Stantec staffer qualifications questioned at Amherst Island appeal

Power developer says no turtles on Amherst Island; turtle experts and residents say there are.
Power developer says no turtles on Amherst Island; turtle experts and residents say there are.

Kingston Whig-Standard, March 18, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

BATH — The two sides fighting it out at the Amherst Island Environmental Review Tribunal sparred over the qualifications of an expert witness Friday morning.

Andrew Taylor, an ecologist with Stantec Consulting, the company that performed environmental studies for the proposed wind energy project, had been called to testify on behalf of Windlectric, which has received conditional approval from the Ontario government to build up to 26 wind turbines on Amherst Island. Taylor was called to provide testimony about the impact the project could have on bats and turtles on the island.

Windlectric lawyer Arlen Sternberg said Taylor was qualified to testify about the project’s potential impact specifically on birds, bats and turtles.

“He’s got a lot of experience he has developed on those topics over the years,” Sternberg said.

Eric Gillespie, the lawyer for the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), had opposed Taylor’s expert qualification and instead wanted him declared a witness with experience in wildlife.

In the end, tribunal member Robert Wright ruled Taylor could be considered an expert witness on the effects on wildlife of wind energy projects, but he did not specifically label him an expert on birds, bats and the Blanding’s turtle.

Sternberg had noted earlier in the morning that Taylor has testified at five other ERTs as an expert witness and has studied the impact on wildlife at the pre- and post-construction stages of wind energy projects.

Sternberg said Taylor was more qualified than many expert witnesses called by APAI.

Under questioning from Sternberg, Taylor said he has performed wildlife studies at 19 large construction projects, including nine wind energy projects, and had delivered testimony at previous ERTs.

“This tribunal has accepted him five other times as an expert witness,” Sternberg said.

Earlier in the hearing, Taylor provided expert testimony about the impact of wind energy projects on birds.

A 2013 study from Stantec stated there are no Blanding’s turtles on Amherst Island. Island residents have testified earlier in the tribunal that they have seen Blanding’s turtles on the island.

APAI’s lawyer Gillespie admitted that it is rare to challenge the qualifications on an expert witness, but he noted that Taylor was not accepted as an expert witness at the 2013 Ostrander Point ERT. Gillespie argued that little has changed in Taylor’s qualifications since then that would make him an expert witness in this hearing.

“We say nothing has changed,” Gillespie said. “It’s the same Andrew Taylor who is standing here.”

Read the full story here.

Prince Edward County on the ‘eve of destruction’ as power developer threatens to clear vegetation for unapproved wind power project

No stay decision yet, developer and ministry make plans

Tree-Mauler

wpd Canada sent this photo to show what kind of machinery they’ll be using. Nice.

The Wellington Times, March 17, 2016

Many eyes will be watching the countryside south of Milford today, looking for signs of heavy equipment arriving to clear the land of not-yet-budding vegetation. As of Monday, there was no decision on a motion for stay in construction activity on the industrial wind project site.

The developer, wpd Canada, advised the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) and John Hirsch, appellants of the project at an Environmental Review Tribunal that it intended to commence vegetation destruction this week—despite the Tribunal’s decision that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to two endangered species, the Blanding’s turtle and the little brown bat.

APPEC responded immediately seeking a halt on all physical activity at the site. Other parties have said they wish to be heard on the matter so the Tribunal has allowed a few days this week to hear those submissions.

In the meantime, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has advised the developer it must complete a stormwater management plan before construction begins.

wpd Canada spokesperson Kevin Surette says that report has been completed and his company is awaiting the MOECC’s signal to begin clearing the land.

“The intent of the notice provided to APPEC on March 1st was to make them aware that vegetation clearing could occur anytime after March 14,” said Surette. “MOECC has indicated the Stormwater Management Plan must be approved prior to vegetation clearing; it has been submitted, and it could be approved at anytime.”

Remember that this is a project that has been stopped by a Tribunal—yet wpd Canada and the MOECC continue to go about development of this project as though nothing has changed.

But APPEC and a variety of conservation groups are sounding an alarm about the devastation that will result for the habitat of vulnerable species that reside in and around the targeted area.

“wpd Canada will be clearing significant wildlife habitat for endangered species such as the Blanding’s turtle and endangered grassland species such as the whip-poor-will, eastern meadowlark and bobolink,” said Orville Walsh, APPEC chair. …

Read the full story here.

IESO tries to justify wind power contracts in CBC interview

Spokesman says process is fair and transparent, but Ontario mayors say they’ve been betrayed.

March 16, 2016

CBC Ottawa’s host of the afternoon show All In A Day yesterday interviewed  spokesperson Shawn Cronkwright for the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) on the backlash to the recent contract award announcement.

“How do you justify putting wind power projects into communities that don’t want them?” asked Alan Neal.

The answer is interesting.

Even better is the IESO answer to the question, is there anything communities can do now? The Renewable Energy Approval “provides communities to make comment,” the IESO’s Cronkwright said.

“But getting people to comment isn’t the same as addressing concerns,” said Neal.

“I understand the concern, but that’s not how the regulatory process works,” said Cronkwright. (Oh, we know, we know.)

Then he said, concerns have resulted in changes to wind power project and even, in some cases, halting of a project.

This is absolutely stunning: the IESO is pointing to the appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals, which are funded by Ontario taxpayers struggling to protect their health and environment from their own government, as proof the system works! No mention of the fact that the appeal process and indeed all the legislation was crafted with input from the wind power lobby so that, in the words of CanWEA lawyer at a hearing on Ostrander Point, “This [a successful appeal] was never supposed to happen.”

 

Listen to the March 15 podcast here.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/ontario/ottawa-all-in-a-day/

Wind power resistance groups meet in Prince Edward County this weekend

Wind Concerns Ontario and member community groups meet this weekend

Industrial-scale wind power doesn't help the environment, community groups say
Industrial-scale wind power doesn’t help the environment, community groups say

Coalition building

Wellington Times, March 9, 2016

Rick Conroy

Jane Wilson says a shift has occurred over the past five years in the way wind energy is talked about in Ontario. The chair of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of groups opposed to wind energy in this province, senses greater awareness of the negative impacts of industrial wind energy among voters, the mainstream media, and politicians.

Wilson will be in the County this weekend, chairing Wind Concerns Ontario’s annual general meeting and speaking at the CCSAGE (County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy) meeting on Sunday.

“Everyone wants the best for the environment,” said Wilson, “but the way the Ontario government has gone about it has been viewed as undemocratic and destructive to both the economy and to consumers’ pocketbooks.”

Soaring electricity bills, persistent charges of mismanagement by the province’s Auditor General, and mounting evidence of the toll industrial wind turbines are exacting on wildlife—particularly endangered bats and turtles — is changing the conversation. Nevertheless, the damage already inflicted on consumers and the natural environment will be long-lasting, predicts Wilson.

“This [the December 2015 report] was the second Auditor General report that found that Ontario failed to do any cost-benefit analysis before embarking down this path,” said Wilson. “Perhaps if that had been done we wouldn’t be paying among North America’s highest electricity rates, and we wouldn’t be enduring these harmful environmental effects.”

“What has been happening in Prince Edward County has been very instructive,” said Wilson. “The [Environmental Review] Tribunals have uncovered deep problems.”

Wind Concerns Ontario is holding its annual general meeting for members in Wellington on Sunday morning — a first for the County. In the afternoon, Wilson will speak to a gathering of CCSAGE at the Waring House in Picton.

The WCO chair laments the way renewable energy has been thrust into rural Ontario –and local decision-making removed.

“It is tearing some communities apart,” said Wilson, who lives in North Gower just outside of Ottawa. She points to once peaceful and quiet communities divided by the money developers use to lure municipal support.

“It’s not illegal,” said Wilson, “but developers are now dangling many thousands of dollars in front of small rural councils, essentially telling them that if they want this money, they must pass a resolution of support.”

“People wish Ontario had pursued renewable energy goals more cautiously,” says Wilson, “that they had started with small projects — and measured their impacts. They could have helped Ontarians with geothermal heating or innovative conservation steps.

“If they had put money into these types of projects rather than filling the pockets of huge corporate wind power developers, I think we would be in a different place.”

(C)Wellington Times 2016

Clear message from City of Kawartha Lakes (and 60 others): NO new wind power contracts

CHEX-Peterborough

Opponents of wind and solar farms in the City of Kawartha Lakes received a boost of support from council today. As Jesse Thomas reports a resolution was passed, calling on Queen’s Park to stop issuing any more large scale energy projects and to halt any that are not yet in operation.

 

Ontario communities banding together to fight new wind power contracts

This is from the wind power industry’s own publication, North American Windpower

NAW Staff, March 8, 2016

Fifty-one Ontario municipalities are endorsing a resolution recently passed by the Township of Wainfleet Council that calls on the government of Ontario to stop awarding feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts for power generation from wind.

The resolution, passed in January, was based on December’s auditor general report that claimed Ontario has a surplus of power generation capacity and, under existing contracts, is paying double what other jurisdictions are paying for wind power, explains the Township of Wainfleet.

Thus, adding more surplus generation capacity would add to the already high costs of disposing of surplus electricity, says the township, which adds that the cost of electricity is a key concern for many Ontario residents.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has also reported the impact of high electricity costs on their members’ ability to grow their businesses and create jobs in Ontario. Thus, says Wainfleet, this suggests the need for a full, cost-benefit review of the renewable energy program before committing Ontario electricity users to even more surplus power.

According to Wind Concerns Ontario, the resolution also calls attention to the fact that wind power projects cause damage to the environment by killing wildlife.

April Jeffs, mayor of the Township of Wainfleet, is pleased with the support that her council’s resolution is receiving from across the province: “This quick response from other municipalities to the circulation of the resolution indicates that wind turbines are still front and center as an important issue in rural Ontario,” she says.

According to the township, Jeffs reports that at least one of the two projects in the area is the cause of citizen reports of deteriorating health. She is particularly concerned about the second project currently under development in her area – which involves 77 3.0-MW turbines in Wainfleet, West Lincoln and eastern Haldimand County.

The township says the more powerful turbines are located in areas with a sizeable residential population with an estimated 2,000 households living within 2 kilometers of the towers. The project will operate under one of the older, expensive FIT contracts criticized by the auditor general; the Wainfleet resolution asks the government to review options under the contract to cancel the project.

Now that coal-fired power plants have closed, says Wainfleet, the government should have met its carbon-reduction goals for the electrical power system in Ontario – which is now largely based on carbon-free hydroelectricity and nuclear power. This gives the province an opportunity to assess renewable generation alternatives that have less impact on the host communities, according to the township.

In addition, clauses in the 2015 RFP documents issued by the Independent Electricity System Operator do not commit the government to issue any wind contracts, so the government is protected against lawsuits from the bidders should it change course at this time, Wainfleet adds.

“Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “According to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, that can mean more greenhouse gas emissions, not less, because of the need for backup by natural gas power plants. Everyone wants to help the environment, but utility-scale wind power is not the answer.”

Brandy Giannetta, the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) regional director for Ontario, calls the resolution a “political statement at the municipal level.”

Although it’s “unfortunate that it’s out there,” Giannetta tells NAW, she notes the importance of the province’s Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process in showing the cost-competitiveness of wind power. The process calls for the procurement of utility-scale renewables projects; specifically, the LRP I requested up to 300 MW of wind.

The LRP, led by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), aims to “strike a balance between early community engagement and achieving value for ratepayers,” according to the IESO. Giannetta says the LRP contracts will be awarded as soon as this week.

In March 2015, when the first request for proposals under the LRP was issued, Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, said, “An important part of the RFP process will be early and meaningful community engagement. Effective community engagement is fundamental to the success of wind energy projects, and the wind industry values the right of individuals to have an important role in discussions about developments in their community.”

A full list of the municipalities supporting the resolution can be found here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of this writing the number of municipalities is now 59. See the list here.

APPEC files motion for a stay against power developer WPD

Tribunal rules serious and irreversible harm to wildlife will result from wind farm, power developer proceeds with construction anyway

Still fighting: County residents at Mount Tabor to protest wind power projects
Still fighting: County residents at Mount Tabor to protest wind power projects

Belleville Intelligencer, March 8. 2016

By Bruce Bell, The County Weekly News

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – 

Not so quick wpd Canada.
Only days after an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), ruled the 27-turbine White Pines wind energy development would cause irreversible harm to wildlife, including Blanding’s Turtles, wpd Canada informed the appellants the company intended to commence with site preparation — namely clearing of brush — as early as next week.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County has responded quickly, filing a motion requesting a stay of any work on the site until the ERT has resolved the issue.
In its decision, the ERT ruled the development would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtles and Little Brown Bats, suspending wpd Canada’s Renewable Energy Approval, pending remediation hearings.
In a letter to local resident John Hirsch and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) as well as the director of  Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, wpd informed them of their intent to begin clearing brush on March 14.
“We are appalled by wpd’s chosen course of action (as) it is fundamentally disrespectful of the appeal process not to mention an ERT decision that to anyone’s mind would bring the White Pines wind project to a grinding halt,” said APPEC president Orville Walsh. “Instead, just four days after the tribunal issued its decision to uphold the appeal, wpd is behaving as though the decision does not apply to them.
“Vegetation clearing for turbines and access roads will cause irreparable environmental destruction. Of particular concern is the impact of heavy machinery that will be brought in on Blanding’s turtle habitat, where most of the wind turbines are located, and on Blanding’s turtles themselves as they emerge from their over-wintering sites early this year after a mild fall and winter.”
APPEC’s legal counsel has responded quickly submitting a motion requesting the ERT to issue a stay of all physical activity associated with this Renewable Energy Approval until this matter has been resolved by the Tribunal.

Read the full story here.

WPD announces plan to clear vegetation in Prince Edward County, despite successful appeal against wind farm

"Vegetation clearing" and road construction in Algoma in 2015. [Photo: Gord Benner]
“Vegetation clearing” and road construction in Algoma in 2015. [Photo: Gord Benner]
“Fundamentally disrespectful”: Environmental Review Tribunal finds for the appellant in wind farm fight over endangered wildlife: developer decides to clear trees anyway

From the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, this announcement.

March 6, 2016

wpd has notified APPEC, John Hirsch and the Director of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change of its plans to begin clearing vegetation for its wind project.  In an email early last week wpd stated that: “Further to the Tribunal’s decision dated February 26, 2016, I write to advise that wpd intends to proceed with vegetation clearing of private property on the Project site commencing on March 14, 2016.”

We are appalled by wpd’s chosen course of action.  It is fundamentally disrespectful of the appeal process not to mention an ERT decision that to anyone’s mind would bring the White Pines wind project to a grinding halt.  Instead, just four days after the Tribunal issued its decision to uphold the appeal, wpd is behaving as though the decision does not apply to them. 

Vegetation clearing for turbines and access roads will cause irreparable environmental destruction.  Of particular concern is the impact of heavy machinery that will be brought in on Blanding’s turtle habitat, where most of the wind turbines are located, and on Blanding’s turtles themselves as they emerge from their over-wintering sites early this year after a mild fall and winter.

APPEC’s legal counsel has responded quickly submitting a motion requesting the ERT to issue a stay of all physical activity associated with this Renewable Energy Approval until this matter has been resolved by the Tribunal. 

APPEC, Mr. Hirsch and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) note the similarities between wpd’s attempt to start on construction while an appeal is underway and a prior attempt by Gilead Power to do the same at Ostrander Point.  In this instance the Ontario Court of Appeal had no hesitation in granting a stay on construction in order to prevent irreparable harm.  We are confident that wpd’s attempt will meet with the same outcome. 

Given the urgency of this motion we would expect that the Tribunal will issue a decision without delay.

Regards,

Orville Walsh

President, APPEC


51 municipalities tell Wynne government: NO new wind power contracts

Township of Wainfleet

“Wainfleet – find your country side!”

MEDIA RELEASE

Municipalities Call for Ontario to Stop Issuing Wind Turbine Contracts

WAINFLEET – March 4, 2016 – Fifty-one municipalities have endorsed the resolution passed by the Township of Wainfleet Council in late January 2016 that calls on the Ontario government not to award more Feed-In-Tariff contracts for power generation from wind.

The resolution was based on December’s Auditor General Report which reported that Ontario has a surplus of power generation capacity and, under existing contracts, is paying double what other jurisdictions are paying for wind power. Adding more surplus generation capacity would add to the already high costs of disposing of surplus electricity.

The cost of electricity is a key concern for many Ontario residents as it is adding strain to already stretched household budgets. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has also reported the impact of high electricity costs on their members’ ability to grow their businesses and create jobs in Ontario. This suggests the need for a full, cost-benefit review of the renewable energy program before committing Ontario electricity users to even more surplus power.

April Jeffs, Mayor of the Township of Wainfleet, is very pleased with the support that her Council’s resolution is receiving from across the province. “This quick response from other municipalities to the circulation of the resolution indicates that wind turbines are still front and centre as an important issue in rural Ontario,” stated Mayor Jeffs.

She reports that at least one of the two projects in the area is the cause of citizen reports of deteriorating health that started when the turbines began operation. She is particularly concerned about the second project currently under development in her area which involves 77, 3.0-megawatt wind turbines being installed in Wainfleet, West Lincoln and eastern Haldimand County. The more powerful turbines are located in areas with a sizeable residential population with an estimated 2,000 households living within 2 kilometres of these turbines. The project will operate under one of the older, expensive FIT contracts criticized by the Auditor General. The Wainfleet resolution asks the government to review options under the contract to cancel the project.

Now that coal-fired power plants have closed, the government should have met its carbon reduction goals for the electrical power system in Ontario which is now largely based on carbon-free hydroelectricity and nuclear power. This gives the province an opportunity to assess renewable generation alternatives that have less impact on the host communities.

Clauses in the 2015 RFP documents issued by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) do not commit the government to issue any wind contracts, so the government is protected against law suits from the bidders should it change course at this time.

-30-

Contact: Mayor April Jeffs (905) 899-3463 ext. 227 ajeffs@wainfleet.ca

Municipalities that have supported the Township of Wainfleet’s resolution calling on the Ontario government not to award more Feed-In-Tariff contracts for power generation from wind:

1. Coleman Township

2. Loyalist Township

3. Municipality of Bluewater

4. Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston

5. Municipality of Charlton and Dack

6. Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich

7. Municipality of Grey Highlands

8. Municipality of Kincardine

9. Municipality of Morris-Turnberry

10. Municipality of North Middlesex

11. Municipality of North Perth

12. Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula

13. Municipality of Red Lake

14. Municipality of Tweed

15. Municipality of West Elgin

16. Municipality of West Grey

17. Municipality of West Perth

18. Norfolk County

19. Town of Amherstburg

20. Town of Blue Mountains

21. Town of Bruce Mines

22. Town of Erin

23. Town of Gananoque

24. Town of South Bruce Peninsula

25. Town of Thessalon

26. Township of Alberton

27. Township of Amaranth

28. Township of Armour

29. Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh

30. Township of Blandford-Blenheim

31. Township of Calvin

32. Township of Carling

33. Township of Cavan Monaghan

34. Township of Chatsworth

35. Township of Enniskillen

36. Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen

37. Township of Howick

38. Township of Huron-Kinloss

39. Township of Ignace

40. Township of La Vallee

41. Township of Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional

42. Township of North Frontenac

43. Township of North Kawartha

44. Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan

45. Township of Pelee

46. Township of Perth East

47. Township of Severn

48. Township of South Algonquin

49. Township of Warwick

50. Township of West Lincoln

51. United Counties of Prescott and Russell

 

 

Wind power site “poorly chosen” : Environmental Review Tribunal

Power developer admits it was unaware of degree of risk to endangered wildlife

Toronto Star, February 29, 2016

By:

John Hirsch, a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, filed an appeal of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines wind turbine approval. The appeal was upheld.
John Hirsch: appellant with Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County against WPD wind project
Blessed are the small and humble, for they, it seems, shall halt wind turbines.

In the latest instalment of the epic machine vs. nature struggle being played out in Prince Edward County, environmental activists have scored another victory against construction of wind turbines they say will do serious and irreversible harm to already endangered species.  This time, in a ruling released Feb. 26, an Environmental Review Tribunal upheld an appeal against a turbine development it concluded posed serious risk to the Little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle.

Last July 16, the Ontario Environment Ministry issued an approval to White Pines Wind Inc. to install and operate a facility of 27 turbines on the pristine south shore of what locals call the County. As it happens, a man named John Hirsch was scouting property in the County at the time for he and his wife to move to after wrapping up a career in customs consulting.

Hirsch had already become a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, one of the most important bird-banding stations in Canada. He suspected — even before eventually buying property in another part of the County — that the White Pines proposal would profoundly alter the south shore. He was also, owing to his career in customs administration, quite familiar with tribunals.

By July 29, Hirsch had filed an appeal — “it’s not all that complicated” — of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines approval, getting in a day ahead of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward Country.

“It turns out a case gets named after whoever gets in first,” he told the Star on Monday. “That’s why the case is named Hirsch v Ontario.”

“We didn’t think we were going to win”

While Hirsch, 66, might have got top billing, the alliance “came to the rescue,” he said, with funding, legal representation and recruitment of expert witnesses. During November and December, Hirsch, who now works part-time at Home Depot in Belleville, sat through 21 days of hearings, after which he wasn’t terribly confident of the outcome.

“Were we expecting this? No!” he said. “We didn’t think we were going to win. We didn’t get the birds. But we got the bats!”

The tribunal dismissed appeals on the grounds of human health risks. It also rejected appeals on the threat to birds, although it did call the project site “poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.”

The panel upheld the appeal because of the risk of serious and irreversible harm to the Little Brown Bat and Blanding’s Turtle.  …

Read the full story here.

ToughonNature