Building credibility for wind power: more persuasion ahead

Orchestrating the "right" message to the people of Ontario: wind is good (and if you object, there is something wrong with you)
Orchestrating the “right” message to the people of Ontario: wind is good (and if you object, there is something wrong with you)

Previously, I reviewed the first three steps Nanos Research recommended to CanWEA for future messaging on wind energy as “cleaner, healthier and more sustainable” and “humanizing” the industry by engaging celebrities and using “children and young families” as the face and voice of the industry.

Nanos Research recommended three more steps CanWEA together with examples of past successes.

Step Four:

“Further strengthen industry-government relations through joint communications opportunities around wind-related educational programs, contests and events engaging schools, youth and young families.”

This recommendation is simply a reiteration of what CanWEA have successfully done since their inception with great success.  Examples of their success include:

  • CanWEA joined OSEA as a member.  OSEA’s predecessor, the GEAA (Green Energy Act Alliance) convinced the Liberals to develop the Green Energy Act.
  • CanWEA teamed up with Toronto Hydro to sponsor events aimed at promoting wind to kids.
  • CanWEA’s press release of September 2009 indicates the group’s relationship with the Ontario Liberal government when an announcement was made by then Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman at the opening ceremonies of CanWEA’s annual conference.  “We welcome the Ontario government’s plan to upgrade this province’s electricity grid,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “This is a huge boost to the continued development of wind energy as a viable renewable energy source in Ontario. This plan opens the door for the wind industry to grow…”
  • CanWEA successfully influenced the science curriculum in schools as noted in a series of articles I wrote, “Ontario’s Green Religion.” CanWEA hosts an annual contest for students, and sponsors bursaries, as well as monitors and rewards students’ blogs.

CanWEA has already been out front to ensure their message reaches the OLP and our children; it is hard to imagine they could actually do more to strengthen their government relationships or influence “youth and young families” but we should expect renewed efforts to do so.

Step Five:

“Continue to build comfort and credibility in wind energy through creative social media products aimed primarily at diminishing public misapprehensions of wind turbines, repositioning turbines as merely the latest version of wind energy devices to have evolved over centuries of mankind’s harnessing the wind.”

This next step from Nanos is really a recommendation to continue the “spin” by ignoring issues related to: human health, killing birds and bats, unreliability and intermittent production, shadow flicker and the economic costs and creation of “energy poverty” for people on fixed incomes, with disabilities or stay at home parents.  CanWEA generally does this by insuring their supporters and their media activities focus only on the perceived “positives” about industrial wind turbines.

  • In order to foster “comfort” and “credibility” CanWEA welcomes organizations to join; a Tweet on January 26 links to a new YouTube video which extols the virtues of corporate membership.
  • Twitter has also been used in recent weeks to tout the idea that a fundamental change in thinking is occurring (“Energy shift requires a shift in conversation,” January 12) and that wind power is a positive for the economy (“Guelph emerging as leader in renewable energy sector with 2,000 jobs tied to alternative energy sources,” January 7). Again, this refers back to earlier advice to portray wind power naysayers as “backwards” and “out of touch.”
  • Pew Research recently noted in a report that 71% of adults who are regularly online use Facebook. CanWEA has a presence here too, with an adult and corporate focus. Recent posts include promotion of 2015 corporate events and news stories such as “Wind offers a healthy way to generate power” December 22, 2014.

From the foregoing it becomes obvious that the activity aimed to build “comfort and credibility” has focused on those who are already sold on the concept, so we should expect to see the focus shift to the general population with an emphasis on youth and young families.   That appears to have started as the CanWEA website has three short Fact Sheets on Health, Property Values, and Price in which it is claimed “experts” have dispelled any negatives on those issues.

No fact sheet exists to dispel bird and bat deaths caused by industrial wind turbines, but we should expect CanWEA will locate an expert to do that.  Noted in a 2012 press release: “As the Environmental Commissioner has clearly stated, wind turbines are not a major cause of bird fatalities, but the industry is working diligently to reduce and mitigate impacts. In Canada, we have partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada to create and maintain the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database that provides the information required to assess the impact of wind turbines and inform the development of appropriate regulatory frameworks and mitigation requirements,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.”  The database is not linked or publicly available on the CanWEA website—could it be that it shows Ontario’s kill rate of birds and bats (including several “species at risk”) is the worst in Canada?

Step Six:

 “Use survey data and benchmarking to measure progress and fine-tune the narrative, and provide the data to government and other stakeholders to further enhance support.”

This is calculated advice for CanWEA because the survey respondents were “blinkered”! A significant proportion of the respondents were city-dwellers, and many admitted they were not well-informed on wind power issues. The report failed to detail the knowledge level of respondents, or poll those who actually reside in affected communities, failed to focus on health, failed to focus on property value losses, and failed to focus on issues affecting nature.

As the Ontario government prepares to accept new applications for as much as 300 megawatts of new wind power capacity in 2015, this type of industry persuasion will continue. It will fall to those of us who care about Ontario’s rural communities and the economic health of this province to present all sides to these persuasive arguments.

©Parker Gallant

January 2015

 

Niagara Region Wind farm appeal: evidence shows damage to at-risk species and protected areas

The Monarch Butterfly: laws to protect it don't seem to apply to wind power development
The Monarch Butterfly: laws to protect it don’t seem to apply to wind power development

Loretta Shields, a member of Mothers Against Wind Turbines, presented at the appeal of the approval of the Niagara Region Wind Corporation wind power generation project yesterday, and outlined the many negative impacts on species at-risk, and environments such as woodlands that are supposed to be protected under Ontario legislation.

“There are so many issues,” Shields tells Wind Concerns Ontario. “For example, there is no evidence to show that winter raptor transects were conducted within the interior of the woodlands.  Sixty-two permits are required by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.  These are still pending.   There are 20 industrial wind turbines proposed in Blanding’s turtle habitat in Lowbanks, all on private property.  There are many properties within this habitat where ‘alternative investigations’ i.e., ‘roadside surveys’ were allowed.  The MNR is allowing this to proceed.”

Shields had prepared a 32-slide PowerPoint presentation for the Environmental Review Tribunal, detailing sections of Ontario legislation that ought to be applied to protect the environment and wildlife, but are being overlooked or ignored in order to allow the power development to proceed.

Shields also told WCO she was grateful to learn about the “many birds and raptors” in the project area during her investigations and audit of the wind power developer’s application documents: “a silver lining” to this event, she said.

Details on the hearing dates may be found here.

Shields’ PowerPoint presentation may be found here: Powerpoint for NRWC Appeal Jan 26

More details on what happened at the hearing may be found in this excellent report from Mothers Against Wind Turbines here with information on how to donate to this legal action .

The endangered Redside Dace:Ontario ignored its own rules on endangered species

Little (endangered) fish deserve respect, too
Little (endangered) fish deserve respect, too

A hearing is being held tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd in Brampton as energy giant NextEra tries for Party status in a judicial review of how the Government of Ontario approved a wind power project that will affect an endangered species of fish, the Redside Dace.

NextEra is also trying to have the hearings for the review, now scheduled for March 16, 2015, moved to Toronto. Lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing West Grey residents.

How Green Is This, would appreciate your support on behalf of the residents of West Grey … and the Redside Dace.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m., at the Region of Peel Courthouse, 7755 Hurontario Street, Brampton.

 

 

Wind farm developer tried to hide bird death data

wind farm

Jenna Iacurci, Nature World News, November 19, 2014

It’s come to the public’s attention that a wind farm company operating in the United States filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to hide the number of bird deaths that occurred from their energy-saving turbines.

Pacificorp of Portland, Oregon, is seeking an injunction in US District Court in Utah to prevent the Interior Department from releasing this confidential information, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Wind farms contain clusters of turbines that can reach 30 stories tall and spin up to 170 mph. With spinning rotors creating tornado-like vortexes, it’s no wonder that migratory birds, including protected species like the bald eagle, get caught in their line of fire.

Last year, a study surfaced revealing that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats were being killed each year by wind turbines, more than 30 percent higher than federal government estimates.

This latest lawsuit suggests that that may be in part due to companies like Pacificorp trying to keep their real wind farm birds deaths under wraps.

When the government informed Pacificorp and other similar companies last month of their intent to release this information, Pacificorp then retaliated with a lawsuit filed on Oct. 17. It argued that keeping the number of bird deaths secret was actually in the public’s best interest because it will promote “open communication,” the AP reports, between it and the government.

However, the government deemed this excuse as “insufficiently convincing.”

It’s been reported that at least 20 eagle carcasses have been found on Pacificcorp wind farms in Wyoming in recent years – and that’s just on one farm. Dozens more deaths have occurred in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Nevada as well.

The dangers of wind turbines to birds – as well as bats, which confuse them for trees – is not a new issue. Back in May the American Bird Conservatory announced its intent to file a lawsuit when the federal government granted wind farm companies 30-year permits to kill eagles without legal repercussions.

Read the full story here.

Grand Valley 3rd phase approved: concerns about Luther Marsh

The Luther Marsh is an Important Bird Area, 10 km from Grand Valley Phase 3. But...wind is green, wind is good.
The Luther Marsh is an Important Bird Area, 10 km from Grand Valley Phase 3. But…wind is green, wind is good.

Orangeville Banner, October 15, 2014

More wind turbines are going to be built in Grand Valley and Amaranth.

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has approved the third phase of the Grand Valley Wind Farms project, which will see a 40 MW wind farm operating in the area when construction is complete.

According to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA), Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. has been gained permission to construct and operate up to 16 wind turbines and a 45 MVA (million volt-ampere) transformer in Grand Valley and Amaranth.

Veresen Inc., the developing partner of the Grand Valley Wind Farms, has been given a period of three years to connect the entire 40 MW facility to the grid.

Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. applied for REA approval earlier this year and received it on Wednesday (Oct. 15).

Any residents of Ontario wishing to appeal the decision to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) must submit written notice within 15 days of the REA approval.

“After a comprehensive review and consultation, the ministry has approved Grand Valley Wind Farms Phase 3 wind project in Dufferin County,” MOE spokesperson Kate Jordan said in an email. “Many of the conditions, including the requirement for a traffic management plan, noise requirements and the requirement to create an emergency response and communications plan address comments we heard from the public and Town of Grand Valley.”

Those opposing the proposal cited concerns relating to noise, health, water, safety, loss of property values and farmland, among many other issues. Some of those commenting in opposition cited the project’s proximity to the Luther Marsh Wildlife Area as a concern.

The Luther Marsh, which is considered a provincially significant wetland, is home to more than 250 bird species, several of which are considered endangered, threatened or at risk.

Some of those bird species of concern listed by those opposing the plan include bald eagles, white egrets, peregrine falcon, red-shouldered hawk and bobolink, among many others.

Officials with the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had the developer to complete an Environment Effects Monitoring Plan (EEMP) for bird and bat monitoring. The REA approval requires Grand Valley Wind Farms to implement the mitigation and monitoring methods as outlined in that plan.

“The project is not located in the marshland but the Ministry of Natural Resources did review and confirm the natural heritage assessment work completed by the developer,” Jordan added.

To view the REA decision, click here.

Read the full story here.

Ontario: insult to injury over the environment

The Ontario government published a news release today in which it claimed it is helping communities “restore” the environment, and also that complaints to its “Spills Line” are being responded to and resolved.

This is a cruel joke for those Ontario communities watching the destruction of the landscape, the altering of waterways and killing of wildlife for the sake of highly invasive wind power generation facilities. Ontario residents are told that if they have a concern about excessive noise they are to call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Line. Those who do, are less than satisfied with the response. The reports from the community on the noise from turbines is NOT included in the Ministry’s annual report on calls made to the Spills Line. There is no transparency or accountability—this has been made clear in various Environmental Review Tribunals, where Environment staff have actually testified that if the computer modelling supplied by the power developer says it “isn’t possible” for a turbine to make noise above a certain level, then they don’t even check the complaint.

Worse, the legislation has been written in such a way that noise complaints will never result in government action.

Here is the news release:

Helping Communities Restore and Protect the Environment

Ontario Supporting Community-based Environmental Projects

Ontario is using penalties collected from environmental violations to fund 12 community projects to restore and protect the environment.

Projects include restoring river banks by planting native trees and plants, protecting ecosystems from invasive species and undertaking environmental health assessments.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund supports environmental improvement projects in the watershed where a violation happened. Environmental penalties are issued to industries that have spilled a contaminant into the environment or that did not comply with regulatory requirements.

Protecting our watersheds is good for the environment and good for the economy and is a key part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Ontario Community Environment Fund grants. Applications for funding will be accepted until November 5, 2014.
  • In 2013, $113,781.20 was collected and added to the Ontario Community Environment Fund.
  • Eligible groups can apply for more than $161,208 available across 15 communities where penalties were collected.

Quotes

Glen R. Murray

“The Ontario Community Environment Fund invests in communities. It builds capacity for our schools, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities to take action to improve the environment in areas where a spill or violation has happened.”

Glen R. Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Contact the Ministry here.

Reports may be filed with the Ill Wind Reporting website here.

Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)
Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)

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

To Premier Wynne: No means NO on wind farms

SMM June Cover

From The South Marysburgh Mirror, August 2014:

“No” means “No

Two years ago on July 14th, 2012, in a secret ballot referendum sponsored by The Mirror, the citizens of South Marysburgh were asked the following question:

Do you want industrial wind turbines installed in South Marysburgh like the ones proposed by wpd Canada and Gilead Power for their projects near Milford and on the south shore?”

90.2% voted “No”. Those referendum results were widely publicized.

Now, over 2 years later, neither the wind developers nor the Ontario government have shown any signs of complying with the wishes of the people who still live peaceably in the neighbourhoods where developers are planning wind factories. Instead, the Ontario government and the developers continue to fight against South Marysburgh citizens, both in court and with bureaucratic processes.

To the citizens of South Marysburgh, “No” means “No”. We will not give up this fight.

Jim McPherson, Milford

Desecration of Ontario’s North by wind ‘farms’: needless

Radar

Lake Superior. Montreal River Weather Radar Station, upper right corner. Foreground, ridge where wind turbines will be places for Bow Lake Wind Farm.

Once again, we do not usually re-post from blogs but this is an excellent summary of the recent appeals of the Goulais Bay and Bow Lake power projects, together with excellent photography by Gary McGuffin.

An excerpt:

In Ontario there have been 20 appeals in opposition to industrial wind turbine farms brought before the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and 19 have been dismissed. An appeal by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists to kill the development of an industrial wind turbine farm on Ostrander Point was won before an ERT in July 2013. However, the decision has since been reversed by the Ontario Divisional Court and appellants are seeking an appeal before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

George [Brown, of LSARC] commented, “The 240 Bow Lake appeal came close to winning. Based on the Ostrander Judicial Review decision the Tribunal found that in order to prove irreversible harm it was necessary for the appellant to know the size of the populations being harmed. Having found that the 240 appeal failed to prove irreversible harm the Tribunal declined to make a finding on the issue of serious harm, though it agreed with virtually all the arguments on bats submitted by the 240 appeal.

As a result the Tribunal imposed immediate and more stringent mitigation measures on the project – a tacit admission that species-at-risk bats would otherwise be killed, which would be a serious harm.

The Tribunal’s decision is peculiar in that it allows these more stringent mitigation measures to be rescinded should they prove effective. Had the MNR required, or done, a baseline study, or had the 240 appeal had the time and money to do one, to determine the size of existing bat species populations in the project area, we would perhaps have had the final piece of the puzzle required to win.” …

Read the full post here.

TERMINATED: Big Thunder Wind Park wind farm dead?

 

Image result for Big Thunder Wind Park

Simulation of Big Thunder

The news this morning, via Tom Adams of Tom Adams Energy, is that the Ontario Power Authority announced the termination of several Feed In Tariff contracts, among them the Big Thunder Wind Park.

See the OPA list of contracts ended here.

Big Thunder is the subject of several legal actions, including that by the Fort William First Nations; the First Nation claims there was not adequate consultation for this project with their people. Other concerns have been raised over the years about environmental damage and the potential to kill fragile wildlife populations. Full approval of the project was put off until after the recent Ontario election.

More news on this as we receive it.

Horizon