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.
In a shocking speech in Toronto this morning, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the provincial debt is $15B, a fact that was hidden from the public by the former government.
In fact, during the pre-election period this year, the Wynne government claimed it would have a “small surplus” when the reality was a deficit of more than $3B.
The Global Adjustment charge on electricity bills and the Fair Hydro Plan were “specifically designed” to hide billions in debt.
The bad practices started early on with the Green Energy Act, Fedeli said, in which Liberal insiders were given lucrative contracts for wind power projects to supply power Ontario didn’t need. The government started the process to repeal the Green Energy Act, which was supported by the NDP in 2009, yesterday.
Mr. Fedeli said that the Ford government plans to enact solid financial management.
They could start by cancelling the Romney Wind and Nation Rise wind power projects, which would represent savings of $700 million.
The new Ontario government has cancelled the Green Energy Act in an announcement today, ending so-called “sweetheart” deals for expensive renewable energy that hiked consumers’ power bills and brought hardship to Ontario rural communities through forced industrialization.
Wind Concerns Ontario has long advocated for cancellation of the act which promoted large-scale wind power projects, without any cost-benefit or financial analysis, as was recommended to the McGuinty-Wynne governments by two Auditors General.
“This is the first step in the unwinding of the terrible damage done to our quiet rural communities,” said president Jane Wilson. “We know that the Green Energy removed democracy for our towns, hamlets and villages and forced upon them huge, noisy power generators that had enormous environmental, social and human impacts. Those impacts are still being felt as people are living with the noise and vibration, enduring endless sleepless nights and a range of harmful health effects from exposure to turbine noise emissions.”
The government News Release follows:
Ontario’s Government for the People Introduces Legislation to Repeal the Green Energy Act
Municipalities to have final say on new energy projects
September 20, 2018
TORONTO — Ontario’s Government for the People is delivering on its promise to repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure, announced today.
The original Green Energy Act led to the disastrous feed-in-tariff program and skyrocketing electricity rates for Ontario families, and took away powers from municipalities to stop expensive and unneeded energy projects in their communities. Under the last government energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.
“The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history,” said Minister Rickford.
“Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind-farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need.” Minister McNaughton added. “Today we are proud to say that the party with taxpayers’ money is over.”
The ministers announced that the government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will fully strike the Green Energy Act from the province’s books. This will include repealing provisions that stripped away the power of local municipalities to block unwanted wind and solar farms.
“The Green Energy Act allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario,” said Minister McNaughton. “But we believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities.”
The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop approvals for wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated. This would put the brakes on additional projects that would add costs to electricity bills that the people of Ontario simply cannot afford.
“One of the first actions your government took was to cancel 758 expensive and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for the people of Ontario, saving $790 million for electricity customers,” said Minister Rickford. “The days of sweetheart deals for energy insiders and unpopular projects forced on local municipalities are over.”
According to the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Energy System Operator, wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electricity bills in 2017.
Wind and solar represent just 11 per cent of total generation in Ontario, but reflect 30 per cent of Global Adjustment costs that are borne by electricity customers
In 2017, 26 per cent of electricity generated from wind and solar was curtailed, or wasted. This is electricity that Ontarians paid for, but didn’t need or use.
“Friend against friend”: Of the 420 people on Amherst Island, 350 opposed the “Windlectric” wind power project, Farmers’ Forum reports. The result is a community ripped apart, that may never come together again
September 8, 2018
By Tom Collins and Patrick Meagher
Amherst Island — The blades on 26 new wind turbines on Amherst Island started turning in mid-June following a decade-long battle that divided the small island community west of Kingston and turned friend against friend.
Some people still don’t wave to neighbours. Others decline to buy products from those who hold an opposing view, at the Saturday morning market.
The island (population 420) is now home to the fourth operating wind energy project in Eastern Ontario. About 350 islanders joined an association to stop the turbines. There are 86 turbines on the next island over, Wolfe Island, five more turbines just west of Kingston [Ernestown], and 10 at Brinston, 20 minutes southeast of Kemptville.
A Prince Edward County project that was under construction was recently cancelled by Premier Dog Ford as a cost-saving measure.
Several people said the Amherst Island community–you take a ferry to get there–was mostly split between two factions: the anti-turbine group included those who moved to the island since the 1990s and don’t own much land. The pro-turbine group consists of generational families with plenty of space to host turbines.
Sheep farmer Dave Willard, whose family has lived on the island since 1850, has two turbines on his farm and said while things have gotten better, there are still four people who won’t wave to him when he passes by.
“These are not people I grew up with,” he said, adding that turbines are divisive because of the visual aspect. “It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t bother me much.”
There are 17 landowners hosting the 26 turbines. Willard says while there will be good years and bad years, he estimated he won’t earn less than $10,000 a year from each turbine. “It doesn’t matter. If it were $2,000 a year, that would be fine by me,” he said.
Sheep farmer Cherry Allen at Flat Foot Farm is Willard’s neighbor and used to have 1,600 ewes. But they had to cut back to 600 because of the turbine construction on land they rented.
Allen, who runs the farm with partner Mark Ritchie, said they run a closed flock and it will take about three or four years to get back to 1,600 ewes.
Allen, who opposes the turbines, said that one of Willard’s turbines is 700 metres from her house. She said she can hear the turbine but it’s far enough away that she blocks out the noise.
While she doesn’t find them an eyesore, “they remind me of all the angst that has gone on before this and is still going on,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think the community will heal for a generation. “It’s going to take that long to rebuild. It’s pretty sad.”
Sheep farmer Ian Murray of Topsy Farms said his farm was approached several times by Algonquin Power to host a turbine. The farm is run by five partners and Murray said one of the partners didn’t like the look of the turbines.
Too much control by the power developer
Murray felt the wind companies wanted too much control. “We felt it was inappropriate for Amherst Island,” he said. “Saying that, I have no problem with my neighbours…. I have a big problem with the previous Ontario government, making things so lucrative.”
Homeowner Laurie Kilpatrick said the wind carries the noise that can sound like an airplane that never arrives, or a constant “swish, swish, swish.”
The last of Brian Little’s four children headed off to university this year,so Little put the family’s island home up for sale. He can see eight turbines from his back deck and hasn’t had an offer in the six months he’s tried to sell. He’s also close to a substation where all the turbine electricity is collected.”
They don’t do anything
“Prior to the Green Energy Act, you couldn’t build within 1,100 metres of a residence or school. In our case, the substation is 400 metres from our house and 700 metres from an elementary school.”
“It frustrates me that they don’t do anything. We have more than enough electricity in this province.”
Little has a point. Other sources of energy can provide enough power in the province. As it stands, Ontario sells excess power at a loss to U.S. states and Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America.
Looking at one weekend in July, Ontario’s wind power produced 1.3 per cent of Ontario’s demand for energy, and there were 2,515 turbines operating in Ontario, as of December, the vast majority in Western Ontario, said Parker Gallant, a green energy critic who writes an energy sector blog.
He estimated that wind power costs Ontario taxpayers a net loss of $1.9 billion per year.
Big Wind’s Canadian lobbyist is not letting the bad experiences in Ontario halt its “green” dream, and is now focused on Alberta. (And, it really really hopes Ontario forgets all the bad stuff.)
September 4, 2018
The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA is enacting a hard-hitting PR campaign, promoting wind power as a “low-cost” form of electrical power generation that can also provide hundreds of jobs. Aimed at hard-hit Alberta, the message is clear: you get to meet climate/environment goals, grow your economy (or at least keep it from going over a cliff), and replace the faltering oil industry.
The lobbyist even points to a recent report that apparently confirms all that so you don’t have to just take their word for it.
But there’s a problem. Energy commentator Parker Gallant in his newest post says that the report referred to by CanWEA fails to explain that the jobs will be temporary, and also, that they may not actually be in Alberta.
And there’s another problem: the newest rosy outlook for wind power fails to chronicle the disastrous history of wind power development in Ontario. Two Auditors General took the previous Liberal governments to task for pushing wind power forward without any cost-benefit analysis, and current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has noted that, because of above-market contracts awarded by those same McGuinty and Wynne governments, Ontario’s electricity customers overpaid for power by more than $9 billion.
The Association of Ontario Food Banks linked growing poverty and specifically “energy poverty” to Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity bills, in its 2016 annual report on hunger in the province.
Electricity bills have been named as a factor in businesses leaving Ontario and job losses.
But even looking back at a road full of failure—high electricity bills, environmental harm such as dead birds and endangered bats, and thousands of citizen noise complaints—CanWEA is not giving up where money might still be made. The lobbyist is hoping to sway the new Ford government not to cancel wind power contracts as the PC Party pledged to do during the election because wind power can happily fill in for nuclear plants when several units have to go offline in a couple of years for refurbishment. Rumour has it they have even purchased ads on Toronto Transit vehicles.
The sad fact, omitted by CanWEA, is that wind can’t replace anything. It is intermittent, unreliable, and in Ontario, produced out-of-phase with demand. Output from Ontario’s closed coal power plants was made up by nuclear and hydro.
Ontario’s Society of Professional Engineers says that, because wind power is intermittent and needs back-up from other forms of generation, meaning natural gas, wind power will actually increase carbon emissions, not reduce them.
It’s even worse than that: According to Marc Brouillette who wrote a report for the Coalition for Clean Energy, wind power in Ontario is wasted almost 70 percent of the time. Moreover, Ontario electricity customers not only pay for wasted power, they pay generators NOT to produce power during frequent situations of surplus.
Energy analyst Steve Aplin of Ottawa recently commented on Twitter in response to CanWEA’s that wind power is a “sinkhole for ratepayers’ money.”
We really hope Alberta is smarter than politicians were back in 2003 in Ontario; we hope they can see the truth.
Save Ontario’s Algoma Region or SOAR, has written to MPPs and ministers in the new Ontario government to call attention to the potential for negative environmental and economic impacts from recently constructed wind power projects.
In the letter, SOAR says that the wind power projects will have a negative effect on eco-tourism in the Algoma Region, where tourists come from around the world to visit the formerly pristine environment. The result could be job loss, SOAR says.
“Poverty impacts human health. The energy rates in Ontario which have skyrocketed due to the policies of “green” energy have impacted all Ontarians—especially those in lower income
brackets and those who live in areas where a sustainable year-round economy is largely
dependent upon eco-tourism in a natural environment untouched by the presence of industrial
SOAR says further, the impact on the environment, wildlife and wildlife habitat is not truly known. “Despite the evidence of expert witnesses, to date the Ontario government has removed environmental protections, accepted flawed data from ‘researchers’ hired by wind companies and dismissed the concerns of objectors as self-seeking” SOAR stated in the letter. As part of the Renewable Energy Approvals granted to the wind power developers, “the Ministry of the
Environment requires data of bird and bat mortality to be presented at post-operational community meetings for a 3-year period only. After that time, the public must request bird and bat mortality statistics directly from the wind companies,” SOAR says.
That is not enough oversight to ensure protection for the environment and wildlife.
SOAR is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.
Finch, Ontario — Sitting demurely and speaking quietly, on July 24 the volunteer president of Wind Concerns Ontario blasted the provincial government approach to monitoring industrial wind turbines, accusing it of ignoring complaints about noise, health and other issues, or deferring them with no subsequent action.
Jane Wilson made her comments while presenting as a witness during an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into the Nation Rise wind power project planned for Stormont County. The hearing is scheduled to continue through August 2.
Currently engaged in the approval process, the project is sponsored by EDP Renewables Canada and calls for installation of some 33 turbines in North Stormont farm country delivering a total of 100 megawatts of power that, opponents observe, the province doesn’t need.
Headed by local resident Margaret Benke, opponents were hopeful the new Doug Ford government would cancel Nation Rise just as it did the White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County. But that didn’t happen and opponents’ legal fees and other expenses are up to $20,000. Benke noted that, with Ford in place, Nation Rise isn’t likely to proceed and yet opposing residents are still on the hook for costs.
Government not enforcing the law
A registered nurse, Wilson said Wind Concerns represents a coalition of more than 30 community groups across Ontario.
She emphasized that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change–renamed Environment, Conservation and Parks — has pledged to protect the environment and human health from any turbine side effects.
She cited former Environment Minister Glen Murray congratulating his officials for responding quickly to complaints and enforcing the law. However, Wilson’s review of incident reports obtained through Access to Information indicated the ministry doesn’t respond to all complaints and “does not, therefore, enforce the law.”
No answer to that
Total number of incident reports filed with the ministry between 2006 and 2016 was 4,574, Wilson told Maureen Cartier-Whitney, chair of the one-person panel. Records showed that in more than 50 per cent of formal complaints, there was no ministry response. Another 30 per cent were deferred. “In fact, only one percent received priority response.”
While he asked for some clarification, Paul McCulloch of the ministry’s Legal Services Branch, didn’t dispute Wilson’s basic facts. Representing EDP, lawyer . Grant Worden also offered no challenges to Wilson.
The repetitive nature of various complaints suggests, Wilson continue, that wind power developers are failing to live up to the terms of their approvals by allowing conditions triggering adverse effects including on health, to continue.
“Documented health effects include headache, sleep deprivation, annoyance, and ringing or pressure sensation in the head and ears. Most disturbing was the fact that these health effects were reported many times, and also among children.”
Wilson indicated that 39 per cent of 2006-2016 incident reports referred explicitly to sleep disturbance which is generally blamed for a myriad of diseases and disorders.
“Given the thousands of unresolved noise complaints in Ontario, and given Health Canada results of adverse health effects at distances of 550 metres to 1 km, it is reasonable to question whether the Nation Rise power project will not also engender community reports of excessive noise and adverse effects.”
To help support the appeal, which is bringing forward issues never presented to the ERT before, please send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, c/o Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509, 250 Wellington main Street, Wellington ON K0K 3L0
The Huron County Health Unit has released an interim report on its public health investigation into wind turbine effects, which was launched earlier this year.
The investigation, approved by the Huron County Board of Health, was in response to the hundreds of complaints filed by residents over excessive wind turbine noise and vibration or sensation. Huron County has some of the largest wind power projects in Ontario.
The public health investigation is being carried out under the authority of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.
In the interim report (the study is ongoing until the end of the year), the preliminary results are described:
“Of the 40 people who have completed a Registration Survey so far, half are male and most are not leaseholders for a wind turbine company. Approximately 60% of respondents reported they have been bothered, disturbed or annoyed by noise, vibration, light and/or sensations from the wind turbines. Noise was most commonly reported.”
Although the epidemiologist supervising the investigation says the research team has enough participants, they would like more, Dr. Erica Clark told Ontario Farmer last week. Residents can sign up to participate until October 31.
Wind Concerns Ontario has documents from the former Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, received via a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which shows that the Ontario government received more than 4,500 official reports of excessive wind turbine noise and vibration from 2006-2016. The government responded to few of those reports, and in 2015-2016, responded to only about 6.9%.
Meanwhile, Provincial Officers in the Master Incident Reports, which include excerpts from calls made to the government hotline, noted adverse health effects in 35% of those reports.
“That violates both the Renewable Energy Approvals and the Environmental Protection Act,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, who is a Registered Nurse. “The approvals state that the wind power operators are supposed to investigate every complaint of noise and make sure there is not a repeat —clearly, with some of these Master Reports containing hundreds of calls, that isn’t happening.
“It is a violation of the EPA, section 1 (1) to allow anything, in this case noise, to enter the environment and cause adverse effect,” Wilson says.
“The government has a clear case for enforcing the rules.”
While the Health Unit can carry out the investigation into wind turbine noise and any adverse effect, it will not be able to issue an order to shut down turbine operations, Dr. Erica Clark says.
Under the Green Energy Act, sole responsibility for the wind turbines was given to the Ministry of the Environment, even in matters of human health.
To sign up for the study please go to the Huron County health Unit website here: https://www.huronhealthunit.ca/reports-and-statistics/investigations/wind-turbine-study/
or for more information about the study, please contact Dr. Erica Clark at 519.482.3416 or 1.877.837.6143 extension 2022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact her by mail at:
Dr. Erica Clark
Huron County Health Unit
77722B London Road RR5
Clinton, ON N0M 1L0
In the meantime, residents experiencing noise, vibration, sensation, or flashing lights/strobe effect/shadow flicker should report these incidents. Please call the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOETIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number at then time of your call, and keep a record yourself of the time of your call, and what you reported.
The Ontario government just announced cancellation of renewable energy contracts for which significant contractual milestones had not yet been met.
The move will save $790 million from being added to electricity generation costs, and passed on to consumers’ electricity or hydro bills.
The contracts to be cancelled likely include the five newest wind power projects, which were awarded contracts by the IESO in 2016, and which have not yet been given final approval. One, the “Nation Rise” project in North Stormont, did get a Renewable Energy Approval on May 4, just days before the write period for the recent election. That project is being appealed by a community group, The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.
“This was the right decision,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “There were significant environmental and health concerns inherent in each of these projects, the communities did not want them but were being forced to have these industrial power projects, and the costs would be yet more burden on Ontario citizens.”
Health effects of the noise produced by the huge wind power generators is a concern especially, as Wilson says, “because there are literally thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise across Ontario that are to this day unresolved, and the ministry under the previous government was not even responding to complaints from Ontario families. Staff noted adverse health effects in documents released to us, but no action was taken.
Given this evidence and these serious concerns, it is a good decision not to add to the existing problems with how wind power was implemented in Ontario.”
The protest was kept under wraps until the late morning yesterday in quiet, beautiful Prince Edward County.
A group of residents planned to interrupt a convoy delivering huge wind turbine parts for the “White Pines” wind power project in a peaceful manner, as an expression again of the community’s disapproval of the power project being located in the historic Loyalist area.
The environmental risks of the power project were significant — so much so that the original 29-turbine project had been reduced to 27, then finally to 9, and the remaining approval came with conditions for the Germany-based power developer WPD in order to protect the environment and wildlife. Several wildlife and nature groups have supported the fight, emphasizing the immense danger to migratory birds from the turbines, close to the shore of Lake Ontario and on a major migratory bird pathway.
The company’s commitment to those conditions has been questioned as it worked through the halt period required to protect endangered Blandings turtles; the citizens’ group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County or APPEC filed numerous actions requesting a stay of construction. Earlier this week, WPD was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act.
And then there is the power grid in Ontario: the electricity that could be produced (wind is notoriously intermittent and produced out of phase with demand) is not required in Ontario, which has a surplus of power and has been paying generators not to produce, as well as selling power on the electricity market for bargain-basement prices.
The community has been fighting the power project for 10 years, mostly in court, with a few peaceful demonstrations such as a march through Picton last fall.
Recently, it was learned that despite the fact Ontario’s soaring electricity bills were a major issue in the election campaign throughout the province, aided by the cost of wind power contracts, and the fact that this wind power project was a contentious issue in the riding, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) actually issued the final approval or Notice To Proceed, during the writ period.
“The previous Liberal government was in ‘caretaker’ mode when the IESO on May 11 green-lighted the litigation mired project,” said community member Liz Driver. “The community knows that the IESO were fully aware that wind projects were an election issue and that the PCs pledged to cancel projects still in development. As local journalist Rick Conroy explained in his June 27 commentary in the local Wellington Times newspaper the IESO decision trod upon centuries of parliamentary custom.
“The Notice to Proceed was kept under wraps by IESO, the wind company and the Liberals. The IESO only revealed the Notice to Proceed on its website just before the transfer of power to the PCs on June 29 to the astonishment of the community.”
The community members decided to make a point and actually interrupt the turbine delivery only to find out at the end that Ontario’s new government had announced cancelling the project was one of three priorities for its emergency call-back of the Legislature.
The issue was “time-sensitive,” said local MPP Todd Smith who is also Government House Leader, in making the announcement. The power developer was working at breakneck speed to complete the project in hopes it wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — cancelled, contrary to the PC Party promises during the election. Until the Notice To Proceed was issued in secret in May, the power developer had been working at its own risk incurring costs, and without significant permits from the municipality.
The developer has been working evenings and weekends to try to complete the project.
“If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how fast they can put those things up,” said Paula Peel, a member of the executive of both APPEC and Wind Concerns Ontario.
The government will introduce legislation Thursday regarding the project.
Companies without a Notice To Proceed or who have not reached key milestones “have reason to be concerned”
July 6, 2018
In a just released review of the energy landscape in Ontario under the new Ford government, Mike Richmond, wind power contract specialist with law firm McMillan LLP, says the contracts between government and wind power developers can be cancelled in certain situations.
Wind Concerns Ontario has long maintained this to be true, even recommending to the Wynne government that an effective way to reduce electricity bills for Ontario consumers — or at least, not have them go higher — was to cancel the $1.3B of new wind power contracts and to cancel any others where significant milestones have not been met.
The government will be directing IESO to exercise termination rights
Developers, lenders, construction firms, installers, landlords and other clients with interests in contracts for projects which have not yet been granted Notice to Proceed (NTP) by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) (or acceptance of Key Development Milestones for Large Renewable Procurement (LRP I) projects) have reason to be concerned.
While the [PC election] platform was not long on detail, it was absolutely clear that where pre-construction contracts contain provisions allowing the IESO to terminate at or prior to NTP or other equivalent milestones, before expensive capital equipment has been delivered and installed, the Government will be directing the IESO to exercise those termination rights.
Anticipating such a directive, the IESO had already begun holding back on the issuance of NTP approvals for Feed-In Tariff (FIT) projects prior to the June 29 swearing-in, instead electing to issue NTP Deferral Notices. By doing so, the IESO is able to limit its liability for the eventual termination of those projects to the “Pre-Construction Liability Limit”, which is set at:
$400,000 plus $2.00/kW for wind, biogas or biomass facilities;
$250,000 plus $10.00/kW for solar facilities; or
$500,000 plus $20.00/kW for waterpower facilities.
These figures only represent liability caps. To be eligible even for these amounts, developers will have to be able to demonstrate that they incurred, after being awarded a FIT Contract, “soft” costs up to these amount for items such as environmental approvals, EPC and financing contract negotiations, land rights, resource assessments, connection cost deposits, equipment deposits and permitting. Costs spent on generating equipment (other than reasonable non-refundable deposits), and amounts representing lost profits, are not eligible.
Some questions remain:
Given the stated election platform, and the fact these contracts were a key campaign issue, why then did the Wynne government issue a Renewable Energy Approval to Portugal-based EDPR for its unneeded 100-MW “Nation Rise” wind project just days before the writ was drawn up for the June election, and why did the IESO toss its termination rights overboard on the WPD “White Pines” project, during the active election campaign?
What pressures were brought to bear on the former government by the power developers?
And why are taxpayers now being forced to pay for the new government’s defence of a bad decision made by the Wynne government, in the Nation Rise appeal?