Central Bruce residents file complaint: impending disaster at K2 wind farm

"Lake K2"
“Lake K2”

Yesterday, residents of Central Bruce and the Central Bruce Wind Action community group, filed a letter with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, regarding serious environmental issues associated with the K2 wind power project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh.

The letter, which was accompanied by almost 300 signatures from local residents, details the fact that issues concerning the danger to the water table and municipal water supply were raised repeatedly during the comment and approval process for the 270-megawatt power facility. K2 is being developed by a consortium of Capital Power, Samsung, and Pattern Energy.

The letter states: “In 2011 a K2 employee, Mr. David Harrelson, advised of close to surface aquifers at the substation site. Their presence is verified by Well Record A029342 from June 20, 2006. The well records from the site specifically make mention of the ground water table at one foot (12 inches) below surface. The MoE in Owen Sound had documentation in mid-2011 regarding the water issues at this site. The Approvals Branch of the MoE was notified and provided with this information as well.”

Almost immediately upon commencing construction for K2, the land became flooded, with water spilling into municipal drains and ditches; the water was so significant that locals branded it “Lake K2” and the developers had to post a warning sign, complete with a lifesaver attached. The developer is now trucking water from the site.

Clearly, the Central Bruce letter writers state, the documents filed with the application for K2 were incomplete, and important issues not considered by the Ministry of the Environment.

The letter concludes with the demand that K2’s approval be revoked, given its basis on incomplete and inaccurate documentation: “It is not for the residents of Ontario to bear any repercussions from an incomplete REA Application. K2’s application was incomplete. Given the current situation, we question the terms under which the REA was granted. The approval was premised on inadequate and unsupported information. We are therefore requesting that the Renewable Energy Approval for the K2 Wind Ontario Inc. project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh be revisited and revoked.”

You may view the letter here: Letter to Agatha Garcia-Wright – July 19, 2014-1

Bluewater defends citizens against wind farm health risk

2,500 homes within 2 km of Grand Bend wind 'farm'
2,500 homes within 2 km of Grand Bend wind ‘farm’

Bluewater says health at risk

John Miner, London Free Press, July 16, 2014

The battle to stop the Grand Bend Wind Farm from proceeding will be fought with claims industrial wind turbines harm human health.

The Municipality of Bluewater is asking that approval of the $380-million project north of Grand Bend be revoked in a filing published Tuesday on the Ontario Environmental Registry.

A joint project of Northland Power and two First Nations, the Grand Bend Wind Farm would consist of 40 industrial wind turbines located about a kilometre from the popular Lake Huron shoreline in a 15-kilometre stretch.

In its appeal of the approval, Bluewater asserts industrial wind farms are known to cause a range of health effects in five to 30% of the population, including sleep disturbance, headaches, dizziness, nausea and visual blurring.​

The wind farm also is being challenged by an individual who is arguing the approval violates his right to security of the person as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Though the appeals are expected to take about six months to be dealt with, previous wind farm challenges on the grounds of health concerns have failed, including objections to the Bornish Wind Farm constructed south of Parkhill in Middlesex County.

Northland Power has said it will not undertake major construction work on the Grand Bend Wind Farm until the appeals have been settled.

Read the full story and comments here.

Wind turbines face Charter suit: Ontario Farmer

Three citizen groups have been allowed to appeal wind farm projects in court

France Anderson, Ontario Farmer, July 2014

Three West Coast citizens’ wind groups have gotten leave to jointly appeal wind turbine projects under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The three Ontario groups—SWEAR (Safe Wind Energy for All Residents), HEAT (Huron East Against Turbines), and HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines)—which oppose wind farms near Goderich, St. Columban and Kincardine respectively, will be able to jointly appeal the projects by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.*

They will be represented by Falconers LLP, and the appeal to the Divisional Court of Ontario is to be heard November 17, 18 and 19, 2014.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the government’s promise to every man, woman and child in Canada that they will have security to conduct their affairs and lives in relative peace.

Falconers, which specializes in human rights and constitutional law firm [sic], is arguing that the provincial government did not exercise due diligence with regard to human health when it crafted the Green Energy and Economy Act.

“The government says that massive industrial wind turbine developments are safe. We, the people, are holding them accountable,” explains Dave Hemingway, the president of SWEAR.

“If this Charter challenge is successful, it will set a precedent and will assist all appeals and legal challenges going forward,” says Gerry Ryan, the president of HEAT.

“This action has the potential to shift the burden of proof from the need to prove direct and serious harm to human health to the need to prove the possibility of harm,” which is “a lower and more reasonable threshold,” says Kevin McKee, the president of HALT.

Falconers is also seeking a conjoined stay of proceedings to halt progress of K2, St. Columban and Armow projects until the appeal is heard.

Hemingway said they hope to know the date for the hearing regarding the stay “relatively soon.”

Meanwhile, the commissioning of the Varna Wind LP Farm by NextEra Energy Canada** is underway. This project comprises 37 GE model turbines that stand 80 meters high and support blades 50.5 meters across. The project on private lands was of Highway 21 along the Lake Huron Shoreline, in the Municipalities of Bluewater and Huron East, has 60 MW total capacity.

*Editor’s note: Of course, the projects are approved by the Ministry of the Environment. The developers, however, for the projects are: Capital Power/Samsung/Pattern; Veresen; and Samsung/Pattern, respectively.

**NextEra Canada is not a Canadian company; neither is Samsung, Pattern, and Veresen.

For more information on the Charter challenge and to donate funds, please go to SWEAR’s website.

Northland Power to go slow on Grand Bend wind farm, under appeal

Beach destination today, but tomorrow…?

John Miner, London Free Press, July 9, 2014

Faced with appeals against its $380-million project hugging the Lake Huron shoreline, the developer of the Grand Bend Wind Farm is applying the brakes.​

Some preliminary work for the wind farm will likely start later this year, but major construction now won’t begin until the appeals are settled, said Gord Potts, director of business development for Northland Power.

“Our company policy is not to do much during an appeal process,” Potts said Wednesday.

Work likely will be limited to clearing sites, building some access roads and preparing to install transmission lines, he said.

“I wouldn’t expect we will see any foundation work for turbines or anything like that,” Potts said.

The appeal process is expected to take about six months.

If it wins against the appeals, Northland anticipates the Grand Bend Wind Farm will start commercial operation in the first quarter of 2016.

The Grand Bend Wind Farm is a joint project of Toronto-based Northland Power and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation at Sarnia and Bkejwanong First Nation at Walpole and involves installation of 40 turbines on 2,400 hectares of land.

It was given the green light by the Ontario Ministry of Energy in late June, but the approval can be appealed to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal.

On Monday the municipal council of Bluewater, where the majority of wind turbines will be located, voted to file an appeal.

Potts said Northland Power had been hopeful the project wouldn’t be appealed given the failure of all but one appeal against other wind farms in Ontario.

That single victory is now being challenged in the courts.

“One would think that after a while those opposed would lose their appetite to fight this fight, but they haven’t yet,” he said.

Bluewater Municipality has retained Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie to file their appeal by the deadline of Saturday.

Read the full story here.

Sumac Ridge wind farm a threat to environment

Sign on a rural property near the proposed development site on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Oak Ridges Moraine wind project a threat to Ontario’s water

The provincial government should revoke its approval of a wind project on the Oak Ridges Moraine and stop allowing development to take precedence over the protection of our water
By: Maude Barlow and Cindy Sutch Published on Mon Jul 07 2014, Toronto Star, Comment

The Sumac Ridge wind project is the first industrial wind project approved on the environmentally sensitive and protected Oak Ridges Moraine, the rain barrel of southern Ontario. The approval sets a precedent to open up the Oak Ridges Moraine for other wind projects and industrial development of all kinds. The project is currently under appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal and has received a record number of 43 requests for status from community and First Nation groups.

Sumac Ridge is one of five proposed wind projects on the Oak Ridges Moraine that residents have been fighting for the last five years. Community members have spent significant amounts of time and money trying to protect and preserve the moraine. When the Sumac Ridge wind project was posted on the Environmental Registry, 2,874 comments were registered. Frustration with the process is mounting along with the fees of lawyers and experts hired to prepare for the Environmental Review Tribunal.

While wind power is a sustainable green energy alternative to the environmental harms associated with fossil fuels, as with every industrial development, it can have important impacts in vulnerable areas and these must be fully assessed. The Sumac Ridge project and the other proposals will require the construction of access roads, clear-cutting of significant woodlands and the delivery of thousands of truckloads of gravel, sand and concrete onto the moraine. The Oak Ridges Moraine is one of the last continuous green corridors in southern Ontario. The remnants of tall grass prairie and oak-pine savannas in the eastern portion of this ancient landform are globally threatened ecosystems and may be impacted by wind development.

The Sumac Ridge wind project will be located in a part of the moraine that provides both terrestrial core and corridor habitat and is a critical refuge for birds, bats, threatened and/or endangered plants and animals, and numerous species at risk. Most importantly, it is a high aquifer vulnerability zone, a groundwater recharge area and at the headwaters of the Fleetwood Creek and Pigeon River. The Ministry of the Environment must revoke its approval of the Sumac Ridge project and stop allowing industrial development to take precedence over the protection of our water.

There is no time to lose. The world is running out of accessible clean water. We are polluting, mismanaging and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. We need a new water ethic that places water and its protection at the centre of all policy and practice if the planet and we are to survive.

This new water ethic should honour four principles.

The first is that water is a human right and must be more equitably shared. The United Nations has recognized that drinking water and sanitation are fundamental human rights and that governments have obligations not only to supply these services to their people but also to prevent harm to source water.

The second principle is that water is a common heritage of humanity and must be protected as a public trust in law and practice. Water must never be bought, hoarded, sold or traded as a commodity on the open market and governments must maintain the water commons for the public good, not private gain.

The third principle is that water has rights, too, outside its usefulness to humans. Water belongs to the earth and other species. Our belief in “unlimited growth” and our treatment of water as a tool for industrial development have put the earth’s watersheds in jeopardy. Water is not a resource for our convenience, pleasure and profit, but rather the essential element in a living ecosystem. We need to adapt our laws and practices to ensure the protection of water and the restoration of watersheds, a crucial antidote to global warming.

Finally, while there is enormous potential for water conflict in a world of rising demand and diminishing supply, water can bring people, communities and nations together in the shared search for solutions. Water can become nature’s gift to humanity and teach us how to live more lightly on the earth and in peace and respect with one another.

Let it start in our own backyards.

Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and served as senior adviser on water to the 63rd president of the United Nations General Assembly. Cindy Sutch is the Chairperson of Save The Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition in Ontario and a Director of The Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation.

Podcast of wind farm danger to Golden Eagle coverup

Well, it was probably killed by a cat
Well, it was probably killed by a cat

Here from yesterday’s appearance by Anne Dumbrille of Prince Edward County, a director with the community group the County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy or CCSAGE Naturally Green, is a podcast of the interview.

Dumbrille obtained documents via FOI that show the wind power developer, even with very limited survey data, knew there is a danger to the at-risk Golden Eagle, and covered it up; the company’s report was never made public.

Podcast here.

We will never give up the fight: WCO vs CanWEA

Wind turbines in Tiverton, Ont.

The Letters page in The National Post is ablaze today with the “wind fight” as letters from both Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson and wind power lobbyist Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) president Robert Hornung appear, toe-to-toe.

Re: The Ontario Liberals Don’t Deserve Another Term, letters to the editor, June 10.
The rising cost of electricity and its impact, is a key topic of discussion in the Ontario election campaign. All parties are committed to ensuring Ontario’s power supply is reliable and priced to support business growth and economic priorities, but their plans to meet that objective differ. One example of this is in the province’s approach to wind energy development.

The key driver of rising electricity bills in Ontario is not wind energy. Independent analysis by Power Advisory LLC indicates that wind energy accounted for only 5% of the increase in our electricity bills between 2009 and 2012, with the bulk of rising rates due to necessary upgrades to aging power plants and transmission systems.

A key economic driver for Ontario is a responsive, competitive electrical system that respects the environment. A steady stream of new wind energy complements energy conservation, and provides Ontario with the much-needed flexibility to align electricity supply needs with changing economic and environmental circumstances.

Today, wind energy is cheaper than building new nuclear power plants, and can compete with new hydroelectric development, as well. It is also not subject to the risks of rising costs, that could result from rising commodity prices or any future price on carbon emissions. Any political party that advocates a shift away from wind energy needs to demonstrate how their proposals for new electricity generation will be cheaper. It will be challenging to do so.
Robert Hornung, president, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Ottawa.


Re: The Republic Of Whiners And Blamers, Robert Fulford, June 7.
As the president of the coalition of individuals and community groups that have been fighting the Ontario Green Energy Act since its inception in 2009, and the invasion of Ontario’s rural communities by huge power development corporations seeking government subsidies as they despoil and bankrupt the province, I take issue with Robert Fulford’s assertion that not many people have expressed “unease” about this situation.

At present, we have over 30 community groups and thousands of individual members, who have all been fighting the Ontario government with heart and passion, as we defend our communities. Although the legislation put in place by the wind industry allows the public to appeals wind power projects, this has turned out to be an illusion. But this has not stopped Ontarians from trying. To date, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on the appeals, and on private litigation.

The citizens of Prince Edward County have raised over half a million dollars in their fight to save the environment against Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment. Others have already spent hundreds of thousands on legal fees to invoke a Charter challenge based on human rights.

The sad truth is that Mr. Fulford is right: No matter how high the stakes for all Ontarians, the people of the province’s cities, especially Toronto, have sat by and let this happen. In the meantime, we refuse to give up the fight.
Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario, Toronto.

See the letters page here.

As for Mr Hornung’s assertion about the costs of wind power, please see this post by energy economist Robert Lyman.

Big Wind follows Big Tobacco in denying health problems

Doubt is Their Product

In his 2008 book Doubt is their product–how industry’s assault on science threatens your health, epidemiologist David Michaels says he got the idea for the title of his book after reading the words of a cigarette company executive. “Doubt is our product,” the executive wrote, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing controversy”.

Michaels went on to write the following:

…Big Tobacco, left now without a stitich of credibility of public esteem, has finally abandoned its strategy, but it showed the way. The practices it perfected are alive and well and ubiquitous today. We see this growing trend that disingenuously demands proof over precaution in the realm of public health. In field after field, year after year, conclusions that might support regulation are always disputed. Animal data are deemed not relevant, human data not representative, and exposure data not reliable. Whatever the story…scientists in what I call the ‘product defence industry’ prepare for the release of unfavorable studies even before the studies are published. Public relations experts feed these for-hire scientists contrarian sound bites that play well with reporters, who are mired in the trap of believing there must be two sides to every story.

Maybe there are two sides–and maybe one has been bought and paid for.

This scenario is being played out today in Ontario with the wind power industry where not only are health effects from the turbine noise denied, the industry actually claims that wind power saves lives and therefore that the “overall benefit” of wind power supercedes any nagging little negative like people becoming ill from sleep deprivation and the stress and anxiety caused by the turbine noise and vibration. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has been complicit in this strategy from the outset: the decision to establish setbacks between turbines and homes was not based on any science at all.

In appeal after appeal, the evidence of health problems is brought forward, and the witnesses so convincing (despite the industry’s highly paid lawyers’ attempts with questions about their mental state) that members of the Environmental Review Tribunals comment on the authenticity of their accounts. In Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, panel chair Heather Gibbs wrote in her decision that while the evidence presented did not show a causal relationship, she quoted from Erickson, specifically that “the present situation is closer to the hypothesis generating phase of scientific research than it is to the point where statements can be made on causation.”

In other words, in the view of the Tribunal, there isn’t enough evidence to support the conclusion of “serious harm” (a construct of the Green Energy Act and not a real principle of public health) … but at the same time, there isn’t enough evidence to say there ISN’T.

Today, Big Wind carries on, impugning the testimony of ordinary citizens who have nothing to gain by telling their stories except to have them heard,  and presenting experts for hire whose goal is to produce doubt about the science we do have.

This is a shameful chapter in the history of Ontario.

 

 

Public in the dark on Kawartha Lakes appeal

Industry and the Ministry of the Environment not telling appellants or Tribunal what they’re up to.

Wind farm appeal on hold until August

Kawartha Lakes councillor Heather Stauble says appellants aren’t sure when hearing will move forward

Kawartha Lakes This Week, June 5, 2014

(KAWARTHA LAKES) Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble says it is disturbing that the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing the appeal of a wind energy project in Manvers Township is not getting information from the developer and the Province.

Last December, the Province granted wpd Canada approval for its Sumac Ridge wind energy project, which would see the installation of five large turbines near Bethany.

READ MORE: Councillor Explains Rationale Behind Wind Turbine Fight

Manvers Wind Concerns, Cransley Home Farm Limited and the Cham Shan Temple are appealing. The Cham Shan Temple is an initiative of the Buddhist Association of Canada that will mirror the four great Temples in China. One is almost completed and three more are planned for the City of Kawartha Lakes, a total investment of about $100 million.

On Wednesday (June 4), Coun. Stauble noted the hearing was originally scheduled for three months, ending in June. But, after several date changes, she says it has been postponed until Aug. 13. “We don’t know when this will move forward.”

Coun. Stauble said there has been ongoing correspondence between wpd Canada and the Ministry of Environment, but the appellants and the ERT panel have not been privy to that information.

Asked why not, Coun. Stauble said, “That’s a great question. Something has changed and we don’t know what it is.”

Read the full story here.

NextEra threatens Lambton Cty over road use

WIND DEVELOPMENT

County of Lambton successfully argued case for party status in ERT hearing, county solicitor confirms

By Barbara Simpson, Sarnia Observer

Lambton County councillors continued to take a stand against local industrial wind farm development Wednesday, refusing to sign a road use agreement with a large wind developer.

NextEra Energy officials tried to appeal to county councillors at their Wednesday meeting, urging them to sign an agreement outlining the use of local roadways to deliver electricity to the grid from the company’s planned 92-turbine Jericho Wind project.

“As you are aware, a road use agreement is not mandatory,” said NextEra official Derek Dudek, noting the company will have “no alternative” but to continue to proceed with its application before the Ontario Energy Board if the county refused to sign the agreement.

The board recently approved the wind developer’s plans to build a substation and more than 15 kilometres of transmission lines for the Jericho project.

While nearby landowners have expressed several concerns about the installation of the infrastruction, Dudek said the current draft road use agreement “addressed all questions raised.”

NextEra Energy has also brought forward several benefits for the county in the road use agreement, he told council. Some of these benefits include the company’s commitment to moving infrastructure with the eventual widening of Thomson Line, compensation to the tune of between $800,000 and $1.2 million, and up to $50,000 for the county’s phragmite reduction program.

Local anti-wind activist Audrey Broer, who was in attendance, described the company’s presentation as “a threat-slash-bribery.”

She said she remains “very proud” of council for standing their ground on the road use agreement.

County councillors recently voted in favour of joining an appeal of a recent Ministry of the Environment decision involving the Jericho Wind Project.

Parties are expected to argue that the planned wind farm will cause “serious harm” to the health of humans and animals.

Lambton County was recently successful in becoming a party in the case, county solicitor David Cribbs reported to council Wednesday.

Middlesex resident Bob Lewis launched the appeal, but members of We’re Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW) and another individual have come on as a participant and a presenter respectively.

“We’re very proud that the county has backed its status as an unwilling host…

Read the full story and comments here.