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.
Tomorrow, January 31, the Association to Protect Amherst Island heads to Ontario Divisional Court to appeal the decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal to allow the approval of the Windlectric wind power project on the island to stand, despite concerns for the natural environment and human health.
Despite the legal actions, Windlectric, owned by Algonquin Power, is proceeding with work on the power project — even without proper permits, From the APAI website:
Windlectric/Algonquin, the company granted approval to blanket Amherst island with 26, 50-storey turbines, has commenced dock construction on Amherst Island. The Company has not submitted a Marine Safety and Logistics Plan required by MOECC nor has it submitted an Operations Plan acceptable to Loyalist Township. No acceptable Emergency Response and Communications Plan is in place. No Roads Use Agreement with the County of Lennox and Addington has been approved. In its first weeks of work the company blatantly disregarded commitments to only use the Island ferry for dock construction, to not disrupt the ferry schedule, to give notice of traffic disruptions and to consult with Amherst Island Public School staff and parents concerning road safety by the school. Not a good beginning!
On the eve of the court case beginning, Parker Gallant has published an overview of the situation on Amherst Island, and included the power situation in Ontario generally, here. An excerpt:
So, Ontario has a “robust supply” of electricity, wind turbines will harm the 34 endangered species, and we are exporting surplus generation at pennies on the dollar while curtailing wind, spilling hydro and steaming off nuclear energy. Ontario doesn’t need the intermittent power from the turbines on Amherst Island. We don’t need them in Prince Edward County either (White Pines) or Dutton-Dunwich, or La Nation, or North Stormont. The Minister should demonstrate that he means what he said recently in North Bay: “There are some families in this province that are struggling to meet their energy bills. It’s why I’ve recognized and the premier has recognized that we need to do more …That is why we’re making sure we can find ways to reduce bills. Everything is on the table within reason.”
The Minister has an opportunity to save ratepayers $1 billion dollars in future rate increases by simply canceling the Amherst Island Windlectric project and the Prince Edward County White Pines project, to name two.
He should take it.
The Amherst Island appeal begins at 10 a.m. at Osgoode Hall, in Toronto.
To contribute toward APAI’s legal fund, go to their website.
The “remedy” hearing for the White Pines wind power project by wpd Canada was held in Wellington, Ontario before a standing room only crowd in the village community centre.
The purpose of the hearing was to allow the power developer to propose mitigation for the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat, which the Environmental Review Tribunal found earlier would be seriously and irreversibly harmed by the wind power project. This is the first hearing in Ontario at which “remedy” or mitigation has been proposed for the bat species.
A news story by County Live summarizes the day’s events (though not quite the end-of-day fireworks between counsel and the ERT chair), and can be found here. (Fate of County’s South Shore)
The wind power developer was accused by counsel for appellant the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) of filing too much material as a reply submission, which constitutes “bolstering,”* lawyer Eric Gillespie said. At issue was a new supposed scientific article which was not in original evidence; after an hour of wrangling, the lawyers agreed to remove the article except for one explanatory chart.
The measures proposed by wpd (which is scheduled to propose similar mitigation measures in the case of the Fairview appeal) included special road construction and monitoring for turtles, and heretofore untried methods of altering “cut-in” speeds for turbines, to avoid killing the bats, which are on the edge of extinction in Ontario.
The only real proposal is to cancel the project, Gillespie said: “The only real prevention is zero deaths, that’s what prevention is.”
A key strategy was to institute measures so that animal deaths dropped below the “irreversible” level, the power developer’s lawyers said, and the onus was on the appellants to prove what that is. Not so, said Mr. Gillespie.
Mr. Gillespie was also disturbed that rules of evidence and reply were being ignored; he told the ERT panel that accepting the power developer’s submissions as they were meant the panel was creating new rules, which would affect every other appeal in Ontario, and would certainly be discussed in Ontario Divisional Court.
In the final hour, the lawyers for wpd reviewed for the panel what the wind power developers’ counsel thought their job was, while Mr Gillespie referred to the decision at Ostrander Point and said that environmental protection was a key issue, and the panel’s real role. Gillespie was so insistent on adhering to the rule of law as regards the approval holder’s submissions (“So far from being proper it is not even in the ballpark”) that at one point wpd lawyer Patrick Duffy stood up and exclaimed “Mr. Gillespie, just STOP!”
As the submissions and reply concluded the Chair Marcia Valiante said “We are adjourned” and then wpd counsel interrupted and demanded to know when the decision would be rendered as “we have an important date in April”(if the project is not begun, the contract will end). The Chair said they would do their best to render a decision soon, and she then adjourned the hearing, again.
*Bolstering Law and Legal Definition. Bolstering means to build up or support. Bolstering testimony is generally improper. Bolstering testimony is improper when it relates to the witness’s truthfulness on a specific occasion and when the foundational requirements of evidentiary rules are not met.
A resident of Dover Centre in Chatham-Kent is calling for leaseholders in wind turbine projects to be released from the non-disclosure or “gag” clauses that are preventing full awareness of the situation regarding contaminated well water in the region, says a resident writing in the Sydenham Current.
When the recent appeal of the North Kent 1 wind power project was dismissed, the only expert advice offered was the technical report completed by Golder & Associates, paid for by the wind power developer.
“What if accepting the wind developer’s Golder report the Mayor and Mr. Norton put all of Chatham township’s property at risk from an environmental stigma?” asks letter writer Peter Hensel.
” A stigma that the aquifer below would be contaminated with vibrations and is no longer capable of providing safe clean water. You think your property won’t drop like a stone in value? Think again.
“What if accepting the Wind developer’s Golder report the Mayor and Mr Norton allowed pile driven turbine foundations that increased the heavy metal concentrations in the source water – the water in the aquifer below Chatham township? What price do you put on your families’ health?”
The Environmental Review Tribunal refused appellant Kevin Jakubec time to have other experts review the Golder report, which jeopardized his appeal.
“It was only because the MOECC [Environmental] Tribunal Branch refused a time extension to let Mr. Jakubec bring in well test results from Dover into the Trubunal’s final hearing did Mr. Jakubec make the best of Tribunal process and took what gains he could get from the mediation.
“Ask Mr. Jakubec if he stopped investigating Dover,” says Mr Hensel. “Ask Mr. Jakubec if the Tribunal process is fair and that everything is neatly wrapped up now as Mayor Hope and [C-K legal counsel] Mr. Norton would want you to believe.”
WCO vice-president Parker Gallant and president Jane Wilson speak on Ontario’s mismanaged electricity sector, energy poverty, wind turbine noise regulation, and what’s ahead for 2017
Wind Concerns Ontario
Q:You’ve been telling people about the impact of renewables, specifically wind power, on Ontario’s electricity or hydro bills. How much of our electricity bills is due to the wind power/renewables program in Ontario?
Parker Gallant: I recently reviewed the cost of wind and solar generation relative to its contribution to Ontario’s demand for electricity and its impact on our electricity costs is shocking. Wind and solar in the first six months of 2016 delivered 8% of our generated power and represented 35% of the Global Adjustment which appears set to average over $1 billion per month. That represents a cost of over 36 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh), including the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP).
Q: Parker, you’ve also been telling people about the Global Adjustment or GA, which is where a lot of charges are hidden. Do you think these charges should be detailed on our bills, or is that even possible?
Parker Gallant: While I believe in principle the GA should be revealed on our monthly bills, in practice, that would require reams of paper. How will the local distribution company explain how much you are billed for curtailed wind generation or the meteorological stations that measure the amount of curtailed wind that might have been generated? How to explain, say, the cost of spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear or the water fuel fee, or how to tell the ratepayer how much they are subsidizing the rates for large industrial clients, or what it is costing under the rural and remote rate plan (RRRP) that transports diesel fuel to remote First Nations, among dozens of other items included in our monthly bills?
Q: The Premier and Energy Minister are now saying that parts of their policies have been a “mistake” and that they need to get bills down. Wind Concerns is saying that canceling wind power contracts is necessary for that to happen. Can you explain? How much are the 2016 contracts worth?
Parker Gallant: Interesting they are now admitting a “mistake,” but when George Smitherman was Energy Minister he was provided with a long-term energy plan that had been carefully developed by “experts” within the crown agencies. He chose to cancel the plan and instead, impose one developed in conjunction with outsiders who were NOT experts. Previous Energy Ministers (Dwight Duncan comes to mind for his “smart meter” for every ratepayer) made mistakes, as did those who followed such as Brad Duguid and were roundly criticized by both the media and by ratepayers. The canceling of wind power projects not yet built or even contracted is only “step one” and will slow the climb in our bills. The current Minister, Glenn Thibeault has only suspended Large Renewable Procurement or LRP ll, and needs to cancel it, as well as LRP I and any of those contracts now past their agreed-to start date. There are ways to reduce costs almost immediately.
Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a detailed document for the IESO on the Long-Term Energy Plan, suggesting ways they could save $1.7 billion annually. That would have an immediate cost reduction impact.
Q: The Energy Minister says that now, Ontario is a “net exporter” of electricity like that’s a good thing. He claims we’re making money: is that true?
Parker Gallant: Being a “net exporter” of 16.8 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 is simply a demonstration of being a bad planner and manager of the system. If one adds the spilled hydro and curtailed wind to the net exports, the 21.2 TWh could have provided over half of all average Ontario households with power for a full year, yet we sold it 2.36 cents/kWh while we paid 10.14 cents/kWh for its generation. Ontario contracted for far too much intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power creating a domino effect the increased our costs of generation. Paradoxically, if Ontario ratepayers consumed more of the annual excess power (15.5% in 2015) it would help reduce our per kWh cost.
Q: What is WCO’s stance on climate change?
Jane Wilson: Our position is that everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment, whether that is preventing air pollution or using the most efficient forms of power generation — but that isn’t industrial-scale wind. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or OSPE says that the proliferation of large-scale wind will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, therefore not achieving the government’s stated goals. In the OSPE’s most recent report, they say “Wind generation offers less GHG reduction value in Ontario because base-load generation is already carbon-free and wind generation often displaces hydroelectric and nuclear base-load generation.”
Q: Why does the Ontario government continue to force wind turbines on communities that don’t want them?
Jane Wilson: The government is acting on an ideology that is not supported by fact and to do that, it erased communities’ right to local land-use planning with the Green Energy Act. We think that’s wrong, and are supporting the now 116 municipal governments that have demanded a return of that control and also that community support be mandatory for wind power contracts. There is a concern too about communities in the North where there may not be elected municipal governments, where contracts can be awarded for wind power projects that have a significant negative impact on the natural environment, for little or no benefit.
WCO worked with Ontario municipalities on the mandatory support resolution.
Q:Can the government really cancel wind power contracts? Can a new government cancel the subsidy programs?
Jane Wilson: Yes. There are clauses in the contracts under LRP I that are “off-ramps” in the case of cancellation, and which set out the financial steps needed to do that. For example, the contract with EDP for the “Nation Rise” project south of Ottawa in North Stormont, worth $430 million over 20 years, would cost $250,000 plus reimbursement for development costs that must be justified, to a maximum of $600,000. And yes, government can cancel subsidy programs. The LRP II, now “suspended”, should be cancelled outright.
The other opportunity is to cancel wind power projects that do not have a “Notice-to-Proceed”: this is straightforward. WCO has also suggested to the IESO that the government look seriously at all contracts and review them for opportunities to cancel. Even costly negotiated buy-outs will reduce hydro costs significantly, due to the high cost of disposing of surplus power.
Q: What is WCO doing to help people already living with wind turbines, and the noise they produce?
Jane Wilson: We support the public health investigation being done by the Huron County Health Unit, and hope that other municipalities will take similar action. We are also looking at how research can be done to help change the Ontario regulations on noise –which are not based on current science and in fact, are completely inadequate to protect health. We prepared a detailed document on how to revise noise enforcement regulations, another on how the approval process must be changed to protect health, and we submitted a document to the World Health Organization which is preparing global noise regulations for wind turbines. In short, we take every opportunity possible to explain the situation for people living in communities where wind turbines and their noise emissions have been forced, without consent, on the people of Ontario, with the goal of having regulations and processes changed.
Q: What’s ahead in 2017?
Jane Wilson: It’s a very different world for wind power now, than in 2009 when the Green Energy Act was passed. People are genuinely questioning the benefit of high-impact, large-scale wind power development, especially when there seem to be few, if any, benefits, and we are seeing the shocking results of the government’s complete mismanagement of the electricity sector such as lost jobs and rising energy poverty. We believe the government will have to take dramatic action if it is serious about getting electricity bills down. The fact that Ontario municipalities are speaking out on this issue and taking action will also have results, we believe. We are hoping for a complete halt to the ongoing damage of the government’s policies, and that there will be help for people already living with the noise and other impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines.
As for Wind Concerns Ontario, we are not stopping our work.
Here is a paper from the Energy Collective, which includes a summary of noise regulations and setbacks. The writer’s conclusion is that worldwide regulation is needed, otherwise local regulation of noise is developed, with heavy influence from the wind power industry.
December 19, 2016
Europe and the US have been building onshore wind turbine plants in rural areas for more than 25 years. Anyone living within about 1.0 mile of such plants would hear the noises year-round, year after year. Those nearby people would be experiencing:
Decreasing property values.
Damage to their health, due to lack of sleep and peace of mind.
Living with closed windows and doors, due to year-round noises.
Exposure to infrasound.
The wind turbine noise problem is worldwide. Due to a lack of worldwide guidelines, various political entities have been developing their own codes for the past 30 years. The World Health Organization is finally addressing the lack of detailed guidelines regarding such noises.
World Health Organization Noise Guidelines: WHO, publishes detailed guidelines regarding various, everyday noises, such as near highways and airports, within urban communities and in work places. The guidelines serve as input to local noise codes.
In general, wind turbines are located in rural areas. When they had low rated outputs, say about 500 kW in the 1960s and 1970s, they made little audible noise, and the infrasound was weak. However, when rated outputs increased to 1000 kW or greater, the audible and infrasound noises became excessive and complaints were made by nearby people all over the world.
Worldwide guidelines regarding wind turbine noises are needed to protect nearby rural people, such as regarding:
The maximum outdoor dBA value, how that value is arrived at, such as by averaging over one hour, where that value is measured, such as near a residence, or at the resident property line to enable that resident to continue to enjoy his entire property.
How to measure, or calculate the outdoor-to-indoor sound attenuation of a residence.
How much setback is needed, such as one mile to minimize infrasound impacts on nearby residents.
The maximum dB value of infrasound, how that value is arrived at, where that value is measured.
How to determine the need for a 5 dB annoyance penalty.
The lack of such guidelines has resulted in various political jurisdictions creating their own codes. That process has been heavily influenced by well-financed, pro-wind interests, which aim to have the least possible regulation to maximize profits.
Comparison of Wind Turbine Codes: Below are some highlights from the noise codes of various political entities to illustrate their diversity:
1) DENMARK: Because Denmark was an early developer of wind turbine plants, its noise code is more detailed than of most political entities. It has a buffer zone of 4 times total height of a wind turbine, about 4 x 500 = 2,000 ft, about 0.61 km (no exceptions), and it also has the following requirements regarding outdoor and indoor noise:
For dwellings, summer cottages, etc.: 39 dBA (wind speeds of 8 m/s, 18 mph) and 37 dBA (wind speeds of 6 m/s, 13 mph)
For dwellings in open country: 44 dBA (wind speeds of 8 m/s) and 42 dBA (wind speeds of 6 m/s)
The belowregulations describe the methods and time periods over which sounds are to be measured:
Page 4, par 5.1.1 mentions averaging over various periods. Only the worst average readings of a period are to be considered for compliance.
Page 4, par 5.1.2 mentions a 5 dB annoyance penalty must be added to the worst average readings for a period for clearly audible tonal and impulse sounds with frequencies greater than 160 Hz, which would apply to wind turbine sounds.
Page 6, par 5.4 mentions limits for indoor A-weighted low frequency noise 10 – 160 Hz, and G-weighted infrasound 5 – 20 Hz.
“If the perceived noise contains either clearly audible tones, or clearly audible impulses, a 5 dB annoyance penalty shall be added to the measured equivalent sound pressure level” That means, if a measured outdoor reading is 40 dBA (open country, wind speed 6 m/s), and annoyance is present, the reading is increased to 45 dBA, which would not be in compliance with the above-required 42 dBA limit.
In some cases, a proposed wind turbine plant would not be approved, because of the 5 dB annoyance penalties. The noise of wind turbines varies up and down. The annoyance conditions associated with wind turbines occur year-round. The annoyance conditions associated with other noise sources usually occur much less frequently.
NOTE: The 5 dB penalty does not apply to indoor and outdoor low frequency and infrasound noises, i.e., 160 Hz or less.
– For both categories (dwellings, summer cottages, etc.; open country), the mandatory limit for low frequency noise is 20 dBA (Vermont’s limit is 30 dBA), which applies to the calculated indoor noise level in the 1/3-octave bands 10 – 160 Hz, at both 6 and 8 m/s wind speed. The purpose of the regulation is to ensure neither the usual noise, nor the low frequency noise, will annoy nearby people when the wind turbines are in operation.
Denmark’s Controversial Noise Attenuation Calculations: The controversy in Denmark is regarding the Danish EPA assuming high attenuation factors for calculating attenuation from 44 dBA (outdoor) to 20 dBA (indoor, windows closed) for frequencies above 63 Hz, which yield calculated indoor noise levels less than 20 dBA. The Danish EPA prefers assuming high factors, because they result in compliance, which is favorable for wind turbines.
However, acousticsengineers have made indoor field measurements (supposedly “too difficult to measure”, according to the Danish EPA), which indicate many houses near wind turbine plants have lower than assumed attenuation factors, which results in indoor noise levels greater than 20 dBA, i.e., non-compliance, which is not favorable for wind turbines.
However, the final arbiters should not be government personnel using assumptions, but the nearby people. Increasingly, those people are venting their frustrations at public hearings and in public demonstrations.
2) POLAND is considering a proposed a law with a 2.0 km (1.24 mile) buffer zone between a wind turbine and any building. That means at least 65% of Poland would be off limits to wind turbines. Future wind turbine plants likely would be offshore. …
Wind power a significant portion of punishing electricity bills, community coalition says. Cancel contracts wherever possible, immediately.
The Ontario Ministry of Energy asked for input to its new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) both online and through a series of consultations held throughout the province in October and November.
Wind Concerns Ontario filed its formal comment document this week on behalf of its membership, and recommended the Ministry do everything it can via the LTEP to get costs down. That includes cancelling the wind power contracts awarded past spring, cancelling contracts for wind power projects not yet built, cancelling contracts for projects already operating that are not meeting the terms of their Renewable Energy Approvals, and permanently cancelling the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) II process, which is currently only “suspended.”
“I was horrified by the comments about the growing energy poverty in this province and the fact that social assistance agencies like the Food Bank association and the United Way are pointing at electricity bills as a major factor,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president, Jane Wilson.
“We are in a situation of surplus power, and the past few years have clearly shown that not only is large-scale wind power development a poor source of power, it is also unaffordable, and has few benefits for the environment. More than half of wind power produced is unusable, but we’re paying for it anyway. Poor families, and people on fixed incomes like seniors are paying for it — this has to stop.”
While the corporate wind power lobby maintains that wind power is a low-cost option for power, Wind Concerns Ontario’s analysis shows that the real cost is far higher than the industry and government say. Costs such as wasting nuclear and hydro power to accommodate wind power when it shows up in times of low demand are often not included in promotional material.
It’s also a myth that the government actually makes money on selling surplus power, WCO says.
Ontario electricity customers are bearing costs that they shouldn’t be, the report also says, such as the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program which should properly be funded by the ministry responsible for social assistance, not already over-burdened electricity customers. Inequities between urban and rural power customers also need to be addressed: rural Ontario is being penalized by being forced to host wind power projects and then charged more money for electricity.
“The Premier and the Minister of Energy have both said that the energy policy has failed, and that the government now needs to get electricity bills down,” Wilson said. “That should be the focus of the new Long-Term Energy Plan: to find lowest cost sources of power and to do proper planning based on cost-benefit analysis.”
Wind Concerns Ontario’s recommendations:
Reduce costs by cancelling contracts for wind turbine projects. The supply of power in Ontario is “robust” and additional capacity is not required. The action affects LRP I and II, FIT 5.0 and projects without a Notice to Proceed.
Reduce costs by reviewing contracts for operating projects being paid excessive rates. Assess potential to buy out all contracts to eliminate cost over the medium term, while achieving immediate savings by eliminating the need to dispose of surplus electricity.
Reduce costs by removing non-electricity costs from consumer charges, ending ineffective conservation programs and funding for speculative innovation.
Reduce costs by reassessing delivery costs and improving customer service.
Reduce costs through improved procurement processes.
It’s been quite windy the last few days in Ontario, as it often is in the fall. Temperatures have been mild, too — all that stacks up not only to a beautiful fall but a very expensive few days for Ontario’s electricity customers, already hard-hit by their power bills which are the fastest rising in North America.
Parker Gallant has done the analysis on a single day last week, November 10, which he says points out everything that is wrong with Ontario’s electricity policy. Too much power produced when we don’t need it means cheap exports to our neighbours and more expense for Ontarians.
November 10th serves as a perfect example of what’s happening to electricity customers in Ontario: that day, the government’s electricity policy shows we reward huge corporate wind power developers and it also highlights the intermittent nature of power generation from wind — it is out of phase with demand.
November 10 should be the basis of a message to the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault on the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program: Ontario should cancel both the LRP I contracts awarded last April and cancel the now “suspended” LRP II process. The Minister has already admitted our electricity supply is more than adequate for the next 10 years (“robust” in fact, he says) so acquiring more wind generated power (and solar) should be immediately suspended. It does nothing other than drive up the costs for “average” households.
The $9.4 million of ratepayer dollars handed out November 10 neither reduced emissions nor provided useful electricity. Time for a complete overhaul of electricity policy in Ontario, starting with those contracts and the LRP process.
When the subject of cancelling contracts (which is government’s right) comes up, the immediate response from the influential wind power lobby is that to do so will incur lawsuits, and wreck Ontario’s reputation in the business/investment world. The fact is, anyone knows that building your business on a subsidy program is not good planning; it’s also true that the Ontario government included “off-ramps” in the latest contracts, so that it could change its mind if the power is not needed, and pay out the power developers’ documented expenses.
Here are the details for the five contracts awarded by the IESO last spring.
20-yr cost $
Max payout liability $
Source: data from IESO contracts
So, in the case of Strong Breeze, for example, in the community of Dutton Dunwich which resoundingly expressed its Not A Willing Host status but got a wind power project anyway, the government could get out of a $250-million contract by paying, at most, $515,000. Similarly, Nation Rise, in another unwilling host community, could be cancelled for a maximum liability of $600,000 and save Ontario electricity ratepayers from having the $436 million cost added to their bills.
Let’s go farther! Among the projects with Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs) but not yet operating, are the much contested White Pines in Prince Edward County and the Windlectric project on Amherst Island, both of which are in legal battles and both are in danger of not meeting their contracted Commercial Operation date. Cancelling them would save a lot of wildlife and also save Ontario electricity customers almost $1 billion.
Mr Gallant says that November 10 is emblematic of what’s wrong with Ontario’s electricity policy; we add, why buy more power Ontario doesn’t need and inflict more damage on the natural environment and Ontario’s rural communities, when the answer is so simple.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has failed to regulate wind turbines for safety, mayor says. A full investigation is necessary
It’s been years since the Canadian Auto Workers union, now UNIFOR, allowed a wind turbine to be built at its education and recreation centre in Port Stanley — and it’s been years of complaints from local residents about the noise and vibration from the wind turbine.
What’s been done? Nothing.
More than 300 complaints have been lodged with the Ontario government and UNIFORS, to no avail. Promises to investigate and follow up have not been fulfilled.
The Mayor of the Town of Saugeen Shores says enough is enough; the government must do its duty and take action on this situation, now.
Last week, he wrote a letter to the Office of the Ombudsman, with a formal complaint about the government inaction in this matter, detailing all the broken promises and the failure to meet its mandate to the people of Ontario. Read the letter here.
Mayor Mike Smith wrote, it is “absolutely unreasonable for our community to have to continue to wait until spring of next year in hope that an audit of this turbine’s operation will finally be undertaken voluntarily by the proponent. At the time of writing we are advised that as many as 328 complaints have been filed relating to the operation of this turbine. If this audit is not done until June 2017, it will come four years and three months after the earliest potentially non-compliant test result …”
How many complaints must be filed? Smith asks, and how many more questionable test results filed before the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change finally takes action?
The MOECC has failed
The situation is indicative, the Mayor says, of “the larger failure of the MOECC to fulfill its role in regulating and overseeing the operation of industrial wind turbines in the Province of Ontario.”
He concludes by requesting a detailed investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Comments filed on Renewable Energy Approval process
“The litany of failures is astounding,” says president of community group coalition
Wind Concerns Ontario filed comments with Ontario’s EBR yesterday, with recommendations on revisions to the Technical Guide for the Renewable Energy Approval process for industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power projects.
Basically, WCO said, the guidelines for the power industry are not protective of the environment … and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.
In short, the requirements in place for companies to get approval are not adequate, there is not enough proper oversight by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (or even, capacity to do fulfill that role), and there is no check on compliance with Renewable Energy Approvals post-operation.
Findings from the ERT decisions and other legal activities have shown that the current process is not adequate to assess the expansion of renewable energy generation while upholding the government’s commitment to protecting the environment.
The process contains no provisions to discuss the creation of clean energy jobs and encouraging energy conservation.
The proposed process does not reflect decisions from the Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT)
“The fact is, almost every single wind power project that received an approval in Ontario has been appealed on the basis of protecting the environment and human health,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “And four of those appeals have been successful. The Ministry should be embarrassed that ordinary citizens are not only taking on this protective role, but that they find information about these projects and the damage they will cause, that Ministry staff were not aware of.”
Wind Concerns not only recommended more stringent requirements for a Renewable Energy Approval, the coalition of community groups and Ontario families repeated its call for municipal support to be a mandatory requirement for wind power project approvals.
“Municipal governments are the local voice of the people and communities,” says Wilson. “And they know best what kind of development is appropriate and sustainable. They are also aware of conditions locally that logically should prevent a wind power project — but those voices are not listened to under this process.”
Thousands of noise complaints have been made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Wind Concerns Ontario says, which is a clear indication of the failure of the REA process. Moreover, MOECC protocols for measuring wind turbine noise emissions – when they do measure at all as follow-up – are not adequate and do not capture the full range of problematic environmental noise.
“In fact, the litany of failures of this process is astounding,” says Wilson.
The method in which projects are announced to communities is secretive and municipalities are forced to approve with almost no information on the impact of the power projects. Public “meetings” are a sham, consisting mainly of poster presentations and incomplete project information.
Post-operation, the numbers of bat deaths and bird kills far exceed what was expected from the wind turbines, noise complaints are being made more frequently as a result of more powerful turbines, and wind power companies have abused their approvals by removing trees from protected woodlands, for example, or placing turbines on sites not consistent with the approvals.
“Premier Wynne professed to be surprised recently at the removal of over 7,000 mature trees in the Niagara area for the huge power project there,” Wilson says. “Does the government not know what is really going on? The people of Ontario see the environmental damage being done and the effects on people’s health from high-impact wind power development — this process has to change.”
Rick Conroy, editor of the independent Wellington Times says the Ontario government has “turned against its people.” He cites the numerous examples of citizen groups forming and paying for legal actions to protect their communities against the government, and more recently, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne labeling Ontarians as “bad actors” when it comes to the environment.
In his editorial, he asks why, why it comes to huge wind power projects, “… What drives elected officials to use the state’s power and resources against those working to protect the natural world it has abandoned?”
We got a glimpse last week when Kathleen Wynne defended her government’s cap and trade emmissions scheme. She told a business audience in Niagara Falls that Ontarians are “very bad actors” in terms of per capita emissions of greenhouse gases. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue—or offhand remark. These words were part of a scripted speech.
Fortunately for the wretched folks in this province, we have a premier who understands good and bad—better than we do. She has unveiled the selfish and narrow view through which we see the world around us. Kathleen Wynne will be our better selves.
In this morality play your provincial government has decided it will not work in your interest— but rather what it believes your interest ought to be. It knows this better than you. Kathleen Wynne, and Dalton McGuinty before her, believe they know what is best, and cling to the hope that history will judge them better than Ontario’s weak and myopic voters do now.
But untethered by accountability to its voters and deaf to its ministries’ advice and counsel, provincial Liberals have made a terrible mess of the energy supply system in Ontario. It will take decades to fix. It has squandered billions of dollars chasing schemes unworthy of a Nigerian postmark. It has pushed manufacturing jobs out of the province. And it has rendered electricity bills that are unaffordable for many of its poorest rural residents. Meanwhile, it has made a select group of developers very, very wealthy.
In turn, they have dutifully filled her parties’ coffers— to arm her for the next election.
How is it that the most righteous tend to be the most susceptible to corruption and misdeeds? There is something distinctly Shakespearean in this tragedy.