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.
The Washington D.C.-based energy policy “think tank” the Institute for Energy Research (which receives no funding from either government or industry) has reported that Germany’s experience with “green” energy has been an economic failure.
The Institute reports higher energy prices, energy poverty for Germany’s citizens, and “lavish subsidies” for renewable power generators.
North America (including Ontario) has looked to Germany as an example of green power generation; we can only hope they now heed these lessons.
This news story is doubly interesting when you consider that the maps associated with the new large renewable power projects procurement process show a “green light” for Eastern Ontario.
Farmers not sold on wind turbines, survey says
By Brandy Harrison
OTTAWA — While farmers are among the few who can directly benefit financially from hosting wind turbines, Eastern Ontario farmers are more likely to oppose than support them, a Farmers Forum survey shows.
In a random survey of 100 farmers at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show from March 11 to 13, nearly half — 48 per cent — disapproved of wind turbines. Another 29 per cent approved and the remaining 23 per cent said they were neutral.
But positions on the issue weren’t always clear cut. Even when farmers threw their lot in with one side of the debate or the other, their reasoning was peppered with pros and cons.
It’s in stark contrast to a Farmers Forum survey of 50 Western Ontario farmers at the London Farm Show in early March, where 58 per cent were strongly opposed to wind turbines. Farmers opposed outnumbered those who approved by nearly three-to-one.
The number of turbines reveal the difference: Of the 67 wind projects representing more than 1,200 turbines province-wide, almost all the turbines dot the landscape of Western Ontario. Only two projects are in Eastern Ontario, an 86-turbine project on Wolfe Island, south of Kingston, and another 10 turbines near Brinston, south of Winchester, which were completed in January.
Wind power is so controversial that 13 farmers polled at the farm show wanted to remain anonymous, unwilling to come out publicly as a supporter or a critic.
Nearly three-quarters of farmers who disapproved liked green energy in theory but panned turbines — and sometimes the Green Energy Act as a whole — as a too-costly, inefficient electricity source that’s driving up their power bill.
Eric VanDenBroek doesn’t mind the look of the turbines that are only a short drive from his Winchester dairy farm but isn’t a fan of the way the program was rolled out.
“A financial disaster”
“Financially, it’s already proving to be a disaster,” said VanDenBroek, who turned down a chance to get in on renewable revenue. “It’s costing taxpayers money and we don’t have a say in it. Anytime the government gets involved in something, the costs inflate.”
Doug Armstrong agreed. But the North Gower crop farmer may put one up on his own land, particularly if neighbours are considering doing the same.
“I’m not allergic to money. But to be quite honest, as far as I’m concerned, they’re a total and complete waste of money,” said Armstrong.
Turbines are ugly, said Elwood Quaile, who joked that Wolfe Island may one day levitate out of Lake Ontario. But his biggest beef is the expense compared to the return. “Especially when you have a whole lot of gosh-darn water generators sitting idle,” said the Navan crop farmer.
Higher per kilowatt costs make even less sense when excess energy is sold south of the border for less than it costs to produce it, said Bill Seymour.
“It’d be like me buying a Lamborghini for my farm. It’s really nice and sharp, but do the cost on it. Why would I do that?” asked the Lunenburg crop farmer.
Other reasons farmers disapproved included their appearance, adverse health effects, conflicts between farmers, lost farmland, decreasing land values, and that people have little say in where they go.
Among farmers ready to give wind turbines the go-ahead, just over two-thirds reasoned that there is a need for renewable energy.
“The wind blows. It’s free. How else can we make power out of something that’s free?” said Ivan Petersen, who runs an Osgoode crop, dairy, and elevator operation. Petersen has solar panels and also likes the additional income.
It’s a good idea but there are challenges, said a Peterborough-area farmer, who didn’t want to be named.
“For the farmer whose farm they’re on, it’s a great thing. For the farmer who’s next to him and gets nothing, it’s a bad thing,” he said, proposing a tax rebate to homeowners based on distance from the turbine. “Everybody wins. Then it’s not neighbour-against-neighbour.”
The debate isn’t rational and people are misinformed, said a Dundas County farmer, who approves but requested anonymity.
“People are willing to fight wind energy and still have a solar panel in their backyard, which is kind of hypocritical. You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” he said.
Other farmers approved in hopes of additional income, seeing a break on their energy bills, or out of a feeling that people can do what they like on their own property.
Many of the 23 farmers who remained neutral on the issue said they didn’t have enough information to take a firm stance, but they’d definitely heard the pros and cons.
“If it was making me money, I’d love ‘em. If it was keeping me up all night, I’d want to knock it down,” said Scott Kinlock, a Martintown crop farmer and custom operator.
Wind power approval ratings were high, however, in another Farmers Forum survey three years ago, where just over half of 200 Wolfe Island (pop. 1,200 in summer) residents polled approved of turbines. But nearly one-third of respondents said community spirit had plummeted since the turbines went up in 2009.
Large wind farms can knock as much as 12 per cent off the values of homes within a 2km radius, and reduce property prices as far as 14km away, according to research by the London School of Economics. The findings contrast sharply with a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in March, which found no negative impact on property prices within a 5km radius of a turbine.
The LSE findings will fan demands by homeowners for compensation when wind farm developments are given the go-ahead. Currently, wind farm operators pay rent on the land they occupy and make contributions to community causes, but are under no legal obligation to compensate homeowners for loss of value.
The report, “Gone with the wind: valuing the visual impacts of wind turbines through house prices”, by Professor Stephen Gibbons, found that “wind farm developments reduce prices in locations where the turbines are visible, relative to where they are not visible, and that the effects are causal”.
For the average sized windfarm, the price reduction is around 5-6 per cent for homes with a visible windfarm within 2km, falling to less than 2 per cent between 2-4km, and to near zero between 8-14km, which is at the limit of likely visibility. In areas close to windfarms, but where the turbines are not visible, the report found there was a small increase (around 2 per cent) in property prices.
Large wind farms cause the greatest decline in property prices. “As might be expected, large visible wind farms have much bigger impacts that extend over a wider area,” said Gibbons. “The largest wind farms (20+ turbines) reduce prices by 12 per cent within 2km, and reduce prices by small amounts right out to 14km (by around 1.5 per cent).”
Read the full news story here.
The Ottawa Citzen‘s Matthew Pearson lays out the challenges before Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for 2014. Funny, despite the billions being spent on wind power, and the dramatically rising electricity rates which may be traced in part to renewable power sources, this issue is not mentioned.
Despite scandals, Wynne says government moving Ontario forward
By Matthew Pearson, Ottawa CitizenJanuary 1, 2014
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne looks back over her first 10 months in office and ahead to what 2014 will bring in a wide-ranging year-end interview with the Citizen.
OTTAWA — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has graced the province’s television and computer screens lately dressed in a Liberal red jacket, jogging through the peaceful countryside near Orangeville. Her party may hope the ad instils confidence in voters; that it suggests the 60-year-old is training hard for the toughest race of all — a provincial election widely expected next spring. But it could also be seen in a much different light, one in which Wynne is running from the scandals that continue to chase her minority government and mounting criticism that, after 10 months in the premier’s chair, there’s been a lot of talk and little action. The last month alone has not been her government’s finest. Consider the damning auditor general’s report that revealed a system of overly generous salaries, pensions and bonuses at the provincially owned utility Ontario Power Generation. Or the revelation that Chris Mazza, the embattled former CEO of the Ornge air ambulance service, collected $9.3 million in salaries and bonuses from the province over six years. There was also a long-term energy plan that will see hydro rates increase by 50 per cent over the next decade and news out of southwestern Ontario that Heinz and Kellogg’s will both be closing factories, leaving nearly 1,300 people without jobs. Even the recent announcement that Cisco has partnered with the province to create as many at 1,700 new jobs in Ontario — which came on the first day MPPs were back in their ridings for winter break — had some observers suggesting it was not a job creation plan but rather a government handout to a deep-pocketed technology giant.
Internal energy department emails released following a freedom of information request show the lobby group RenewableUK met ministry officials and assured that their input was “reflected in guidance”
Earlier this year, the energy department, which is run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, was accused of blocking a report on the impact of wind farms because of fears that it would undermine the case for turbinesPhoto: PA
The lobby group for the turbine industry was able to influence the wording of a report produced for the Government on how noise from wind farms should be measured.
RenewableUK “raised concerns” with the Department of Energy and Climate Change over independent guidance produced by the Institute of Acoustics which resulted in changes being made.
Internal energy department emails released following a freedom of information request show the lobby group met ministry officials, after which it was assured that “the majority of R-UK’s input” was “reflected in the guidance”.
Both the Government and the report’s author said last night that RenewableUK had not influenced the advice, but the emails raise new questions about the Coalition’s openness over its wind farm policy.
Earlier this year, the energy department, which is run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, was accused of blocking a report on the impact of wind farms because of fears that it would undermine the case for turbines. The Lib Dems support onshore wind farms.
Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli will release Ontario’s new Long Term Energy Plan today at Queen’s Park, sometime after 1 PM. The question is, will the government continue its push for expensive wind power for which there was NEVER a cost-benefit analysis done, and which has not produced the thousands of jobs promised, not delivered power, and which has caused electricity rates to rise dramatically, affecting business and consumers alike? Check back here analysis and comments.
Here from The Windsor Star, a project that has been refused at the application stage by the Ministry of the Environment.
LaSalle wind turbine project axed
Residents delighted with development
Julie Kotsis, The Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, November 30, 2013
The Ministry of the Environment has rejected a plan to install two industrial wind turbines in rural LaSalle according to opponents of the project. “(Our lawyer) informed us that (property owner Larry) Pajot would not be putting them up,” said Tim Parent, a member of Residents Against Industrial Wind Turbines. “I’m very happy … that it’s been rejected.” “The reason I bought this place was because of the privacy and the views,” said a relieved Parent. The controversial wind turbine project was opposed by the group of LaSalle residents who collected over 400 signatures on a petition in opposition to the project. Parent and others also launched a $10-million lawsuit against wind company River Canard Energy Inc. and Pajot Farms Ltd., the landowner, through Toronto-based lawyer Eric Gillespie. The residents said they feared their property values would decrease or that they would be unable to sell their properties if the two proposed 500kW turbines were installed on farmland off Disputed Road. The group also sought an injunction to stop the project. “Our lawyer says our lawsuit has stopped him from going ahead but then we get this other information from the ministry,” Parent said, referring to a notice that the applications had been turned down. “During our review of the company’s proposals, It was determined that they didn’t meet our ministry requirements,” said MOE spokeswoman Kate Jordan. Jordan would give no further details. When reached Friday, property owner Larry Pajot said he was unaware of the ministry’s decision. “Is that right? I didn’t know anything about that,” Pajot said. Asked if he would try to go ahead with the projects or address whatever the problems were with the applications, Pajot said “Like I said, I just found out. I don’t know what to say right now. “So I guess the best thing is I don’t have anything to say.” In Sept. 2012, Micah Jarvis, an energy services manager for Kitchener-based Mindscape Innovations, was the spokesman for the River Canard Energy group but Friday he refused comment saying, “we’re no longer involved with that project. “I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to help you today,” Jarvis said. MOE’S Jordan said River Canard Energy had submitted separate applications for two wind turbines. One was refused by the ministry in late October and one was deemed incomplete and returned. “Neither of those proposals can move forward,” Jordan said, adding that the company could submit a new proposal but there is no appeal allowed on the two rejected applications.
PENETANGUISHENE – Approximately 170 employees of CCL Industries Inc. learned Friday morning that the Penetanguishene plant will close by no later than the middle of 2015.
“The plant has been unprofitable since 2009, and posted sizable losses during the economic crisis,” president and CEO Geoffrey Martin stated in a press release. “Although results improved in 2012 and 2013, the operation continues to make losses; consequently, we feel it is now time to make this difficult decision.”
The company, which produces aluminum aerosol cans and bottles for consumer packaged goods, made the decision “with great regret,” Martin said, adding the closure of the Robert Street East operation will commence in the first half of 2014 and be completed by no later than mid-2015.
Company officials met with Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall on Friday morning to notify him of the decision and the rationale behind it.
“It’s crippling in a lot of ways,” Marshall said when asked about the impact on the town. “These are well-paying jobs…. The impact on those families is going to be heartbreaking.”
Martin said the affected employees will receive “appropriate severance and other benefits,” plus assistance with developing transition plans.
“Many of them have long tenure with CCL, so early notice of the closure gives reasonable time to consider options,” he said. “These will include outplacement assistance embracing, where possible, international transfers within CCL Container and domestic opportunities at our CCL Label and Avery business units.”
Sean Washchuk, the company’s senior vice-president and chief financial officer, said it has been a struggle to remain competitive with a high Canadian dollar and a customer base that had shifted entirely to the United States.
“We really tried to run the business as best we could for the last five years,” he said. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort or trying things to help the business along, but … some of it was just beyond our control.”
Marshall said the town is similarly powerless to do anything to convince CCL to stay. He also rejected the notion that his regular communications with local employers should have tipped him off to looming problems at the plant.
“We stay (in touch) on a continuing basis, but, in this particular case, that card was just held close to the vest,” he said. “I had no inkling those kinds of decisions were being made at the executive level.
“Certainly, we’ve always been worried about CCL in terms of they’ve had layoffs … but you always hope for the best.”