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.
“We’re big, you’re small”: community leader on fight for the environment vs huge developer
September 27, 2019
Residents of North Stormont, between Ottawa and Cornwall, are now seeing the reality of having lost their fight against a giant power developer. Citizens spent over $100,000 to bring forward their concerns about damage to the environment and human health over having huge wind turbines erected in their communities, only to have the Environmental Review Tribunal (operating under an almost no-win set of rules) turn against them.
The Nation Rise wind power project is going up.
Access roads have been built, foundations are being poured, and the massive turbine parts have arrived by ship at the nearby Port of Johnstown.
Many people in the community don’t want the project, Ontario doesn’t need the electrical power, and wind power is now widely seen as an expensive, unreliable source of intermittent power, produced out of phase with real demand.
The project is being developed by EDP Renewables, which had revenues of 1.8B Euro in 2018; it was purchased by Axium Infrastructure, a large portfolio management company with 100 projects in North America, including K2 Wind in Ontario.*
And it’s tough to watch this happen when several other wind power projects were cancelled early on in the new Ford government.
Veteran Ottawa Citizen columnist Kelly Egan visited North Stormont this week, and his story is here.
Concerned Citizens chair Margaret Benke, 63, a retired [school] principal and lifelong resident of the area, was asked if opponents felt like they were viewed as a bunch of “kooks” who just don’t get it.
“Of course,” she said Thursday. The attitude, she elaborated, is: “We know, you don’t, we’re smart, you’re dumb, we’re big, you’re small.”
What Benke and others know, however, especially, from experiences in other parts of Ontario, is that the noise from big wind turbines is often an annoyance, that there is suspicion that vibrations are affecting the soil and possibly livestock and that wells could be affected both by digging the infrastructure and a constantly humming terrain.
(It is, indeed, a deep rabbit hole: what about so-called infrasound, stuff we can’t hear?; or shadow flickers, ice tossing from the blades; the effect on birds, bats, cows; the leaking of voltage into the ground.) On top of which, opponents say, Ontario doesn’t even need more power production.
In an oft-cited study that is being read different ways, Health Canada reported in 2014 that 16.5 per cent of respondents were “highly annoyed” when the turbine noise was at its highest level, but the investigation found no links to major health impacts.
And there is another important consideration. The project has created divisions in the community. “It has created an incredible rift,” said Benke, “and it is only just beginning.”
Wind Concerns Ontario is in the process of acquiring the noise reports filed with the Ontario environment ministry for 2017 and 2018. The 2018 data is due to arrive shortly but the 2017 request has already been the subject of one appeal based on a refusal to comply, and WCO has just filed another appeal.
*K2 Wind was recently found non-compliant with Ontario noise regulations for wind turbines and is under a Director’s Order for noise abatement related to the operation of more than 80 of its 140 turbines.
Medical Officer of Health tells international audience that “the notion that extensive fracturing of bedrock could result from piles is ludicrous.”
June 25, 2019
Speaking at the 2019 conference on wind turbine noise in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this month, Dr. David Colby took on “allegations” of disturbance of well water by wind turbine construction and pronounced the situation as impossible.
Dr. Colby was listed simply in the conference programme as being associated with Western University (he is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology) but did not list his position as Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent.
In decidedly un-academic language he began by stating that “allegations of water well interference, sediment infiltration and aquifer contamination due to ground borne vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation have been levied against a wind farm in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.”
Dr Colby’s paper is simply a recitation of evidence provided by the wind power proponent/operator and by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment at the appeal of the project. He states that the appeal was withdrawn, implying that there was no basis for it. In fact, the proponent sprang a technical report on the Appellant during the proceedings and the Tribunal refused to allow the Appellant (appearing without legal counsel) time to review the report — the Appellant was left no choice but to withdraw.
Relying on a technical report prepared for the wind power operator by Aecom Canada and the original environment ministry assessment, Colby concluded that “water quality in the study area of Chatham-Kent was poor from the outset.
“There is no evidence that water wells are being systematically affected by construction or operation of wind turbines,” Dr Colby concluded.
Not content with negating the complaints of dozens of property owners in his public health jurisdiction, Dr Colby also took a swipe at citizens in North Stormont, where one of the main concerns is that the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project is being built on an area deemed by the province to be a “highly vulnerable aquifer.” He cited the fact the appeal was dismissed by the Environmental Review Tribunal as more proof that there is no association between wind turbines and well disturbance.
But that’s not what groundwater experts say.
In the current issue of the journal of the Ontario Groundwater Association, “Turbidity and Turbines” is the feature article, which includes an interview with hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.
“There is no doubt in my mind this is well interference,” Clarke said.
Joel Gagnon, professor in Environmental and Earth Sciences at the University of Waterloo was also interviewed about testing he and a team of students carried out on the Chatham-Kent affected wells. Where Dr Colby states outright that not only is there no problem with the well water, it’s actually impossible that there could be, Professor Gagnon says “there is a lot of uncertainty.”
He wants more investigation into the issue.
The Groundwater article says that there are not more than 80 water wells affected in Chatham-Kent. Hydrogeologist Clarke is concerned about the future, and worries the situation could become a “tragedy.”
“Why not stop,” he says, “reflect on what we don’t know.”
Family suffers through night after night of noise while government, wind power operator do endless rounds of testing that go nowhere
Government lacks courage to order shutdown, says Wind Concerns Ontario
March 21, 2019
One Ontario family living inside the K2 Wind power project in Huron County has been waiting for more than three years for resolution to their complaints about wind turbine noise, according to emails between the Ontario government and the family.
In 2015, the family received this email from the Owen Sound district office of the then Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), in which the staff person writing the email notes that there are concerns about the noise being experienced at the home based on the ministry’s own measurements. The government staff member acknowledges noise recordings submitted by the family, then says “This … caused us to require the company to conduct a tonal assessment…”
Since Scott is out of the office today, I am replying on his behalf. We have received your recording and, while the recording does not give us an idea about the volume of the noise, it helps give an idea of the types of noise you are hearing. The swishing sound seems fairly typical of wind farm noise that we have heard before, however, the ‘wooing’ sound is also evident. This is similar to the observations that we made that caused us to require the company to conduct a tonal assessment. Additionally, the detailed acoustic audits that we have required the company to conduct will assess the overall levels of noise coming from the wind farm.
Thank you for submitting this. It is helpful.
Heather G. Pollard
District Supervisor, Owen Sound District Office, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Now, after more than three years of testing by the ministry and no action on the part of the wind power developer, the family recently hired an engineer to do independent noise measurement, which it has again, submitted to government as an indicator of problems. This testing was done simultaneously with noise measurement by an acoustics firm hired by the wind power operator.
The independent results appear to indicate that at times, the noise emissions from the wind turbines were over the legal limit for wind turbines in Ontario by as much as 20 decibels, or more.
According to the requirements of a wind power Renewable Energy Approval, the wind power operator must investigate the cause of noise complaints, and take action to ensure that the situation causing the complaint does not recur.
The family has been filing reports with the Ontario government since the wind power project began.
K2 Wind is owned by a consortium led by Axium Infrastructure with a minority stake held by the Alberta Teachers pension fund. The 270-megawatt power project has 140 2.3-MW turbines.
Problems predicted during citizen appeal
At an appeal of the K2 Wind launched by Shawn and Tricia Drennan, testimony by MOECC environmental officer Gary Tomlinson noted that there had been hundreds of citizen complaints about noise and vibration from other Ontario wind power projects, and that complaints continued even though turbines had been found in compliance.
A witness for Appellant, acoustician Rick James, testified that the noise assessment model used by the MOECC “will not predict a worstcase scenario and thus will underestimate the actual noise levels for many receptors within the project.” (Appeal 13-097/13-098, page 76) And, because of the deficiencies in the noise modeling process, Mr. James testified, “the predicted noise assessment was off by 5 dBA” ( paragraph ). Mr. James, an expert in audiology and sound monitoring and testing, also referred to the potential for tonal noise, infrasound and low frequency noise which would create a “significant risk” to health ( paragraph ).
In an email sent to Wind Concerns Ontario today, in response to emails from the coalition to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on behalf of the family, District Manager Rick Chappell noted the testing is once again ongoing at the residence and that the ministry will “assess compliance against the Renewable Energy Approval”.
No courage to order shutdown?
“The length of time this family has waited for help is an outrage,” says WCO president Jane Wilson
“The regulations and compliance rules were put in place along with a complaint logging system to protect Ontario residents, but all we’re seeing here is testing, testing and more testing. Clearly, the Ministry is not doing its job as a regulator, and the endless testing suggests they do not have the courage, or political will, to actually order turbines to be shut down.”
Wind Concerns has copies of thousands of citizen complaints about wind turbine noise dating back to 2006, obtained under a Freedom of Information request; most remain unresolved, and the government response rate for recent complaints is less than seven percent.
Courage undiminished in community resolute to protect the environment and health
January 6, 2018
Although the people of North Stormont, just south of Ottawa, introduced many new concerns about wind turbine construction and operation –including evidence that has never before been presented at an appeal in Ontario –it wasn’t enough to meet the strategically constructed impossible test set up by the Green Energy Act.
The onus is on a community to prove that the power project “will cause” serious harm to human health and “will cause serious and irreversible harm” to the environment.
Never mind that the huge turbines will be built on what the province has designated a “highly vulnerable aquifer”.
Never mind that some of the turbines could be constructed and operate on unstable soil conditions including Leda or “quick” clay, in an earthquake zone. No seismic evaluations were ordered, or done.
Never mind the fact that two engineers testified about wind turbine failures in Ontario and the dangers of blade failure and ice throw. (The Tribunal’s answer to that was, OK, sure, maybe, but nobody has died yet, have they?)
Never mind that there are records of thousands of reports of excessive noise, sleep disturbance and adverse health effects filed with the Ontario government.
It is a credit to the people of rural Ontario that in the face of moneyed interests, a public service that is still entrenched in the previous Liberal government’s unfounded green energy ideology, and a set-up system stacked against people and communities (to say nothing of the environment), that they continue to fight.
The people of North Kent still want action on the damage done to their water wells; the people of Prince Edward County are still fighting to have an unnecessary and now cancelled wind power project actually removed; the people of Ontario living with turbines continue to file reports of excessive noise, despite government inaction.
And the people of North Stormont have vowed to fight on.
“We couldn’t just sit back and let the project go up without fighting it,” community group leader Margaret Benke told the Cornwall Standard-Freeholderin an interview. “We have options open to us, and that is the direction we’ll be going in now.”
Read the decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal here: http://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/ert/decisions-orders/ Case 018-028
To contribute to the legal fight in North Stormont use GoFundMe here: https://ca.gofundme.com/stop-wind-turbines-in-northstormont
Or send a cheque to the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont in care of Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509 250 Wellington Main Street, Wellington ON K0K 3L0.
You expect lawyers to defend their clients. But shouldn’t a government lawyer always act in the public interest?
November 29, 2018
Last Friday in Toronto, the appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for the “Nation Rise” wind power project—an appeal launched and funded by the community—heard closing arguments from the citizens’ group appealing the approval, the multi-billion-dollar Portuguese wind power developer, and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
The latter was represented by Ottawa-based lawyer Paul McCulloch. His job is to defend the Wynne government’s hasty approval of the 100-megawatt power project, south of Ottawa.
Question: Should a government lawyer not be also responsible for defending the residents of North Stormont from the adverse effects caused by a wind power project?
What happened though, was that Mr. McCulloch made astonishing comments in response to evidence brought forward on the risk to human health.
Mr. McCulloch alleged that “no” wind power project has ever been tested and found out of compliance in Ontario. This is patently false. To name just one example, the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin has resulted in hundreds of noise reports, it was found out of compliance and is now under a power reduction order and noise abatement plan (though noise complaints have not stopped).
Similarly, there were many noise reports for the Melancthon wind power project between 2006 and 2009, that the environment ministry did inspections and testing and concluded “the sound discharged into the natural environment from the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect.” * The company was ordered to reduce noise levels, and remodel several of the turbines; when that was not entirely successful, the ministry further worked with the operator to employ a noise abatement plan and in 2011, implemented a “noise reduced operating plan” according to a ministry report obtained under Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario.
So, yes, turbines have been found out of compliance and abatement orders issued; the reality is, many others are caught up in a seemingly endless round of audible noise testing through a flawed protocol.
Mr. McCulloch also dismissed government records of complaints from residents presented by Wind Concerns Ontario as evidence of problems and especially adverse effects from wind turbine emissions, saying no conclusions can be drawn from self-reported complaints. However, “assessment” of noise/adverse effects complaints has not been a requirement of the process, so there would not be such records of medical opinions. And the ministry doesn’t follow up on reports of adverse effects, or even refer them to the Ministry of Health. The MOECC (now MECP) also does not collect information on academic credentials of the people as part of the complaint tracking process. The reality is, trained healthcare and medical professionals are among those who have filed complaints about the impact of wind turbines on their health, and others have had their assessments confirmed by healthcare professionals.
Government lawyer Mr. McCulloch, however, essentially stated that unless people registering complaints with the MECP provide medical proof, their reports are of no consequence. Does this mean that the thousands of provincial records of noise complaints are meaningless? That adverse health effects being reported to government are ignored? That is a terrible message for the people of rural Ontario.
Mr. McCulloch’s comments may also have undermined a community health investigation being carried out at the request of Huron County citizens, funded by Ontario taxpayers. The investigation was initiated by public health officials in the Huron County Health Unit in response to clusters of health complaints related to wind turbines. It is being carried out under authority of the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act.
But now, is all hope for this project dashed? At the hands of a government lawyer? Mr. McCulloch, a public servant, demeaned the investigation process and criticized the fact that it relied on information solicited from “volunteers.” By “volunteers” he meant Ontario citizens, the same citizens who have been dutifully filing complaints with the environment ministry since 2006, with little or no action.
Contrary to Mr. McCulloch’s remarks on the methodology in the investigation, it is modeled on the Health Canada community study, and received ethics approval from a university. Various challenges in the community (non-disclosure clauses in wind turbine lease agreements, distrust of more “study,” and despair at the lack of government action) have led to a lower participation level than expected by the investigating health professionals.
In recent weeks, the Medical Officer of Health and the staff epidemiologist have been in the media, renewing invitations for citizens to participate.
Who will participate in that important ongoing community health project now? Speaking apparently on behalf of the government, lawyer McCulloch essentially said any results will mean nothing to the MECP.
The lawyer also told the Tribunal that current Ontario setbacks and noise limits reflect the “consensus view” of the impact of wind turbines on health. That statement purposely ignores a report prepared by the Council of Canadian Academies for the federal government that demonstrated the basic measurement tool Ontario uses to assess wind turbine noise is inadequate, as well as the report issued by the Australian Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbine Noise, and recent announcements from the World Health Organization recommending a more stringent noise standard for wind turbines in Europe than is used in Ontario.
Mr. McCulloch’s statements to the Environment Review Tribunal were misleading.
The environment ministry should clarify his remarks immediately, in order for the Tribunal to be informed with the truth.
A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.
October 31, 2018
At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.
He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:
Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?
Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*
Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?
The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.
Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).
And, it’s expensive.
Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.
Nation Rise may cost Ontario as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**
But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.
Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.
He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.
It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.
We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.
*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.
**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.
Last week, MPP Jim McDonell (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) rose in the Legislature to speak in favour of changes to the Green Energy Act, and brought forward the serious concerns for the environment, health and safety posed by the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont.
Currently under appeal, evidence brought forward has shown the environment ministry staff were not even aware of significant risks to the water supply, for example, or to safety posed by the Leda or “quick” clay, and the former government did not require the power developer to provide proper assessments.
Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m pleased to join my colleagues to speak on Bill 34, the Green Energy Repeal Act, 2018. We promised a government that puts the needs of everyday people first—another promise our government for the people is delivering on.
I would like to quote our Premier, Doug Ford: “The Green Energy Act presents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s rich history. Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need. Today we are proud to say that the party with the taxpayers’ money is over.”
That theme went through our campaign and got us to where we are today. The people of Ontario were tired of a government that not only didn’t listen to them, but they were gouged at every opportunity.
The two opposition parties can point fingers all they want, but remember that when you point a finger, three of them point back at yourselves. They worked together to push through the Green Energy Act when experts around the province warned them of the dangers of not using the science to develop energy policies for Ontario.
The summer before I was elected, Professional Engineers Ontario published a research paper on the problems with the Green Energy Act. They highlighted that a system such as ours, which relies on central power stations, cannot be converted easily to a distributed power format, and such a plan would generate unneeded surplus power that simply couldn’t be ignored or destroyed.
Thus we see the problems with the Green Energy Act. Unneeded, unpredictable and comparatively expensive, supposedly green energy is dumped into the system when our much cheaper water and nuclear systems are fulfilling all the demand. Remember, you can’t destroy excess power. It must be used or other, less expensive, sources throttled back.
In the water world, water was diverted around or spilled over dams to avoid generating power. That was cheap power that was already paid for but not being used.
In the nuclear world, thanks to an innovation by Bruce Power, they developed a way of dumping substantial amounts of steam, enough to account for a measurable amount of excess power. But, remember, the steam had already been paid for. One might wonder why Bruce Power was the only nuclear power producer in the world to develop such a system, but it’s sad to say that it was self-inflicted. The Liberal and NDP governments had ignored all of the warnings, pushing the Green Energy Act on our utilities, who were forced to make the best of a bad situation.
The Liberal government bragged that they would be the number one producer of green energy in the world, but at what cost? The only way to attract the amount of investment required to build facilities on the scale they wanted would require a guarantee of return on capital unattainable anywhere else in the world, and that’s exactly what they did. The 80 cents per kilowatt hour was more than double what Germany had agreed to, and they were in second place. To be fair to Germany, they quickly realized how their price was unsustainable in their program and cancelled theirs.
A person just north of my riding was awarded one of these rich contracts. He decided to delay the construction for a period, as allowed in the contract, until the technology had brought down the cost of materials, as everyone predicted it would. He was attending a solar conference in the US, and one of the presenters asked, “What was the price that everyone was receiving?” When he said it was 80 cents per kilowatt hour, first it was laughter, then disbelief. No one believed him. The rate of return was outrageous. The wind turbine guarantees are the same: They’re strictly outrageous.
What was the result? A huge construction of unneeded power generation and capacity—and the problems started. Auditor General’s report after Auditor General’s report hammered the Liberal government on the dangerous and ill-thought-out plan. First, they tried to justify it to close coal plants, but they were proven wrong, as efficiencies obtained by Bruce Power alone more than allowed for the power they needed to close these plants. Then they originated a plan where they had wind turbines simply shut down, not producing the power, but with sensors added to the turbines, they would be paid for the power whether they produced it or not—a completely ridiculous plan, but they sold it as a solution.
All this time, especially during the minority Parliament, when our party would introduce motion after motion to stop the foolishness, the NDP helped the madness continue by voting for the Liberal minority government.
It’s particularly satisfying today to finally debate a bill that will end the calamity. The Liberal government could no longer hide the facts, and the people of Ontario gave the Doug Ford PC government a massive majority and a mandate to clean up the mess. But, unfortunately, the Wynne Liberal government, with the support of the NDP, have saddled the people of Ontario with a huge bill that must be paid back through outrageously high energy bills for decades to come.
I see people come through my constituency office, and they are in trouble. They can’t afford to pay the hydro bill and their taxes and have enough money left to put food on the table. I was talking to a local senior couple just a couple of months ago, and the lady said that they would have liked to go to the local fair that day, like they always used to do, but it was $10 and they just couldn’t afford it in their budget. That’s a common thing I hear across my riding. People cannot afford to do anything but simply cut back and try to put food on their table. As I said, the couple is like the vast majority of Ontarians, who don’t have a generous government pension plan. They have been experiencing years of expenses escalating at rates much higher than the money they were managing to put aside. When your pension increases by $10 or $20 a year, how do you cover hydro increases of hundreds of dollars a year, property taxes of hundreds of dollars a year and more? You can only save so much by doing your laundry at night and turning your thermostat down.
The Liberal government just didn’t get it. The increased minimum wage doesn’t help people who can’t work either because there’s no work available or they just can no longer work. That is why our government for the people promised to work for the people. The Liberal carbon tax was nothing more than another tax for an out-of-control-spending government, and experts were clear that the plan would not allow Ontario to meet its targets. It only resulted in life being more unaffordable and the business environment being more uncompetitive. Under the Liberal government, energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.
Let’s be clear: The Green Energy Act helped Liberal insiders get rich while families across Ontario were forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food on their tables. The Green Energy Act made it much harder for businesses in Ontario to stay in business; thousands of jobs were lost across Ontario because manufacturing plants were too expensive to operate. Ontario lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs, not to China or India but to our neighbours south of us. The Liberal government’s mismanagement of our economy and massive spending to cling to power at all costs cost Ontarians their good-paying jobs. It’s time to put people first.
With the repealing of the Green Energy Act, we’re also proposing amendments to several existing acts, including the Planning Act and Environmental Protection Act. The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated.
As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I am comforted to see the amendments that would give municipalities back their voice when it comes to making future energy decisions. I share the belief that the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities. By restoring municipal authority for the placement of renewable energy facilities, we’re ensuring that future projects have the support and buy-in of local communities. Because municipalities have told us time and time again that they felt ignored when wasteful green energy projects were forced upon their communities.
Madam Speaker, let me tell you about the plight of residents of North Stormont. They had been battling against a huge multinational corporation, and they were promised that if they were an unwilling host, they would not receive the project. The small rural township passed what they thought was needed, a resolution that would designate them as an unwilling host, and sent it off to the Liberal government. They turned down a huge amount of money from the project company, approximately $500,000 a year, because the residents did not want the problems and the issues associated with wind turbines. Madam Speaker, $500,000 is a huge amount and would go a long way to pay for roads and infrastructure in a small rural township of approximately 6,000 residents, the smallest population in SDG. Potential health issues, noise issues, groundwater issues were just not worth the money in their minds.
For more information contact MPP McDonell at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont at http://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/
Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.
Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.
Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.
She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”
The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”
A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.
The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.
When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.
The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.
In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.
The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.
FINCH, Ontario — If the approval signed by the Wynne government for the Nation Rise wind power project were a bird, it probably wouldn’t be able to fly, because it is so weighted down with conditions.
One of those conditions was that the power developer, EDP of Spain, identify and map all water wells in the project area near the proposed wind turbines, because of concerns about the construction activities on the local aquifer.
That hasn’t happened, say residents. Now, signs are popping up all over the country roads and in the communities of North Stormont, as part of an information campaign about risk to the local water supply, and to demand that wells be identified and tested by the developer. Residents are concerned about the impact of vibration from pending wind turbine construction and turbine operations on their water wells.
The “Nation Rise” wind power project is currently under appeal, but the power developer is supposed to be proceeding with meeting the terms and conditions of its contract with the Ontario government, which was approved just days before the June election.
One of those conditions is that the company identify certain wells and “make reasonable efforts, to the satisfaction of the Ministry [of the Environment], to contact owners of all active water wells within 1 km from each individual Equipment, communication tower, and meteorological towers, and seek permission to undertake a groundwater survey at existing water wells. “
The problem is, EDP’s count of the number of water wells that need identification and testing does not correspond to the summary of the situation in the Renewable Energy Approval or REA. As a result, wells may be missed in the pre-construction survey and then be ineligible for help should problems arise after the power project is built.
According to Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the power developer may be off by as much as 50 per cent of area wells.
People are worried, Benke says, for several reasons: a wind power project in the Chatham-Kent area is linked to disrupted function and outright failure of as many as 10 percent of area wells, resulting in contaminated “black” water. The situation is so dire that the new Ontario government has pledged an investigation of the situation.
The wells in North Stormont depend on an aquifer that has been designated as “highly vulnerable,” she says. The signs being posted at the end of North Stormont driveways say “EDP we want our well water tested.”
“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Benke explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area. As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”
That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.
The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.
“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”
The appeal resumes October 15th in Finch Ontario, with testimony from an expert in hydrogeology.
Finch, Ontario — Sitting demurely and speaking quietly, on July 24 the volunteer president of Wind Concerns Ontario blasted the provincial government approach to monitoring industrial wind turbines, accusing it of ignoring complaints about noise, health and other issues, or deferring them with no subsequent action.
Jane Wilson made her comments while presenting as a witness during an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into the Nation Rise wind power project planned for Stormont County. The hearing is scheduled to continue through August 2.
Currently engaged in the approval process, the project is sponsored by EDP Renewables Canada and calls for installation of some 33 turbines in North Stormont farm country delivering a total of 100 megawatts of power that, opponents observe, the province doesn’t need.
Headed by local resident Margaret Benke, opponents were hopeful the new Doug Ford government would cancel Nation Rise just as it did the White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County. But that didn’t happen and opponents’ legal fees and other expenses are up to $20,000. Benke noted that, with Ford in place, Nation Rise isn’t likely to proceed and yet opposing residents are still on the hook for costs.
Government not enforcing the law
A registered nurse, Wilson said Wind Concerns represents a coalition of more than 30 community groups across Ontario.
She emphasized that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change–renamed Environment, Conservation and Parks — has pledged to protect the environment and human health from any turbine side effects.
She cited former Environment Minister Glen Murray congratulating his officials for responding quickly to complaints and enforcing the law. However, Wilson’s review of incident reports obtained through Access to Information indicated the ministry doesn’t respond to all complaints and “does not, therefore, enforce the law.”
No answer to that
Total number of incident reports filed with the ministry between 2006 and 2016 was 4,574, Wilson told Maureen Cartier-Whitney, chair of the one-person panel. Records showed that in more than 50 per cent of formal complaints, there was no ministry response. Another 30 per cent were deferred. “In fact, only one percent received priority response.”
While he asked for some clarification, Paul McCulloch of the ministry’s Legal Services Branch, didn’t dispute Wilson’s basic facts. Representing EDP, lawyer . Grant Worden also offered no challenges to Wilson.
The repetitive nature of various complaints suggests, Wilson continue, that wind power developers are failing to live up to the terms of their approvals by allowing conditions triggering adverse effects including on health, to continue.
“Documented health effects include headache, sleep deprivation, annoyance, and ringing or pressure sensation in the head and ears. Most disturbing was the fact that these health effects were reported many times, and also among children.”
Wilson indicated that 39 per cent of 2006-2016 incident reports referred explicitly to sleep disturbance which is generally blamed for a myriad of diseases and disorders.
“Given the thousands of unresolved noise complaints in Ontario, and given Health Canada results of adverse health effects at distances of 550 metres to 1 km, it is reasonable to question whether the Nation Rise power project will not also engender community reports of excessive noise and adverse effects.”
To help support the appeal, which is bringing forward issues never presented to the ERT before, please send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, c/o Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509, 250 Wellington main Street, Wellington ON K0K 3L0