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.
“Wind wastes other clean supply and devalues exports.”
In a stunning commentary published yesterday by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy, energy policy consultant Marc Brouilette says that Ontario’s wind power program is an expensive adventure that does not achieve any of its goals for the environment or economic prosperity, and is in fact, making things worse.
At a cost of $1.5 billion in 2015, Brouillette says, the fact that wind power generation is completely out of sync with demand in Ontario results in added costs for constrained generation form other sources. Constrained nuclear and hydro cost $300 million that year, and a further $200 million in costs was incurred due to “avoided” natural gas generation.
And, the power isn’t even getting to the people who need it. “[O]nly one-half of total provincial wind output makes it to the Central Region and the GTA where most of Ontario’s electricity demand exists,” Brouillette states.
All things considered, wind costs more than $410 per megawatt hour, which is four times the average cost of electricity in Ontario. This is being charged to Ontario’s electricity customers, at an increasing rate.
Ontario should reconsider its commitment to more wind, Brouillette concludes: “these challenges will increase if Ontario proceeds to double wind capacity to the projected ~6,500 MW.”
Environment Minister says health concerns “bogus” — staff acknowledge health problems in official records
Last week, following a report by Global News based on information obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, there was a barrage of questions in Question Period at Queen’s Park on wind power projects and related issues, including reports of adverse health effects from exposure to the noise emissions from the power generators.
In response to a question from MPP Laurie Scott of Haliburton-Kawartha-Brock, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray tossed back:
This government spent a considerable amount of money hiring the leading experts and doing medical research, as did the federal government, and found out the totality of the opposition party’s claims were completely bogus and like so much, not science-based.
In fact, the “science” the Minister Murray refers to, including the Health Canada study, supports concerns about adverse health effects from wind turbine noise, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario produced a brief review in 2010 that concluded that there were significant gaps in the information available at that time (seven years ago) and that actual noise measurement was needed.
But what the Minister seems not to know, says Wind Concerns Ontario, is that his own staff are aware of people experiencing health effects from wind turbine noise, according to official staff notes included in the information received n the Freedom of Information request. That information consisted of 3,180 Incident Reports and 100 Master Incident reports; several of the Master files contain dozens of reports to the government about the turbine noise and vibration, and include staff observations.
“It is very disturbing that a Minister of the Crown could be so dismissive of the health concerns of Ontario citizens,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in a letter to Minister Murray, sent yesterday. “While the view that there is no link between wind turbine noise emissions and any health effects may be that of the wind power development industry and its trade association, it is not supported by the Master Incident complaint records that your Ministry released to Wind Concerns Ontario via a request under Freedom of Information legislation.”
Of the 100 Master files, 59 contain specific reference to health complaints, Wilson said, chiefly loss of sleep, headache, and feelings of “pressure.” Some people reported not having slept for weeks, due to the noise.
“It is therefore completely inaccurate to say that there are no health effects from wind turbine noise in Ontario,” Wind Concerns advised the Minister.
In several records, staff noted that wind turbine noise exceeded regulations: ““Staff have attended at the complainants homes on multiple occasions … noise measurements were obtained…subjective observations were made by Provincial Officers…the conclusion of the POs were that the noise emissions from the wind turbines were causing an adverse effect contrary to S. 14 (1) of the EPA at the complainants locations…”
““…the conclusions of the Provincial Officers who conducted the inspections that the sound discharged into the natural environment by the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect…” was the staff note in another official record.
Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 30 community groups and individuals and families, is asking that no new Renewable Energy Approvals be granted to wind power projects — five projects received contracts in 2016 but which do not have approval yet from the Environment Ministry.
“You have to ask why the government is treating the wind power industry and these huge corporations differently from other businesses,” Wilson says. “If this were any other product or service, with thousands of complaints, there would be a halt to exposure… instead, the Ontario government refers to the wind corporations as its ‘client’. We think the government should answer to the people of Ontario.”
Incident reports released under Freedom of Information show government unable or unwilling to act on noise complaints from residents living near wind power projects
OTTAWA, May 31, 2017—
Documents recently released by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) under Freedom of Information show a deeply flawed process for responding to complaints of excessive noise levels from industrial-scale wind turbines, Wind Concerns Ontario says.
Documents released to Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups and citizens, show that almost 3,200 reports of noise complaints were made in 2006-2014. In more than half, the government took no action.
“When Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, he promised the people of rural Ontario to address concerns about health and safety from the turbines,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said. “But they already had multiple complaints about wind turbine noise from 2006 onward, and they were unable and even unwilling to deal with them. This is failure of a government to protect people.
“Their goal appears to be protecting the interests of power development corporations instead.”
Ontario families called the MOECC hotline to report sleep disturbance, headaches, and dizziness from the wind turbine noise emissions. Some were desperate and reported not having slept for days, even weeks at a time.
The reports show, however, that ministry staff had no protocols or guidelines to deal with noise complaints and that high-level directives blocked staff from responding. Staff were told to rely on computer noise models provided by power developers instead of actual noise measurement.
“The noise models said that the turbine noise levels were safe, and within regulations,” Wilson explains, “but complaints continued — the Ministry did nothing. The MOECC chose power developers, their ‘clients,’ over Ontario families.”
Many reports referred to vibration or “pulsing” sensations from the huge turbines, but the MOECC restricted responses to audible noise alone.
“People just gave up and stopped calling,” Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says. “Then, in many cases, the Ministry simply closed their files. There was no help for these people from their government.”
A revised Compliance Protocol was released by the government on April 21, but contains no substantive change to the complaint process.
Wind Concerns Ontario recommends that no more approvals or Notices To Proceed be granted for wind power projects, and that the government develop and enforce new, tougher noise standards.
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, families and individuals concerned about the effects of industrial-scale wind turbines on the environment, the economy, and human health.
Victoria Day weekend in Canada is a time for picnics and fun with family and friends, for many people.
One set of grandparents living on a farm in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township in Huron County thought that would be fun too, and were looking forward to having their two young granddaughters come and stay for a lovely weekend in the country.
But it was not to be.
Early on the morning of the holiday Sunday, the grandmother said, “there was a horrible tonal* noise — whine and whooing that made staying on the second level of our home intolerable.”
Later on that same morning, she said, she had “severe pressure and pain” in her ear.
Then, “Our eight year old granddaughter complained of a ‘sore forehead’.” The child has complained of sore ears at times in the past while visiting her grandparents’ home, but never at any other time.
Outside that morning the family discovered, the whining and whooing noise was everywhere.
“We had to leave here [our home] with those little girls,” the grandmother said.
“We have no freedom to do as we want in our private surroundings. It makes me weep.”
The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, like so many other families forced to endure the noise and vibration from wind turbines, have reported the turbine noise and vibration to authorities on numerous occasions. They live with 11 wind turbines within two kilometres of their home, the closest of which is just over 700 metres from the house.
On the Victoria Day weekend, they filed a complaint with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change District Office, and added this statement:
“You are harming us.”
Ontario Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray recently promised in the Legislature that his staff were responding to such complaints and that they would ensure the rules on noise emissions would be enforced.
Ontario families who did not ask to be exposed to these noise emissions deserve to have the Ministry fulfill its mandate, and protect all citizens from harm.
The Spills Action Line for the MOECC can be reached at 1-800-268-6060 to report excessive wind turbine noise, vibration and shadow flicker. If you call during business hours, you will be referred to the local Business Office. From the website:
You must report a spill if it:
harms or causes material discomfort to any person
injures or damages property or animal life
impairs the quality of the natural environment air, water or land
causes adverse health effects
presents a safety risk
renders property, plant or animal life unfit for use
leads to the loss of enjoyment of the normal use of property
interferes with the normal conduct of business
Pure tones are wave forms that occur at a single frequency. Tonal noise is generated by rotating equipment at a predictable frequency relating to the rotational speed of the shaft and the number of compressor vanes, fan blades, engine pistons, gear teeth, etc.
Parker Gallant compares power output from wind and the cost to consumers between 2010 and 2016: we’re paying more for intermittent wind power, produced out-of-phase with demand
In 2010, industrial wind turbines (IWT) in Ontario represented total installed capacity of approximately 1,200 megawatts (MW); they generated 2.95 terawatt hours (TWh*) of transmission (TX) and distributed (DX) connected electricity. The power from wind cost Ontario’s ratepayers about $413 million for those 2.95 TWh, about 2.1% of total 2010 consumption. The cost of IWT generation in 2010 was 3.1% of total generation costs (Global Adjustment [GA] + Hourly Ontario Energy Price [HOEP]) and represented 33.5% of “net exports”** of electricity to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and others.
Jump to 2016: wind turbines represented installed capacity of almost 4,500 MW, and generated and curtailed*** TX and DX connected electricity totaling 13.15 TWh. The cost to Ontario’s ratepayers jumped to $1,894.3 million — about 12.2 % of total generation costs. The 13.15 TWh of generation was 7.9% of Ontario’s total consumption but 94.9% of net exports.
The cost per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by wind in 2010 was 14 cents and in 2016 it had increased to 17.5 cents, despite downward adjustments to the contracted values between 2010 and 2016. That cost doesn’t include the back-up costs of gas generation when the wind doesn’t blow and we need the power, nor does it include costs associated with spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear, but it does include the cost of curtailed wind, which was 2.33 TWh in 2016 and just shy of total wind generated electricity in 2010.
In the seven years from 2010 to 2016, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers picked up total costs of $7.746 billion for 56.9 TWh of grid-accepted and curtailed (4.9 TWh) wind-generated electricity. The actual value given to those 56.9 TWh by the HOEP market was just shy of $570 million meaning ratepayers were forced to pick up the difference of $7.166 billion for power that wasn’t needed. The foregoing is based on the fact we have continually exported our surplus generation since the passing of the Green Energy Act and contracted for IWT generation at above market prices.
During those same seven years, Ontario had “net exports” of 85.95 TWh while curtailing wind, spilling hydro and steaming off nuclear. And, at the same time, we were contracting for gas plant generators that are now only occasionally called on to generate electricity yet are paid considerable dollars for simply idling!
Refinancing wind payments
As noted above the cost of wind generation in 2016 was almost $1.9 billion and represented 15.3% of the Global Adjustment pot. That cost was close to what was inferred in an Energy Ministry press release headlined: “Refinancing the Global Adjustment” but suggesting it was taxpayer owned “infrastructure”: “To relieve the current burden on ratepayers and share costs more fairly, a portion of the GA is being refinanced. Refinancing the GA would provide significant and immediate rate relief by spreading the cost of electricity investments over the expected lifecycle of the infrastructure that has been built.”
What’s really being refinanced is a portion of the guaranteed payments to the wind and solar developers who were contracted at above market rates! So, what is being touted as a 25% reduction includes the 8% provincial portion of the HST and a portion of annual payments being made to wind and solar developers for their intermittent (and unreliable) power.
Premier Wynne’s shell game continues!
May 22, 2017
Note: Special thanks to Scott Luft for his recent chart outlining the data enabling the writer to complete the math associated with this Liberal shell game!
* One TWh equals 1 million MWh and the average household in Ontario reputedly consumes 9 MWh annually, meaning 1 TWh could power 111,000 average household for one year.
** Net exports are total exports less total imports.
*** Ontario commenced paying for “curtailed” wind generation in September 2013.
Re-posed from Parker Gallant’s Energy Perspectives
How badly were ratepayers hit? Millions upon millions for power produced out of phase with demand…
While the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the trade association for the wind power industry and vested interests, continues to maintain that wind power cannot be contributing to Ontario’s rising and unsustainable electricity bills, the facts indicate otherwise. The figures for April 2017 show wind power produced out-of-phase with demand, causing power from other, clean sources to be wasted, and wind power producers paid not to add power to the Ontario grid.
Here is Parker Gallant’s analysis.
The Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO’s 18 month outlook report uses their “Methodology to Perform Long Term Assessments” to forecast what industrial wind turbines (IWT) are likely to generate as a percentage of their rated capacity.
The Methodology description follows.
“Monthly Wind Capacity Contribution (WCC) values are used to forecast the contribution from wind generators. WCC values in percentage of installed capacity are determined from actual historic median wind generator contribution over the last 10 years at the top 5 contiguous demand hours of the day for each winter and summer season, or shoulder period month. The top 5 contiguous demand hours are determined by the frequency of demand peak occurrences over the last 12 months.”
The most recent 18-month outlook forecast wind production at an average (capacity 4,000 MW growing to 4,500 MW) over 12 months at 22.2%, which is well under the assumed 29-30 % capacity claimed by wind developers. For the month of April, IESO forecast wind generation at 33.2% of capacity.
April 2017 has now passed; my friend Scott Luft has posted the actual generation and estimated the curtailed generation produced by Ontario’s contracted IWT. For April, IESO reported grid- and distribution-connected IWT generated almost 703,000 megawatt hours (MWh), or approximately 24% of their generation capacity. Scott also estimated they curtailed 521,000 MWh or 18 % of generation capacity.
So, actual generation could have been 42% of rated capacity as a result of Ontario’s very windy month of April 2017, but Ontario’s demand for power wasn’t sufficient to absorb it! April is typically a “shoulder” month with low demand, but at the same time it is a high generation month for wind turbines.
How badly did Ontario’s ratepayers get hit? In April, they paid the costs to pay wind developers – that doesn’t include the cost of back-up from gas plants or spilled or steamed off emissions-free hydro and nuclear or losses on exported surpluses.
Wind cost=22.9 cents per kWh
For the 703,000 MWh, the cost* of grid accepted generation at $140/MWh was $98.4 million and the cost of the “curtailed” generation at $120/MWh was $62.5 million making the total cost of wind for the month of April $160.9 million. That translates to a cost per MWh of grid accepted wind of $229.50 or 22.9 cents per kWh.
Despite clear evidence that wind turbines fail to provide competitively priced electricity when it is actually needed, the Premier Wynne-led government continues to allow more capacity to be added instead of killing the Green Energy Act and cancelling contracts that have not commenced installation.
* Most wind contracts are priced at 13.5 cents/kilowatt (kWh) and the contracts include a cost of living (COL) annual increase to a maximum of 20% so the current cost is expected to be in the range of $140/MWh or 14cents/kWh.
(Re-posted with permission from Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives)
“Assertions are complete nonsense … only wilful blindness would suggest that wind and solar are low cost”
Recently, energy analyst and occasional columnist for The Financial PostParker Gallant wrote that the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) was hitting back at allegations that wind power was contributing to Ontario’s rising electricity bills.
Ontario representative Brandy Gianetta said wind power was a low-cost energy source, and she referred to University of Waterloo professor Jatin Nathwani for support.
Trouble is, she was wrong.
Professor Nathwani took the time to correct CanWEA’s statements in an email to Parker Gallant, published on his Energy Perspectives blog today.
Here is Professor Nathwani’s email:
Dear Mr Gallant:
In your Blog, you have cited Ms. Giannetta’s post on CanWEA’s website on April 24, 2017 as quoted below:
Her article points to two articles that purportedly support the “myth” she is “busting,” but both require closer examination. She cites Waterloo professor Natin Nathwani’s, (PhD in chemical engineering and a 2016 “Sunshine list” salary of $184,550) article of March 6, 2017, posted on the TVO website, which supports Premier Wynne’s dubious claims of “a massive investment, on the order of $50 billion, for the renewal of Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure.” Professor Nathwani offers no breakdown of the investment which suggests he simply took Premier Wynne’s assertion from her “Fair Hydro Plan” statement as a fact! It would be easy to tear apart Professor Nathwani’s math calculations — for example, “The total electricity bill for Ontario consumers has increased at 3.2 per cent per year on average” — but anyone reading that blatant claim knows his math is flawed!
First and foremost, the record needs to be corrected since Ms Giannetta’s assertions are simply incorrect and should not be allowed to stand.
If she has better information on the $50 billion investment provided in the Ministry of Energy’s Technical Briefing, she should make that available.
The breakdown of the investment pattern in generation for the period 2008-2014 is as follows:
Wind Energy $6 Billion (Installed Capacity 2600 MW)
Solar Energy $5.8 Billion (Installed Capacity 1400 MW)
Bio-energy $1.3 Billion (Installed 325MW)
Natural Gas $5.8 Billion
Water Power $5 Billion (installed Capacity 1980 MW)
Nuclear $5.2 Billion
Total Installed Capacity Added to the Ontario Grid from 2008-2014 was 12,731 MW of which Renewable Power Capacity was 6298MW at a cost of $18.2 Billion.
For the complete investment pattern from 2005 to 2015, please see data available at the IESO Website.
In sum, generation additions (plus removal of coal costs) are in the order of $35 billion and additional investments relate to transmission and distribution assets.
I take strong exception to her last statement suggesting that the 3.2 percent per year (on average) increase in total electricity cost from 2006 to 2015 in real 2016$. The source for this information is a matter of public record and is available at the IESO website.
Ms Giannetta’s assertion is complete nonsense because she does not understand the difference between electricity bill and generation cost. Let Ms Gianetta identify the “blatant flaw.”
As for the electricity bill that the consumer sees, there is a wide variation across Ontario and this is primarily related to Distribution.
The Ontario Energy Board report on Electricity Rates in different cities provides a view across Ontario:
For example, the average bill for a for a typical 750kWh home Ontario comes is $130 per month.
In Toronto it is $142, Waterloo at $130 and Cornwall at $106. On the high side is Hydro One networks is $182 and this is primarily related to cost of service for low density, rural areas.
Your Table 2 Total Electricity Supply Cost is helpful and correctly highlights the cost differences of different generation supply.
Only wilful blindness on Ms Giannetta’s part would suggest that wind and solar are coming in at a low cost.
Jatin Nathwani, PhD, P.Eng
Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy
Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE)
Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Environment Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA)
‘What you can’t hear, can’t hurt you’ notion shown to be false
The wind power industry, Health Canada, and the Ontario government insist that infrasound cannot be heard, and therefore it cannot hurt you.
CanWEA went so far as to pay for a study done by MIT in 2014, that concluded infrasound near wind turbines does not exceed audibility thresholds* and is therefore not a health risk.
Turns out, they are wrong.
All of them.
A paper just published by a team of German researchers, believed to be the first of its kind, documented “changes of brain activity across several regions in response to prolonged, near-threshold IS [infrasound] …”
The peer-reviewed paper, Altered cortical and subcortical connectivity due to infrasound administered near the hearing threshold – Evidence from fMRI, was published by a team of researchers led by Markus Weichenberger of the Max Plank Institute for Human Development.
“For decades,’ the research team wrote, “it has been a widely held view that IS [infrasound] frequencies are too low to be processed by the auditory system. … Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing consensus that humans are indeed receptive to IS and that exposure to low-frequency sounds can give rise to high levels of annoyance and distress.”
The authors then stated that the idea that sound needs to be perceived in order to exert effects on humans “falls short when aiming at an objective risk assessment of IS.”
The team then set out to investigate whether IS “near the hearing threshold” can affect brain activitiy and what the effects of stimulation might be.
” … our results also allow us to draw some preliminary conclusions on potential long-term health effects associated with (sub-)liminal IS stimulation. It has been reported in several studies that sustained exposure to noise can lead to an increase of catecholamine- and cortisol levels [114–116]. In addition, changes of bodily functions, such as blood pressure, respiration rate, EEG patterns and heart rate have also been documented in the context of exposure to below- and near-threshold IS [117–118]. We therefore suggest that several of the above mentioned autonomic reactions could in fact be mediated by the activation of brain areas such as the ACC and the amygdala. While increased local connectivity in ACC and rAmyg may only reflect an initial bodily stress response towards (sub-)liminal IS, we speculate that stimulation over longer periods of time could exert a profound effect on autonomic functions and may eventually lead to the formation of symptoms such as sleep disturbances, panic attacks or depression, especially when additional risk factors, such as an increased sensibility towards noise, or strong expectations about the harmfulness of IS are present.”
And, ” Transient upregulation of these brain areas in response to below- or near threshold IS may thus reflect an initial stress response of the body, eventually promoting symptom formation as stimulation occurs repeatedly and additional risk factor[s] come into play…”
As in, little or no understanding of the problems with wind turbine noise emissions.
On Friday, April 21, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a new protocol document intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.”
While in the absence of guidance for staff, and the complete lack of compliance audit information from wind power developers and operators, this is a step forward, the truth is, the protocol doesn’t change much.
the protocol still relies on audible noise only, when many of the complaints registered with the MOECC concern effects that are clearly linked to other forms of noise
the protocol does not take into account lower wind speeds, which is where problems are being experienced, particularly with newer, more powerful turbines
there is no comment on any sort of transition between the protocol that existed before and this one
the Ministry’s action in producing this protocol is an indication that they know they have a problem
the description of Ministry response is a good step forward
requiring wind power companies to actually have, and to publish, compliance audit documents could be a sign of expectations of greater accountability among the power developers/wind power project operators.
This table outlines the critical gaps in the new protocol document.
Assessment of noise at wind speeds between 4 m/s and 7 m/s
MOECC testing indicates problem noise starts below 3 m/s which is outside of wind speeds involved in the protocol.
Narrow time period assessed
Wide seasonal variations while wind turbine noise constant
Only test outside of home
Very different inside noise conditions
Uses criticized techniques
Narrow band analysis shows tonal noise present.
Resident concerns drive other MOECC procedures
Elevated levels of infrasound in homes
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise, and accept that it must play a role as a government agency charged with protecting the environment and people in it — preparing an industry-led document may look like a positive step, but this document does not meet the needs of the people of Ontario forced to live with wind turbines, and their noise emissions.