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.
MOECC admission of ‘tonality’ a step forward but more action needed
(C) Wind Concerns Ontario
Residents living near the K2 wind power project in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh have received a report from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change following noise testing done at their property, Wind Concerns Ontario has learned.
WCO received a copy of the MOECC report and other correspondence from the residents, who are members of the coalition of Ontario community groups and individuals in Ontario concerned about the impact of wind turbines on the economy, natural environment, and human health.
The noise testing was done at their request, connected to complaints made to the MOECC about excessive noise and sound pressure or vibration being emitted from industrial-scale wind turbines at the K2 power project.
The MOECC report’s Executive Summary states that
Based on the results of the analysis, it is acknowledged that sound from the wind turbines was audible during the measuring campaign at levels that appear to exceed the applicable sound level limits, and based on C3 measurements conducted at a nearby receptor (the distance is about 1250 m from R876; where the same turbine(s) within 1500 m distance impact both receptors) it was further concluded that there is a possibility that sound from the nearby turbines could be tonal. To confirm compliance, it is recommended that a tonal audibility assessment and detailed noise audit be undertaken in accordance with Part D of the draft Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbines Noise, NPC 350, 2017.
This is remarkable as it is the first time MOECC supervisory staff have admitted to “tonality” in wind turbine noise emissions. And also because, in previous noise testing by the MOECC, the Ministry claimed results were “inconclusive” due to other noises such as birds chirping and tree leaf movement.
A tonal audibility assessment is a step forward.
Is it enough?
The Ministry needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise emissions, and in the case of this particular report and recommendation, immediate action is required, including comprehensive testing including for infrasound which was excluded by the equipment used for these tests.
It is time for government to accept responsibility for its wind power program and the impacts on people who were given no choice but to live with them.
Prince Edward County remains in a state of emergency today following an accident in which a barge being used to transport materials to the Windlectric wind power project on Amherst Island sank, polluting the waters of Picton Bay with diesel fuel. At the time of the incident, Windlectric had no Marine Logistics Plan in place.
The Association to Protect Amherst Island has called for cancellation of the power project, and issued this statement today.
Dear Premier Wynne:
Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff has declared a water emergency as a result of contaminants approaching the Picton-Bloomfield water intake due to a partially sunken barge in Picton Harbour under contract to McNeil Marine and ultimately under contract to Algonquin Power/Windlectric for the proposed Amherst Island Wind Project.
The silence from Algonquin Power/Windlectric is deafening.
Indeed Algonquin/Windlectric had the audacity to attempt to continue aggregate delivery from Picton Terminals to Amherst Island yesterday (Tuesday March 28 2017) but was thwarted either because either the water was too low or the dock too high, yet another example of the comedy of errors associated with this ill-conceived project.
The Association to Protect Amherst Island reiterates its request for MOECC to issue an immediate stop work order for the Amherst Island Wind Project until such time as a comprehensive report is available for the Picton Harbour incident and a preventative action plan is is place to address the high risk to public and environmental safety of all aspects of the project. and to address the need for a Major Design Modification to address the changed project location to include Picton Terminals.
At the same time, the Association reaffirms its request to reject the proposed amendment to the Certificate of Property Use for the contaminated Invista Lands on Bath Road (EBR 012-9749) designated as parkland. Similar to the Picton Harbour situation, a water intake exists in proximity to the proposed mainland dock for the Amherst Island Wind Project and serves a local industrial park. Algonquin/Windlectric in its Marine Safety Plan now advises that fuelling of barges is proposed at the mainland dock location. Not only is the land contaminated with the possibility of pollution of Lake Ontario, the company plans to fuel in proximity to a water intake.
The same “Marine Safety Plan” fails to address any aspect of transport of materials from Picton terminals except for a vague reference that “The bulk barge and the ATV (Aggregate Transfer Vessel) will approach and leave the island dock area from the west, . . . ” as if from the Land of Oz. The Association is in the process of reviewing this “too little, too late” document and will have further comments about use of barges in ice conditions, the lack of traffic volume, lack of simulation of barges crossing the ferry path, incomplete information about the installation of the high voltage transmission line from the mainland to the Island and the total lack of risk assessment, failure to mention Picton Terminals,among other matters.
The use of an “Aggregate Transfer Vessel” was not identified in the REA submission and no stockpiling of aggregate was proposed other than in immediate proximity to the proposed cement batching plant by the Island school.
The Association has emphasized the importance of marine safety since this project was proposed and has pleaded with politicians, MOECC, Ontario’s Chief Drinking Water Official and the Chief Fire Marshall and Head of Emergency Preparedness.
Please take immediate action to stop the Amherst Island Wind Project before a tragedy occurs.
Judge says OMB offers limited justice—is the same true for the ERT?
Recently, lawyer and retired Ontario judge Peter Howden published a book on the Ontario Municipal Board, titled, The Ontario Municipal Board: From Impact to Subsistence 1971-2016.
Howden, a judge for 20 years, also served for 10 years with the OMB.
According to a review of the book by Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely, Howden’s opinion of the OMB is that killing it off would be better than leaving it to function as it is.
In our view many of Howden’s comments about the OMB (which was a key factor in approval of Ontario’s early wind power projects against community wishes) can also be applied to the Environmental Review Tribunal or ERT. Both are administered under ELTO or the Environmental and Lands Tribunal Ontario branch of government.
The people who staff the OMB are “unknown entities, people largely without any public profile who seem to do whatever they want without criteria, limiting elements, or ability to define why one group won and the others lost.” Further, Howden says, OMB members’ decisions may be one-page rulings that are issued after days of detailed testimony, or they are rambling documents in which rationale is buried.
“The price to be paid,” Howden writes, “…is the continued progressively worsening public cynicism and the record over the past 10 years of insufficient deliberation and writing time, inconsistency in policy and outcomes, reliance on part-time members …”
Howden also says the set-up of these tribunals is a problem and interferes with their mandate: the adversarial nature of the hearings, not unlike court battles, is unfair for residents fighting well-funded developers.
“Most homeowners these days are simply trying to maintain their homes and families. They do not have the thousands of dollars it takes to round up a team of professionals….This kind of inequality erodes any sense of justice.”
Lack of justice is emblematic of the hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal where Ontario citizens spend hundreds of thousands of after-tax dollars to protect their communities and the environment, ironically from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, which has a special, supportive relationship with the wealthy wind power developers it appears alongside in the hearings.
Countless appeals were mounted in Ontario by well-meaning dedicated citizens who took their fight for their community and environment to the Tribunal, without benefit of legal counsel at all, while wind power developers were represented by lawyers from Canada’s top law firms.
Millions spent by citizens
A recent informal poll of Wind Concerns Ontario member community groups reveals that communities have spent over $3 million in legal costs to mount appeals before the ERT, and that number is almost certainly understated.
Moreover, citizen evidence presented at the hearings, paid for by citizen dollars, is often critical to wind power project operations—even in appeals that have been unsuccessful, the evidence presented has resulted in changes to the proposed power projects. This evidence is usually indications of risks to the environment, facts that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change would have been aware of, if they did any oversight or checking on Renewable Energy Approvals … which they do not.
For example, the evidence presented on the danger to species such as the Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat –paid for by citizens who raised money through spaghetti suppers and garage sales—won the day for the environment in several appeals. The appeal of the Ostrander Point project, which took years of work by Prince Edward County naturalist and community groups, not only resulted in overturning the approval for the project in a fragile environment, but also caused the Tribunal to refocus its aims, and conclude that, contrary to claims by the MOECC and developer lawyers, wind power was not necessarily a “greater good” that outweighs everything—balance must be achieved in protecting the environment.
In the fight at Clearview, citizen evidence showed not only was there danger to wildlife from the proposed wind power project, but there was a clear danger to human life from a project planned close to not one, but two airports.
Judge Howden concludes that the OMB should be a body worthy of respect.
DUTTON – A year after it was approved by the province, residents of a London-area rural township are still fighting against a wind farm that’s going ahead despite an overwhelming local vote against such projects.
Thursday, more than 60 people gathered at the Dutton Community Centre during one of two public meetings, organized by Chicago-based Invenergy, to protest against what they say is another broken promise by the Liberal government and a violation of their rights.
“Everything about it is a slap in the face, especially when you look at what is happening to our hydro bills,” said Dave Congdon of Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, a community group opposed to the project that organized Thursday’s demonstration.
“As a democratic society we voted in opposition of this (project) and yet here we are still fighting them . . . it doesn’t seem to matter that we don’t want (the turbines).”
Dutton Dunwich, in Elgin County, in 2014 became Ontario’s first municipality to hold a referendum asking residents their opinion on such mega-projects.
More than half the residents took part, with 84 per cent voting against the wind farms.
Last year the province gave Invenergy the green light to proceed with the project, called the Strong Breeze Wind Farm, in part thanks to the support of six Ontario First Nations groups, one of them located 1,000 kilometres and a time zone away from the municipality.
One local First Nations man at the rally said outside aboriginal communities have no business in Dutton Dunwich’s affairs.
“They have no right and no say in bringing corporations to this land,” said Darryl Chrisjohn, a member of the Oneida Settlement near Dutton Dunwich.
Protestors say the provincial Liberals are ignoring residents.
“That’s what bugs people the most,” Dutton Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam said. “They don’t want to have, as I call it, the ‘province of Toronto’ dictating to rural communities what to do.”
James Murphy, vice president of business development for Invenergy, defended the project, saying it has received 75 per cent support from adjacent landowners to the site.
“We are well aware of the sentiment in the community and we are doing everything we can to help address it,” he said.
Murphy said the company is still in the permitting process and is expected to present a final application to the province this summer. If everything goes as planned, the company would begin in 2019 the construction of 16 to 20 wind turbines capable of generating a combined 57.5 megawatts of green energy, with the facility going online later that year.
Last fall, the Dutton Dunwich group circulated a petition among residents asking the government to reverse its decision of approving the project. Congdon said his group collected more than 1,400 signatures and the petition was sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“We have to continue to believe that we can stop it from happening, and it’s not something just for our community but for everyone in Ontario,” Congdon said.
The government “has admitted already many times that they have made mistakes when it comes to the energy sector, so hopefully, they will wake up and realize this is another mistake.”
NOTE: DDOWT is a community member of Wind Concerns Ontario
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
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
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 …”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ontario does not need to generate more power in Northern Ontario
Northeastern Ontario currently provides sufficient energy for its own requirements as well as sufficient excess energy that feeds into the provincial grid.
Algoma District has only 0.8% of Ontario’s population and yet provides 6% of Ontario’s wind energy:
Prince Wind (2006) is the 4th largest wind installation in Ontario and the 6th largest in Canada at 189 MW capacity
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.
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.
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.
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 “remedy” hearing for the White Pines wind power project by wpd Canada was held in Wellington, Ontario before a standing room only crowd in the village community centre.
The purpose of the hearing was to allow the power developer to propose mitigation for the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat, which the Environmental Review Tribunal found earlier would be seriously and irreversibly harmed by the wind power project. This is the first hearing in Ontario at which “remedy” or mitigation has been proposed for the bat species.
A news story by County Live summarizes the day’s events (though not quite the end-of-day fireworks between counsel and the ERT chair), and can be found here. (Fate of County’s South Shore)
The wind power developer was accused by counsel for appellant the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) of filing too much material as a reply submission, which constitutes “bolstering,”* lawyer Eric Gillespie said. At issue was a new supposed scientific article which was not in original evidence; after an hour of wrangling, the lawyers agreed to remove the article except for one explanatory chart.
The measures proposed by wpd (which is scheduled to propose similar mitigation measures in the case of the Fairview appeal) included special road construction and monitoring for turtles, and heretofore untried methods of altering “cut-in” speeds for turbines, to avoid killing the bats, which are on the edge of extinction in Ontario.
The only real proposal is to cancel the project, Gillespie said: “The only real prevention is zero deaths, that’s what prevention is.”
A key strategy was to institute measures so that animal deaths dropped below the “irreversible” level, the power developer’s lawyers said, and the onus was on the appellants to prove what that is. Not so, said Mr. Gillespie.
Mr. Gillespie was also disturbed that rules of evidence and reply were being ignored; he told the ERT panel that accepting the power developer’s submissions as they were meant the panel was creating new rules, which would affect every other appeal in Ontario, and would certainly be discussed in Ontario Divisional Court.
In the final hour, the lawyers for wpd reviewed for the panel what the wind power developers’ counsel thought their job was, while Mr Gillespie referred to the decision at Ostrander Point and said that environmental protection was a key issue, and the panel’s real role. Gillespie was so insistent on adhering to the rule of law as regards the approval holder’s submissions (“So far from being proper it is not even in the ballpark”) that at one point wpd lawyer Patrick Duffy stood up and exclaimed “Mr. Gillespie, just STOP!”
As the submissions and reply concluded the Chair Marcia Valiante said “We are adjourned” and then wpd counsel interrupted and demanded to know when the decision would be rendered as “we have an important date in April”(if the project is not begun, the contract will end). The Chair said they would do their best to render a decision soon, and she then adjourned the hearing, again.
*Bolstering Law and Legal Definition. Bolstering means to build up or support. Bolstering testimony is generally improper. Bolstering testimony is improper when it relates to the witness’s truthfulness on a specific occasion and when the foundational requirements of evidentiary rules are not met.
A resident of Dover Centre in Chatham-Kent is calling for leaseholders in wind turbine projects to be released from the non-disclosure or “gag” clauses that are preventing full awareness of the situation regarding contaminated well water in the region, says a resident writing in the Sydenham Current.
When the recent appeal of the North Kent 1 wind power project was dismissed, the only expert advice offered was the technical report completed by Golder & Associates, paid for by the wind power developer.
“What if accepting the wind developer’s Golder report the Mayor and Mr. Norton put all of Chatham township’s property at risk from an environmental stigma?” asks letter writer Peter Hensel.
” A stigma that the aquifer below would be contaminated with vibrations and is no longer capable of providing safe clean water. You think your property won’t drop like a stone in value? Think again.
“What if accepting the Wind developer’s Golder report the Mayor and Mr Norton allowed pile driven turbine foundations that increased the heavy metal concentrations in the source water – the water in the aquifer below Chatham township? What price do you put on your families’ health?”
The Environmental Review Tribunal refused appellant Kevin Jakubec time to have other experts review the Golder report, which jeopardized his appeal.
“It was only because the MOECC [Environmental] Tribunal Branch refused a time extension to let Mr. Jakubec bring in well test results from Dover into the Trubunal’s final hearing did Mr. Jakubec make the best of Tribunal process and took what gains he could get from the mediation.
“Ask Mr. Jakubec if he stopped investigating Dover,” says Mr Hensel. “Ask Mr. Jakubec if the Tribunal process is fair and that everything is neatly wrapped up now as Mayor Hope and [C-K legal counsel] Mr. Norton would want you to believe.”
WCO vice-president Parker Gallant and president Jane Wilson speak on Ontario’s mismanaged electricity sector, energy poverty, wind turbine noise regulation, and what’s ahead for 2017
Wind Concerns Ontario
Q:You’ve been telling people about the impact of renewables, specifically wind power, on Ontario’s electricity or hydro bills. How much of our electricity bills is due to the wind power/renewables program in Ontario?
Parker Gallant: I recently reviewed the cost of wind and solar generation relative to its contribution to Ontario’s demand for electricity and its impact on our electricity costs is shocking. Wind and solar in the first six months of 2016 delivered 8% of our generated power and represented 35% of the Global Adjustment which appears set to average over $1 billion per month. That represents a cost of over 36 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh), including the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP).
Q: Parker, you’ve also been telling people about the Global Adjustment or GA, which is where a lot of charges are hidden. Do you think these charges should be detailed on our bills, or is that even possible?
Parker Gallant: While I believe in principle the GA should be revealed on our monthly bills, in practice, that would require reams of paper. How will the local distribution company explain how much you are billed for curtailed wind generation or the meteorological stations that measure the amount of curtailed wind that might have been generated? How to explain, say, the cost of spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear or the water fuel fee, or how to tell the ratepayer how much they are subsidizing the rates for large industrial clients, or what it is costing under the rural and remote rate plan (RRRP) that transports diesel fuel to remote First Nations, among dozens of other items included in our monthly bills?
Q: The Premier and Energy Minister are now saying that parts of their policies have been a “mistake” and that they need to get bills down. Wind Concerns is saying that canceling wind power contracts is necessary for that to happen. Can you explain? How much are the 2016 contracts worth?
Parker Gallant: Interesting they are now admitting a “mistake,” but when George Smitherman was Energy Minister he was provided with a long-term energy plan that had been carefully developed by “experts” within the crown agencies. He chose to cancel the plan and instead, impose one developed in conjunction with outsiders who were NOT experts. Previous Energy Ministers (Dwight Duncan comes to mind for his “smart meter” for every ratepayer) made mistakes, as did those who followed such as Brad Duguid and were roundly criticized by both the media and by ratepayers. The canceling of wind power projects not yet built or even contracted is only “step one” and will slow the climb in our bills. The current Minister, Glenn Thibeault has only suspended Large Renewable Procurement or LRP ll, and needs to cancel it, as well as LRP I and any of those contracts now past their agreed-to start date. There are ways to reduce costs almost immediately.
Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a detailed document for the IESO on the Long-Term Energy Plan, suggesting ways they could save $1.7 billion annually. That would have an immediate cost reduction impact.
Q: The Energy Minister says that now, Ontario is a “net exporter” of electricity like that’s a good thing. He claims we’re making money: is that true?
Parker Gallant: Being a “net exporter” of 16.8 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 is simply a demonstration of being a bad planner and manager of the system. If one adds the spilled hydro and curtailed wind to the net exports, the 21.2 TWh could have provided over half of all average Ontario households with power for a full year, yet we sold it 2.36 cents/kWh while we paid 10.14 cents/kWh for its generation. Ontario contracted for far too much intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power creating a domino effect the increased our costs of generation. Paradoxically, if Ontario ratepayers consumed more of the annual excess power (15.5% in 2015) it would help reduce our per kWh cost.
Q: What is WCO’s stance on climate change?
Jane Wilson: Our position is that everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment, whether that is preventing air pollution or using the most efficient forms of power generation — but that isn’t industrial-scale wind. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or OSPE says that the proliferation of large-scale wind will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, therefore not achieving the government’s stated goals. In the OSPE’s most recent report, they say “Wind generation offers less GHG reduction value in Ontario because base-load generation is already carbon-free and wind generation often displaces hydroelectric and nuclear base-load generation.”
Q: Why does the Ontario government continue to force wind turbines on communities that don’t want them?
Jane Wilson: The government is acting on an ideology that is not supported by fact and to do that, it erased communities’ right to local land-use planning with the Green Energy Act. We think that’s wrong, and are supporting the now 116 municipal governments that have demanded a return of that control and also that community support be mandatory for wind power contracts. There is a concern too about communities in the North where there may not be elected municipal governments, where contracts can be awarded for wind power projects that have a significant negative impact on the natural environment, for little or no benefit.
WCO worked with Ontario municipalities on the mandatory support resolution.
Q:Can the government really cancel wind power contracts? Can a new government cancel the subsidy programs?
Jane Wilson: Yes. There are clauses in the contracts under LRP I that are “off-ramps” in the case of cancellation, and which set out the financial steps needed to do that. For example, the contract with EDP for the “Nation Rise” project south of Ottawa in North Stormont, worth $430 million over 20 years, would cost $250,000 plus reimbursement for development costs that must be justified, to a maximum of $600,000. And yes, government can cancel subsidy programs. The LRP II, now “suspended”, should be cancelled outright.
The other opportunity is to cancel wind power projects that do not have a “Notice-to-Proceed”: this is straightforward. WCO has also suggested to the IESO that the government look seriously at all contracts and review them for opportunities to cancel. Even costly negotiated buy-outs will reduce hydro costs significantly, due to the high cost of disposing of surplus power.
Q: What is WCO doing to help people already living with wind turbines, and the noise they produce?
Jane Wilson: We support the public health investigation being done by the Huron County Health Unit, and hope that other municipalities will take similar action. We are also looking at how research can be done to help change the Ontario regulations on noise –which are not based on current science and in fact, are completely inadequate to protect health. We prepared a detailed document on how to revise noise enforcement regulations, another on how the approval process must be changed to protect health, and we submitted a document to the World Health Organization which is preparing global noise regulations for wind turbines. In short, we take every opportunity possible to explain the situation for people living in communities where wind turbines and their noise emissions have been forced, without consent, on the people of Ontario, with the goal of having regulations and processes changed.
Q: What’s ahead in 2017?
Jane Wilson: It’s a very different world for wind power now, than in 2009 when the Green Energy Act was passed. People are genuinely questioning the benefit of high-impact, large-scale wind power development, especially when there seem to be few, if any, benefits, and we are seeing the shocking results of the government’s complete mismanagement of the electricity sector such as lost jobs and rising energy poverty. We believe the government will have to take dramatic action if it is serious about getting electricity bills down. The fact that Ontario municipalities are speaking out on this issue and taking action will also have results, we believe. We are hoping for a complete halt to the ongoing damage of the government’s policies, and that there will be help for people already living with the noise and other impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines.
As for Wind Concerns Ontario, we are not stopping our work.