goderich in Ontario

 

One of the key findings in the 2015 report produced by the Council of Canadian Academies, at the request of Health Canada, was that there is little research on the effects of wind turbine noise emissions on certain “sensitive populations, such as children and infants and people affected by clinical conditions* that may lead to an increased sensitivity to sound.” (page xvii)

The Council report already established that wind turbines produce “distinctive” sound including low-frequency tones, which may not be “captured properly by standard frequency-weighted measurements (e.g., dB(A)” — this is the method used by the Ontario government to “screen” wind turbine noise for compliance with regulations.

“Canada’s passive health surveillance system does not collect information about exposure related to wind turbines,” the Council noted (page 18).

The Health Canada study on wind turbine noise excluded participants under the age of 18.

In the documents received from the (then) Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change via a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (which was delayed and blocked at every turn), many of the reports contained explicit mention of adverse health effects, including among families with young children.

A parent’s nightmare

In Port Elgin, Ontario, where the single wind turbine operated by Unifor has had more than 320 formal reports of excessive noise and vibration filed by families, one family spoke to Saugeen Shores Council about the horrific effects on their children.

“…. five days after start up, with a strong south east wind, we were getting the full impact. I lay in bed, with the windows closed, listening to the variable swoosh of each blade pass, my wife had night sweats, a head ache and could not sleep, she moved from bed to couch and back again, and again. Two young children were wide awake, three hours after normal bedtime, and one was trembling uncontrollably. This is a parent’s, and spouses’, nightmare.”

In a 2014 report on a conference on wind turbine noise and health impacts held in Ireland, Dr. Alun Evans, professor emeritus in epidemiology at Queen’s University, Belfast, said that sleep disturbance is emerging as one of the major public health concerns in the world today, and particularly affected children and the elderly.

In Ontario, we have a federal government-sponsored report that says there is a “paucity” of research on protecting children from wind turbine noise, we have another federal government report that didn’t study anyone under the age of 18, and yet we have regulations in Ontario that are clearly inadequate in the face of thousands of unresolved reports of excessive noise and vibration.

Predictive modeling–not real investigation

The Ministry of the Environment relies on predictive modelling supplied by turbine manufacturers, and, as one councilor in Kincardine said at a presentation by the (then) MOECC last December, the noise monitoring protocol in Ontario is designed to prove compliance with regulations.

Worse, we have a government spokesperson (Rick Chappell of the environment ministry’s Owen Sound office) who publicly stated that health effects due to wind turbine noise are “a matter of opinion.”

Who is protecting children in Ontario’s rural communities and homes?

 

*those conditions can include mental illnesses, autism spectrum disorder, and multiple sclerosis

CanWEA’s Alberta-Ontario power play

Big Wind’s Canadian lobbyist is not letting the bad experiences in Ontario halt its “green” dream, and is now focused on Alberta. (And, it really really hopes Ontario forgets all the bad stuff.)

 

Angry Ontario citizen confronts Dalton McGuinty, sponsor of Ontario’s Green Energy Act which began the wind power invasion of rural Ontario. She’s still mad…

September 4, 2018

 

The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA is enacting a hard-hitting PR campaign, promoting wind power as a “low-cost” form of electrical power generation that can also provide hundreds of jobs. Aimed at hard-hit Alberta, the message is clear: you get to meet climate/environment goals, grow your economy (or at least keep it from going over a cliff), and replace the faltering oil industry.

The lobbyist even points to a recent report that apparently confirms all that so you don’t have to just take their word for it.

But there’s a problem. Energy commentator Parker Gallant in his newest post says that the report referred to by CanWEA fails to explain that the jobs will be temporary, and also, that they may not actually be in Alberta.

And there’s another problem: the newest rosy outlook for wind power fails to chronicle the disastrous history of wind power development in Ontario. Two Auditors General took the previous Liberal governments to task for pushing wind power forward without any cost-benefit analysis, and current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has noted that, because of above-market contracts awarded by those same McGuinty and Wynne governments, Ontario’s electricity customers overpaid for power by more than $9 billion.

The Association of Ontario Food Banks linked growing poverty and specifically “energy poverty” to Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity bills, in its 2016 annual report on hunger in the province.

Electricity bills have been named as a factor in businesses leaving Ontario and job losses.

But even looking back at a road full of failure—high electricity bills, environmental harm such as dead birds and endangered bats, and thousands of citizen noise complaints—CanWEA is not giving up where money might still be made. The lobbyist is hoping to sway the new Ford government not to cancel wind power contracts as the PC Party pledged to do during the election because wind power can happily fill in for nuclear plants when several units have to go offline in a couple of years for refurbishment. Rumour has it they have even purchased ads on Toronto Transit vehicles.

The sad fact, omitted by CanWEA, is that wind can’t replace anything. It is intermittent, unreliable, and in Ontario, produced out-of-phase with demand. Output from Ontario’s closed coal power plants was made up by nuclear and hydro.

Ontario’s Society of Professional Engineers says that, because wind power is intermittent and needs back-up from other forms of generation, meaning natural gas, wind power will actually increase carbon emissions, not reduce them.

It’s even worse than that: According to Marc Brouillette who wrote a report for the Coalition for Clean Energy, wind power in Ontario is wasted almost 70 percent of the time. Moreover, Ontario electricity customers not only pay for wasted power, they pay generators NOT to produce power during frequent situations of surplus.

Low-cost? Reliable?

Energy analyst Steve Aplin of Ottawa recently commented on Twitter in response to CanWEA’s that wind power is a “sinkhole for ratepayers’ money.”

We really hope Alberta is smarter than politicians were back in 2003 in Ontario; we hope they can see the truth.

Contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Courtesy Steve Aplin