Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
WPD’s slogan: “Wind has no limits.” Apparently, greed doesn’t either.
MILFORD Ont., September 28, 2015—
As more than 300 residents of Prince Edward County gathered on Sunday to protest the assault on their community and the environment by two wind power projects (Ostrander Point and White Pines, both being appealed) Germany-based wind power developer wpd Canada recorded the event, including speeches given by various presenters.
“Shame on them,” says Paula Peel, secretary for the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).
If the power developer’s presence recording people was meant as an intimidation tactic, it didn’t work, Peel says.
The organizers did a brisk business selling T-shirts and protest signs, she says. “If you didn’t come to the rally with a T-shirt or sign, it’s likely you left with one.”
“The one thing wpd will take away from our rally is that the fight is only just beginning.”
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – They’ve fought the fight for 14 years and pledge to fight another 14 and then some.
A couple of hundred people gathered Sunday afternoon at Milford Fairgrounds for a rally organized by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) in the continued effort to keep wind turbines away from the municipality’s south shore.
With two developments slated for Athol and South Marysburgh wards, including 36 turbines, rally-goers heard from a number of local politicians, they must continue the battle in an effort to keep the region turbine free.
South Marysburgh Coun. Steve Ferguson told the crowd the developments equated to a loss of democratic rights.
“In 2012 Steve Campbell wrote an article… the article went on to explain the resolve of the people of South Marysburgh to take a stand against the loss of democratic rights in this ward – a vote was held and an overwhelming majority voted against industrial turbines,” he said. “But we came together as a group and a community and expressed an opinion – we’ve made an impression.”
Ferguson said it was important to have as many local residents as possible show up for appeal hearings for the wpd Canada White Pines (27 turbines) and Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearings for Gilead Power’s (nine turbine) Ostrander Point development.
“The pre-hearing for wpd set for earlier this month was set back because residents had not received proper correspondence indicating how they could participate,” Ferguson said. “The ERT, which begins again for Ostrander Point on Oct. 27, — it’s crucially important that we fill every seat in that (Demorestville) hall every day and ditto for (White Pines) when that resumes in Wellington in November. We have to have a strong presence to let the Tribunal know just how the people in South Marysburgh feel.”
Prince Edward Field Naturalists president Myrna Wood said the developments threaten wildlife and natural habitat in the region.
“Today, the endangered species list in Ontario stands at 217 and the main reason of species decline is habitat loss,” she said. “We humans take over the lands and waters they need and now is the time for us to preserve the remaining habitats for their survival – that is Prince Edward County’s south shore which is one of the last remaining habitats. It provides food and shelter for millions of birds that travel from South America to Canada’s north and back again every year. Constructing these turbine projects will destroy hundreds of hectares of shrubs, trees and wetlands on which the birds depend.”
Prince Edward – Hastings MPP Todd Smith agreed, telling the crowd he was disappointed to see the effects of another development in Ontario.
“I was visiting Huron County where they have hundreds of turbines erected and I was shocked not to see a single bird flying there,” he said. “There was nothing – it was dead and that’s exactly what is going to happen in Prince Edward County if these (projects) proceed. What it has done is rip apart the community with friends no longer being friends and families even being torn apart. It’s doing the same thing here and on top of all that – we don’t need the power.”
As a sign of solidarity and protest, rally-goers joined hands and formed a circle around Milford’s beloved Mount Tabor Community Theatre.
APPEC chairman Gord Gibbons said if a planned turbine is erected just south of the theatre, it will damage the village’s heritage forever.
“It’s planned for just behind the property here and it would have devastating effects on this community,” he said. “It simply cannot be allowed to proceed.”
Environment Canada can’t block wind farms from being built close enough to throw off its weather radar readings, but it’s won the right to order turbines curtailed during severe weather in Southwestern Ontario, documents obtained by The London Free Press show.
Under a 32-page agreement negotiated with NextEra Canada, Environment Canada can order the Florida-based wind energy giant to reduce wind farm operations in extreme weather that could jeopardize public safety.
Following a call from Environment Canada to its operation centre in Juno Beach, Fla., NextEra has 20 minutes to “feather,” or adjust, turbine blades back in Ontario so they won’t contaminate radar readings, according to the agreement provided to The Free Press under the federal Access to Information Act.
The curtailment can last up to an hour, but can be extended by Environment Canada if dangerous weather conditions — Southwestern Ontario is located in a tornado alley and heavy snow belt — persist.
Ground Zero for industrial turbines in Ontario, with the biggest and largest number of wind farms in the province, Southwestern Ontario has been a hotbed of rural opposition to the highrise-sized installations, which took off after the Liberal government began signing sweetheart deals with energy companies — paying them far more for their electricity than consumers pay — under its Green Energy Act in 2009.
But while much of the opposition to wind farms has come from activists concerned about health, land values and control over where the towers can be built, which the province took away from municipalities, the contamination of weather radar readings by spinning turbine blades — known as “clutter” — is an international concern.
Scientists in United States and Europe have shown that a weather radar signal bounced off a spinning turbine blade can appear to be a rotating cloud or tornado.
The wind farm operations can also distort precipitation estimates.
“It is an issue worldwide,” said Anne-Marie Palfreeman, manager of Environment Canada’s national radar program.
While Southwestern Ontario depends on Environment Canada’s only radar station in the region, in Exeter, north of London, for severe weather alerts, the agency has no jurisdiction over where potentially distorting wind farms are built, Palfreeman said.
“All of the decision-making as far as where wind farms are, is provincial legislation,” she said.
Wind turbines located within five kilometres would be a major concern, since the towers themselves can block the radar signals, she said.
“What we do is ask them, ‘Please, do not build within five kilometres’,” Palfreeman said.
Wind farms built within 50 km show up on the weather radar and can distort what meteorologists see on their screens, she said.
The closest wind farm to the Exeter radar station is NextEra’s Goshen Wind Energy Centre. One of the Goshen turbines is about 14 km west of the weather radar.
When Ontario’s Energy Ministry green-lighted the Goshen project, it made the approval conditional on NextEra reaching an agreement with Environment Canada on measures to reduce the wind farm’s radar interference.
In addition to Goshen, a spokesperson for NextEra said the company has now reached agreements with Environment Canada covering its Bornish, Jericho and Bluewater wind farms, all north of London and within 50 km of the radar station.
“We can assure you that in case of a severe weather event, as determined by Environment Canada, we would abide by the terms in these agreements,” Joselen Bird of NextEra said.
Palfreeman said it’s the weather forecaster’s call if the wind farms need to be curtailed during a severe weather event such as a tornado.
“If they think they need the proponent to feather their blades for us to be able to properly see what is going on, they will ask for it,” she said.
While the Goshen wind farm started operation earlier this year, none of the severe weather events since has required Environment Canada to make the call to NextEra.
Palfreeman said Environment Canada is testing two software packages to see if the distortion caused by wind turbine blades can be reduced.
As part of the agreement between Environment Canada and NextEra, NextEra was required to provide Environment Canada with a performance bond.
The amount of the bond was removed from the copy of the agreement provided to The Free Press by Environment Canada, which cited sections of the Access to Information Act that allow it to withhold financial and commercial information provided by a third party, and contractual details that could interfere with negotiations.