Illinois zoning board denies wind farm application, citing health impacts and property value loss

Red Covered Bridge.jpg

Bureau County’s famed 1863 red covered bridge: permit denied for wind “farm”

BCRNews, December 30, 2015

After 40 days of hearings, the Bureau County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) recommended denial of all of the 127 applications of Walnut Ridge Wind LLC (WRW) to build industrial wind turbines. The ZBA considered the testimony of dozens of witnesses and experts on the impacts of such turbines. Six different people who live near projects in Illinois and Wisconsin testified the turbines cause extreme noise, flickering shadows, vibration and sleep deprivation. They suffered from symptoms commonly known as Wind Turbine Syndrome which involves feelings of motion sickness and vertigo. Three of the families abandoned their dream homes to escape the turbines.

An expert testified that neighbors will sustain up to a 50 percent loss in the value of their property. Nonetheless, WRW refuses to site turbines away from people’s homes nor will it agree to any property value protection plan. The ZBA unanimously found “the applicant has not produced sufficient evidence that the project will not diminish residential property values along the footprint.”

Project does not comply with noise regulations

The ZBA unanimously found “the applicant’s project does not comply with the noise regulations at the property lines as established by the Illinois Pollution Control Board and the Bureau County ordinance.” Two experts testified the data also showed the project will violate the maximum allowable noise levels at hundreds of homes.

Likewise, hundreds of homes in the area will be subjected to many hours of the strobe like effect caused by the shadows of the huge turning blades. The ZBA found WRW failed to design the project “to minimize shadow flicker,” and there was evidence that strobe effect can be particularly detrimental to children and adults with epilepsy, autism or those prone to motion sickness.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources warned Bureau County the project is proposed to be built in an area containing several endangered species protected by both federal and state laws. Nonetheless, WRW refuses to move the project to avoid the endangered species or turn-off or curtail turbines as recommended by IDNR. Therefore, the ZBA unanimously found “the applicant has not produced sufficient evidence that the project would not affect endangered species native to the area.”

The evidence also showed the turbine company underestimated the cost to tear down the $400 million project by over $32 million, and the ZBA found “the decommissioning information presented (by the applicant) was insufficient.”

No real tax revenue for the community

A petition was presented by 245 people who own land in the footprint that oppose the project which is three times as many who favor the project. The only response by the turbine company to the overwhelming public opposition was to argue the project will create tax revenue. However, the law which allows the turbines to be taxed as real estate expires on Dec. 31, 2016. When the law expires, companies like WRW will argue turbines are actually personal property and not real estate resulting in no tax revenue.

Read more here.

Big bucks for Loyalist Twp for wind farm? Or crumbs off the developer’s table?

Loyalist Township

Loyalist Township’s Deputy Mayor is a cheap date

The CKWS Newswatch team reported that “Loyalist Township stands to rake in some big bucks once 26 wind turbines are built on Amherst Island.”

Two key agreements with Windlectric have been authorized by the township related to the 74.3 MW (megawatt) project that will see 26 turbines erected on the island. While the project has been authorized by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), the Association to Protect Amherst Island has appealed the approval.  The start date is therefore unknown as the developer must await the ruling of the ERT (Environmental Review Tribunal) which is not expected until the early Spring of 2016.

The term “big bucks” is relative to the size of the project and, perhaps, to the recipient of those “bucks”! In this case the community benefit agreed to is $500,000 annually for the next 20 years. On the surface it sure sounds like big bucks, but the really big bucks will wind up in the pockets of Windlectric’s shareholders.

Here’s how.

If the 74.3 MW capacity development operates at the expected average of 30% of its rated capacity, it should produce almost 2 million megawatt hours (MWh)of electricity and deliver that to Ontario’s grid — whether it’s needed or not. The math is simple:74.3 X 30% X 8760 (hours in a year) = 1,952,604MWh.

We should assume the Windlectric contract was executed prior to the slight downward movement in the feed-in-tariff (FIT) pricing, so for each MWh produced, Windlectric will be paid $135.00/MWh. If you do the math on what their annual revenue will be you might be surprised at the really “big bucks” they will receive!  The gross revenue for Windlectric will be about $26.4 million annually (1,952,604 MWh X $135 = $26,396,010) which most of us would consider “big bucks”!

Loyalist’s ‘big bucks’ is not even 2% of the developer’s revenue

The township will get $500,000 of the $26.4 million which amounts to 1.9% of the takeaway by Windlectic.   If the Amherst Island residents are, as the Deputy Mayor suggested, put “at ease” they shouldn’t be; council should have bargained much harder.

As one resident suggested, the “big bucks” may not be sufficient to even repair the damage to Amherst Island’s infrastructure after construction. And that doesn’t even consider the devaluation1. of property close to the turbines, destruction to migratory birds, plant and animal life, and of course to the 15 to 20 % of people who may feel the effects of the audible and inaudible noise on their health.

What a cheap date!

©Parker Gallant,  December 21, 2015

  1. Property devaluation will lead to reduced assessments and an eventual realty tax loss to the township.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Saugeen Shores demands truth from MOECC on UNIFOR wind turbine noise

Documents released via FOI shows hundreds of noise complaints and possibility the turbine exceeds noise regulations

This map, obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Saugeen Shores Turbine Operation Policy (S.T.O.P), indicates the locations of some of the 300 complaints – mainly sleep disturbances – filed in 2013 by residents living near the UNIFOR (formerly CAW) industrial wind turbine in Port Elgin.

Shoreline Beacon, December 18, 2015

SAUGEEN SHORES – 

Because “secrecy breeds mistrust,” Saugeen Shores Coun. John Rich wants “openness and transparency” from officials with the Ministry of Environment (MOE), and UNIFOR (formerly CAW), concerning previously undisclosed noise test results that “appear to reveal” the union’s Port Elgin industrial wind turbine has operated out of compliance with provincial noise regulations.

Through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, Saugeen Shores Turbine Operation Policy (S.T.O.P) received data detailing 300 complaint-driven observations of noise emissions from the CAW/UNIFOR turbine. The Town’s Notice of Motion said “these observations appear to reveal several incidents where noise emissions from the UNIFOR turbine exceeded the noise standards set by the the MOE.. .which have not been previously disclosed either to the Town of the public at large.” The majority of complaints dealt with sleep disturbance, but also included reports of headaches, nausea, vertigo and other health-related issues.

S.T.O.P spokesman Greg Schmalz brought the information to Council in September at a community forum, and after a review of the data, Saugeen Shores Deputy-Mayor Luke Charbonneau, and Councillors John Rich and Mike Myatt, tabled a Notice of Motion at the Dec. 14 Council meeting to invite CAW/UNIFOR and the MOE to “share and review” the data at a meeting with the Town and S.T.O.P.

Regardless of support or opposition to wind energy, Coun. Rich said “you have to be in support of openness and transparency” by the MOE and CAW/UNIFOR, because “secrecy breeds mistrust.”

“What we want to see is more openness and opportunity for everyone to have discussion. If there is no problem, there is no issue, then things go the way they are. But if there is a problem, then it must be addressed at that time, but I think it’s important that we add a little sunlight to this and make sure we know what’s going on,” Rich said.

Deputy-Mayor Charbonneau said the “real nub” of their Motion is the existence of the FOI documents that “indicate, or at least gives the appearance, that the CAW/UNIFOR turbine has been operating in exceedence [sic] of its noise limits.”

He said that although the MOE required, and CAW/UNIFOR promised, third-party testing to verify turbine operation compliance, it is “concerning” that they have no evidence, and hopes the meeting will get the parties together to determine if the turbine is operating within the provincial guidelines.

Mayor Mike Smith recounted how CAW/UNIFOR had refused a past Town request for the resources to have independent testing done, and said there’s been no contact between the Town and CAW/UNIFOR for several years.

Speaking during the regular open forum prior to the Dec. 14 Council meeting, Schmalz said if the requested meeting occurs, S.T.O.P. will make “simple and reasonable” requests to address the main complaint of sleepless nights by shutting down the turbine from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

S.T.O.P also wants the peak daytime noise limit set at 40-decibels, which is the nighttime level for the rest of the province where a 550-metre buffer is required between wind turbines and residences. The setback was not in effect when the CAW/UNIFOR turbine received approval and began operating in April 2013.

Schmalz alleges a “cover-up” by the MOE and CAW/UNIFOR officials who promised “open and transparent” sharing of noise tests, yet S.T.O.P. had to make a FOI application to get the data that showed non-compliance.

“In my books, that’s called cover-up. It leads us to believe that the information that we obtained – which is non-compliant tests – was the norm, and they did not want to have it made public that the turbine was operating out of compliance, and still is, as far as we’re concerned,” Schmalz said, adding S.T.O.P. spent approximately $100,000 for independent noise testing and the FOI request “to get the truth.”

He said they are not asking CAW/UNIFOR to tear down the turbine – the company’s symbol of support for Green Energy and climate change – but don’t want that “mission to interfere with how people enjoy their lives.”

In a Dec. 17 telephone interview, Ken Bondy, UNIFOR’s National Co-ordinator for Health, Safety and Environment, said the claims of non-compliant turbine operations are “unsubstantiated.”

He had a problem with the word “appear” in the Town motion that said the test results “appear to reveal several incidents where noise emissions from the UNIFOR turbine exceeded the noise levels standards set by the MOE…”

“Just because complaints have been filed doesn’t mean the turbine was non-compliant,” Bondy said.

“Is there compliance, or is there not? The only body that would make that determination is the Ministry of Environment, which has now been alleged [to be] in a cover-up operation with the union,” Bondy said, pointing to a 2013 Health Canada study that found there were no harmful effects from turbines, but that “people are annoyed by the sight of them,” Bondy said.

He said, at this point, he is willing to meet with Town and Ministry officials, but not S.T.O.P. officials because of CAW/UNIFOR officials have “concerns meeting with groups that want to portray or publish information that is not factual.”

Officials with the MOE were not immediately available for comment.

 

Loyalist Twp signs Amherst Island road use agreement

CKWS-TV

Community benefit fund no “windfall” says resident Peter Large. “The Township will need that money” to offset construction damage

 

LOYALIST TOWNSHIP STANDS TO RAKE IN SOME BIG BUCKS ONCE 26 WIND TURBINES ARE BUILT ON AMHERST ISLAND. THE TOWNSHIP HAS AUTHORIZED 2 KEY AGREEMENTS WITH THE POWER COMPANY. BUT RESIDENTS ARE CONCERNED THAT COUNCIL’S MOVE WAS PREMATURE — AND HOPING THERE’S STILL A CHANCE TO STOP THE GREEN ENERGY PROJECT. NEWSWATCH’S HEATHER SENORAN HAS THE DETAILS.

PETER LARGE HAS LIVED ON AMHERST ISLAND FOR 15 YEARS.  HE SAYS THE TOWNSHIP’S PLAN TO PUT CLOSE TO 30 WIND TURBINES ON THE ISLAND WOULD RUIN THE EXISTING HERITAGE, BE DANGEROUS TO THE COMMUNITY AND THREATEN WILD LIFE.

“TO HAVE 50 STOREY TALL TURBINES, THRUST INTO THAT COMMUNITY WITHOUT IT’S CONSENT. IT’S JUST NOT RIGHT.”

WINDLECTRIC’S 74.3 MEGAWATT ENERGY PROJECT WAS CONDITIONALLY APPROVED BY THE PROVINCE BACK IN AUGUST.  NOW LOYALIST TOWNSHIP COUNCIL HAS APPROVED A ROAD USE AND COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT WITH THE WIND POWER COMPANY.

“With the approval, we now have the framework to proceed with a constructive dialogue with Loyalist regarding the project’s detailed construction planning.”

TO OFFSET THE IMPACT OF THE WINDFARM, WINDLECTRIC WILL GIVE OVER 500 THOUSAND A YEAR.

SOMETHING THE TOWNSHIP’S DEPUTY MAYOR IS HOPING WILL BRING MORE PEOPLE ON SIDE.

“I HOPE IT PUTS RESIDENTS AT EASE. IT CERTAINLY PUTS ME AND I BELIEVE THE TOWNSHIP COUNCIL AT EASE. BECAUSE IT DOES GIVE THE TOWNSHIP AN ELEMENT OF CONTROL. WITHOUT THAT, THERE’S NO ELEMENT OF CONTROL.”

BUT LARGE ISN’T SO SURE.

“THAT COMMUNITY BENEFIT WOULD BE NEEDED TO CLEAN UP THIS PLACE. REPLANT TREES, PUT ROAD SYSTEMS BACK THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE AND SO ONE. YOU CAN’T REALLY CALL IT A COMMUNITY BENEFIT. AMHERST ISLAND WILL NEED IT”

THE AGREEMENT STATES THE TOWNSHIP CAN DO WHATEVER IT WANTS WITH THE MONEY.

“The Benefit Fund can be used by Loyalist Township however it sees fit to benefit its residents.”

TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS ARE STILL WORKING THAT OUT.

“WE’LL WAIT AND FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO WITH IT, ONCE IT ACTUALLY STARTS FLOWING — IF AND WHEN THE PROJECT GOES FORWARD.”

“THE DEPUTY MAYOR OF LOYALIST TOWNSHIP SAYS, THE EARLIEST THE WIND PROJECT COULD BECOME SHOVEL READY IS THE SPRING OF 2016. BUT WITH NUMEROUS APPEALS STANDING IN THE WAY, HE ADMITS PLANS WILL LIKELY BE STALLED FURTHER.”

THE ASSOCIATION TO PROTECT AMHERST ISLAND LAUNCHED AN APPEAL OF THE PROJECT APPROVAL IN SEPTEMBER BUT THEY DON’T EXPECT TO FIND OUT IF IT’S APPROVED BY THE ENVIRONMENT REVIEW TRIBUNAL UNTIL MARCH OF NEXT YEAR. HEATHER SENORAN CKWS NEWSWATCH, AMHERST ISLAND.

Climate change actions must have proof of effectiveness: municipal group

Giant wind farms: Not doing a thing for the environment
Giant wind farms: Not doing a thing for the environment

MULTI-MUNICIPAL WIND TURBINE WORKING GROUP

MEDIA RELEASE

19 December, 2015

Climate change “solutions” must demonstrate effectiveness

Now that a second Auditor General’s Report has severely criticized Ontario’s electricity system, it is time to rethink a politically motivated energy policy. Action on climate change must not squander crucial time and resources on schemes that may be ineffective, economically unfeasible, or harm human health and the environment.

Why did the Government of Ontario choose to ignore the 2011 Auditor General’s Report that questioned the negligible ability of intermittent wind power to lower carbon emissions because natural gas-fuelled back up is required 24/7?

The Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, made up of councillors from jurisdictions where wind turbine development has been most intensive, is ideally positioned to observe first hand the effects of wind turbines on the local community. Adverse health effects are occurring to citizens exposed to wind turbines at approved setbacks. Noise and health complaints have been ignored by government officials. Restrictive Environmental Review Tribunal procedures under the Ontario Green Energy Act make residents’ participation meaningless. Biologists’ observations of degradation of significant habitat and loss of biodiversity near wind turbines have been disregarded.

Because of wind power’s difficulty in matching production with demand, a substantial amount of the emission-free electricity from hydro and nuclear plants is being dumped (in order to stabilize the grid) because the Government’s energy policy gives priority to nominally “green” wind energy. This results in throwing away a large portion of the “base load” electricity already paid for by consumers.

Our technical consultant, William Palmer, using IESO (Independent Electricity Supply Operator) data, found that in 2014 hydraulic generating stations (water power) were reduced by 3.2 TWh (Terra Watt Hours) due to surplus base load generation. Bruce Power nuclear units were reduced 588 times, each occurrence resulting in bypassing some 300 MW of electrical equivalent of high pressure steam directly to the turbine generator condensers. These transient adjustments result in accelerated wear on the condensers.

At the same time, much of the excess wind energy has to be sold outside the province at below production cost. This drives down the market price for electricity and means that Ontario is often forced to dump surplus electricity to our neighbours in New York and Michigan at negative prices – paying them to take it, further penalizing Ontario consumers.

The Auditor General’s 2015 report discloses that

  • excess payments to generators over the market price have cost consumers $37 billion between 2006 and 2014
  • are projected to cost another $133 billion from 2015 to 2032
  • electricity consumers will eventually pay a total of $9.2 billion more for renewables under the Min­istry’s guaranteed-price renewable program
  • we are paying double the U.S. average to generators of wind power
  • the electricity portion of hydro bills has risen by 70%.

Not surprisingly the Government has now denied the Auditor General access to Hydro One finances, shielding the company from public scrutiny.

A recently published “Council of Canadian Academies Report: Technology and Policy Options for a Low-emission Energy System in Canada” is an example of policy recommendations that fail to recognize the adverse impact on the existing system that the transition in energy systems is already having. It would have been more useful if its authors had given thoughtful consideration to the IESO data and investigated more fully the consequences of wind turbines in Ontario.

The Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group has written to the Federal Government, which provides substantial subsidies for wind turbines, requesting reality-based climate change policy decisions for solutions that are actually effective in converting to a low emission energy system without themselves resulting in adverse impacts.

CONTACT

Mark Davis, Chair, Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group

mdavis@bmts.com

Res. (519) 353 5466

Final evidence presented in White Pines appeal

Blandings turtle: clearly at risk
Blandings turtle: clearly at risk

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project‏‎

December 15

On Day 21 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) heard the last witness in the appeal of the White Pines wind project.

APPEC tried to call three Reply Witnesses: Dr. Shawn Smallwood, an expert in avian wildlife behaviour and conservation; Robert McEwen, P. Eng., a structural engineer; and Kari Gunson, a road ecologist. Mr. McEwen and Ms. Gunson were intended to respond to WPD’s witness Shawn Taylor, who had done a survey of municipal roads on the day before he testified. Eric Gillespie, counsel for APPEC, asked the Tribunal either to disallow the new evidence collected at the eleventh hour or to allow APPEC an opportunity to respond. Mr. Gillespie argued that each party should have an equal opportunity to reply to the full submission of the other. 

Both MOECC counsel Andrew Weretelnyck and WPD counsel Patrick Duffy objected to the admissibility of Mr. McEwen and Mrs. Gunson as Reply Witnesses. The Tribunal agreed with their submissions and found that of the three witnesses only Dr. Smallwood’s evidence was proper reply.

Dr. Smallwood told the ERT he disagreed with WPD witness Dr. Strickland that pre-construction bat surveys have no value. He directed the Tribunal to graphs showing a plausible correlation between pre-construction bat activity and post-construction bat mortality. He noted that when more data is added the more the relationship is strengthened. This suggests there is value in doing pre-construction surveys to estimate bat fatality rates.  

Dr. Smallwood also noted that avoidance is not the same as displacement. While avoidance on a large scale will equal displacement, it might just as well involve manoeuvres to evade turbine blades, wind turbines, or an entire wind project. Repeated avoidance that leads to habitat loss is displacement. 

Today was the last day for evidence. The ERT will next hear submissions of the parties as follows:

Appellant Written Submissions – January 5, 2016
Respondent Written Submissions – January 15
Reply Written Submissions – January 19
Oral Submissions – January 20 in Prince Edward County 

ERT co-chair Marcia Valiante noted that this schedule leaves insufficient time for the Tribunal to meet the regulatory six-month deadline. As a result the Tribunal found that stopping the clock on the proceedings is required. Following the oral submissions the ERT will adjourn for four weeks and issue a decision on February 19, 2016. 

 –Paula Peel

Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County

Wind turbines worry community more than oil pipeline: Financial Post

TransCanada Corp.’s 4,600-kilometre crude oil pipeline proposal aims to connect Hardisty, Alta. to a brand new export terminal in Saint John, N.B., connecting the oilsands to eastern refineries, and crossing hundreds of rural areas such as South Dundas along the route.

The Financial Post, December 14, 2015

BRINSTON, ONT. • Jason Cardinal fiddles with his baseball cap, leans back on the wall and mockingly counts his gripes with the latest energy project imposed on his eastern Ontario township.

“It’s an eyesore, it disturbs their cows, kills their birds and makes whistling sounds, blah, blah, blah,” he deadpans.

Cardinal lives near Brinston, a tiny agricultural community in the municipality of South Dundas roughly 70 kilometres south of Ottawa, where TransCanada Corp. last week hosted an open house for its proposed Energy East crude oil pipeline.

Cardinal and his friends Lloya Sprague and Mike Vanallen are more vocal about the wind turbines installed in the South Dundas municipality than the Energy East proposal. The 30-megawatt South Branch Wind Farm installed by Madrid-based EDP Renewables Canada Ltd., connected to utility distributor Hydro One, is part of Ontario government’s Green Energy Act plan to raise the contribution of renewable sources in the province’s energy mix.

The three firefighters serving the community were at the open house not representing the South Dundas fire department, but “were interested as a person” in the Energy East project, says Sprague.

But it’s not the $12 billion proposal to reverse the existing natural gas pipeline and convert it to take bitumen from Western Canada to East Coast that has Cardinal uneasy.

TransCanada Corp.’s 4,600-kilometre crude oil pipeline proposal aims to connect Hardisty, Alta. to a brand new export terminal in Saint John, N.B., connecting the oilsands to eastern refineries, and crossing hundreds of rural areas such as South Dundas along the route.

FP1212_Brinston_C_JR

The 1.1 million barrels per day project was submitted to the National Energy Board last year, but the Calgary-based company will file an amendment to the application before the end of the year after scrapping plans for a marine terminal in Quebec.

The plan involves repurposing an existing 3,000-kilometre natural gas pipeline that runs from Alberta to Ontario with the Iroquois pump station 12.4 kilometres from Brinston marking the end of that line. As such, most landowners along the line are already familiar with the concept of a fossil fuel conduit running through their backyards.

TransCanada has been holding these open houses across Canada since 2013, as part of it community engagement agenda, but not each event has gone as quietly as Brinston. TransCanada spokesman Tim Duboyce says there have been protests at some of the 116 open houses the company has hosted, while general protests have not been uncommon. In May, hundreds of people marched through Red Head, N.B. to protest the project that ends near that community. Montreal, Kenora and Thunder Bay have also seen protests against the pipeline over the past year.

But it’s hard to find any opposition on this night in Brinston.

Famous for Caldwell towels and Mcintosh apples in nearby Dundela, South Dundas is primarily a town focused on growing soyabean, corn and dairy farming, where residents are more likely to be rattled by solar farms and wind turbines.

South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegrade says she has heard “nothing” on Energy East from her 33 communities that make up the township of roughly 11,000 people. Indeed, the 24 or people who showed up last Monday evening, many with children in tow, were there mostly out of curiosity about, not in opposition to, the pipeline project.

In contrast, Delegrade got an earful from the community last year when 10 wind turbines were installed after approval from the provincial government.

“For the wind turbines, we are not a supporting municipality in that the majority of council did not agree with the Green Energy Act,” Delegrade said, noting that an expansion of the project was voted down by her council.

Once it’s done [with construction], you will never hear about it again

While the Ontario Ministry of Energy is supportive of wind projects, “that’s not happening, to my knowledge, with this (Energy East) project,” Mayor Delegarde says.

Ontarians are paying a price for the Ministry of Energy’s push for wind turbines and solar farm projects, she says. “And this (Energy East) isn’t going to nickel and dime or add any taxes to our residents.”

Indeed, the province has come under sharp criticism for its zeal in pursuing expensive renewable energy projects. In a report this month, the provincial auditor general estimated that the Liberal Government’s decision to ignore its own planning process would cost electricity customers as much as $9.2 billion more for new wind and solar projects.

The wind turbines looming large over the community is part of its problem, says Sprague, noting that in contrast Energy East would be “out of sight, out of mind.”

“Once it’s done [with construction], you will never hear about it again,” says Vanallen.

Dave Chan for National Post
A model of a pipeline construction on display in Brinston, Ont., one of the communities across Canada where TransCanada held information sessions on the Energy East pipeline for local residents.  [Photo Dave Chan]

The latest round of “safety and emergency response days” has taken TransCanada to Prairie cities and towns in Ontario and Quebec. More are planned in Quebec before the end of the year where TransCanada may find a more frosty reception. Unlike much of Ontario, Quebec towns will see new pipes being laid and farmers largely unaccustomed to dealing with pipeline companies. In November, Premier Philippe Couillard sounded an early alarm by noting that the scrapping off the Quebec marine terminal would “complicate” the project’s approval by the province.

To be sure, the criticism is not as vitriolic as it often was during TransCanada’s own Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline campaigns.

Indeed, last year, the Northwestern Ontario Municipalities Association (NOMA), comprising districts of Kenora, Rainy River and Thunder Bay that make up two-third of the province’s land mass, voted in support of the conversion of natural gas pipelines for the Energy East project.

Dave Chan for National Post
South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde. [Photo Dave Chan]

“The majority of the community is fine with the conversion as long as the safeguards are put in place,” says David Canfield, mayor of Kenora and president of NOMA.

“But if they were trying to pull a wool over our eyes, as the saying goes, with Energy East, I will be the first one to come down on them,” Canfield adds. “So far they have been very open to our concerns.”

Fearing a repeat of a crude-laden train exploding as happened at Lac Megantic, Que., the municipality association’s largely symbolic vote was driven by a desire to rid the communities of 32,000 petroleum laden rail cars that regularly roll through the towns each year.

“Those tracks don’t bypass the communities — in most cases they go straight through,” said Iain Angus, a member of the Thunder Bay Council and member of NOMA council.

NOMA is also seeking assurances from TransCanada that the communities’ drinking water and hunting and recreational facilities will be protected.

“If things happen that we didn’t like, we would modify our position,” Angus said in a phone interview.

While the umbrella association is in agreement, the city of Thunder Bay, the most populous municipality in Northwestern Ontario, is divided on the project, with mayor Keith Hobbs “totally opposed” to the pipeline. Another council member was not convinced that the pipeline would reduce crude-by-rail traffic.

“At this juncture, [I’m] totally opposed to this pipeline,” Hobbs said in September, according to a CBC report. “Lake Superior, to me, is more important than any jobs. I want jobs in this city, but water comes first. Water is life.”

Dave Chan for National Post
 Local residents of South Dundas look at a map of the region with TransCanada staff at an information session on the Energy East pipeline. [Dave Chan for National Post]

In September, the city council agreed to delay a vote on the pipeline after Angus — who supports Energy East — put forward a motion to defer it.

“The pipeline is 70 kilometres north of the city,” Angus says dryly. “It’s well outside of our municipal boundaries.”

Separately, a volunteer organization headed by Angus has launched an Energy East task force, seeking National Energy Board funding to do its own consultation with First Nations and the general public.

Awareness of the pipeline will likely rise among communities once the the review process gathers momentum, but for now visitors to Matilda Hall in Brinston are merely intrigued passers-by.

One man from Morrisburg, with a worn-out cap taming his long, graying hair, brought his three young daughters to the event. After spending about 20 minutes in the hall, he stepped out of the centre and lit a cigarette that he had rifled from a small ziploc bag.

A TransCanada employee started explaining the company’s spill response, and the man punctuated his response with a slightly bored “Is that right?” line. Did he get all his concerns addressed, he is asked. He sucks on his cigarette: “Yeah, I wasn’t concerned, just curious.”

yhussain@nationalpost.com
YAD_FPEnergy

 

Wind Concerns Ontario note: the Financial Post photographer had to work hard to get a pic of Brinston without a turbine in it. Here is a photo from Ottawa photographer Ray Pilon of a house and a 3-MW turbine, at Brinston.

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: Ontario hasn't learned a thing. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

White Pines appeal schedule announced

The remaining dates for the White Pines appeal in Prince Edward County was announced at the hearing in Toronto yesterday, December 15.

  1. Final submission scheduled for January 5th.
  2. Responding submission scheduled for January 15th.
  3. Reply January 19th
  4. Oral submission January 20th
The Tribunal also decided to allow themselves additional time to write the decision.  They have adjourned the hearing to allow for an extension of the deadline from January 29 2016 to Feb. 19, 2016.
For more information on the power project and to donate to this legal action please go to the website for the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.

Google Earth good enough for research by White Pines environmental consultants

What? We don't show up on Google Earth? [Photo: Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory]
What? We don’t show up on Google Earth? [Photo: Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory]

Wind power developer wildlife consultant never visited Prince Edward County, used Google Earth to inspect the site, and dismisses “Important Bird Area” designation (that’s for bird-watchers, he says in testimony)

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

December 11 

On Day 20 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) on the White Pines wind project heard APPEC witness Rick James and an expert witness for developer WPD, Dr. Dale Strickland.

Mr. James, qualified previously as an acoustician, presented new evidence in reply to Denton Miller, witness for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).  Following new ministry guidelines and omitting disallowed wind turbines T7 and T11, he calculated that 13 “points of receptions” (i.e., homes) would suffer noise above 40 dBA.

Both MOECC counsel Andrew Weretelnyck and WPD counsel James Wilson questioned Rick James on 40 dBA as a measure of serious harm.  James said the MOECC had set this compliance limit and the World Health Organization (WHO) had found health effects, specifically annoyance and sleep disturbance, start at 40 dBA.

In re-examination APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie confirmed with James that WHO had reported noise complaints during nighttime begin at 35 dBA.

Dale Strickland, Ph.D., founder and president of Western EcoSystems Technology, a Wyoming consulting firm with business and government clients, has published over 150 scientific papers and technical reports during a 40-year career.  The Tribunal qualified him as “a zoologist with expertise in ecological research and wildlife management, including assessing the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife.”

WPD counsel Patrick Duffy asked Dr. Strickland about the appropriate scientific measure for serious and irreversible harm.   He said it is based on the overall genetic and demographic status of a species’ population.

According to Dr. Strickland, the White Pines surveys of birds and bats are “adequate,” conform to established methods and published guidance, and are similar to those for other wind projects.  Bats would not be high in number without the presence of hibernacula.  Acoustical surveys are not necessary because they record bats at ground level and the results do not correlate with bat deaths at wind turbine rotor level.

Dr. Strickland also said the effects on habitat would be minimal.  Loss from access roads and other construction is relatively small, and displacement from habitat would not be significant because of the project size.

Regarding collisions, Dr. Strickland predicted 5-15 bird deaths annually per turbine, the same as at other North American sites.  He defended the Wolfe Island monitoring records, stating the mortality rates are reasonable for a searched radius of 50m, an area commonly used at other wind projects.  Considering the project location and size, he concluded that White Pines would not cause serious and irreversible harm to wildlife.

In cross-examination Eric Gillespie confirmed that Dr. Strickland had not visited the White Pines site but had based his opinions on WPD’s reports and on Google Earth images.  Although aware of Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, he did not know their proximity to wind turbines.  However, he dismissed the “globally significant” South Shore Important Bird Area because the IBA designation reflects convenient public access and use of the site for bird-watching.

Dr. Strickland did not know of an “activity report” by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests finding five threatened bird species and three bat species in the White Pines area.  He agreed with Mr. Gillespie that such information might have influenced his opinions.  Similarly, he conceded that if there had not been adequate surveys for karst, then one needed more information to estimate the bat population.  He also admitted that the cumulative effects of wind projects must be considered to determine local impacts on birds.

When asked by ERT co-chair Marcia Valiante about a proposed 31ha compensation property, Dr. Strickland said it would have little measurable effect on the populations of displaced bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks.

-by Henri Garand, APPEC

Take a drive through newly industrialized West Lincoln, letter writer says

Dec. 10/15Dear Editor:

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I invite you, and your readers in Niagara Region to take a drive through West Lincoln township and view the INDUSTRIAL wind turbines that are being installed there.  You will be awed by the size of these turbines, so much so, that you will never again call them “windmills”.

You do not need  a map:  just start at the Transmission Station just past Wellandport and follow the  orange stakes down Canborough, Port Davidson Road, Sixteen and Tober Road, Road 6, Twenty hwy, Road. 5 , Young Street, Walker Road, and Mountain View Road.  (The stakes can always be found opposite existing transmission lines).  These stakes are placed in the road allowance to mark  the location at which  the transmission poles will be placed.

You will also notice, on Canborough,  Port Davidson, Tober and many of the side roads, the construction of the connector lines, which are to be buried and  eventually,  bring the raw power from the turbines to the transformer station where they will be transformed into 230mw of power which will travel on the 115kw lines down the transmission lines.  Realize that all 77 turbines  will be connected by connector  lines. There will be miles of these lines criss-crossing along most of the county roads in  the township.  Plan your trip to include  Vaughn Road  to get a really good taste of the mess that the residents of these roads have to put up with, on a daily basis, knowing that the process will take until August 2016 at the earliest.

Notice I did not tell you where to find the turbines.  You will not be able to miss them.  From kms

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away you will see the activity.  If you want to see construction, visit Gee Road where the turbines are located close enough to the road for you to get a good look at what is happening at each and every turbine construction site. The security people can not prevent you from taking a good look from these two sites.

This past week a brand new interest has been added.  Drive  the proposed transmission line from the proposed Transformer station on Canbourgh and you will see bright green  florescent ribbons on just about every tree on the opposite side of  existing transmission lines.

Each and every tree that is marked is slated for demolition for  building of the transmission line.

The irony of it will almost make you laugh:  trees are natures best defense against climate change.  Trees produce CO2 which is Natures air purifier, and hundreds and hundreds of trees are being removed for a transmission line  which will produce Radon emissions and  stray voltage, as well.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a days supply of oxygen for four people.

Our trees, and the health of our community is being sacrificed for Industrial Wind Turbines which are not efficient, not green, not economically feasible or affordable, not nature friendly and riffed with controversy.

After you have taken your drive in the (newly industrialized) countryside, can you still say that it is worth the sacrifice of rural Ontario for the “common good”. Does this Industrialization of rural Ontario  make any sense to you?  Please contact your municipal officials and the MOECC and express your opinions and concerns to them.