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.
October 15, 2017 was quite a windy Sunday. Being a mild fall day too, that meant Ontario’s demand for electricity was low according to the IESO’s Daily Market Summary. Total Ontario demand was only 313,000 MWh for the whole day.
Unfortunately for ratepayers, it was a beyond the norm windy day — industrial wind turbines spread throughout the province were spinning well beyond their yearly average of 29/30% of capacity.
According to the IESO’s daily generator report, the wind turbines could have supplied almost 84,000 MWh* of power, or about 27% of all the power consumed by Ontario’s ratepayers (approximately 83% of their capacity). As it turned out, IESO curtailed or did not accept 42,500 MWh for which wind developers were paid $120/MWh anyway, and the 41,200 MWh grid-accepted power generation got them the standard $135/MWh.
What the foregoing means is wind developers were paid approximately $10,660,000 for curtailed wind generation and grid-accepted power. That works out to a cost per MWh of $260 or 26 cents a kilowatt hour — almost double the current generation cost, for which 25% is being refinanced under the Fair Hydro Act.
As it turned out, the grid-accepted wind generation really wasn’t needed: as the IESO “Summary” report indicates, Ontario’s net exports averaged 2,110MW per hour or 50,640 MW at a negative price of $0.99. That means Ontario’s ratepayers picked up another $50K to provide our neighbours (principally Michigan and New York) with cheap power.
No doubt Ontario was also spilling hydro and steaming off Bruce Nuclear which ratepayers were also paying for on that windy October Sunday.
More proof that wind power provides costly, intermittent and unneeded power. More proof that the Green Energy and Economy Act should be tossed out!
“The Green Energy Act was the biggest con ever in Ontario” — MPP Todd Smith
October 16, 2017
Hundreds of community members in Prince Edward County marched down Picton Main Street yesterday to protest the “White PInes” wind power project, and the Ontario government’s wind power policy. The march was followed by a three-hour information session.
The project by Germany-based wpd was trimmed from 29 to 9 turbines in various appeals, but the developer is still proceeding despite questions as to whether it actually has a contract with the Ontario government, and whether the 9-turbine project makes any financial sense.
Among the speakers at the information session was Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, who reviewed the findings of the organization’s request for documents on reports of excessive wind turbine noise made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.
“We wondered, what happens to all the reports being made to the government? Here’s what we learned: The government does nothing,” Wilson said.
“This government has completely abdicated its role as a protector of the environment and people. Instead of functioning as a regulator, it is now a facilitator for huge multi-national corporations whose last concern is any benefit to the environment.”
Everybody knows there are health effects
Dr Robert McMurtry said adverse health effects related to wind turbine noise emissions, including inaudible noise and low-frequency noise, are disturbing, especially because both government and industry deny them. “Everyone’s pretending the emperor has clothes,” said Dr McMurtry, a member of the Order of Canada and a former Dean of Medicine. “There are adverse health effects and everybody knows it — that’s why we have setbacks in the first place.”
Other community members spoke on concerns for wildlife, heritage features (the nine turbines will surround the historic Loyalist settlement of Milford), and the effect on citizens’ water wells. While the power developer claimed there would be no problems as a result of sinking huge wind turbine foundations into the ground, which features fragile karst topography, Les Stanfield remarked that there are sinkholes all over the County, and there were concerns about the turbines’ effect on aquifers.
MPP Todd Smith said loudly, what no one had said was that the whole push for wind power and the Green Energy Act was “the biggest con job” ever in Ontario.” Obviously, he said, repealing the controversial act is mandatory.
Renowned vintner Norman Hardie said the power project “must not go ahead.” Eco-tourism, the County’s economy, and the entire character of the area would be irreparably damaged, he said.
Power not needed
The last speaker was Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff who said that the project must not proceed, and nothing less than 100-percent success in stopping it was acceptable. He questioned the contract with the IESO, and the feasibility of the project. “I can’t understand why [wpd] is doing this? Are they punishing our community for daring to oppose them?”
Wilson added to her presentation that at the time of the event, wind power was being constrained or held back at record levels in Ontario, according to IESO data for Sunday.
“That just adds insult to injury,” she said.
Residents last week filed notice of legal action against the Independent Electricity Systems Operator or IESO over the project, which they say has no legal contract. The first court date is November 17 in Picton. Donations accepted at the community group website.
For many families in Ontario, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time, a time to get together over a lunch or dinner, get outside for walks in the still pleasant weather, and just generally enjoy a day, or weekend.
Unless you are forced to live inside a wind power plant as hundreds of Ontario residents are.
This Thanksgiving weekend saw high winds in a number of locations and Ontario’s wind turbines were churning away, producing power that wasn’t needed on a warm holiday weekend, meanwhile producing noise and vibration in nearby homes.
A Chatham-Kent area family spent a sleepless night on the holiday weekend Saturday and started calling the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Spills Action line at 5:30 a.m. to complain about the noise.
One Niagara area resident wrote an email about her family’s experiences on the holiday weekend.
We continue to be exposed daily to the well-known harmful emissions from the ill placement of Industrial Scale Wind Turbines to our home. We cannot enjoy our property and home, outside or inside, due to the constant crashing, swooshing and thumping inside and outside of our home.
The Industrial Wind Generators are whomping along with what I refer to as microbursts. A constant swoosh can be heard inside and outside of our home with thump thump thumps. I am highly agitated without sleep and being exposed to these emissions. This causes frustrations, alters moods and has stolen what I used to enjoy about living in my sanctuary, aka, as my HOME!!!!!!!!
Last night my bed was vibrating. VIBRATING! The vibrations could be felt throughout the home by all of us and felt in our bodies.
I am disrupted during sleep several times during the night. Especially when you are woken by your bed vibrating and tinnitus so loud it is difficult to hear people and suppressing the high pitch screaming in your ears is impossible. The more sleep disturbances, the more tired and the more difficult it is to handle the various symptoms forced onto us by this illegal legislation. My head is under pressure with a headache requiring an aid to suppress the pain. My skin is crawling. Waves of vertigo coupled with nausea diminish my comfort and well-being. Vertigo also challenges my stability while up and down in my daily routine. As long as vertigo is present, my stability is at risk. My ears are under pressure and that pressure extends behind my ears, below my ears and spreads down my throat while I am also trying to cope with tinnitus, a stiff neck and pressure on my chest.
Our lives have been turned inside out … [this] is a complete violation of our rights as Canadians.
A family in Huron County also complained to the MOECC about their experiences in what was supposed to be a pleasant family weekend at the farm:
Some of us had very restless nights… One of our guests has had some very unsettling experiences today, October 8th.
Experienced SEVERE sudden onset of knife like ear pain while sitting against a south wall inside our home. This happened in the morning (we were away for a couple of hours) and then later again when we arrived home – the same experiences. This person has never felt anything like it before and has been quite literally shocked by what is happening and is very disturbed by it – and now is trying to rest due to a severe headache.
I hate what this Wind Power Plant has done to our personal lives, our physical and mental health, etc.
Another Huron County resident, forced to live inside the K2 wind power plant, wrote this to the Spills line last Friday:
Today, I cannot enjoy my property and home, outside or inside, due to cyclical TONALITY. The wind is from the SW, WSW. The wind speed at ground level is relatively low. The TONALITY is rising and lowering in intensity, modulating up and down and it is SICKENING, like fingernails on a chalk board! This causes frustrations, alters moods and has stolen what I used to enjoy about living in my home. It is disruptive to our daily life and dangerous to our health.
None of these complaints received immediate response.
All the MOECC is offering to do at present is more noise testing, using its flawed and limited measurement protocol.
The MOECC’s mandate is to protect the environment and human health.
Except when the people who really count are huge, multi-national wind power corporations.
“To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.” From the independent Wellington Times, a powerful overview of what the McGuinty-Wynne governments have done to Ontario while aiding huge corporations to build wind power plants
Mary Shelley is said to have conceived the story of Frankenstein, a manmade monster let loose upon the countryside, while under the influence of opium in the cold summer of 1816. The gothic horror story, it turns out, was the work of a dark imagination fuelled by opioids.
It begs the question: what was Kathleen Wynne and her government smoking when they let loose their own man-made monsters across rural Ontario—in the form of industrial wind developers and speculators?
Even if you buy the sentiment that their motivations were well-intentioned, the undeniable outcome of the Green Energy Act is that Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have spawned armies of amoral monstrous corporate creatures and have let them loose to roam unfettered across the province. To wreak havoc in rural communities. To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.
Worse, our government has paved the way, clearing hurdles and slashing regulations to enable these creatures to prey upon vulnerable communities, natural habitats and endangered species. Now they have lost control of their grotesque creations. Even Kathleen Wynne must know how this story ends.
Near Chatham, folks believe the wind developer working nearby has poisoned their wells—allowing toxins into their drinking supply. They have done the testing. They have spoken out. They have protested. Marched on Queen’s Park. Kathleen Wynne has ignored them.
Wynne, her government and her supporters comfort themselves believing the scourge they have unleashed—though ugly and abusive— is a necessary evil. That the greater good is being served. They ignore the folks holding up jars of black liquid, pleading with the province to test their water, drawn from wells that have become undrinkable since the wind developer began driving piles into the bedrock to secure its massive wind turbines. Even Chatham- Kent’s mayor has demanded Kathleen Wynne intervene to protect these residents. It has made no difference.
Left without the protection of the province—without the safeguards that would protect them from any other development— these folks took matters into their own hands. In August, they began blockading the construction site— neighbours joining together to form a line against the threat to their drinking water.
On Monday, in a cruel blow, the developers— a Korean conglomerate and its American partner—won a court injunction barring any further blockades of the project. The judge said he wasn’t trying to muzzle opponents, but to “prohibit unlawful acts”.
People have to prove their water has been poisoned
In Ontario’s perverse hunger for industrial wind turbines, it turns out Chatham-Kent residents must first prove they have been poisoned by the developer, before they may seek justice. By then, of course, the damage will have been done. Recourse will expensive and, for most, unattainable.
Four years ago, the giant American wind developer Next Era sued Esther Wrightman for defamation. On her website she had altered the company’s logo to NextError and Next Terror. They wanted the logos removed or they would litigate the mother of two young children into oblivion. All these years later, the legal action is still pending. Wrightman wakes up every morning with the weight of this action still weighing on her head.
In Prince Edward County, a wind developer has been barred from constructing a nine-turbine project near Milford between May 1 and October 15. This was done expressly to protect the nesting grounds and habitat of the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species in the province.
Nevertheless, crews have been busy these past few weeks clearing vegetation, preparing the site and delivering heavy equipment onto these protected lands. There are no consequences for ignoring the rules.
Families have left homes–no one will help
So, a developer ruins drinking water without penalty, another bullies a young mother into silence, and yet another crushes rules meant to save an endangered species. This is our Ontario. There are dozens more distressing stories just like these. Too many sad accounts of families forced to leave their homes because the noise and vibration from the massive machines proved intolerable.
No one is coming to help the folks in Chatham-Kent. No one from our government—those we entrust to protect us—is intervening between Next Era (market capitalization of $68 billion) and Esther Wrightman. And no one is coming to protect endangered species in South Marysburgh.
Wynne has lost control of her destructive and unscrupulous brutes. When the Liberal government eliminated the safeguards that once protected us from these threats, and cut municipalities and communities out of decision-making, they may have believed they were just streamlining processes. Instead, they unleashed wild dogs onto the Ontario landscape without oversight or the means to bring them back to heel.
Untethered by moral, ethical or community concerns, these corporate beasts consume and ravage everything they can get away with. Folks who have fought for years to protect the things our government was supposed to safeguard, have been left gasping in despair. Lacking legal remedies or protection, some have begun considering other means to protect their families, their communities and their land. If the government won’t protect them, they will do it themselves.
This is the horror Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have wrought.
Turbines in K2 Wind power project were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations months ago. Since then, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has done nothing, says a report by CTV News London.
Last spring, the MOECC determined that several industrial-scale wind turbines in the K2 Wind power development near Goderich, Ontario were operating out of compliance. This was the result of noise testing done by the Ministry, following numerous complaints by residents.
Former minister Glen Murray had promised action, saying there are rules to be followed, and his department would make sure they were.
Months later, nothing has been done. And residents continue to file reports of excessive noise and vibration daily.
In a report by Scott Miller of CTV London resident Mike Stachura says, “Nothing has changed…This is our home, we have to live here and we keep hoping the government will do something to help.”
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson raised the issue in the Legislature Tuesday, asking new minister Chris Ballard when the Wynne government was going to take action to protect residents’ health. The minister responded with criticism of the Opposition, and reverted to the government’s green energy mantra.
This past spring, Wind Concerns Ontario conducted an analysis of Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) response to reports of excessive noise and vibration(MOECC) and concluded the process for responding to citizen complaints is deeply flawed and largely ineffective. Global News ran a two-part investigative report on this information, which featured Ontario families who have been complaining about turbine noise for years, with no resolution.
More documents recently released under Freedom of Information (FOI) and correspondence with Ministry staff reveal problems with the Cornwall office that are further examples of a poor strategy for response. The documents and email also are a clear indication that the MOECC has completely abdicated its role as a regulator, and leaves resolution of any problems up to corporate wind power developers.
The Cornwall office up to now has only had to deal with any reports of excessive noise stemming from the 30-megawatt South Branch power project in and around Brinston, Ontario. Documents show that noise complaints were made even before the project began commercial operation in March, 2014.
No report number means no records?
Our initial request for information resulted in three records, which did not match Wind Concerns Ontario members’ experiences with this power project. It turned out, the Cornwall office had not been giving Incident Report numbers to people reporting, as is procedure, so their complaints were not recorded or tracked. On the advice of insider, we re-filed a request, this time asking for “investigative” reports and a handful — again, at odds with our members’ real-life experiences–was turned over.
In the records was an email from the Senior Environmental Officer to the power developer EDP Renewables, in which the MOECC staff member actually apologizes for passing along a complaint. [Emphasis ours]
Tuesday July 22, 2014
Hi Ken [Ken Little , EDPR project manager for South Branch]
Sorry about this …
I received a noise complaint last week –not specific to any particular time last week, but a complaint of noise when the winds are from the west or south west. The resident lives [redacted] and is bothered by the noise from the turbine [redacted] The caller stated he cannot open his winds when the winds are from that particular direction due to the noise. …
Do you have any acoustic results for that specific turbine yet?
Excerpts from other complaints
May, 2014: There have been several nights when I am awakened with the window closed. I shudder to think of having the windows open all the time now …
March 20, 2014: I have had several sleepless nights when the wind is in the east direction as the sound waves of the turbines kept me awake from 12:30 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. until morning. [Redacted] Is there any way we can control the wind turbine motion for daytime hours only as [sic] they do not run from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.?
And, in one actual Incident Report:
June, 2014 IR 5006-9KYK5D: ..caller report last night was the 7th night since start-up of wind turbines as SBWF that she has been unable to sleep for the noise …Noise is described as drone of an airplane — very loud with windows closed.
MOECC noted: “acoustic monitoring conducted by tech support July 14-18 2014, report under review with noise engineer”
This summer, a Brinston area resident wrote to Minister Murray about the complete lack of response to her reports of excessive noise (she has had to sleep in her basement on occasion because of the noise and vibration), and an officer with the Cornwall Office telephoned her.
Here’s what she was told.
*Ministry staff were completely unprepared for wind turbine noise complaints.
*They still don’t really know what to do.
*They “lost” her records — even though she had so many reports that the MOECC actually installed equipment and did noise measurement for several days.
*Last, it was too bad they lost everything pertaining to her situation and reports but it didn’t really matter, she was told because “You’re the only one complaining.”
“Lost” records? Citizen complaints under the regulations “don’t matter”? And she was “the only one”, which is completely false?
Outrageous behavior for a regulator
Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter to new MOECC Minister Ballard, stating “This is outrageous treatment of a citizen of Ontario, who is simply following the process communicated to her by both the Government of Ontario and the wind power developer, who is mandated under its Renewable Energy Approval to act on and resolve any complaints of excessive noise.”
Moreover, WCO noted in its letter to the Minister, the Cornwall office is not ensuring compliance to conditions of the Renewable Energy Approval, specifically results of the compliance audit, which must be posted on the wind power project website, but are not. The response from the Cornwall Office (August 10, 2017):
“Copies of the acoustic audits can be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. I haven’t had a chance to check, but some reports have been included in the SBWF website– I assume you’ve already checked there. Let me know if you are interested in pursuing an FOI request and I’ll direct you to the form and process.”
When WCO responded that the report is supposed to be public as per the protocol released by the MOECC in April 2017, the Senior Environmental Officer replies [emphasis ours] on August 10, 2017:
“Ah…I haven’t had a chance to review this new protocol in its entirety…there are some changes worth noting. Thank you for bringing my attention to this. I will be requiring the SBWF to post their reports on their website. I’ll keep you apprised.
“This is completely inappropriate behaviour for a regulator,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote to Minister Ballard.
“The people of this particular area are now facing approval of a 100-megawatt power project by the same developer, this one close to TWO communities,* and they have no assurance whatsoever that the Cornwall District Office is prepared, or even competent, to respond effectively to noise complaints.
“On behalf of our members, we ask that you investigate this situation. Government staff should be prepared to fulfill the department’s mandate, and carry out their responsibilities to the people of Ontario.”
As of September 4, 2017, the mandated compliance report is still not on the South Branch Wind Farm website.
We have just been informed by the MOECC that the EDP documents have been reviewed and found to be incomplete and cannot be posted at this time.
This project has been in operation for three years.
ONTARIO ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO REPEAT WIND POWER MISTAKES
August 22, 2017
Wellington, Ont. —
Applications for approval of new, huge wind power projects now being filed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate should be denied, says Wind Concerns Ontario.
“There have been so many problems and mistakes with the government’s wind power program that not a single new project should be approved,” says Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson.
Recently, problems with well water have been revealed in the Chatham-Kent area, where vibrations from turbine construction and operation have disturbed the shale bedrock resulting in toxic heavy metals such as arsenic contaminating water, making it undrinkable.
On August 21st, Chatham-Kent council voted to demand a halt to construction of a new wind power project.
The Otter Creek project by French power developer Boralex is proposed to be built on the same geologic formation and there are questions as to whether it could also create water problems.
Turbine noise is an ongoing concern: Wind Concerns received MOECC documents earlier this year showing that the ministry has had thousands of complaints about excessive noise and vibration from operating wind turbines, but has not resolved any of the problems. Complaints about noise emissions from the turbines continue, often beginning as soon as the power projects begin operation. Citizens affected report sleep disturbance for weeks at a time, and other health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and cardiovascular symptoms.
“The Ministry doesn’t seem to be learning anything from reports of problems created by wind power projects,” says Wilson. “Their own field officers have documented issues with existing noise regulations and observed health effects, and now we have people with formerly pure well water turning black, but the MOECC continues to receive and approve these huge power projects based on the same regulations that have proven to be flawed.
“If the MOECC were a private business, they would acknowledge these mistakes and problems, and work to resolve them — that’s not what this government is doing.”
Wind Concerns filed a document recommending the Otter Creek project, now in review, not be approved. The turbines proposed have never been used and there are no actual noise output measurements for them, WCO says of the project which will operate immediately north of Wallaceburg.
“The modelling documents filed with their approval request are just estimates based on estimates,” says Wilson. “That’s not good enough to assure citizens of Wallaceburg their health will be protected.”
WCO says that projects not built yet should also be halted, such as the North Kent II, where water problems persist, and Amherst Island, to name two, where a tiny island community will be exposed to noise emissions from 26 50-storey high wind turbines and endangered wildlife will be affected.
The damage to the environment and to human health is inexcusable, WCO says, especially when the power projects are not needed. According to a report by the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 percent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted as it is produced out of phase with demand, and Ontario has a surplus of electrical power.
Rick Conroy, editor of the independent Wellington Times news paper in Prince Edward County, has had a front-row seat to at least three, probably four, wind power projects in The County. All have been vanquished save for the “White Pines” unwanted, unneeded power project which has been reduced from 29 turbines to 27 then to nine, and still, the power developer threatens to proceed.
Conroy has an interesting perspective, including a view across the water to nearby Amherst Island, where a tiny island community will almost certainly be destroyed by the Windlectric unwanted, unneeded wind power project … that will take a whole lot of wildlife down with the island, too.
Here is his editorial from the most recent edition of the paper.
Ontario is currently working toward another electricity import deal with Quebec. It is likely a good thing. Most of our neighbour’s electricity is generated by massive hydro dams on the James Bay and St. Lawrence watershed—so, by today’s convoluted meaning of the word, it is clean. It is also reliable and manageable—the opposite of the wind and solar power sources in which Ontario has invested billions over the past 15 years. The deal is expensive, however, about 40 per cent richer than Quebec earns from other exported electricity contracts.
But here is the interesting bit.
Coincidentally, the quantity of imported power represented in this deal, combined with another with Quebec in 2015— equals almost precisely the total electricity generated by wind and solar in Ontario. Ten terawatt hours of wind and solar are being made redundant by ten terawatt hours of hydro electricity. Maybe coincidence is the wrong word.
Put another away—the nearly useless intermittent power generated by wind and solar has been replaced by two power deals with Quebec. Electricity that is cheaper, cleaner and manageable.
It’s a sign, perhaps, the adults have wrested control of the province’s energy management away from the politicians.
The deal illustrates rather bluntly that Ontario’s wind and solar power projects are like costume jewellery—showy and glittery to a distracted public, but bearing little actual value.
Worse, these intermittent electricity trinkets are a persistent headache to the electricity system operator. Each year we spill enough electricity through exports to neighbouring jurisdictions, including Michigan and New York, to power a large part of their economies. We regularly export this power at a loss—sometimes we pay them to take it.
Sickeningly we spend as much as a $1 billion each year for others to take our unwanted electricity. Without these outlets, however, Ontario’s power grid would succumb to the variability of wind and sunlight on an electrical grid ill-equipped to endure it. And electrical systems operators in Michigan and New York know it.
So, they take advantage.
It is sophisticated modernday larceny. Here is how it works. Lacking formal purchase agreements, Michigan buys Ontario electricity mostly on the spot market, typically paying between one and two cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)—a fraction of what it costs the state to generate its own electricity. (The County’s Parker Gallant does a much more thorough job of explaining how this works in his regular contributions to the Wind Concerns Ontario blog, the Financial Post and other publications.)
To its credit and downfall, Ontario’s electricity market is utterly transparent—anyone with a computer can monitor the demand for electricity and the supply available at any given moment (as well as many other facets of the system). They can see plainly when the province is headed for a critical system overload— when Ontario must shed power or risk catastrophe. Folks in Michigan know it too. They know when Ontario will be calling them to offload electricity. They are happy and ready to oblige.
From time to time, the imbalance between too little demand and too much uncontrollable supply in Ontario’s electricity system becomes so precarious that grid operators in Michigan and New York can actually compel Ontario to pay them to take it the power. It is how it came about that today Ontario now powers about 10 per cent of Michigan’s electricity needs. And we lose money on every kilowatt.
All this has been said and explained before by others. The facts are uncontested. It is all easily verifiable thanks to Ontario’s transparent electricity operations.
Yet we continue to build useless wind and solar projects. We continue to make the problem worse.
Across the channel from Cressy, Amherst Island residents are bracing for a disheartening defeat. Their local government has recently conceded that it has secured the most it is likely to get from the developer of 26 industrial wind turbines and the province in order to protect the residents, the delicate waterway, the roads and other infrastructure as well as the endangered species that reside there. Any lingering regret over its own shortcomings at Loyalist Township hall, however, is likely to be eased by the $500,000 payment it has been promised each year by the industrial wind project owner.
Meanwhile on the ground, the developer’s actions sometimes bear little resemblance to the plans it submitted and promises made when asking from provincial approvals. For example, it told the Environmental Review Tribunal that it would widen only about three kilometres of road. Now it figures it will need to widen more than six times that length—a threat to the Blanding’s turtles and other animals. It is also threatening to fundamentally change the character of this pastoral island for a generation or more.
Folks on Amherst Island have begun to mourn the looming decimation of the quiet, rural island life that drew them to this place. We mourn with them.
Michigan residents, meanwhile, are likely unaware of the sacrifices that some Ontario residents on a wee island are making to subsidize their electricity bills.Will we connect these dots next June?
Ontario’s experiment with green energy via the Green Energy and Green Economy Act has not had the rosy effects the McGuinty-Wynne governments said it would: electricity prices up dramatically, promised jobs did not materialize, and all this has had “modest” environmental benefits, says Michael Trebilcock in a report released by the C.D. Howe Institute today.
Mr. Trebilcock’s language is somewhat reserved compared to what he said at the time when the Green Energy Act was passed. Then he remarked, “This combination of irresponsibility and venality has produced a lethal brew of policies.”
Focus on electricity is out of proportion with other areas of the economy in need of closer scrutiny, such as transportation – Michael Trebilcock
With the enactment of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (Green Energy Act) in 2009, the Ontario government committed ratepayers to massive subsidization of various forms of renewable energy, especially wind power and solar energy, along with the phasing out of coalfired generation in the province – a goal achieved in 2014. In the eight years since the initiation of these policies, what tentative assessment can we make of their impact? Such a review is especially important in light of recent commitments by the federal government and most provinces to adopt a minimum carbon tax (or its equivalent) across Canada and to provide a variety of subsidies to users of low-emission technology.
Any evaluation of the impact of Ontario’s green energy policies to date should focus on three factors: i) the costs of renewable energy; ii) the environmental impact of these policies; and iii) their impact on employment in the province. On the evidence to date, these policies have had a dramatic impact on electricity costs in the province, but they have generated very limited environmental benefits and have had a negligible to negative effect on economic growth and employment. In short, the current Ontario green energy policies have run up against Pielke’s iron law of climate change: when citizens are faced with a major trade-off between the economy and the environment, the former will almost always prevail (Pielke 2010). Ontario’s experience shows that, rather than an extensive reliance on technology or activity-specific subsidies, the best approach by far is a carbon tax (or its cap-and-trade equivalent) that is technology-, activity-, and revenue-neutral.
About 60 percent of Ontario’s current generation capacity is already accounted for by low-emission hydro or nuclear-generated electricity, with the balance provided by natural-gas generation and to a lesser extent by renewables. Wind power and solar energy, because of their intermittency and unpredictability, require back-up generation, especially during peak-load capacity, and that has generally entailed the construction of natural-gas plants. In Ontario, the phasing out of coal-fired generation has likewise led to the construction of more natural-gas– fired generation.
The electricity sector’s share of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario in 2012 was only about 9 percent of total emissions, compared to the transportation sector with 34 percent and the industrial sector with 30 percent (Ontario, Auditor General 2015), meaning that further environmental gains in the electricity sector are inherently limited.4 In any event, this impact needs to be compared to other alternatives, such as further enhancing transmission connections and expanding power purchase agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions, in particular Quebec and Manitoba, which have substantial clean hydroelectric resources. More generally, developing a competitively structured capacity market in Ontario may be a preferable long-term alternative strategy (Goulding 2013).
The focus on electricity is out of proportion with the areas of the economy that are most in need of closer scrutiny, such as transportation. Although the industrial sector accounts for the largest share of energy use in Canada,5 the growth in use in the transportation sector outpaced all other sectors between 1990 and 2013 with a 43 percent growth, compared to 7 percent in the residential sector, 30 percent in the industrial sector, and 23 percent in the commercial sector (Natural Resources Canada 2016).
Read the news release and link to the full report here.
An Open Letter to the newly appointed Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Chris Ballard. “You have work to do”
July 31, 2017
To the Honourable Chris Ballard
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Queen’s Park, Toronto
Welcome to your new position as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Unfortunately, Minister Glen Murray has left you an extensive list of action items requiring your immediate follow-up. We highlight the key issues for you in the following list, related to Ontario’s energy policy and wind power projects.
White Pines – Withdraw the Renewable Energy Approval for this project as developer wpd cannot meet the terms of their contract. There are significant environmental concerns with this project that remain, even after a successful appeal by citizens before the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Amherst Island – Rescind Renewable Energy Approval for this project which is planned for the tiny island heritage community. Significant environmental risks are present including the serious impact on migrating birds that congregate in this area; Ontario does not need the power from this project.
Saugeen Shores – The single wind turbine at the Unifor educational facility has been fraught with problems and engendered hundreds of complaints about excessive noise. This turbine would not be allowed under present regulations. You can immediately address the failure to meet a June 30 deadline for submission of a compliance audit report.
K2 Wind – This is another wind power project, a large one, with many problems in its relatively short history. You can deliver on Minister Glen Murray’s mid-May commitment to Black family, and others, to provide a solution to wind turbines that MOECC testing indicated were not compliant with Ontario regulations to protect the environment and health.
Address Concerns Raised at Request of Minister Murray – Many people across Ontario took Minister Murray at his word when he said that there were no complaints reaching his office and that he would ensure his officials responded quickly to address the issues. They wrote to him and are still waiting for action on their issues.
Complaint Tracking Process – Complaint records released to WCO in response to an FOI request indicate that the MOECC does not respond to most complaints about wind turbine noise. These complaints should be a source of learning for the Ministry rather than being ignored as currently appears to be the case. A full revision of the process is needed to ensure that complaints are actually resolved with procedures that allow the Minister’s office to track resolution. MOECC records indicate little or no resolution of more than 3,100 formal Pollution Reports made by Ontario citizens between 2006 and 2014.
REA Approval Process – Increase setbacks from residences to reflect learning from MOECC complaint records that include staff reports that confirm that current regulations are not sufficient to protect health of residents living in wind projects. Last week, the Supreme Court set out standards for consultations with communities which are substantially more rigorous that the standards used for Ontario Renewable Energy Projects.
MOECC Noise Modeling Procedures – implement new noise modeling procedures based on MOECC internal testing that demonstrates wind turbines routinely exceed predicted levels.
Otter Creek – Retract decision to deem this application “complete” for the Renewable Energy Approval process. The proponent is unable to provide noise emission data for the turbine equipment proposed. The noise report submitted with the application for a REA is not grounded in fact but rather is estimates based estimates. Also, a full MOECC investigation of the impact on well water is required.
LRP I Contracts – suspend REA process for remaining LRP I projects until full review of requirements based on internal complaint records is completed.
Noise Compliance Audit Protocol – Expand the wind speeds covered under the protocol to include wind speeds below 4 metres/second which are the source of a substantial portion of complaints about excessive noise. Even MOECC testing shows these wind speeds are the source of noise levels exceeding 40 dB(A), which completely undercuts the credibility of this audit process.
REA Enforcement – REA terms make the project operator responsible for addressing the concerns raised in each complaint to ensure that it does not recur. The MOECC needs to follow up on all operating with projects to ensure compliance with these terms and take action where it is not occurring.
Shadow Flicker – The flickering shadows produced when a turbine is positioned between the rising or setting sun is a major irritant for residents. It is not considered in the REA approvals and is easy to address by turning off the turbine for the times when it is casting moving shadows on a house. In some projects, these changes have been implemented by the wind company but in other MOECC staff is telling residents no action is required, even though the REA requires the wind company to address complaints like these.
Infrasound – Expand MOECC testing to include the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines as independent testing shows the presence of elevated levels of infrasound in homes where residents have had to leave to protect their health.
Health Studies – The Ministry has been telling residents that its policy is based on the “best science” available since the first turbine projects were built. MOECC records clearly show that this is not correct, but the Ministry continues to be willfully blind to input from both residents and its own staff, quoting dated and selective literature reviews in a field where the science is rapidly evolving. The need for noise studies and other investigation has been highlighted in numerous reports but never undertaken. It is time for some serious field studies of the problems being caused by wind turbine projects in rural communities across Ontario. This was an information gap identified in 2010 by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Last, it is important that as you prepare for this major portfolio, you understand that industrial-scale wind power generation offers no significant benefit to the environment.
Wind power generation on this scale is a high-impact development for little benefit, if any. Two Auditors General for Ontario recommended that Ontario undertake a cost-benefit and/or impact analysis — that has never been done.
We ask you to approach this issue with honesty and honour, and respect the wishes of the citizens of rural Ontario.
Wind Concerns Ontario
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power development on Ontario’s economy, the natural environment, and human health.