Risk of turbine construction, operation high for Nation Rise project: geoscientist

October 15, 2018

ERT chair Maureen Cartier-Whitney hears evidence on groundwater. Geoscientist said it is possible there is no effective mitigation for the vibration produced by turbine construction and operation.

Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.

Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.

Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.

She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”

The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded  “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”

A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.

The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.

When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.

The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.

In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.

The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.

The proponent has not fulfilled a requirement to identify all wells in the project area. Signs demanding water testing line a street in Finch, Ontario.

 

 

A voice silenced: Mike McCann

October 11, 2018

When wind power developers roll in their Trojan Horse to communities boasting of multiple benefits such as more jobs, prosperity and a cleaner environment, one thing they fail to mention — and in fact argue against vehemently — is the loss in property value for those people whose homes are suddenly located inside industrial power projects.

Chicago real estate appraiser and consultant Mike McCann was someone who studied the property value loss phenomenon, and appeared before various legal tribunals and committees to talk about it.

Mr. McCann studied Ontario properties, too, and was one of the group of professionals we often called upon for advice.

Mike McCann died this week in Chicago, after a battle with cancer.

Read his Obituary here

See a summary of property value loss studies by Mike McCann here.

Wind power developer failing to meet conditions for well water in North Stormont

October 9, 2018

Hello! EDP! We have a well here! Citizens stand up and demand to be counted (Photo: Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, John Irven)

FINCH, Ontario — If the approval signed by the Wynne government for the Nation Rise wind power project were a bird, it probably wouldn’t be able to fly, because it is so weighted down with conditions.

One of those conditions was that the power developer, EDP of Spain, identify and map all water wells in the project area near the proposed wind turbines, because of concerns about the construction activities on the local aquifer.

That hasn’t happened, say residents. Now, signs are popping up all over the country roads and in the communities of North Stormont, as part of an information campaign about risk to the local water supply, and to demand that wells be identified and tested by the developer. Residents are concerned about the impact of vibration from pending wind turbine construction and turbine operations on their water wells.

The “Nation Rise” wind power project is currently under appeal, but the power developer is supposed to be proceeding with meeting the terms and conditions of its contract with the Ontario government, which was approved just days before the June election.

One of those conditions is that the company identify certain wells and “make reasonable efforts, to the satisfaction of the Ministry [of the Environment], to contact owners of all active water wells within 1 km from each individual Equipment, communication tower, and meteorological towers, and seek permission to undertake a groundwater survey at existing water wells. “

The problem is, EDP’s count of the number of water wells that need identification and testing does not correspond to the summary of the situation in the Renewable Energy Approval or REA. As a result, wells may be missed in the pre-construction survey and then be ineligible for help should problems arise after the power project is built.

According to Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the power developer may be off by as much as 50 per cent of area wells.

People are worried, Benke says, for several reasons: a wind power project in the Chatham-Kent area is linked to disrupted function and outright failure of as many as 10 percent of area wells, resulting in contaminated “black” water. The situation is so dire that the new Ontario government has pledged an investigation of the situation.

The wells in North Stormont depend on an aquifer that has been designated as “highly vulnerable,” she says. The signs being posted at the end of North Stormont driveways say “EDP we want our well water tested.”

“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Benke explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area.  As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”

That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.

The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.

“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”

The appeal resumes October 15th in Finch Ontario, with testimony from an expert in hydrogeology.

For more information go to:

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Ontario’s wind power industry on the defensive

October 8, 2018

Big Wind lobby group president Robert Hornung: claims don’t stand up

With wind power developers trying to push into Alberta and Saskatchewan, industry lobbyist CanWEA is trying its best to counteract what’s going on in Ontario where an attack of reality has changed boomtimes to downturn, says energy analyst Parker Gallant.

In a posting on his website today, he says the trade association is making claims about its value and contribution to Ontario’s economy that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
For example, CanWEA claims that wind power is the lowest-cost option for generating electricity.

“[CanWEA president Hornung] doesn’t specify what he is referring to! One should suspect the reference is to either the LOCE (levelized cost of electricity) or the cost of fuel (wind is free), but in either case his claim has nothing to do with what Ontario ratepayers pay for the intermittent and unreliable nature of the actual wind power generation. That annually averages only 29/30% of its capacity and is out of sync with actual demand 65% of the time.”

And as usual, CanWEA boasts of the environmental benefits of “clean” wind power. The facts say otherwise:

“What is interesting about this latter claim is that the Fraser Institute back in January 2017 in another report stated: ‘The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change undertook a special analysis of the role of U.S. emissions in Ontario air quality in 2005, which showed that a majority of O3 (ground level ozone) and PM2.5 (particulate matter) was due to U.S.-based emissions and would not be reduced by cutting emissions in Ontario.’ ”

Read the article here.

Cancel wind power contracts to get electricity bills down: the Fraser Institute

Wind power revenue is from the Global Adjustment subsidy, not actual power sales. Recent moves by government to cancel new contracts won’t get electricity bills down (but will stop them from going up) — more action needed says the Fraser Institute

Electricity Reform in Ontario: Getting Power Prices Down

October 4, 2018

A new report from the Fraser Institute says that decisive action is needed on Ontario’s wind and solar contracts of the new government under Premier Doug Ford is serious about getting consumers’ electricity bills down.

“Energy poverty” is a new watchword in the province as the Liberal governments’ renewable energy policies, which were not based on any kind of cost-benefit analysis, boosted electricity customers’ power bills sky-high, forcing many families to have to choose to “heat or eat.” The association of food banks noted electricity bills as a critical factor in poverty in its 2016 “Hunger Report.”

Moves by the Ford government to cancel new renewables projects, including three huge wind power projects, may stop future increases but they won’t get current bills down.

The answer?

“The logical next step for the government would be to use its legislative powers to cancel funding commitments under the FIT contracts. This would reduce the GA by almost 40 percent, resulting in an approximately 24 percent reduction in residential electricity prices.

In addition to cancelling the existing FIT contracts, the Ontario government could take further action to reform various other components of the GA, including reducing payments to the relatively new small-scale hydroelectric plants of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and cutting funding for unneeded conservations programs. In order to quantify the potential consumer price reductions from such measures it would be necessary to examine detailed GA allocation accounts, which have not been released publicly.”

Read the report from the Fraser Institute here: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/electricity-reform-in-ontario-getting-power-prices-down

 

 

Rural Ontario’s indomitable spirit

Some fights against industrial wind projects are over, but there is more work to be done

The turbine built near historic Milford in Prince Edward County; citizens celebrated in the Milford hall yesterday. 

October 1, 2018

After years of fighting one industrial-scale wind power project after another, after the Ostrander Point project was cancelled, and after the huge “White Pines” project was cancelled by the new government, the people of Prince Edward County finally got together yesterday for a celebration. It was a simple affair: a potluck supper in a community hall, a modest gathering of people from all over the expansive county, united in a single cause — to prevent the industrialization of a fragile environment, harm to the environment, and serious impacts on people.

As one of the founding communities that are part of the 30-plus-strong coalition that is Wind Concerns Ontario, the people in Prince Edward County have been, in many ways, a beacon of hope for others. They suffered defeats and setbacks, they enjoyed partial victories that only diminished the threats, and they witnessed the worst of the McGuinty-Wynne governments’ push for wind power at all costs, as decisions were made behind closed doors. At times, it seemed all common sense and decency had been lost.

Naturalist organizations protested the harm to wildlife. Even a former senior Liberal government Cabinet minister came out swinging against the White Pines project, to no avail.

Finally, victory.

Our congratulations and best wishes to the people of “The County”.

And now, there is more work to be done.

All the things the people in Prince Edward County fought against — harm to the ecosystem, death and destruction (including possible extinction) of wildlife, damage to water and the water table, and finally, via the unique noise emissions from wind turbines, harm to people — all these things are going on across Ontario right now.

While it is a source of hope that the Green Energy Act will be gone, the fact remains that there is a lot of damage to repair. First, the noise emissions, including low-frequency noise, must be dealt with. There are literally thousands of formal reports of excessive noise, a significant proportion of which also carry reports of “adverse  effects” including health problems, often linked to sleep disturbance.

These must be addressed and resolved, immediately.

Water wells and the damage done to them by vibration from construction and wind turbine operation (think of them as giant tuning forks stuck in the ground) is another problem. In Chatham-Kent, dozens of families have no water at all, or their water is so contaminated by particles it is unusable. The new government has promised an investigation and resolution–this also must happen immediately.

While the government has taken steps to ensure that no new power projects bringing intermittent power, produced out of phase with demand, will be proposed, the fact is, there are still several in process, which will further the environmental damage and add to consumers’ power bills. Cancelling the Nation Rise and Romney projects could save Ontario as much as $700 million. For Nation Rise, which received a conditions-laden approval days before the writ was drawn up for the June election, it is a simple matter of revoking that approval. (The community concerns about water, noise and safety are valid, so much so that the power developer  changed material parts of the project during the ongoing appeal.)

More work to be done.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca