Algoma community group calls attention to wind power negative impacts

A turbine in the Algoma Highlands. Photo: Gord Benner

August 5, 2018

Save Ontario’s Algoma Region or SOAR, has written to MPPs and ministers in the new Ontario government to call attention to the potential for negative environmental and economic impacts from recently constructed wind power projects.

In the letter, SOAR says that the wind power projects will have a negative effect on eco-tourism in the Algoma Region, where tourists come from around the world to visit the formerly pristine environment. The result could be job loss, SOAR says.

“Poverty impacts human health. The energy rates in Ontario which have skyrocketed due to the
policies of “green” energy have impacted all Ontarians—especially those in lower income
brackets and those who live in areas where a sustainable year-round economy is largely
dependent upon eco-tourism in a natural environment untouched by the presence of industrial
wind turbines.”

SOAR says further, the impact on the environment, wildlife and wildlife habitat is not truly known. “Despite the evidence of expert witnesses, to date the Ontario government has removed environmental protections, accepted flawed data from ‘researchers’ hired by wind companies and dismissed the concerns of objectors as self-seeking” SOAR stated in the letter.
As part of the Renewable Energy Approvals granted to the wind power developers, “the Ministry of the
Environment requires data of bird and bat mortality to be presented at post-operational community meetings for a 3-year period only. After that time, the public must request bird and bat mortality statistics directly from the wind companies,” SOAR says.

That is not enough oversight to ensure protection for the environment and wildlife.

SOAR is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

Read the entire letter here: Letter of Concern from SOAR re Industrial Wind in Algoma

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

 

 

From protest to celebration: Ford government cancels wind power in Prince Edward County

An outrage: County residents protest behind-the-scenes final approval of hotly contested wind power project [APPEC photo-Michael LIndon]
July 11, 2018

The protest was kept under wraps until the late morning yesterday in quiet, beautiful Prince Edward County.

A group of residents planned to interrupt a convoy delivering huge wind turbine parts for the “White Pines” wind power project in a peaceful manner, as an expression again of the community’s disapproval of the power project being located in the historic Loyalist area.

The environmental risks of the power project were significant — so much so that the original 29-turbine project had been reduced to 27, then finally to 9, and the remaining approval came with conditions for the Germany-based power developer WPD in order to protect the environment and wildlife. Several wildlife and nature groups have supported the fight, emphasizing the immense danger to migratory birds from the turbines, close to the shore of Lake Ontario and on a major migratory bird pathway.

The company’s commitment to those conditions has been questioned as it worked through the halt period required to protect endangered Blandings turtles; the citizens’ group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County or APPEC filed numerous actions requesting a stay of construction. Earlier this week, WPD was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act.

And then there is the power grid in Ontario: the electricity that could be produced (wind is notoriously intermittent and produced out of phase with demand) is not required in Ontario, which has a surplus of power and has been paying generators not to produce, as well as selling power on the electricity market for bargain-basement prices.

The community has been fighting the power project for 10 years, mostly in court, with a few peaceful demonstrations such as a march through Picton last fall.

Recently, it was learned that despite the fact Ontario’s soaring electricity bills were a major issue in the election campaign throughout the province, aided by the cost of wind power contracts, and the fact that this wind power project was a contentious issue in the riding, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) actually issued the final approval or Notice To Proceed, during the writ period.

“The previous Liberal government was in ‘caretaker’ mode when the IESO on May 11 green-lighted the litigation mired project,” said community member Liz Driver. “The community knows that the IESO were fully aware that wind projects were an election issue and that the PCs pledged to cancel projects still in development. As local journalist Rick Conroy explained in his June 27 commentary in the local Wellington Times newspaper  the IESO decision trod upon centuries of parliamentary custom.

“The Notice to Proceed was kept under wraps by IESO, the wind company and the Liberals. The IESO only revealed the Notice to Proceed on its website just before the transfer of power to the PCs on June 29 to the astonishment of the community.”

The community members decided to make a point and actually interrupt the turbine delivery only to find out at the end that Ontario’s new government had announced cancelling the project was one of three priorities for its emergency call-back of the Legislature.

The issue was “time-sensitive,” said local MPP Todd Smith who is also Government House Leader, in making the announcement. The power developer was working at breakneck speed to complete the project in hopes it wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — cancelled, contrary to the PC Party promises during the election. Until the Notice To Proceed was issued in secret in May, the power developer had been working at its own risk incurring costs, and without significant permits from the municipality.

The developer has been working evenings and weekends to try to complete the project.

“If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how fast they can put those things up,” said Paula Peel, a member of the executive of both APPEC and Wind Concerns Ontario.

The government will introduce legislation Thursday regarding the project.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

Is the MOECC interpreting Environmental Tribunal rulings?

A recent letter from the Minister contains troubling language

Breaking all the rules and getting away with it, in Prince Edward County and on Amherst Island (Photo: Brian Little)

April 24, 2018

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) recently responded to a citizen of Prince Edward County, who wrote with concerns about German-based power developer WPD’s published construction schedule. The schedule appears to ignore stipulations put in place by the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal to protect the endangered Blandings Turtle, which is resident in the County, and the area where nine industrial-scale wind turbines are under construction.

The letter said:

“The REA restricts construction and maintenance activities within Blanding’s Turtle habitat to between October 15 and April 30 where possible. If construction and maintenance activities between May 1 and October 14 are unavoidable, the company must ensure additional measures are in place to avoid the Blanding’s Turtle and that its actions do not cause an adverse effect to the natural environment, including the Blanding’s Turtle.

“Construction of the nine turbines began on September 18, 2017. On September 21st and, in reference to the REA, the MOECC requested that construction stop in areas of Blanding’s Turtle habitat until October 15th, unless wpd White Pines Wind Inc. was able to prove the work was unavoidable.  Construction continued in areas not identified as Blanding’s Turtle habitat per the REA.

“Construction has proceeded throughout the site as permitted by the REA. The company has proposed a construction schedule that will complete all construction in Blanding’s Turtle habitat between October 15, 2017 and April 30, 2018 with the exception of erecting one turbine which is in Blanding’s Turtle habitat.  The proponent has successfully demonstrated to the MOECC that erecting the one turbine is unavoidable.”

“Requested”? “Unavoidable”?

Not very clear language from the MOECC, whose job it is to protect the environment, not aid and abet power developers.

On Amherst Island, the same situation is playing out. There, the Environmental Review Tribunal dismissed the appeal of the approval of the “Windlectric” power project brought forward by citizens, but stipulated certain conditions to protect the endangered turtles there. (Never mind the birds, apparently they keep up with this via social media and will avoid the turbines, eventually.)

However, those conditions are being ignored, so the Protect Amherst Island community group has written to the Ministry demanding that their own rules be enforced.

Once again, Ontario citizens are fighting to protect the environment from the Ministry of the Environment.

#MOECC

To write the MOECC use the contact form here: https://www.ontario.ca/feedback/contact-us?id=26985&nid=72714

You may also use Twitter @ONenvironment and #MOECC

 

 

Prince Edward County citizens ask Enviro Commissioner for review of White Pines environmental impact

Blandings turtles: still in danger [CBC photo]
March 12, 2018

The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (Wind Concerns Ontario community group member APPEC) and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) submitted a Joint Part IV Application to the Environmental Commissioner’s Office (ECO), regarding the White Pines wind power project.

The power project has faced numerous appeals and legal actions over the years, and has been reduced from 29 turbines to 27, and is now at nine. The community had thought that the reduced capacity would result in cancellation of the contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) but the IESO simply cut a new contract for the power developer.

Concerns about environmental impact remain, however.

“Basically, we are asking the ECO to conduct a formal review based on the concerns and evidence we have provided relating to the Blanding’s turtle, the Little brown bat and migratory birds,” says APPEC Chair Gordon Gibbins.

“It was important for us to submit the Part IV Application before going forward with any appeal to the Divisional Court.  Our Application sets this process in motion, and in fact includes almost all the same issues we had planned to raise at the ERT hearing before our appeal was dismissed,” Gibbins explains.

“The ECO has everything it needs to make a decision on whether or not to conduct a review.   We’ve been told that the ECO will forward this evidence to the MOECC and to the MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) as well as make their own conclusions.”

The White Pines project has also been fraught with accusations of violations of its Renewable Energy Approval, as the power developer engaged in land clearing and road use outside of signed agreements.

For more information, go to: https://appec.wordpress.com/

#MOECC

 

 

Wind turbine construction destruction: “the rules are just made to be broken”

March 5, 2018

Roads blocked without notice on Amherst Island: breaking all the rules and getting away with it (Photo: Brian Little)

“All the rules are made to be broken”

Representatives of three community groups where wind turbine projects are currently under construction, addressed the Wind Concerns Ontario conference in Kingston this past weekend, and told hair-raising stories of violations of Renewable Energy Approvals, disobedience of municipal orders, ignoring conditions of road use agreements, and more.

Anne Dumbrille, chair of the County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE-Naturally Green) and Orville Walsh of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), both based in Prince Edward County, detailed the abuses of the Renewable Energy Approval and IESO contract by Germany-based wind power developer wpd in construction of the contentious White Pines wind power project.

The White Pines project was originally planned to produce electricity for Ontario’s surplus-laden power grid via 29 huge wind turbines. A successful appeal based on heritage aspects of The County reduced the turbine number to 27; another appeal (Hirsch v. MOECC) was partially successful and saw the project reduced from 27 to 9 turbines, based on harm to endangered species.

“We had been operating under the belief that having to meet the 75 percent of power requirement in the contract with the IESO [Independent Electricity System Operator] actually meant something,” said Walsh. “It turns out, it doesn’t. Contracts don’t mean anything — they can do whatever they want.”

Dumbrille echoed that with a litany of abuses. The White Pines project is way past its specified commercial operation date, she said, which should mean the IESO could terminate the contract, but it hasn’t. “The Long Stop Date has no meaning or relevance, despite being in the regulations,” she said. “The decision appears to be political.”

The public also expected that while the power project was being appealed, construction work would not be allowed, particularly in the areas presented as habitat for the endangered Blandings turtle, but in fact, both the MOECC and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry allowed it. Only when citizens took action in court was a stop work order achieved.

“Why must citizen groups rather than government protect habitat destruction?” Dumbrille asked.

The land clearing in turtle habitat continued after the appeal for the nine remaining turbines outside the limits imposed by the Environmental Review Tribunal. Again, citizens went to court, and again a stop order was issued, but not before habitat was destroyed. A transmission station is planned to be built in a stream bed which is against regulations and will require the taking of water. Again, the MOECC appears to side with the power developer on all issues.

“All the rules are made to be broken,” said Dumbrille, “to benefit the wind power developer. And the public has no right to information, apparently.”

Janet Grace, past chair of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), described numerous violations of the Renewable Energy Approval, road use agreements, and provincial safety regulations by “Windlectric” a shell company developing a power project on the island for Algonquin Power. Construction staff and vehicles are supposed to be using a barge to get to the island, she said, but they’re not: instead, they use the passenger ferry which is resulting in delays for Island residents, many of whom work across the water in KIngston, and concerns about safety.

Roads are blocked without notice, and construction throughout the winter has virtually destroyed roads, so much so that the municipality Loyalist Township issued a stop work order. Resident photographs indicate however, that the order was ignored, with the power developer construction firm continuing work. In addition, Grace said, the company is supposed to stop work at 7 PM, but in reality is working until 11 PM.

“The sad thing is, Grace said, “we know this is just the beginning of what is being done to our Island. There are rules being broken, and violations … the MOECC gives them exemptions. They’re just getting away with it all.”

 

Ontario government abdicated role as environmental protector: WCO

“The Green Energy Act was the biggest con ever in Ontario” — MPP Todd Smith

Hundreds marched in Picton on October 15th. The Green Energy Act “the biggest con, ever.” [Photo Wind Concerns Ontario]
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.

More stories here.

Belleville Intelligencer

County Live

Quinte News

 

“Gasping in despair”: Ontario’s rural communities, victims of Wynne government wind power cabal

In aiding wind power corporations, the Ontario government has essentially released wild dogs onto Ontario’s landscape without oversight, or means of bringing them to heel

“To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.” From the independent Wellington Times, a powerful overview of what the McGuinty-Wynne governments have done to Ontario while aiding huge corporations to build wind power plants

 

Ontario gothic

Posted: October 6, 2017 at 9:03 am   /   by   /   comments (4)

It begs the question: what was Kathleen Wynne and her government smoking when they let loose their own man-made monsters across rural Ontario—in the form of industrial wind developers and speculators?

Even if you buy the sentiment that their motivations were well-intentioned, the undeniable outcome of the Green Energy Act is that Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have spawned armies of amoral monstrous corporate creatures and have let them loose to roam unfettered across the province. To wreak havoc in rural communities. To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.

Worse, our government has paved the way, clearing hurdles and slashing regulations to enable these creatures to prey upon vulnerable communities, natural habitats and endangered species. Now they have lost control of their grotesque creations. Even Kathleen Wynne must know how this story ends.

Near Chatham, folks believe the wind developer working nearby has poisoned their wells—allowing toxins into their drinking supply. They have done the testing. They have spoken out. They have protested. Marched on Queen’s Park. Kathleen Wynne has ignored them.

Wynne, her government and her supporters comfort themselves believing the scourge they have unleashed—though ugly and abusive— is a necessary evil. That the greater good is being served. They ignore the folks holding up jars of black liquid, pleading with the province to test their water, drawn from wells that have become undrinkable since the wind developer began driving piles into the bedrock to secure its massive wind turbines. Even Chatham- Kent’s mayor has demanded Kathleen Wynne intervene to protect these residents. It has made no difference.

Left without the protection of the province—without the safeguards that would protect them from any other development— these folks took matters into their own hands. In August, they began blockading the construction site— neighbours joining together to form a line against the threat to their drinking water.

On Monday, in a cruel blow, the developers— a Korean conglomerate and its American partner—won a court injunction barring any further blockades of the project. The judge said he wasn’t trying to muzzle opponents, but to “prohibit unlawful acts”.

People have to prove their water has been poisoned

In Ontario’s perverse hunger for industrial wind turbines, it turns out Chatham-Kent residents must first prove they have been poisoned by the developer, before they may seek justice. By then, of course, the damage will have been done. Recourse will expensive and, for most, unattainable.

Four years ago, the giant American wind developer Next Era sued Esther Wrightman for defamation. On her website she had altered the company’s logo to NextError and Next Terror. They wanted the logos removed or they would litigate the mother of two young children into oblivion. All these years later, the legal action is still pending. Wrightman wakes up every morning with the weight of this action still weighing on her head.

In Prince Edward County, a wind developer has been barred from constructing a nine-turbine project near Milford between May 1 and October 15. This was done expressly to protect the nesting grounds and habitat of the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species in the province.

Nevertheless, crews have been busy these past few weeks clearing vegetation, preparing the site and delivering heavy equipment onto these protected lands. There are no consequences for ignoring the rules.

Families have left homes–no one will help

So, a developer ruins drinking water without penalty, another bullies a young mother into silence, and yet another crushes rules meant to save an endangered species. This is our Ontario. There are dozens more distressing stories just like these. Too many sad accounts of families forced to leave their homes because the noise and vibration from the massive machines proved intolerable.

No one is coming to help the folks in Chatham-Kent. No one from our government—those we entrust to protect us—is intervening between Next Era (market capitalization of $68 billion) and Esther Wrightman. And no one is coming to protect endangered species in South Marysburgh.

Wynne has lost control of her destructive and unscrupulous brutes. When the Liberal government eliminated the safeguards that once protected us from these threats, and cut municipalities and communities out of decision-making, they may have believed they were just streamlining processes. Instead, they unleashed wild dogs onto the Ontario landscape without oversight or the means to bring them back to heel.

Untethered by moral, ethical or community concerns, these corporate beasts consume and ravage everything they can get away with. Folks who have fought for years to protect the things our government was supposed to safeguard, have been left gasping in despair. Lacking legal remedies or protection, some have begun considering other means to protect their families, their communities and their land. If the government won’t protect them, they will do it themselves.

This is the horror Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have wrought.

 

rick@wellingtontimes.ca

 

Ontario Environment Ministry set to repeat mistakes if new power projects approved

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

NEWS RELEASE

ONTARIO ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO REPEAT WIND POWER MISTAKES

August 22, 2017

Wellington, Ont. —

Applications for approval of new, huge wind power projects now being filed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate should be denied, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

“There have been so many problems and mistakes with the government’s wind power program that not a single new project should be approved,” says Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson.

Recently, problems with well water have been revealed in the Chatham-Kent area, where vibrations from turbine construction and operation have disturbed the shale bedrock resulting in toxic heavy metals such as arsenic contaminating water, making it undrinkable.

On August 21st, Chatham-Kent council voted to demand a halt to construction of a new wind power project.

The Otter Creek project by French power developer Boralex is proposed to be built on the same geologic formation and there are questions as to whether it could also create water problems.

Turbine noise is an ongoing concern: Wind Concerns received MOECC documents earlier this year showing that the ministry has had thousands of complaints about excessive noise and vibration from operating wind turbines, but has not resolved any of the problems. Complaints about noise emissions from the turbines continue, often beginning as soon as the power projects begin operation. Citizens affected report sleep disturbance for weeks at a time, and other health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and cardiovascular symptoms.

“The Ministry doesn’t seem to be learning anything from reports of problems created by wind power projects,” says Wilson. “Their own field officers have documented issues with existing noise regulations and observed health effects, and now we have people with formerly pure well water turning black, but the MOECC continues to receive and approve these huge power projects based on the same regulations that have proven to be flawed.

“If the MOECC were a private business, they would acknowledge these mistakes and problems, and work to resolve them — that’s not what this government is doing.”

Wind Concerns filed a document recommending the Otter Creek project, now in review, not be approved. The turbines proposed have never been used and there are no actual noise output measurements for them, WCO says of the project which will operate immediately north of Wallaceburg.

“The modelling documents filed with their approval request are just estimates based on estimates,” says Wilson. “That’s not good enough to assure citizens of Wallaceburg their health will be protected.”

WCO says that projects not built yet should also be halted, such as the North Kent II, where water problems persist, and Amherst Island, to name two, where a tiny island community will be exposed to noise emissions from 26 50-storey high wind turbines and endangered wildlife will be affected.

The damage to the environment and to human health is inexcusable, WCO says, especially when the power projects are not needed. According to a report by the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 percent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted as it is produced out of phase with demand, and Ontario has a surplus of electrical power.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind Concerns Ontario comment to the MOECC on the Otter Creek project: CommentsOtterCreek-August18

Home in Huron County: thousands of noise complaints remain unresolved — yet government approving more projects? [Photo Gary Moon]
Turbines will cause devastation of Amherst Island heritage community, endanger wildlife — project should be cancelled, says WCO [Map: Wayne Gulden, Wind Farm Realities]

How did a dangerous wind farm idea get so far?

 

The owners and pilots association couldn’t believe anyone would put turbines at an airport

 

The approval for proposed Fairview Wind power project has finally been revoked by the Environmental review Tribunal, on the basis of serious harm to human health and risk to aviation safety — the project was close to two airports.

Our question is, HOW did this power project get as far as it did? How could Transport Canada not block this? Why should taxpayers have had to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect safety and the environment from their own Ontario Ministry of the ENVIRONMENT and Climate Change?

In the original decision issued last fall, the Environmental Review Tribunal accepted the appellants’ aviation expert testimony, which included a rejection of any “mitigation” proposed by the wind power developer, wpd.

In specific the panel noted:

[156] For these reasons, Tribunal accepts that the margin for error posed by introducing the proposed wind turbines at their proposed locations would be inadequate to either prevent collision with a wind turbine, or prevent a crash due to wind turbine-induced turbulence.

and

[163] The Tribunal finds that Mr. Cormier has provided informed criticisms of the proposed mitigation measures that were not contradicted by the Director’s or Approval Holder’s experts, and, therefore, the Tribunal accepts Mr. Cormier’s evidence in this regard. As such, the Tribunal finds that there is insufficient evidence that mitigation measures will be effective.

The reason for the delay in revocation of the approval was because a secondary issue was harm to the Little Brown Bat and the Tribunal felt it necessary —despite the clear risk to human health — to review and evaluate the mitigation procedures proposed. The Tribunal in its decision released this week, did find that the mitigation measures were acceptable but in any event, the risk to human health was sufficient to cancel the approval.

In the October decision, the Tribunal noted that documents from the power developer referred to Transport Canada in an apparent claim that that government agency was OK with proposals for new approaches for pilots to avoid the turbines. However, the Tribunal noted that the Transport Canada letter was “carefully worded” and did not, in effect, provide approval for the power developer’s notion of how to avoid plane crashes.

At “the end of the day” as lawyers say, we are left scratching our head as to how such a proposal could get so far when common sense would seem to dictate otherwise, and why our own government could be so blinded by its “green” ideology that it is more than willing to defend the proposal?

Welcome Minister Ballard: now here’s a list of things to do

An Open Letter to the newly appointed Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Chris Ballard. “You have work to do”

The former Minister of the MOECC left behind a full list of things that need doing, now [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]
July 31, 2017

To the Honourable Chris Ballard

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Queen’s Park, Toronto

 

Welcome to your new position as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Unfortunately, Minister Glen Murray has left you an extensive list of action items requiring your immediate follow-up. We highlight the key issues for you in the following list, related to Ontario’s energy policy and wind power projects.

White Pines – Withdraw the Renewable Energy Approval for this project as developer wpd cannot meet the terms of their contract. There are significant environmental concerns with this project that remain, even after a successful appeal by citizens before the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Amherst Island – Rescind Renewable Energy Approval for this project which is planned for the tiny island heritage community. Significant environmental risks are present including the serious impact on migrating birds that congregate in this area; Ontario does not need the power from this project.

Saugeen Shores – The single wind turbine at the Unifor educational facility has been fraught with problems and engendered hundreds of complaints about excessive noise. This turbine would not be allowed under present regulations. You can immediately address the failure to meet a June 30 deadline for submission of a compliance audit report.

K2 Wind – This is another wind power project, a large one, with many problems in its relatively short history. You can deliver on Minister Glen Murray’s mid-May commitment to Black family, and others, to provide a solution to wind turbines that MOECC testing indicated were not compliant with Ontario regulations to protect the environment and health.

Address Concerns Raised at Request of Minister Murray – Many people across Ontario took Minister Murray at his word when he said that there were no complaints reaching his office and that he would ensure his officials responded quickly to address the issues. They wrote to him and are still waiting for action on their issues.

Complaint Tracking Process – Complaint records released to WCO in response to an FOI request indicate that the MOECC does not respond to most complaints about wind turbine noise. These complaints should be a source of learning for the Ministry rather than being ignored as currently appears to be the case. A full revision of the process is needed to ensure that complaints are actually resolved with procedures that allow the Minister’s office to track resolution. MOECC records indicate little or no resolution of more than 3,100 formal Pollution Reports made by Ontario citizens between 2006 and 2014.

REA Approval Process – Increase setbacks from residences to reflect learning from MOECC complaint records that include staff reports that confirm that current regulations are not sufficient to protect health of residents living in wind projects. Last week, the Supreme Court set out standards for consultations with communities which are substantially more rigorous that the standards used for Ontario Renewable Energy Projects.

MOECC Noise Modeling Procedures – implement new noise modeling procedures based on MOECC internal testing that demonstrates wind turbines routinely exceed predicted levels.

Otter Creek – Retract decision to deem this application “complete” for the Renewable Energy Approval process. The proponent is unable to provide noise emission data for the turbine equipment proposed. The noise report submitted with the application for a REA is not grounded in fact but rather is estimates based estimates. Also, a full MOECC investigation of the impact on well water is required.

LRP I Contracts – suspend REA process for remaining LRP I projects until full review of requirements based on internal complaint records is completed.

Noise Compliance Audit Protocol – Expand the wind speeds covered under the protocol to include wind speeds below 4 metres/second which are the source of a substantial portion of complaints about excessive noise. Even MOECC testing shows these wind speeds are the source of noise levels exceeding 40 dB(A), which completely undercuts the credibility of this audit process.

REA Enforcement – REA terms make the project operator responsible for addressing the concerns raised in each complaint to ensure that it does not recur. The MOECC needs to follow up on all operating with projects to ensure compliance with these terms and take action where it is not occurring.

Shadow Flicker – The flickering shadows produced when a turbine is positioned between the rising or setting sun is a major irritant for residents. It is not considered in the REA approvals and is easy to address by turning off the turbine for the times when it is casting moving shadows on a house.  In some projects, these changes have been implemented by the wind company but in other MOECC staff is telling residents no action is required, even though the REA requires the wind company to address complaints like these.

Infrasound – Expand MOECC testing to include the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines as independent testing shows the presence of elevated levels of infrasound in homes where residents have had to leave to protect their health.

Health Studies – The Ministry has been telling residents that its policy is based on the “best science” available since the first turbine projects were built. MOECC records clearly show that this is not correct, but the Ministry continues to be willfully blind to input from both residents and its own staff, quoting dated and selective literature reviews in a field where the science is rapidly evolving.  The need for noise studies and other investigation has been highlighted in numerous reports but never undertaken.  It is time for some serious field studies of the problems being caused by wind turbine projects in rural communities across Ontario. This was an information gap identified in 2010 by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

 

Last, it is important that as you prepare for this major portfolio, you understand that industrial-scale wind power generation offers no significant benefit to the environment.

Wind power generation on this scale is a high-impact development for little benefit, if any. Two Auditors General for Ontario recommended that Ontario undertake a cost-benefit and/or impact analysis — that has never been done.

We ask you to approach this issue with honesty and honour, and respect the wishes of the citizens of rural Ontario.

Sincerely,

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power development on Ontario’s economy, the natural environment, and human health.