Nova Scotia welcomes wind farms; Ontario? Not so much

A study done by a PhD student at Western University shows that Nova Scotia, which allows communities more say in wind power project siting, is more welcoming of the power projects, but in Ontario where the Green Energy Act totally stripped communities of local land-use planning, the situation is split communities and lengthy legal battles.

Wind farms more accepted in Nova Scotia

Ontario Farmer, February 28, 2017

By John Miner

[Excerpt]

Known for splitting rural Ontario communities and fuelling lengthy legal battles, wind farms are being far more welcomed in Nova Scotia, a Western University study has found.

The study by researchers in Western’s geography department concluded that support for wind farms was three times higher in Nova Scotia, with the difference in community acceptance having a lot to do with different approaches taken in the two provinces.

In Nova Scotia, communities were given more say over whether projects were allowed to go ahead and nearby residents had more opportunity to share in the financial rewards.

“People like to be in control of developments in the community,” said Chad Walker, lead researcher in the project and a PhD candidate at Western.

The research paper, Toolkits for Turbines, suggests communities considered for wind farms be allowed a vote on the projects.

That would be a sharply different approach than taken by Ontario at the outset of its push into green energy when in 2009 it stripped municipalities of local planning power over wind and solar farms.

For their research, Walker and his colleagues studied three communities in Ontario — Adelaide-Metcalfe west of London, Norwich Township in Oxford County, and Wainfleet in the Regional Municipality of Niagara.

In Nova Scotia, seven communities with wind farms were studied.

The research included in-depth interviews with people living within two kilometres of a wind farm, as well as developers and provincial politicians. Surveys were also mailed to more than 1,300 homes within two kilometres of wind turbines.

While wind farms in Ontario have mainly been developed by large corporations, many foreign-based, Nova Scotia has required wind farms to be at least 51 per cent owned by people of the province.

While more community participation, more transparency and a wider spread of the financial benefit could improve acceptance of wind farms, Walker said it was clear there was no magic bullet that would satisfy everyone.

Mandatory municipal support

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of groups opposed to wind farm development, said it was heartened to see the research paper’s recommendation calling for mandatory support from a community before a wind power contract was awarded.

“Our position is that communities have valid reasons for not wanting power projects, especially if there will be negative effects for people, the environment and the economy and, as is the case in Ontario now, the power is not even needed,” Wilson said.


NOTE: Wind Concerns Ontario provided a detailed comment on a draft version of the research paper, which is available here: UWOToolkit-commentFINAL

To read the “Toolkit” document, go to: http://coarep.uwo.ca/documents.php

 

Wind turbine noise research needs to be current, WCO to acoustics journal

Wind turbine near Ridgetown ON. Advice to researchers: assume complaints are valid

In the January edition of respected publication Sound & Vibration, is an article “Health Effects from Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise & Infrasound,” published by four authors billed as :”very experienced independent investigators.”

The debate about adverse health claims has “raged for at least a decade,” the authors write, “and is now at an impasse.”

“Permitting authorities for new projects must evaluate adverse health effect claims presented as proven factual data by opposition forces, countered by project advocates who state that no physical link to health effects has ever been demonstrated”.

The lead author, George Hessler of Virginia, USA, says that all four authors “do not doubt for a moment the sincerity and suffering of some residents close to wind farms and other low-frequency sources…this is the reason all four would like to conduct, contribute or participate in some studies that would shed some light on this issue.”

“It must also be said,” Hessler continues, “that it is human nature to exaggerate grievances …”

The full text of the article is available in PDF here: 2017 Schomer et al on Wind turbine noise and health 2017

Responses are being developed by various individuals, including colleagues involved in acoustics, and citizen groups, which we will publish when available.

Wind Concerns Ontario sent a letter to the editor expressing concern that although the word “health” is in the article title, and is the focus of the paper, not one of the four authors has any medical expertise. Moreover, WCO said, the methodology proposed by the authors fails to “include current directions of research on the rapidly changing understanding of wind turbine noise.”

“Based on the reports of the impact of wind turbines on the people living among the many Ontario projects,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote, “we know that the emissions from wind turbines are challenging existing methodologies and analysis paradigms used by acousticians.  The range of sound pressure waves emitted by wind turbines are multi-dimensional; a full understanding of the issue can come only from acousticians who are willing to move outside of existing procedures and investigate complaints without preconceived notions of answers when working on the topic.

“It is not clear that the authors of the article were willing to do this.”

Wind Concerns suggested to the Editor, and the authors, that a good starting point is to “assume that people’s complaints are valid”; we also referred to the work done in Australia by Steven Cooper. As well, reliance on A-weighted noise measurement is no longer adequate to really assess the type of noise emissions produced by industrial-scale wind turbines.

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s letter to the Editor of Sound & Vibration here:S&V LetterToEditorFeb25

Wind power in Ontario’s North: environment and economy at risk

A common response to objections to industrial-scale wind power development in southern Ontario is, Why not put them up North then? Nobody lives there. The members of Save Ontario’s Algoma Region* know the reasons why wind power development is inappropriate for Ontario’s North, too.

“A national treasure” – Photos Gary and Joanie McGuffin

February 21, 2017

The municipalities of rural Southern Ontario have soundly opposed and stalled the attempt of the government to initiate a new round of Request for Proposals for Large Renewable Procurements. This opposition has been based primarily on the harm wind turbines create for human health.

The Northern Ontario objection to wind-generated electricity is quite different from that of the South. The health of the Northern economy is the primary opposition issue to wind turbine developments. The Northern economy, which once relied on its primary resource-based industries, is currently facing an economic decline in those industries. This is in part due to the high cost of energy which has forced the closure of many sawmills, pulp and paper mills and fibreboard mills. Northerners are currently examining the potential for developing an expanded eco-tourism based economy. The Northern view is that its future prosperity can be restored utilizing the inherent values offered through its last remaining asset, an uncompromised wild landscape and natural environment.

Despite regional differences, Southern Ontario and Northern Ontario are both strongly opposed to the generation of energy by industrial wind installations. However, unlike the South, Northern Ontario’s low population provides no voting power to impact government decisions. Much of rural Northern Ontario is unincorporated and has no official municipal voice to object. This requires support for the North from those in the Southern regions as opposition is only stronger with a unified approach.

Here’s why Requests For Proposals in the North should also be stalled.

  1. The Right to Self Determination
  • Because of the geographic differences between Northern and Southern Ontario, Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario have a right to determine their own economic destiny according to their regional values and available resources.
  • Although Northwestern Ontario is “A Place to Grow Electrically”, this vision does not include wind energy. The Big Thunder Wind Park proposed for Thunder Bay has already been scrapped in part because of First Nation objections to the impact on the natural environment.

 

  1. Ontario does not need to generate more power in Northern Ontario
  1.  Unfavourable Economic Outcomes for the Consumer
  • Generating electricity in remote northern locations requires long transmission to major consuming centers in Southern Ontario. This long transmission leads to energy loss.    The technical term for this is “line loss.” Line loss has the effect of making wind –powered electricity 30% percent more expensive than if it is generated near the ultimate users in densely populated urban centres.
  • Moving more electricity from the north to the south will require a huge investment in transmission infrastructure. This investment will be reflected in further increases in the line item called “delivery charges” on consumers’ monthly power bills.
  • The construction of more intermittent wind capacity will require the construction of more off-setting natural gas powered generation. That will have to be built where natural gas supply is already available, which won’t fit with remote northern locations.  If natural gas generation facilities are placed in the North, then more pipelines to move the natural gas to those facilities will be required, and of course, the electricity will still be subject to the 30%-line loss cost boost when it is sent south.
  • The terrain of Southern Ontario (vast areas of flat farm land) makes it easier and less costly to construct wind installations than on Northern Ontario’s rocky terrain. Algoma Power Inc. (API) has the highest electricity rates in Ontario. The vast rocky plateau of the Canadian Shield is really hard on API vehicles—a cost which is passed on to their customers.
  • Power generation from wind cost Ontario’s ratepayers over $1.7 billion (approximately 12% of total generation costs) in 2016 for just over 6% of demand. Further development of wind generation—especially from the remote North—will continue to increase ratepayers’ electricity bills.

 

  1. First Nations Treaty Rights
  • Northern Ontario wind power developments must be viewed in the context of the treaty rights of First Nations. Three of the most important treaties in Northern Ontario involve the Robinson-Huron Treaty, the Robinson-Superior Treaty and Treaty 3. These treaties cover an enormous geographic region of the province.
  • The treaties are viewed differently by the Crown and First Nations. The Crown (provincial or federal) believes that it has the ultimate authority over a treaty and that the First Nations are subordinate. Crown decisions over resource development therefore are paramount.
  • First Nations—especially the Anishinaabeg people who signed the Robinson Treaties—maintain that their traditional lands and waters and the resources therein were never surrendered, but exist today in a sharing agreement with the Crown. Hence all resource development on traditional lands must involve First Nations in agreement and management decisions.
  • Suggesting that the North is largely unoccupied and therefore an easy mark for future industrial wind development ignores the huge issues that will arise from a lack of understanding of First Nations’ claims over their territorial lands. First Nations are now exercising their right to demand their fair share of profits derived from wind generation on these traditional lands. These profits from their partnerships with wind industries are currently raising the cost per Kw Hour proportionally according to the percentage of their ownership.

 

  1. Eco-Tourism—A Natural Fit for a Sustainable Economy in the North
  • In a “green” world, eco-tourism must form an increasingly significant part of sustainable job creation in Northeastern Ontario. The imposition of wind turbine installations on coastlines (and perhaps in Lake Huron and Lake Superior) will seriously erode the value of eco-tourism as a sustainable economic base in regions which already rely heavily on year-round tourism.
  • Algoma and Thunder Bay Districts have a vision of a sustainable economy driven by eco-tourism—a vision which has been supported by a million-dollar Trans Canada Trail Grant in the creation of a Lake Superior Water Trail to be officially opened in June 2017 at Gros Cap in Prince Township north of Sault Ste. Marie. (For evidence of this see: http://ijc.org/greatlakesconnection/en/2017/02/building-water-trail-lake-superior-community/#.WKPJFRmbEIs.mailto)

 

As the photographs in this article reveal, the Lake Superior Basin is a national treasure which all Canadians and visitors to Canada have the right to enjoy in its natural state.

The people of Ontario have as a common goal the protection, conservation and restoration of the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations (Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993).

The natural unspoiled state of the shores and coastal highlands of the Lake Superior Basin is the legacy we leave for the benefit of tomorrow.

 

The authors of this article are members of the Save Ontario’s Algoma Region (SOAR) Writing Team.

*SOAR is a member of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Amherst Island court appeal begins January 31

January 30, 2017

Ten species of owls on Amherst Island

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.

Power developer proposes untried remedies to save endangered species in Prince Edward County

January 28, 2017

ERT panel Hugh Wilkins and Marcia Valiante [Photo CountyLive]
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.

 

 

Wind farm contract gag clauses prevent release public health info, say C-K residents

Water from Dover area wells showing sediment. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
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.”

Read the entire letter here.

2016 a year of bad planning and government mismanagement in Ontario: Wind Concerns Ontario

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

YEAR-END INTERVIEW

 

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).

Parker Gallant at a recent event in Kanata, Ontario: shocking mismanagement. [Photo: Metroland Media]
Parker Gallant at a recent event in Kanata, Ontario: shocking mismanagement. [Photo: Metroland Media]
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.

Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario is not stopping [Photo: Julie Oliver, Ottawa Citizen]
Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario is not stopping [Photo: Julie Oliver, Ottawa Citizen]
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.

Wind turbine noise adversely affects people and the environment

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.

The problems with wind turbine noise are worldwide, and need worldwide regulation
The problems with wind turbine noise are worldwide, and need worldwide regulation

December 19, 2016

Willem Post

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.

WHO, which has not published any detailed guidelines regarding wind turbine noises, will be releasing environmental noise guidelines for the European region in the near future.

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:

OUTDOOR

  • 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 below regulations 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.

INDOOR

– 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, acoustics engineers 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. …

Read the full article here.

Cancel wind contracts to get electricity bills down, WCO tells Ministry of Energy

Wind power a significant portion of punishing electricity bills, community coalition says. Cancel contracts wherever possible, immediately.

The lessons learned from adding wind power to the grid: intermittent, expensive, not needed
The lessons learned from adding wind power to the grid: intermittent, expensive, not needed

 

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.

 

 

Read the entire report from Wind Concerns Ontario here: wco-ltepresponse.

Cancel the contracts, Minister Thibeault (we’re asking again)

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.

Here’s an excerpt from his recent blog posting:

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.

Project name Capacity MW 20-yr cost $ Max payout liability $
Otter Creek 50 218 million 500,000
Romney Wind 60 261 million 520,000
Strong Breeze 57 250 million 515,000
Eastern Fields 32 139 million 464,000
Nation Rise 100 436 million 600,000

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.

Cancel the contracts, Minister Thibeault.