Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Ontario’s electricity ratepayers paid more than $500 million in 2017 for nothing
With only one month left in the current year, the bad news on the electricity sector keeps getting worse.
Well before the official sources such as IESO report on how much power industrial wind turbines generated and how much was curtailed (constrained, or paid for but not added to the power grid), my friend Scott Luft has published his estimates for both the former and the latter for the month of November.
As he reports (conservatively), curtailed wind in November was over 422,000 megawatt hours (MWh) — that could have supplied 562,000 average Ontario households with free power for the month.
Instead, no one got free power; the cost of the 422,000 MWh of undelivered wind power to Ontario ratepayers was $120/MWh. That $50.7-million cost for the month was simply added to the costs of the electricity bills ratepayers will be obliged to pay, while some of it will deferred to the future as part of the Fair Hydro Plan.
Somebody’s enjoying cheap power — not you
No doubt the wasted wind power presented itself when it wasn’t needed; if it had been accepted into the grid, that extra power could have caused blackouts or brownouts, so it was curtailed. At the same time, much of the grid-accepted wind was exported to our neighbours in New York, Michigan and elsewhere, at discount prices! Curtailed wind for November 2017 compared to 2016 was almost 55% higher.
How bad is it? Let’s review the first 11 months of the current year, compared to 2016.
So far in 2017, curtailed wind is about 786,000 MWh higher (+33.8%) at just over 3.1million MWh. The cost of all the curtailed wind so far in 2017 is approximately $373.6 million, or $94.3 million more than 2016 costs.
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO Note: the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is currently reviewing documents for five more wind power projects which received contracts in 2016, totaling $3 billion more for electricity costs for intermittent wind power, produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario
MPP demands that wind power projects be cancelled over concerns about Black Shale and polluted wells
In Question Period on November 20, Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex rose to ask the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change what action was being taken for people in his riding whose well water has been rendered “undrinkable swill” during construction for a nearby wind power project.
Minister Ballard responded with, in his own words, “generalities” and specifically skipped over answering the question about the quality of well water to say that “renewable energy projects are a necessity.”*
Here, from Hansard, is what the Minister said in response to Mr McNaughton.
Mr. Monte McNaughton: My question today is for the Minister of Energy. In my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex, your ministry is pushing ahead with two new industrial wind turbine developments, the North Kent 1 and Otter Creek wind farms. These wind farms will generate electricity we don’t need and contribute to pushing hydro bills even higher than they already are.
These developments include turbines almost 200 metres high with foundations that require pile driving into black shale bedrock, rock containing heavy metals. This bedrock carries water of the aquifer. Since the start of construction on the North Kent project, 14 water wells have become turbid and undrinkable.
Mr. Speaker, we’ve seen the impact of pile driving into black shale from the North Kent project. Why is the minister allowing construction to continue there, and why is he jeopardizing the drinking water of another community by going forward with the Otter Creek project?
Hon. Glenn Thibeault: To the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Hon. Chris Ballard: I’m happy to speak in some generalities around the need for wind turbines, and the very vigorous process that our government puts in place to make sure that the turbines are sited safely and that there is good, strong consultation with the community.
Speaker, we take the concerns regarding the environment and human health very seriously. I’ll say that we adhere to a very strict renewable energy approvals process.
Thanks to clean air and clean energy—and let me speak to the fundamentals for a second—Ontario has saved more than $4 billion in annual health and environmental costs because of this government’s commitment to clean energy.
Unlike the PCs, we can’t sit idly by. Renewable energy projects are a necessity and a crucial part of our low-carbon carbon switch, and we’re not going to back down from our—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. I stand, you sit.
Mr. Monte McNaughton: Back to the Minister of Energy: These wind farms will forever end food production on some of the best agricultural land in our country. And we are talking about an environmentally sensitive area, home to 24 species at risk, and within a major flight path for migratory birds. It is fragmenting the bedrock, turning clear, clean water into dirty, undrinkable swill, yet the project is going ahead even though the government has suspended the large renewable procurement II process because there is no need for additional electricity.
When the minister made that announcement in September 2016, I said that North Kent 1 and Otter Creek should be cancelled as well. Had the minister cancelled these two projects, the long-term savings would amount to $570 million. If stopping turbine construction makes economic, environmental and public health sense, why would the Minister of Energy sign off on continuing to build industrial wind farms in my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Chris Ballard: Thanks for the opportunity to follow up on the North Kent wind farm. Again, I’m going to reiterate that our government takes these concerns regarding groundwater quality very seriously. The renewable energy approval process, in fact, requires these proponents to undertake extensive consultation with municipalities, indigenous communities and the public. Additionally, we have taken a very cautious, science-based approach when setting the standards for renewable energy projects in order to protect the health of the Ontario people.
Speaker, the proponent in this case has done extensive monitoring prior to construction, and we’re going to require them to continue to monitor the vibration data closely during construction and operation of the wind turbines. We require the company to conduct additional water quality assessments and we’re keeping an eye on this.
*WCO note: one of the key parts of the decision on the Ostrander Point wind power project, where the approval was rescinded by the Environmental Review Tribunal, is that wind power is not a “necessity” and does not trump everything. The approvals of wind power projects must achieve balance between the development of renewable energy and preservation of the environment.
The Association to Protect Amherst Island has filed a formal letter of Appeal to the Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Chris Ballard, reminding him that it is within his power (contrary to the wind power developer assertions) to review the current situation with regard to the Windlectric project now under construction, and revoke its approval.
In a letter dated November 14th, the Association wrote:
This is an appeal on “matters other than law”. Accordingly, you are not bound by precedent nor by the efforts of counsel for the Approval Holder, Windlectric Inc., and counsel for the Government to limit your authority to consideration of errors or to the narrow test required at the ERT to demonstrate “serious harm to human health; or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment”. You are wrongfully advised by counsel for the opposing parties that even Government policy and political risk are irrelevant to this matter and that you don’t even have the authority to request the Director to require a modification to the project to reflect critical changes or to impose mitigation measures which Tribunal members accepted as essential. Please do not be guided by lawyers’ efforts to limit your authority. Your mandate is much broader than the restrictive views expressed by opposing counsel in the responses to APAI’s appeal.
You are respectfully requested to do what is in the public interest: to revoke approval of the Amherst Island Wind Project.
You have a real choice.
… The Association to Protect Amherst Island respectfully requests that you exercise your authority to revoke approval for the compelling reasons set forth in our earlier submissions:
Enforce and respect commitments made by the Approval Holder during the ERT to mitigate potential negative impacts on the environment. The ERT decision specifically states that the Tribunal Members considered commitments made by the Approval Holder that were not included in the REA conditions when coming to their decision. However, Mr. Paul Nieweglowski, Assistant Deputy Minister MOECC, advised that the MOECC has no mandate to enforce commitments not included in the REA conditions. The project under construction is now radically different from the project considered by the ERT and in layman’s terms appears as a classic “bait and switch” described more fully in our earlier brief.
APAI outlined the risks to the environment now being seen:
Safeguard Amherst Island residents’ access to clean water. All Island residents rely on wells. The potential adverse impact of the construction of 26 turbines on groundwater on a vulnerable and isolated Island and the failure of MOECC to heed the initial advice of its own expert hydrologist to implement a comprehensive groundwater monitoring requires your intervention. In the REA conditions, the MOECC required no studies and no monitoring. MOECC advised that no geotechnical studies have been conducted.
Be proactive and protect human health by consistent application of noise regulations. If the Amherst Island Wind Project were proposed today the noise regulations implemented in 2016 would require significant changes to the project. A minimum of ten homes would be subject to noise exceeding the new standards. Why should Amherst Island residents be subjected to noise that MOECC acknowledges exceeds today’s safety standards? You have an opportunity to take preventative action especially important when it has become widely known that MOECC has not investigated thousands of noise complaints related to wind turbines throughout rural Ontario.
Save $500 million by inviting the Approval Holder to terminate its FIT contract for the unneeded 75 MW Amherst Island project across the channel from the idle 2000 MW Lennox Generating Station paid monthly curtailment fees, the soon to be idle 800 MW Napanee Gas Plant to be paid over $13 million per month to NOT generate electricity, and 115 MW Northland Power whose offer of power at 5.6 cents per kilowatt was not accepted in contrast to the 14 cents per kilowatt to be paid on Amherst Island.
Address the many risks described in our submission to your predecessor, the Honourable Glen Murray, which forms part of this brief: construction of a cement plant adjacent to the Island’s only school (something that would not be allowed anywhere else in Ontario), impact of construction on lands considered historic by First Nations, conflict of barge traffic with the Island ferry in winter, impact on the Owl Capital of North America and an Important Bird Area, the decimation of the bat population, loss of grazing land for sheep farmers and consequent potential end of the farm, impact on health, damage to the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Island, and the high risk to public safety and the environment.
Well water problems continue in Chatham-Kent with neither the wind power developer consortium, the municipality (which is part of the developer consortium), or the Ontario Ministry of the Environment responding to citizens’ concerns about altered well water. People have complained about Black Water coming from their wells, or so much sediment that the wells stop working entirely.
Here is an excerpt from the current edition of Ontario Farmer, which contains interviews with two experts on water wells.
Of concern to Wind Concerns Ontario is not only the lack of acknowledgement, explanation or effective resolution but also the fact that yet another wind power project on the same hydrogeology is being considered for approval. Ontario needs answers as more projects on fragile hydrogeology are pushed forward.
Hydrologist blames turbines for well water issues
By Jeffrey Carter, ONTARIO FARMER
Ontario’s MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change should have already stopped the North Kent project in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, according to hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.
It’s clear many wells have been compromised due to the vibrations created by wind turbine construction and by their operation, he said. Less clear is the level of risk for the people drinking the water. There are just too many unknowns to make a definitive statement on the matter.
Clarke, who is near retirement after a 40-year career in Ontario, has been working with Water Wells First citizens’ group that stands in opposition to wind farm development in the area, given the fragile nature of the aquifer.
“There are 13 families who are seeing a change in their water supply,” he said.
“Quantity is the issue now but not necessarily water quality. What’s happening is that particulate matter is getting loosened up at the base of the wells. In my opinion, there is well interference — there is no doubt.”
Proponents of the North Kent Wind project, consultants hired by the developers, have said that turbine construction has had no impact on the wells, despite the visual evidence that suggests otherwise. In the case of the complaints, which now number 14 according to Water Wells First, problems only arose after turbine pile-driving operations began.
Clarke said the consultants are correct in one respect: sediment shaken loose below the area where the turbines are being erected is not a concern. However, few people, experts included, have recognized the extreme delicate nature of this particular aquifer. The vibrations from pile-driving, and even from those created by the rotation of the huge turbine blades, are an issue at the well locations themselves. This accounts for particles from the underlying bedrock — Kettle [Point Black Shale] — being found in the contaminated wells.
The aquifer is very fragile
“The aquifer is very fragile and what we didn’t know before this all began is how fragile it is … They [the ministry] are being reluctant to get involved and, subsequently making a decision,” Clarke said.
Filtering systems have proven ineffective. Some have quickly clogged up within days or even hours of being put into operation. This may explain why the wind farm developers have offered to supply municipal and bottled water to affected well owners, though liability is still denied.
Also weighing in on the nature of the aquifer was Craig Stanton, executive director of the Ontario Groundwater Association. He said it’s long been known that when water is drawn too quickly from the area’s aquifer, cloudiness can become an issue.
“A lot of those wells are only good for a gallon or two per minute because if you were to pump harder, you would disturb that till with water pressure,” he said.
Kettle [Point Black Shale] is the bedrock underlying much of Southwestern Ontario. Across the northern part of Chatham-Kent, it’s located within 50 to 70 feet of the soil surface.
The “sweet water” lies in a layer of glacial till just above the bedrock. Particles of the bedrock are mixed into the aquifer layer.\
Clarke, while convinced that water wells have been compromised by the wind far development, said the level of risk from a human safety perspective, is unknown at this point.
In a well water evaluation conducted for Peter Hensel, just south of Wallaceburg*, uranium, barium and selenium were all flagged under the Ontario Water [Resources Act]. Unfortunately, due to test limitations, the level of uranium and selenium detected could not be determined. The level of barium did exceed the standard but only marginally.
Questions sent to the MOECC concerning the potential health threat from Hensel’s 2016 results were not answered. Hensel has not yet supplied the MOECC with his 2016 results although a copy was given to Ontario Farmer. The MOECC has also not answered why, in its own 2017 test of Hensel’s water, metals were not included in the evaluation.
The same questions sent to the MOECC were sent to Ontario’s environment minister Chris Ballard’s office. So far, there’s been no reply from the minister’s office.
They should have known …
According to Stainton and Clarke, an evaluation of metal content is a standard part of most water tests.
“Why would you test for just part of the Periodic Table, and who made the decision (at the MOECC) on what they would or wouldn’t test for?” Stainton asked. “It certainly seems to me suspect, and they should have known these things are in the black shale.”
Stainton and Clarke are both puzzled by the MOECC’s reluctance to investigate the situation further,. Especially since concerns were raised prior to the start of construction on the North Kent Wind project.
“I believe if they had been listening, they never would have allowed North Kent to move forward because they should have learned their lessons in Dover. There should have been so many red flags going up that they should have said no,” Stainton said.
… a spokesperson with the MOECC [told Ontario Farmer] that the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health has determined there is no risk from the particulates in the water in the absence of bacterial contamination.
*The MOECC is now contemplating approval of yet another wind power project on the same hydrogeology, the Otter Creek wind power project. A citizens’ group has formed: the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns.
Here is an excerpt from a report on the recent meeting in Clinton, announcing the launch of the Huron County public health investigation into wind turbine noise.
A few notes: as far as we are aware, the “study” is actually an “investigation” under the Health Protection and Prevention Act of Ontario, in which reports of adverse health effects may be reported and investigated. The only association with the University of Waterloo was the review by the ethics committee of that university — the university is not involved in any other phase of the project.
Wind Concerns Ontario had proposed to carry out Phase II of the study which would involve follow-up measurements in homes identified as problematic by the Health Unit, as part of a research study by a multi-disciplinary team. Although federal government funding was not achieved for that proposal, efforts to fund that initiative are ongoing.
This project is the first of its kind in Ontario; it was initiated based on reports of adverse health effects by residents of Huron County made to their health unit, and is supported by them.
For more information about the Huron County Health Unit project please visit the website here.
Huron County Health Unit launches wind farm study
By John Miner
ONTARIO FARMER November 7, 2017
Huron County’s on-again, off-again study on the health impact of wind farms is moving ahead with warnings from the researchers about what it can’t accomplish.
Even if the results in the end definitely show that wind farms are damaging the health of residents, the county’s health unit will not be able to order the turbines stopped, a public meeting was told.
“We do not have the authority to curtail or shut down wind turbines. If you are thinking of participating in the study in the hope that we will shut down the turbines, we want you to understand we cannot do that,” Dr. Erica Clark, an epidemiologist with the Huron County Health Unit, announced at the start of a public information session attended by about 60 people.
Courts have determined that Ontario health units do not have the legal ability to issue orders to protect public health in cases where the provincial government has given that responsibility to another body, Clark said.
In the case of wind farms, the government has given the power to regulate wind turbines to the Ministry of the Environment, not public health units, she said.
Dr. Maarten Bokhout: “If research indicates there are health issues, that can be raised with the Ontario government”
Dr. Maarten Bokhout, Acting Medical Officer of Health at the Huron County Health Unit, said while he cannot step on the Environment Ministry’s toes and he does not have the power to write orders against wind turbines, the results of the study will be published online, including interim reports.
The health unit’s one-year study, established in collaboration with the University of Waterloo and reviewed by the university’s ethics committee, will look at how people are annoyed by noise, vibration and light [shadow flicker] from wind farms.
The goal is to establish how many people are bothered by wind turbines in the county and determine if environmental conditions that make the noise, vibration light and sensations from wind turbines worse.
The study will rely on residents living within 10 km of a wind turbine who volunteer to keep a diary of their experience within their own home.
Participants are asked to record their observations at least once a week.
The researchers will not be making any actual sound or vibration measurements for the study.
Huron County is home to more than 300 industrial wind turbines and some of the largest wind farms in the province.
Some residents have blamed the turbines for a series of health problems, including headaces, nausea, dizziness and insomnia.
Clark, who is principal investigator on the study, said they want participation from both people who have been bothered by wind turbines and those who haven’t experienced any problems.
The 10-kilometre study zone around wind turbines means thousands of Huron County residents are eligible to sign up for the project, including all of the towns of Goderich and Exeter.
See the print edition of Ontario Farmerfor a related story: Rural residents skeptical government would act on wind
As reports of contaminated well water in Chatham-Kent rise, the Ministry of the Environment is strangely silent. They can’t dodge this any longer
November 3, 2017
It must be getting harder and harder to work in Communications at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in Toronto: passing on all those media clips to management which then doesn’t respond, is not how they tell you things work in college or university.
Usually, when a company, or a government has a problem — especially with a public health issue — they meet it head on, and respond.
Not the MOECC.
A few months ago, we published a report that thousands of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines were being ignored by the Ministry, with the staggering figure of actually NO RESPONSE for more than 50% of the citizen complaints, and a resolution rate of 1 %.
And over the summer and into the fall, the reports of problems with well water in Chatham-Kent continue to mount, as residents link the failed wells to wind turbine operation and construction.
“Black water” and heavy sediment is being found in 14 water wells near the North Kent wind power project, now under construction, which residents say is linked to vibration from pile-driving for the turbine foundations.
They’re not the only ones saying that: geoscientists and hydrologists are worried too, with one retired professional actually saying, he couldn’t believe they hadn’t stopped construction to get to the bottom of this issue.
The wind power developer claims no responsibility, relying on a consultants’ report which says well water interference is impossible.
Really, said another geoscientist. Speaking at a public meeting last week in Wallaceburg (where the province is thinking of approving another wind power project on the very same geology), Keith Benn said, If you have a model with predictions that are being countered by facts and evidence, it’s the model that might be wrong, not the facts.
This is serious business and, believe it or not, it is even worse than the situation described here.
Residents say there have been problems with well water since the first North Kent power project began but because most of the people having problems were leaseholders who had signed contracts with non-disclosure clauses about negative wind turbine effects, the well water problems were not public. So, a potential public health problem has gone unreported, essentially because the government gives a pass on most things to the “clients,” the wind power developers.
The media is all over this story, with reports every week; residents are writing to the Ministry, complaining to the so-called “Spills” line, and even writing MInister Chris Ballard. Nothing but platitudes; promises to act, promises of testing, even, but no action.
Chatham-Kent’s Council is concerned, and worried about what a crisis in the water supply might mean for residents and taxpayers if the municipality is forced to supply municipal water to farms and homes formerly supplied by their own wells.
We think the Ontario government, and specifically this Ministry whose mandate it is to protect the environment and people’s health, should act.
But the Ministry has been notably Missing in Action.
A qualified professional real estate appraiser in Illinois alleges that an executive with U.S. wind power developer Invenergy is conducting a campaign of defamation and slander against him, in an effort to have him disqualified from testifying as an expert witness on wind turbines and property values.
Michael McCann wrote a letter on October 20th to the County Supervisors in Palo Alto, Iowa, to counter statements made about him by the Invenergy employee, Michael Blazer, who is both a company vice-president and chief legal officer.
Apparently, Blazer filed an online complaint with the Illinois licensing board that governs the practice of real estate appraisers in that state, then took a screenshot of his complaint and filed that as proof that Mr McCann was “under investigation” by the licensing board. There was no public documentation of any complaint.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation did process the online submission but found it to be without merit, and dismissed any complaint against Mr. McCann. His license is not in fact under review.
Nevertheless, McCann alleges in his letter, months later Invenergy and Blazer continue to repeat the story that McCann is under suspicion, in an attempt to prevent McCann’s testimony about “injurious” effects of the presence of wind turbines on property values.
“This was a blatant attempt by an Invenergy officer and attorney acting as complainant, judge, jury and firing squad to advance his corporate interests by sullying my reputation, and apparently to try to prevent me from testifying regarding my well documented findings regarding the significant impact of wind turbines on neighboring values.”
“This attempt to discredit an expert witness by a wind power developer is very worrying,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It is hard enough for ordinary citizens and community groups to achieve any kind of justice against these huge, wealthy power developers, without active campaigns to slander and discredit witnesses.”
The Auditor General for Ontario noted in her recent report that the government has hidden costs of electricity, and not created a fair cost reduction plan. Cancelling wind power contracts would be a good start, says Wind Concerns Ontario
Cancelling wind power contracts would bring real savings
The special report by Ontario’s Auditor General on the government’s Fair Hydro Plan not only stated concerns about the level of debt being incurred by the vote-getting “plan” it also contained this recommendation: the government should “use a financing structure to fund the rate reduction that is least costly for Ontarians.”
If the Ontario government was genuinely interested in reducing electricity bills for Ontario citizens, it would reduce costs.
It’s not doing that.
A case in point concerns the wind power projects given 20-year contracts in 2016, totaling $3.3 billion. Those wind power projects (Dutton Dunwich, The Nation, North Stormont, Otter Creek) will provide unnecessary intermittent power, and force industrial power plants on communities that are actively fighting them over environmental, health and economic concerns.
Cancelling other contracts not yet built, such as Amherst Island, Prince Edward County and North Kent, would save more than one billion, over 20 years.
Ontario has a surplus of power but more important, does not need more wind power which tends to be produced out of phase with demand. On the recently warm October 15th Sunday, for example, Ontario power demand was low, but we were forced to “constrain” almost record-breaking wind power production — we paid millions for power we didn’t need.
In fact, says a Commentary prepared for the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 per cent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted, because it is produced at night and in mild seasons. Very little of it reaches the urban areas that need power, yet the effects of industrial-scale wind power plants on rural communities are significant.
The Auditor General says the government is hiding the true cost of its politically motivated Fair Hydro Plan which pretends to bring a 25 per cent rate reduction, while actually putting off the costs to the future.
Ontario can make real savings in costs now, by cancelling contracts for unnecessary wind power.
Wind Concerns Ontario
This article appeared in Ontario Farmer, October 23, 2017.
October 15, 2017 was quite a windy Sunday. Being a mild fall day too, that meant Ontario’s demand for electricity was low according to the IESO’s Daily Market Summary. Total Ontario demand was only 313,000 MWh for the whole day.
Unfortunately for ratepayers, it was a beyond the norm windy day — industrial wind turbines spread throughout the province were spinning well beyond their yearly average of 29/30% of capacity.
According to the IESO’s daily generator report, the wind turbines could have supplied almost 84,000 MWh* of power, or about 27% of all the power consumed by Ontario’s ratepayers (approximately 83% of their capacity). As it turned out, IESO curtailed or did not accept 42,500 MWh for which wind developers were paid $120/MWh anyway, and the 41,200 MWh grid-accepted power generation got them the standard $135/MWh.
What the foregoing means is wind developers were paid approximately $10,660,000 for curtailed wind generation and grid-accepted power. That works out to a cost per MWh of $260 or 26 cents a kilowatt hour — almost double the current generation cost, for which 25% is being refinanced under the Fair Hydro Act.
As it turned out, the grid-accepted wind generation really wasn’t needed: as the IESO “Summary” report indicates, Ontario’s net exports averaged 2,110MW per hour or 50,640 MW at a negative price of $0.99. That means Ontario’s ratepayers picked up another $50K to provide our neighbours (principally Michigan and New York) with cheap power.
No doubt Ontario was also spilling hydro and steaming off Bruce Nuclear which ratepayers were also paying for on that windy October Sunday.
More proof that wind power provides costly, intermittent and unneeded power. More proof that the Green Energy and Economy Act should be tossed out!
“The Green Energy Act was the biggest con ever in Ontario” — MPP Todd Smith
October 16, 2017
Hundreds of community members in Prince Edward County marched down Picton Main Street yesterday to protest the “White PInes” wind power project, and the Ontario government’s wind power policy. The march was followed by a three-hour information session.
The project by Germany-based wpd was trimmed from 29 to 9 turbines in various appeals, but the developer is still proceeding despite questions as to whether it actually has a contract with the Ontario government, and whether the 9-turbine project makes any financial sense.
Among the speakers at the information session was Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, who reviewed the findings of the organization’s request for documents on reports of excessive wind turbine noise made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.
“We wondered, what happens to all the reports being made to the government? Here’s what we learned: The government does nothing,” Wilson said.
“This government has completely abdicated its role as a protector of the environment and people. Instead of functioning as a regulator, it is now a facilitator for huge multi-national corporations whose last concern is any benefit to the environment.”
Everybody knows there are health effects
Dr Robert McMurtry said adverse health effects related to wind turbine noise emissions, including inaudible noise and low-frequency noise, are disturbing, especially because both government and industry deny them. “Everyone’s pretending the emperor has clothes,” said Dr McMurtry, a member of the Order of Canada and a former Dean of Medicine. “There are adverse health effects and everybody knows it — that’s why we have setbacks in the first place.”
Other community members spoke on concerns for wildlife, heritage features (the nine turbines will surround the historic Loyalist settlement of Milford), and the effect on citizens’ water wells. While the power developer claimed there would be no problems as a result of sinking huge wind turbine foundations into the ground, which features fragile karst topography, Les Stanfield remarked that there are sinkholes all over the County, and there were concerns about the turbines’ effect on aquifers.
MPP Todd Smith said loudly, what no one had said was that the whole push for wind power and the Green Energy Act was “the biggest con job” ever in Ontario.” Obviously, he said, repealing the controversial act is mandatory.
Renowned vintner Norman Hardie said the power project “must not go ahead.” Eco-tourism, the County’s economy, and the entire character of the area would be irreparably damaged, he said.
Power not needed
The last speaker was Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff who said that the project must not proceed, and nothing less than 100-percent success in stopping it was acceptable. He questioned the contract with the IESO, and the feasibility of the project. “I can’t understand why [wpd] is doing this? Are they punishing our community for daring to oppose them?”
Wilson added to her presentation that at the time of the event, wind power was being constrained or held back at record levels in Ontario, according to IESO data for Sunday.
“That just adds insult to injury,” she said.
Residents last week filed notice of legal action against the Independent Electricity Systems Operator or IESO over the project, which they say has no legal contract. The first court date is November 17 in Picton. Donations accepted at the community group website.