Endangered wildlife key to citizen fight against Amherst Island wind power

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

Power developer claims no turtles were seen in its environmental assessment; experts and 30 citizens to testify with logs of turtle observations

The Whig-Standard, January 28, 2016

Elliot Ferguson

STELLA — Approximately 30 residents of Amherst Island will get to testify before the Environmental Review Tribunal about the presence of endangered Blanding’s turtles on the island.

In a conference call Wednesday, the tribunal rejected an attempt from lawyers for Windlectric Inc. to have the witness statements excluded from the proceedings.

Instead, the residents are to be presented during three days of hearings on the island next week.

Algonquin Power’s subsidiary Windlectric Inc. is proposing to build about 26 wind turbines on the island. The company’s lawyers had argued that the citizens’ statements about seeing Blanding’s turtles on the island had been falsified and photographs of the turtles were staged.

“It is important for us and we are happy that the tribunal recognized that, in fairness, that if Windlectric is allowed, through their expert, to say that people on the island are lying to oppose the project, well, we’re really, really happy that the tribunal recognized the fairness, or unfairness of that procedure,” said Michele Le Lay, spokesperson for the Association to Protect Amherst Island.

In a 2013 species at risk report prepared for Windlectric, Stantec Consulting Ltd. stated there are no Blanding’s turtles on Amherst Island.

“Over the course of all field surveys, no observations of either Blanding’s turtle or eastern musk turtle were made,” the report stated.

The opposing sides are to talk by telephone on Thursday to decide how the 30 residents could testify in three days of hearings in a manner that is fair to both sides.

Evidence that Blanding’s turtles live on the island could be critical to the project’s opponents.

 

Read the full story by Elliot Ferguson here.

Don’t sacrifice people’s health for green energy: Green Bay editorial Board

Imagine having to leave your home to protect your health. Leadership is needed, now.

Green Bay Press-Gazette editorial board statement, January 30, 2016

The most unsettling aspect of the wind turbine debate is that nothing has been settled, nor does it look to be anytime soon.

This is despite efforts over the years from those who say wind energy [sic] doesn’t affect the health of those who live near wind turbines, and those who blame it for sleep disturbance, motion sickness, headaches, nausea and more.

… The Board County Board of Health declared in October 2014 that the wind farm was a health hazard.

The result of that declaration? Nothing.

Read the full editorial here.

 

Energy Minister offers false hope on environment and citizen input

Well, there could be a little bit of truth in what I said. Maybe. OK, no.
Well, there could be a little bit of truth in what I said. Maybe. OK, no.

Could it be, from his statement yesterday, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has resolved his ministry’s issues in dealing with the many rural communities in Ontario declaring themselves “Not a willing host” to huge wind power projects? What he said: “all levels of government must take the time to hear from experts, community and municipal leaders, aboriginal groups, business leaders and other impacted groups to ensure that all voices can be heard during the regulatory process.”

Unfortunately, no: that press release had nothing to do with the Green Energy Act (GEA).

It was related to interprovincial pipelines, a matter in which the province has limited influence.

The Minister’s statement also rambled on about “Economic prosperity and environmental sustainability” and “our shared obligation to future generations” without mentioning the mess created in his portfolio by himself and past ministers!

The statement about our “shared obligation to future generations” is particularly galling to those affected by the GEA, as it has resulted in 12 to 13% of all households in Ontario living in “energy poverty1.”. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), controlled by the Ministry of Energy, reported over a year ago that 570,000 households now fit into that category. Those future generations have already arrived!

On the same day Minister Chiarelli issued his statement, the OEB issued a “scam” warning about the Ontario Electricity Support Program: “The OEB has received reports that individuals, claiming to be affiliated with the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), were calling to request access into consumers’ homes.”

The press release from the OEB went on to note: “OEB staff do not conduct a home audit, check furnaces or install equipment for this or any other program.” Of course, the OEB never did any of those things.

So now, the Ontario Liberal government, which is responsible for increasing electricity rates exceeding 10% annually, driving people into “energy poverty,” and creating a program to help those suffering from unaffordable electricity rates, has to warn us that we may be scammed!

Seems to this writer that the Wynne and McGuinty governments have been the cause of the scam from the start, and have refused to hear from “community and municipal leaders, aboriginal groups, business leaders and other impacted groups” on the issue of the environmental and economic impact of industrial-scale wind turbines being forced upon Ontario’s rural communities.

©Parker Gallant,

A disgruntled energy consumer

January 28, 2016

 

  1. Energy poverty is defined as spending of 10% of household income on electricity and heat.

 

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

Ontario says communities should have a voice in the Energy East pipeline project; meanwhile, 91 municipalities are now Not A Willing Host to wind power projects--still can't say 'no'
Ontario says communities should have a voice in the Energy East pipeline project; meanwhile, 91 municipalities are now Not A Willing Host to wind power projects–still can’t say ‘no’

Endangered turtle sighting testimony to be allowed in Amherst Island appeal

Spotted! (and by a lot of people) Endangered Blandings turtle
Spotted! (and by a lot of people) Endangered Blandings turtle

In spite of a move by the proponents’ lawyer to block testimony by expert witnesses called by the appellant, the Association to Protect Amherst Island, and further to disallow testimony of 30 residents of Amherst Island who have logged sightings of the endangered Blandings turtle, the Tribunal ruled today that the witness testimony would be heard.

The hearings in this matter have already begun, with a site tour on Monday and proceedings yesterday; the appeal will now likely take longer than the four days originally allowed.

The tribunal ruling is an important step in that allows actual residents of the affected community to be heard during the appeal.

For more information on the wind power project and Amherst Island, check the APAI website here: http://protectamherst.yolasite.com/

Wind turbines not helping environment or climate: municipal councillor

First Nation has not endorsed proposed wind power project in Dutton Dunwich

wind contract banner

Simcoe Reformer, January 26, 2016

The Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich is campaigning against the Wynne government’s plan this year to invite applications for an additional 300 megawatts of wind-powered electricity generation. It would take about 150 industrial wind turbines to produce this much power.

Dutton-Dunwich is located along the Lake Erie shoreline west of St. Thomas. It fears a large number of these turbines could be imposed on its residents. A green energy firm is lobbying for a wind farm in Dutton-Dunwich.

Naturalists are concerned because Dutton-Dunwich is an important, unobstructed flyway for migrating birds and bats. As well, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nations have not endorsed the project.

Dutton-Dunwich is also concerned because the Wynne government is intent on building green energy capacity at a time of declining demand in Ontario. The municipality says Ontario increased its generating capacity by 19 per cent over the past eight years while provincial demand in the same period fell 7.5 per cent.

And the capacity Ontario has added is expensive. Citing a scathing Auditor-General’s report issued in December, Dutton-Dunwich says Ontarians are paying twice as much for wind-generated electricity as other jurisdictions. The high cost of electricity in Ontario is hurting the province’s ability to compete and create jobs.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce reports that the escalating price of electricity is undermining their members’ capacity to grow, hire new workers and attract new investment,” the Dutton-Dunwich resolution says. “Ontario’s electricity costs are among the highest in North America, making the province uncompetitive for business growth.”

Norfolk council…

Read the full story here including comments by a Norfolk councillor that municipal councils should “stay out of provincial affairs” — even when the province inflicts its policy on local residents.

Amherst Island appeal resumes

Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds
Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds

Community alleges wind power project will harm environment and wildlife, and impact residents’ health

Kingston Whig-Standard, January 25, 2016

by Elliot Ferguson

STELLA — After more than a month-long hiatus, the Environmental Review Tribunal’s hearing into the Amherst Island wind energy project resumed Monday.

The tribunal began three days of hearings in Stella this week and included a tour of 16 points around the island.

Read the story here

Ostrander Point wind farm developer stuns appeal hearing Friday

On last hearing day, developer alleges bias and asks Tribunal panel to step down. Then the MOECC demands new criteria be used for the decision

January 16, 2016

The multi-year saga of the appeal of a wind power project approval at Ostrander Point on the South Shore of Prince Edward County continued yesterday in Toronto, at what was supposed to be a hearing of final oral submissions.

The day began slowly with the usual formalities.

Appellant lawyer Eric Gillespie said at the outset of the day that the purpose of the hearing was to review the proposed remedy to avoid killing endangered turtles. The developer needed to prove that the remedies will work, Gillespie said, and they have not.

Lawyer Chris Paliare said that the wind power project at Ostrander Point will be a costly experiment, with wildlife suffering as a result.

Then, counsel for the power developer Doug Hamilton stunned the audience and panel with his assertion that the panel was biased and should recuse itself. While both lawyers for the appellant and Intervenor objected, Chris Paliare said that this was the result of a “sinister plot” by the developer who saw that “things aren’t going their way.” It was preposterous to bring up such an unfounded and serious motion at this stage of the proceedings, Mr Paliare asserted.

Stunning tactics by lawyers for the developer, MOECC
Stunning tactics by lawyers for the developer, MOECC

Even more amazing was the introduction of the concept of “public interest” into the decision process, by Ministry of Environment and Climate Change lawyer Sylvia Davis. “It’s OK to kill turtles,” Ms Davis told the panel, if it’s for wind power because the project will reduce greenhouse gases and that is in the public interest.

“Are you saying that ‘public interest’ trumps everything?” asked panel chair Robert Wright.

“I’m not saying that,” Ms Davis answered, then said she didn’t have any further information.

Eric Gillespie said that in light of the issues now raised by the MOECC, he would be asking for an adjournment of the Amherst Island, White Pines, and Settlers Landing appeals until the issues were resolved.

Lawyers were directed by the panel to file final submissions by Wednesday January 20th.

Here is a report from the appellant, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.

 

The drama continues

by Cheryl Anderson, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists

On Friday Jan 15 Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) panel, convened yet another day of hearings into the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ (PECFN) appeal of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) Renewable Energy Approval (REA) of the Gilead Power Industrial Wind turbine project at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block.

This hearing was held to hear final oral submissions from Eric Gillespie, representing PECFN, Chris Paliare representing the South Shore Conservancy or SSC (intervenors supporting PECFN), Douglas Hamilton, representing Gilead Power and Sylvia Davis, representing MOECC.

This so-called re-hearing was brought about by the Court of Appeal decision last year which confirmed the original ERT decision, but sent the matter back to the ERT for consideration of Gilead’s proposed remedy to serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle — that is, to install gates on the turbine access roads. Arguments about this issue were heard throughout the late summer and fall and were remarkable for the admission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Blanding’s Turtle expert, Joe Crowley, admission that he had recommended against the project when it was first proposed due to the danger it would cause to the population of Blanding’s Turtles at the site.

The final submissions of the Gilead Power legal team included two issues that began the hearing. One was the assertion that the time for making any decision about the remedy to the project had expired. The other was that the panel, specifically Mr. Wright was biased and that as a result the panel should recuse itself. This assertion was based on the fact that after giving the decision on Ostrander, Mr Wright was on the panel for another appeal where the ruling quoted from the Ostrander decision. On that panel with him was the ERT vice chair Jerry DeMarco, spouse of Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s director of Conservation and Education.

In contrast to the usual, Ms. Davis did not agree with Mr. Hamilton in these two matters. Eric Gillespie and Chris Paliare spoke, also disagreeing with Mr. Hamilton. The panel reserved their decision (they will let us know later what they have decided).

We then came to the main arguments for the day which were oral presentations which essentially set out again all the reasons that PECFN (Eric Gillespie) and SSC (Chris Paliare) had for denying the remedy. This evidence relied on and reiterated the information given by Dr. Fred Beaudry and Ms. Kari Gunson at the hearings in the fall. Arguments were presented against the position of the approval holder (Gilead) and the MOECC that gates on the roads would save the turtles from serious and irreversible harm.

After lunch Mr. Hamilton and Ms. Davis had their turns to respond to the arguments presented by PECFN and SSC. This was, as expected, a reiteration of the written material which was sent before Christmas. Both commented that by installing gates serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle will be reduced to merely ‘universal’ harm and therefore the project should be approved.

However, in her written submission Ms. Davis had introduced a new issue which she now emphasized. That is, the MOECC is asserting that it was acting in the public interest by approving the Gilead power project because it involves renewable energy. There ensued a “discussion” between Mr. Wright and Ms. Davis regarding the MOECC’s Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). Mr. Wright has required Ms. Davis (and all other legal representatives) to submit to the Tribunal by Wednesday January 20 the arguments she is using to support her contention that approving the Ostrander Point project satisfies (or doesn’t) the Statement of Environmental Values of the MOECC.

Eventually the Tribunal will issue a decision on the issue of timing and bias. The final decision on the remedy issue will follow.

For more information and for a link to help out with fundraising in this important legal action, please go to: http://savethesouthshore.org/overview-of-issues/#sthash.b2k6ItFm.dpbs

West Lincoln council asked to collect noise data for huge wind farm

Groups ask council to collect noise data

[Photo: Amanda Moore]

Niagara This Week, January 13, 2016

By Amanda Moore

WEST LINCOLN — With some of the largest industrial wind turbines in North America rising from the rural West Lincoln landscape, two citizens groups are asking the local government to begin monitoring noise.

“We want the township to appreciate the scope of the risk we are about to run with one of the largest wind projects in North America next to such a densely-populated area,” said Mike Jankowski, chair of the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group (WLGWAG), which made a joint presentation to West Lincoln’s planning, building and environmental committee Monday with Mothers Against Wind Turbines (MAWT). “There are some risks that aren’t mitigated and we require the township to start collecting data both before and during the turbines.”

Jankowski, who said he has personally experienced health effects related to the HAF Wind Energy project already in operation in West Lincoln, said it’s a matter of when, not if, those living near the Niagara Region Wind Farm currently under development will experience adverse health effects. The groups say the noise data will help establish a clear picture of what residents are dealing with.

“This data can be used for a number of things,” explained Jankowski. “First and foremost, it can be used to aid in a response if necessary. To indicate what people are being subject to.”

What began as a mild ringing in the ear turned into dizziness and decreased mental capacity for Jankowski. His teenage daughter has also suffered debilitating migraines with stroke-like symptoms. The problems have been ongoing for the past year and a half.

WLGWAG and MAWT came before committee with several asks Monday, the main of which was for a commitment from the municipality that it will protect the community.

“The township should act immediately to manage risks by collecting measurement data about noise emissions in our community,” Jankowski said. “We need to monitor full range noise on an ongoing basis to provide an understanding of what people are subject to in their homes.”

The groups are requesting the township immediately look into ways of establishing and collecting noise data, to establish an advisory committee to hear turbine-related concerns and that it presses the government to purchase more sound measuring devices.

Coun. Joanne Chechalk, vice chair of the planning committee, said she was all for collecting noise information but wanted to take the request one step further.

“My concern is that if we do all of this, we monitor all … the municipality can’t do anything, as we all know,” said Chechalk. “There is no mechanism, nothing to say or do. It’s akin to drinking water. After Walkerton happened, we now have policies in place and councils have been trained. So now when water levels are unsafe they are declared that way and we have boil water advisories. There is nothing for wind turbines. If this says that we get to 40 or 60 decibels, what do we do?”

On top of asking for a staff report addressing the concerns of the citizens groups, Chechalk asked that the township request the province to develop and implement a process to handle events where wind facilities exceed the 40 decibel regulation outlined in the Green Energy Act. She also requested the township begin working with opposition critics and establish a province-wide advisory committee, which would pool representatives from municipal governments across Ontario who are dealing with the same issues.

“If it’s a concern, I’m looking for the province to give us a stiff remedy,” said Chechalk. “What happens if it exceeds the levels? Is it safe for humans, for chickens or whoever is in the proximate? We need to know.”

A staff report is expected at the Feb. 8 planning committee meeting which will  outline next steps the township can take.

The groups also encouraged committee to follow on the heels of other municipalities in the province that seek a stall on projects until important questions are answered.

MAWT, specifically, has concerns with numerous changes to the NRWF project currently under development. The Township of Wainfleet has sent a letter to Ontario’s minister of energy questioning why there was no public process on major changes to the project. Both groups pressed West Lincoln committee to send correspondence to that same effect to the province.

“The township should press for answers,” said Jankowski.

Read more here.

Who pays for wind turbine teardown? Not clear, says lawyer

"No pocket to go to in 20 years": wind turbine teardown can cost thousands
What goes up must come down

“No pocket you can go to in 20 years”: Environmental lawyer says taxpayers and landowners could be responsible for costs

Farmersforum.com , January 2016

By Brandy Harrison

Toronto- With more wind turbines coming to Eastern Ontario, there has been a lot of talk about what happens when it comes time to take down the towers. While the provincial government may put the onus on wind project developers to pay for teardown, it’s far from certain they’ll be able to collect if a company goes bankrupt — which could mean taxpayers are on the hook, says a Toronto-based environment and municipal lawyer.

“Many of these companies are relatively small, or based outside of Canada, and that creates what appears to bea real risk as there will be no pocket you can go to 20 years from now when a cleanup is actually required,” says Eric Gillespie, who has represented landowners and municipalities with wind turbine concerns.

It’s anybody’s guess who would end up paying for decommissioning — the landowner, the municipality, or provincial taxpayers, he says.

Farmers shouldn’t underestimate what it takes to remove a single turbine, Gillespie warns. The nacelle — the central hub containing the generator — is 80 to 100 metres in the air and weighs as much as 70 tonnes. “It’s not something where you just call your neighbor and ask him to bring his tractor over.”

While Ontario costs are yet unknown, world-wide decommissioning has ranged from $30,000 to $80,000 per turbine.

But the worst case scenario can be avoided if funds are set aside as part of the approval process, suggests Gillespie.

Decommissioning plans are required to get renewable energy approval but they don’t have financial strings attached.

There is already a good model in place, says Gillespie. Under the Environmental Protection Act, the government will ask for financial assurance if there is a risk of adverse effects that could require remedial work. A letter of credit or security is required up front.

“Anything other than that might keep lawyers busy for a long time but won’t help communities. It’s about addressing the issue now rather than waiting for the end and crossing your fingers. It should be the companies that are earning the profits that have to pay the bill.”