Environmental group calls for “far” offshore wind farms: admission of failure, WCO says

Toronto Harbour next?
Far out, man: but still no proper analysis being done

John Miner, London Free Press, September 11, 2014

Ontario will miss a huge opportunity to create jobs and protect the environment if it doesn’t embrace building wind farms in the Great Lakes, an environmental group is arguing.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is calling for construction of “far-offshore” wind farms that will be out of sight and out of hearing distance of the mainland.

The group, which represents 6,000 doctors and members of the public, estimates offshore wind farms would generate a minimum of $10 billion of investment from the private sector.

Gideon Forman, the group’s executive director, said the U.S. is looking seriously at offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes.

“It would be a shame to let that technology-driven leadership opportunity pass Ontarians by,” Forman said.

Ontario put a moratorium on offshore wind farms in the run up to the 2011 provincial election.

Last week, the province invited tenders for two studies on offshore wind farms — one on the impact of sound from the turbines and the other on decommissioning a wind farm in the lake.

But the Environment Ministry said there are no plans to go ahead with such wind farms until there is scientific evidence that projects can be developed in a way that protects both human health and the environment.

Forman maintains far-offshore wind farms would be a source of healthy, low-carbon energy and avoid the controversy surrounding wind farms on land that some consider an eyesore.

Wind farms on water would have another advantage over ones on land. The dynamics of wind over water makes power available throughout the day when electricity demand peaks, Forman said.

The Ontario citizens’ group that has led the fight against wind farms on land isn’t enthused about wind farms in the lakes either.

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said there are grave concerns about installing wind turbines in the Great Lakes, especially Huron and Superior, where weather is severe.

Turbines would be an added danger to navigation, she said.

“We repeat our call for cost-benefit analysis, options analysis, and impact analysis for wind power in general,” Wilson said.

Read the full story and comments here.

Editor’s note: Our full remarks sent to the London Free Press were as follows:

The push by CAPE for “far offshore turbines” is an admission that there are serious problems with the way Ontario has forced wind power generation facilities onshore in Ontario–and we’re not talking about “esthetic” concerns, but rather, real experiences with the noise and low-frequency noise these power generating machines produce, and harm to the natural environment such as that being caused to birds, bats and other forms of wildlife.

Again, in Ontario, the Energy Minister has said we are in a situation of power supply surplus to our needs; we question why we would engage in further expense for power generation, which would also have the effect of increasing Ontario ratepayer’s electricity bills even higher.

As to “far” offshore, we repeat our call for cost-benefit analysis, options analysis, and impact analysis for wind power in general. There are grave concerns about the installation of wind turbines in the Great Lakes, especially Huron and Superior where weather is very severe—turbines would be an added danger to navigation in these waters. And for Erie, which is so shallow, what would the effects be on the fish, and on the birds that fly over the lake during periods of migration?
This sort of analysis has never been done in Ontario. People deserve to have a proper business case study done, including an assessment of all impacts, before there is further investment in wind power, either on- or offshore.

Jane Wilson
President
Wind Concerns Ontario

ERT wind farm testimony: Environment officials not doing their job

WAINFLEET WIND ENERGY INC.

 

 

Here is a report from Loretta Shields on testimony given at the appeal of the HAF wind power project by Vineland Power (IPC Energy); the hearings began on Monday this week.

For those of you that were not able to make it, Ministry officials from Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and also the Ministry of Natural Resources  were questioned and cross examined during the last two days.  A representative with the Environmental Assessment firm was also cross examined today.  Here is the damning testimony that we learned:

1.  The Ministry of Environment does not verify set back distances of the wind turbines.  They trust the wind proponent (but the turbines did not meet the required set back distances!)

2.  The Ministry of Natural Resources does not verify either the presence or absence of natural features.  For example, the size of woodlands were inaccurate in the Natural Heritage assessment report and no one at the MNR verified this.  They are not careful to review the relevant documents and corresponding versions of those documents.

3.  The Tribunal Chair identified training gaps with the environmental assessor that authored the Natural Heritage Assessment report.

So we have a problem with training, verification, process control with both Ministries and the environmental assessment firm.

Please email the ministries and show your concern.  If you have property within 120 meters of either a proposed industrial wind turbine, collector line or transmission line, please let them know that we learned that there are verification issues, training issues and process control issues.  Demand that they review the NRWC project in relation to your property to determine whether significant natural features exist and require mitigation measures.  If you live within the HAF project location, demand that they review the project in its entirety.  The HAF Renewable Energy Approval documents now lack the required integrity to provide the people in our Community with assurances that other components of the project were investigated in accordance with the REA Regulation. If you don’t live within 120 meters, please write to voice your concerns. Because once this is approved, it is a tougher battle, and time is running out!

This is so NOT right.  This is NOT how civil servants serve the people in our Community.  This is NOT how a Ministry protects our natural features.

Please help with this fight. If you could write/email in the next day or two, it would be so much appreciated.

1.  Eric Boysen, Renewable Energy Director, Ministry of Natural Resources eric.boysen@ontario.ca

2.  Agatha Garcia-Wright, Director, Renewable Energy Approvals, agatha.garcia-wright@ontario.ca

3.  Copy:  Andre Marin, Ombudsman for Ontario info@ombudsman.on.ca

4.  Copy:  Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner for Ontario  commissioner@eco.on.ca

Ontario seeking bids on offshore wind farm noise study

Toronto Harbour next?
Toronto Harbour next?

Just prior to the 2011 Ontario election, the Dalton McGuinty government announced a “moratorium” on offshore wind development. It was widely thought this move was to stave off any criticism (and lost votes) from Toronto, the Ontario Liberal stronghold, as there was significant opposition to a project proposed off the Scarborough area, where lake views are prized.

Now, it’s 2014, and the Liberals have a majority and four years ahead in power.

Last Friday, a request for proposal for a noise impact study for offshore wind “farms” was posted on MERX here.

Details here:

Technical Evaluation to Predict Offshore Wind Farm Noise Impacts in Ontario

Detailed Description
This Request for Proposals is an invitation to prospective proponents to submit proposals for the Technical Evaluation of Sound Propagation Modelling Methodologies to Predict Offshore Wind Farm Noise Impacts in Ontario.

Scope of Work
The Preferred Proponent will be required to conduct a technical evaluation of sound propagation modelling methodologies to predict Offshore Wind Farm noise impacts in Ontario (the “Study”), and create a report about the Study to the satisfaction of and for approval by the Ministry (the “Study Report”). The scope of work to be performed by the Preferred Proponent includes:

(i) Conducting a literature review and consulting technical and government specialists;

(ii) Preparing and submitting the Study Report based on the literature review and consultation;

(iii) Providing the chapters of the Study Report to the Ministry in draft form for review, comment and approval by the Ministry, and revising the chapters and final Study Report to the satisfaction of the Ministry; and,

(iv) Participating in kick-off meeting/teleconference and periodic teleconferences with Ministry staff as required.

Field measurements, validation testing and/or the purchase of Offshore Models are outside the scope of this study.

Note that this is essentially a literature review; actual noise measurement is “outside the scope.”

It is also likely only related to audible noise: low frequency noise has not been mentioned in the study scope.

Offshore wind power generation projects have been proposed for several areas in Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. Concerns about such development range from worries about noise, damage to the lake beds, especially in Erie where the toxic substances have settled, and for property values of adjacent properties.

Ontario doesn’t need more wind power

ListowelFairFloat

ONTARIO DOESN’T NEED MORE POWER SAYS WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

Large Renewable Procurement means higher electricity bills for consumers

September 1, 2014, Toronto— Ontario’s new Large Renewable Procurement process aims to add more expensive, intermittent wind power to Ontario’s power capacity at a time when Ontario doesn’t need the power, and can’t afford new generation, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

In comments made to the Ontario Power Authority on the draft new procurement process for “renewables” such as wind and solar, the advocacy organization said it cannot understand why suppliers for more power are being sought at this time.

“Ontario lost more than $1.5 billion last year because we had power being produced at the wrong time of day for people to use it,” says president Jane Wilson. “We had to sell it off to other jurisdictions like neighbouring U.S. States at bargain-basement prices. And now, we ‘re looking for more? It doesn’t make sense.”

Adding more renewables to the mix will increase electricity bills for Ontario’s already strapped consumers. “I am very concerned about energy poverty,” Wilson, a registered nurse, says. “We are hearing from young people and seniors who say they have reached or exceeded their limits and just can’t pay any more. Why is Ontario scaling back on cheap hydro power, and looking to buy more expensive wind?”

Wind Concerns Ontario also noted concerns about the approval process for wind power projects. At present 85 municipalities in Ontario have declared themselves to be unwilling hosts to the wind power plants, which can reduce property values, diminish attractiveness for tourists, and produce noise and vibration that disturbs sleep and affects health for some residents. Seven projects have been approved since the June election, Wind Concerns says. The cost of those projects works out to $135.7 million a year or $2.7 billion over the life of the 20 year contracts, or an additional $28.28 per household every year.

“Kathleen Wynne, Bob Chiarelli and their government keep saying that they are not going to ‘force’ wind power projects on communities,” Wilson says, “but just last week they approved a huge power project at Plympton-Wyoming in Lambton County—that community has been very clear about its wishes. This new process fails to define what community approval means. Our communities need to know that, now.”

Wind Concerns commented on other issues with the Ontario Power Authority such as a need for power developer to disclose all the impacts of a proposed project to local governments, for their sales staff to adhere to a code of practice, and for wind power contracts to contain measures that allow landowners to change their minds about having turbines on their property.

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups and individuals concerned about the potential impact of large-scale wind power generation projects on the economy, on the natural environment and wildlife, and on human health.

Read the full Wind Concerns Ontario comment to the Ontario Power Authority on the new Large Renewable Procurement process here: Aug23Input into Large Renewable Procurement RFP Framework

wco.president@gmail.com

 

 

Wind farms and radar:Environment Canada posts map showing effect

What’s the weather going to be today? Any major storms on the way? Well, in the western portion of Ontario, where hundreds of wind turbines have already been built and still more are on the way, it will be tougher for Environment Canada to track weather systems, due to interference from the turbines.

Environment Canada has now posted a map to indicate the degree of interference at its Exeter radar station. See the map and full information here.

This map shows a view of the Exeter weather radar located at coordinates 43.37199° latitude and -81.38056° longitude. A circle is defined around the radar with a radius of 50 km. There is also a coloured region indicating the locations where a turbine is visible to the radar. As well, major cities and roads are shown. An explanation on how to view this map can be found in the section “How to view the map”.

Aviation safety and wind farms: you be the judge

On Saturday, the London Free Press published a story about the letter from NAV Canada to the wind power developer planning a power project in East Oxford, near Woodstock, Ontario.

Though the letter to the developer lists several concerns about the impact of the wind power project on radar and airport operations, a NAV Canada official was quoted as saying the problems could be corrected simply with “software.”

We invite you to read the actual letter from NAV Canada here, and see if you are satisfied that the wind power developer could achieve the mitigation measures necessary to ensure safety. 14-0925 NAV Canada GunnsHill

Key points from the NAV Canada letter:

“We have evaluated the captioned proposal and our analysis shows that all 10 of the proposed turbines are visible to the London Radar while turbines 4-10 are visible to the Hamilton Radar and turbines 1-3 are marginally visible to the Hamilton Radar with the following impacts:

·         a number of nuisance (false) primary radar targets in the wind farm geographical limits and its immediate vicinity.

·         a reduction to our capability to identify and track primary surveillance targets in the above mentioned area.

·         a reduced capability to provide traffic information to our aviation customers when a primary only surveillance target (s) is in the area.

·         an increase in the controllers’ workload in the affected area, and

·         a decrease in flight safety for aircraft operating in the area, especially in adverse weather conditions.”

The community group in East Oxford also notes that emergency medical transport by air to and from the nearby Woodstock hospital could also be affected by this wind power project.

NAV Canada’s mission statement reads, “Safety is our first priority.”

 

 

Parker Gallant on Hydro One: explaining the unexplainable

saveONenergy Coupons!

Norfolk Power: a good deal for somebody. Not you.

If you are, or could be in future a Hydro One customer there is no reason to cheer about their 2014 second quarter news release … unless you are a ratepayer in Norfolk.

Hydro One’s news release of August 14, 2014 stated the company has received an “approval to acquire Norfolk Power Inc. (Norfolk Power).” The sale price announced last year was $93 million.  For the ratepayers in Norfolk that acquisition will mean a five-year holiday from distribution rate increases.

But there is more: Hydro One is now committed to paying 30.4 times the annual profit of Norfolk Power for the year ended December 31, 2013. That price is referred to as the P/E (price/earnings) multiple. The purchase price by Hydro One is pure insanity as the P/E of utility companies trading in the market has traditionally been in the 10/15 times P/E range.  Why is Hydro One using taxpayer dollars to benefit only the ratepayers and taxpayers of Norfolk, and why did the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) bless the purchase?

The Hydro One press release had lots of bad news: even though revenue was up by $163 million for the quarter it was due principally to the cost of power increasing by $140 million for the additional 0.2 TWh (terawatt hours) purchased.   Doing the math on the extra 0.2 TWh shows a price of $700 per MWh (megawatt hour) or the equivalent of 70 cents per kilowatt hour.   That jump pushed the cost of power for the first six months of 2014 for Hydro One customers — up by 17.8%, and 20.5% for the recent three months.

Why is Hydro One paying so much for the additional power? Are all the other LDCs in the same position?

More bad news: Hydro One’s net income was down by $53 million (32%) in the last three months and $70 million (16%) in the first six months of the current year.  Comparing the second quarter, 2014 with the same quarter in 2013 shows that profit for Hydro One’s transmission business was up slightly, but profit for the distribution business dropped by $45 million or 53%.  What that means is Hydro One will be applying to the OEB for a rate increase for the distribution side.

This was also in the news release, related to the drop in net income:  “The reductions in net income were primarily due to higher operation, maintenance and administration costs resulting from increased aging of accounts receivable as a result of a combination of the impact of cold winter weather on customer bills based on increased electricity consumption and prices, as well as our customer service recovery initiatives.”

Translation: they are connecting the reduction of net income to “increased aging of accounts receivable” which is a stretch, unless they ramped up administration costs to collect delinquent ratepayer bills!  That might have something to do with the flawed billing system under investigation by the Ombudsman.  Or, it could have something to do with “energy poverty” as more and more Ontarians can’t pay the ramped up electricity and distribution costs.

Whatever the answer, it has obviously been caused by one or a combination of all three of these issues which are symptomatic of poor management of expenses,  faulty execution of the revamped billing system, and higher energy prices.

Higher prices are the direct result of the push for large-scale renewable power sources by the incumbent Liberal government.

Customers of Hydro One deserve an answers … and the truth.

©Parker Gallant

August 22,2014

The views expressed are those of the author.

HydroOne Logo

Wind farm appeals a “stacked deck”

Judges quash majority of turbine appeal

Setback issue to be argued Sept. 3
The Environmental Review Tribunal has ruled that only issues related to an amendment to the HAF Wind Energy Project will be heard next month. The majority of the issues raised in West Lincoln resident Anne Fairfeild’s appeal will not be argued.
Grimsby Lincoln News

WEST LINCOLN — The case against the five industrial wind turbines already spinning in West Lincoln is “still partially alive.”

Anne Fairfield, who appealed the province’s approval of the HAF Wind Energy Project, appeared before the Environmental Review Tribunal for a preliminary hearing last week. All of the issues raised in her original appeal were quashed, meaning only those mentioned in her appeal to the province’s subsequent approval of an amendment to the project will be heard at a hearing next month.

“They knocked out everything not mentioned in the amendment,” said Fairfield. “All we’re left with are property lines and the withdrawing of post construction raptor monitoring.”

Project proponents Rankin Wind Energy and Vineland Power Inc. had to submit an amendment to their application after it came to light that four of the five turbines were built closer to property lines than regulations allow.

According to the Green Energy Act, turbines must be located a minimum of a blade length from the nearest property — in this case, 95 metres.

The province approved the amended application June 20. Fairfield filed her appeal July 3.

Come Sept. 3 Fairfield will only be able to argue on the issue of property line setback infractions and post-construction raptor monitoring. The West Lincoln resident will no longer be able to present on issues of health, gas wells. hazardous waste and the impact on Charter rights — the issues Fairfield raised in her original appeal to the project’s approval.

Fairfield and members of the West Lincoln Glanbrook WInd Action Group met with Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak Monday to discuss the upcoming tribunal.

Judges quashes majority of turbine appeal

West Lincoln-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak meets with constituents in resident’s home

Hudak was vocal in his opposition to the Green Energy Act in his time as PC Party Leader. He raised the issue several times at Queen’s Park on behalf of his constituents in West Lincoln and the province at large, calling for a complete moratorium on more than one occasion. He has called on the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, twice now to “do the right thing” in the case of the HAF project.

“If you had been caught speeding on Twenty Road, you wouldn’t get a redo,” said Hudak, speaking on the province’s approval of the amended application.

“It only makes sense for the government to follow its own laws.”

Hudak, fresh on the heels of his loss to Kathleen Wynne in the race to become premier, said he would do what he can to help his constituents but realizes his influence is not as strong as it could have been had the outcome had been different in June.

“My goal was to win the election and stop this thing in its tracks,” said Hudak. “I’ve met with Wynne and McGuinty, face to face like we are now, to say this is a bad idea for the province as a whole.”

Fairfield asked if the PC party would continue to push against the Liberal’s green agenda without Hudak at helm. Hudak said he appointed Lisa Thompson to the post of energy critic because her own riding of Huron-Bruce was home to several turbine projects. He was confident the party would continue to push against “one of the most destructive policy decisions in recent history.”

Hudak, like the half dozen residents gathered at Veldman’s house, did not have the same level of confidence the Environmental Review Tribunal would side with Fairfield.

“It’s an incredibly stacked deck,” said Hudak.

“ERTs don’t work,” said Fairfield, noting ultimately the decision will lie in either appeals court or in a judicial review, both of which she is prepared to more forward with.

Read the full story here.

Editor’s Note: the Environmental Review Tribunal Panel is NOT made up of “judges” but rather lawyers who are civil servants, employed by the Province of Ontario.

Achtung, Ontario! Renewables are a money pit

Not working out so well
Not working out so well

Germany’s experiment with wind farms and solar power a failure

Writing in the Financial Post today (not online yet), economist Brady Yauch says Ontario could have chosen a better model than Germany for a program to foster power generation from “renewable” sources. Germany, Yauch writes, “has a $412 billion lesson for Ontario.”

On the surface, there have been jobs created and renewables (including HYDRO and biomass) now produce 13% of Germany’s electricity, but “scratch a bit below the surface and an entirely different picture emerges—one with households being pushed into ‘energy poverty’ as renewable subsidies lead to soaring power bills, handouts to the country’s big businesses and exporters so they can avoid paying those subsidies and a systematic bankrupting of traditional utilities.”

“Germany’s decision to support renewable energy at all costs has, ultimately, cost the country’s ratepayers billions of dollars and led to a doubling of monthly electricity bills over the past decade,” Yauch reports.  “Households now pay the second highest rates for electricity in the EU–second only to Denmark, the world leader in wind turbines.”

The rise of renewable power has resulted in a comeback for coal in Germany, increasing to 45% of output in 2012.

Yauch concludes by saying, “The energy situation in Germany has become so disruptive and so politically untenable that the government has recently done everything it can to pull back on subsidies and other support for renewable energy, much to the dismay of renewable producers that still can’t survive on their own.

“Far from being a success, Germany’s rush into renewable energy has crushed households, taxpayers and utilities.

“Ontario needs a better model.”

Our question: Will Ontario listen? As Tom Adams said in the documentary Down Wind, “So much money has been spilled…” it will be almost impossible to go back.

In the meantime, Ontario ratepayers and rural-small-town communities pay the price for this wrong-headed and completely unfounded policy.