Coming soon: a 3-part series on “greening” our children’s curriculum

What has the Ontario government been teaching our children in school about its “green”  energy program?
And, what authoritative resources has the province been using to support its curriculum.
You may be surprised.
Or not.
Parker Gallant‘s series Ontario’s Green Religion, exclusive to Wind Concerns Ontario, begins Thursday and concludes Saturday.

Premier greets Not A Willing Host demonstrators in Stratford

Here is a report of the peaceable demonstration before an appearance in Stratford yesterday by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Note the hints about the new process: “community buy-in.”

Wynne meets briefly with wind turbine opponents during Stratford stop

By Mike Beitz, The Beacon Herald

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne chats with students and staff during a tour of the University of Waterloo Stratford campus on Friday. (SCOTT WISHART The Beacon Herald)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne chats with students and staff during a tour of the University of Waterloo Stratford campus on Friday. (SCOTT WISHART The Beacon Herald)
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Local pixels, local products and a local protest were all on Kathleen Wynne’s agenda Friday during a stop in Stratford.
The Ontario premier toured the University of Waterloo Stratford campus and Monforte Dairy before attending a fundraising dinner hosted by provincial Liberal candidate Stewart Skinner and the Perth-Wellington Liberal Riding Association.
As she arrived for the meal at the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans hall, Wynne was greeted by about a dozen wind turbine protesters carrying “Not a Willing Host” signs.
“We just want the premier to know that there are 73 municipalities and community groups that have declared themselves not willing hosts,” said Listowel-area dairy farmer Tim Martin, as he stood with the group waving signs to passing motorists on Lorne Ave.
Despite claiming to have changed the process behind siting wind turbines, Wynne’s Liberals are still essentially ignoring municipalities — like North Perth — who don’t want them within their boundaries, suggested Martin.
“So that’s why we’re here. We’re just hoping to get the premier’s attention,” he said.
They did that.
After arriving at the hall, Wynne stepped out of her vehicle and walked over to greet the protesters.
She acknowledged that there are “strong feelings” about wind turbine projects in Ontario.
“There’s strong feeling on both sides,” she told the crowd huddled around her by the roadside. “We are putting a new process in place. If we could roll back time and have a better process up front I would do that. We can’t do that, but we’re very aware that having community planning and community buy-in is the way that we need to go.”
After those brief comments, Wynne met privately with Martin and another representative to hear their concerns in more detail.
“It was a polite conversation,” said Martin afterward. “She listened, but I didn’t get the impression that there was going to be any action taken.”
Martin said protesters were specifically looking for a moratorium on new wind turbine projects until the potential health effects can be studied more thoroughly.
Larger setbacks from farming operations — 2,500 metres instead of the current 550 — would also go a long way toward alleviating some concerns, he said.
“The reset button needs to be pushed on this,” he said of the Green Energy Act in general.
While Wynne made him no promises, Martin said he was pleased that she at least agreed to speak with representatives from the group Friday.
“But actions speak louder than words,” he said.
While the protest was peaceful and polite, Wynne received a much warmer welcome earlier in the day as University of Waterloo officials gave her a guided tour of the Stratford campus.

Status of wind power generation projects in Ontario

Here is a link that shows the status of wind power generation projects in Ontario: approved, and still under review.
The procurement process for the revised subsidy program has not yet been released; applications for the Feed In Tariff subsidy will commence when the process is re-opened.

(Thanks to William Palmer for the link)

US wind turbines kill 600,000 bats a year–and birds too

Here from International Science Times, an account of the devastation to wildlife inflicted by wind turbines in the United States, and what the probable result will be—more pesticide use.
  Our own Parker Gallant learned all this in preparation for Wind Concerns Ontario’s presentation as a Participant at the Environmental Tribunal hearing the appeal of the Ostrander Point wind power project by Gilead. He learned that in spite of the fact bats fly hundreds of meters, the Ontario regulations only consider harm to these animals within 50 meters of a turbine. In other words, there is no protection at all for bats in Ontario, despite the importance of these animals to our ecosystem, and to agriculture.
  The pro-wind movement will instantly counter the stats on birds with their communications team-manufactured response that housecats kill more birds. That’s true. But, housecats aren’t killing Bald and Golden Eagles and other raptors so important to the ecosystem, and whose life expectancy can be as much as 20 years, during which time they produce generations of raptors.

US Wind Turbines Kill Over 600,000 Bats A Year (And Plenty Of Birds Too)
By Josh Lieberman on November 8, 2013 12:06 AM EST
wind turbine
Wind turbines killed at least 600,000 bats in the United States in 2012, according to University of Colorado researcher Mark Hayes. (Photo: Reuters)

Wind turbines killed hundreds of thousands of bats in 2012 in the United States, according to an article by Mark Hayes of the University of Colorado. Hayes took the number of dead bats from 21 wind turbine locations and inferred the number of nationwide bat deaths, arriving at the conservative estimate of 600,000 bats killed in 2012. But the real toll, Hayes notes, may be as high as 900,000.  
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Bats are killed by collisions with wind turbine blades or from air pressure changes caused by the blades, the latter being the real danger. Similar to the bends in scuba divers, barotrauma causes bats to pop from the inside.
“There are bats with no broken bones or other evidence of blunt trauma, that have pulmonary and middle ear hemorrhages which implies that they had suffered barotrauma,” Melissa Behr, a vet at the University of Wisconsin told the Telegraph in September (Behr wasn’t involved in Hayes’s research). “In one case 46 percent of the bats that were seen had no physical sign of trauma, but 100 percent had pulmonary hemorrhage.”
Because bat populations are also under threat from climate change and white-nose syndrome (a fungal infection that has killed millions of bats since 2007), and because most bats only give birth to one young per year, Hayes says the addition of wind turbines to the bat-killing mix is worrisome. Although few people have a love for bats, they’re the primary consumers of insects in some regions. Bats are particularly beneficial to farmers, who spend billions of dollars a year on insect suppression services, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Fewer bats means more insects and higher pest-control bills.
It isn’t just bats wind turbines are killing in large numbers. In a study published earlier this year in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, author K. Shawn Smallwood estimated that 573,000 birds were killed by U.S. wind turbines (as well as 888,000 bats). In another 2013 study, published in the Journal of Raptor Research, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that wind turbines have killed 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years.  
Hayes’s article, titled “Bats Killed in Large Numbers at United States Wind Energy Facilities,” was published in the latest issue of BioScience.

Energy Minister Chiarelli says municipal support needed for Ottawa wind project

North Gower residents demonstrate Not A Willing Host at Ottawa City Hall in April; PC Energy critic and Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod in front row

In an interview with Ottawa-area radio station CFRA, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli stated that it will now be very “difficult” for a wind power proponent to get approval, without “significant” support from the hosting municipality. Ottawa is where a 20-megawatt wind power project has been proposed for over five years, and where residents of the North Gower community have been working on a petition to be recognized as “Not A Willing Host,” as the potential “host” community within the City of Ottawa.
  Speaking on CFRA this morning, Ottawa Wind Concerns chair and Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said the community needs to see what the new application rules are, in black and white, and determine what “significant” support from a city would look like.
  When told by the CFRA host Steve Madely that there is pushback on Council to a motion being put forward by the councillor for the area, she said, “I would hope that Ottawa City Councillors would do the right thing for all citizens of the city.”
  The report on the interview with Minister Chiarelli is here.

Chiarelli: approval not likely for North Gower wind farm without city support
By: Alison Sandor

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says without the city’s consent, it’s unlikely Prowind Canada will be able to build a wind farm in North Gower.
   Chiarelli told CFRA they’ve changed the regulations for companies applying to build wind turbines.
“We have set up a process for wind farm applications now that require the proponent, the energy proponent, to actually have an engagement with the municipality and have some level of consent or cooperation with the municipality before they can actually even submit an application for the approval,” said Chiarelli.
   Several city councillors have expressed worry about wind farms being built within city limits.
Opponents of wind farms say the turbines have negative health effects.

Cdn Taxpayer Federation: we’re paying for bad energy policies

Candice Malcom of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, writes in the Huffington Post that Ontario taxpayers are getting hit hard because of politically-motivated decisions, and the “ill-conceived” Green Energy Act.
Here is her post:

We’re paying for bad energy policies

November 5, 2013

It’s tough competition for headline space in the media lately. Tax policy and energy price adjustments just don’t have the same appeal as a mayor smoking crack or secret cheques to cover fraudulent housing expenses.
However, the boring stuff has far more impact on our lives than the circus that follows the eccentric and scandal-plagued leaders in our country.
Not all scandals are equal.
The Ontario Liberal’s political decision to cancel gas plants in vote-heavy ridings, on the other hand, actually affects our bottom line. The consequences of the gas plant boondoggle are now coming to fruition, as evident in the drastic rate increase in our power bills starting on November 1st.
The price for off-peak power has increased by 7.5 per cent per kilowatt-hour, and 4 per cent during peak hours. Compare that to the rate of inflation, which is currently about 1.2 per cent. Our off-peak power rates — the time of day we were previously told to use energy to save money — has been hiked by more than six times the rate of inflation!
Political interference from the premier’s office is responsible for the exasperated price tag of the cancelled gas plant, which could actually exceed the estimated cost of $1.09 billion. The recent auditor general’s report states that $625 million of that tab will be passed on to electricity ratepayers in Ontario, who will foot the bill over the next 20 years.
And, as of November, we will fork over more of our after-tax income to the Ontario Power Generation.
Politics often boils down to concentrated benefits and diffused costs. The Liberals — who benefited significantly from cancelling these plants by saving at least four seats during an election where four seats really mattered — are hoping that no one will notice this rate increase.
When thirteen and a half million Ontario residents split the tab and pay it off over 20 years from both their tax bill and energy bill, it’s less noticeable. That is diffused costs. And that is how our politicians get away with such blatantly partisan, self-interested decision-making.
Unfortunately for this government, that isn’t the only factor contributing to rising energy prices in Ontario. The cancelled gas plants are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mismanagement of the energy file.
The costly and ill-conceived Green Energy Act, which saw billions of taxpayer dollars go to corporate welfare and subsidies to foreign firms, also drives up costs for electricity ratepayers.
Meanwhile, taxpayers pay for a billion-dollar-a-year subsidy known as the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, a 10 per cent discount to household energy bills to cover the skyrocketing price tag for green energy.
Yes, taxpayers subsidize both the production and the consumption of green energy.
It gets better. Our government also pays some green energy producers not to do anything at all. We learned earlier this fall that Ontario pays some of its wind turbine farmers not to produce energy.
Ronald Reagan must have been talking about Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s policies when he explained how government works: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers will be stuck for the tab for the incompetence and mismanagement of our energy ministry for years to come. We may not always see it in the news, but we certainly see it in our electricity bills and on our pay stubs.

West Lincoln: positioned against the Green Energy Act

Here from the Welland Tribune, how one council is carrying out its responsibilities to its citizens.

West Lincoln’s tough stance on green energy has shut out solar power, claims a furious Niagara green energy developer.
Albert Zappitelli of Umbrella Energy says his $300,000 plan to install 100,000 watts of solar panels on a client’s Moote Rd. barn is dead. He alleges it’s a casualty of the township’s battle against wind energy.
But township staff say aldermen have agreed not to give support to any feed-in tariff project — support Zappitelli said is critical to winning a green contract from the province. And they said Zappitelli’s bid to speak Monday at township council was shot down because he didn’t give 10 days’ notice.
“The message I got was you’re beating up a whole industry to get back at another,” Zappitelli said.
“We’re a victim of a protest that has nothing to do with us.”
West Lincoln planning and building director Brian Treble said aldermen endorsed a staff recommendation in February asking staffers to tell developers township council won’t grant them its support. He said the township is concerned about the lack of local control over green projects.
West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner said the township believes the rules allow developers to change a project unilaterally after aldermen have given it their blessing.
“This is a process thing,” he said. “This is process. This is the process not helping out our planning in West Lincoln yet again.”
He said West Lincoln has no issue with green energy beyond the province’s handling of applications.
Treble said, “I don’t think council has taken a position against solar. They’ve taken a position against the Green Energy Act.”
Under new rules, a council endorsement can grant points towards a project’s application for a contract.
West Lincoln’s situation is a case of the rules working as intended, said Ontario Environment Minister Jim Bradley. He said the province did not grant municipalities a veto but said it’s unlikely a project could be approved without municipal support.
“The new program really places a great deal of power and responsibility with the local municipality,” he said. “This is what they were asking for.”
“It’s incumbent on the developers now to gain the approval of the local municipality for specific projects.” …

Read the entire article here.

PC Energy Critic Macleod: Ontario communities, businesses suffering

With today marking the first day of Ontario’s new rates for electricity use for both business and consumers, it’s appropriate to repeat a few words from PC Energy Critic Lisa MacLeod, at Queen’s Park yesterday.

In the few seconds I have left, let me talk about North Gower. They’re a community that is living this hydro nightmare because they are going to be forced to deal with these wind turbines. They’re not a willing host, and they know that their neighbours down the road in Bells Corners…struggling to stay in business are going to have to pay for high hydro hikes as a result of the government’s disastrous green energy policy. That is, I think, a perfect example of the Green Energy Act assaulting rural communities, and just 15 minutes down the road, businesses going out of business. I couldn’t make that point more clearly.”

Minister Chiarelli answers questions about siting wind power plants. Sort of.

Here from The Independent, is the responses received by the newspaper to a set of questions put to Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, on the new procurement process for large-scale wind power projects. The announcement of the new process has been delayed.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli answers turbine questions

Posted : Business, Featured, Front Page, News.

wind turbines and lines

Editor’s note: The Independent recently requested an interview with Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli about the concerns about industrial wind turbines. We submitted five questions and here are the unedited responses forwarded by the minister’s office.
When will the province outline how it will handle FIT program?
The Large Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program is being replaced with a new competitive procurement process for renewable energy projects.  We asked the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to develop a new competitive procurement process for future renewable energy projects larger than 500 kW, which will take into account local needs and considerations before contracts are offered.
The OPA has engaged with the public, municipalities, Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders to help inform the identification of appropriate locations and siting requirements for future renewable energy projects.  The OPA has reported back to the government with interim recommendations and additional engagement activities will occur later this year.
We need to make sure our approach is balanced and considers the views of local communities while ensuring the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s electricity system. We expect to have more information on this once the province has updated its Long-Term Energy Plan later this year.
Is it deliberately ignoring those opposed to wind energy projects?
We’re moving forward with renewable energy in a balanced (way).  We listened very extensively to the public and we’re changing the way we procure renewable energy projects to respond to community concerns while continuing to encourage a strong renewable energy sector in this province.
Will the government return planning authority to municipalities on Green projects?
The Ontario government is making key changes to increase local control over the siting of renewable energy projects. As a former Mayor and Regional Chair, I understand how important it is for communities to be involved in decision making from the beginning.
Our government wants to ensure that future renewable energy projects will be built in the right place at the right time. That’s why we are replacing the current Feed-in-Tariff program for large renewable energy projects with a competitive bidding process, tailored to the needs of communities. Potential developers will need to work directly with municipalities to determine appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy project.
Our government will also provide up to $90,000 for municipalities to develop Municipal Energy Plans. These plans will help municipalities better integrate energy, infrastructure, growth and land use planning to support economic development, increase conservation and identify energy opportunities.
Finally, we’ll work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers.
If municipalities declare themselves “Not Willing Hosts” is it a guarantee there will not be wind energy projects in their municipalities in the future?
Recent changes will ensure that municipalities have more say over renewable energy projects.  Through the priority points system municipalities will have increased influence over the siting of projects through the prioritization of applications that have demonstrated municipal support.  Developers that work closely with municipalities and have broader support will receive points during the application process, helping those projects move forward.  During the recent round of Small FIT contract awards, over 98 percent of the successful applications received municipal council support resolutions.
These recent changes also gives municipalities more tools and enables them to participate directly in the FIT program
Municipal energy plans will give municipalities a much stronger role in identifying local energy needs and opportunities. Municipal Energy Plans are comprehensive strategies to align infrastructure, energy and land use planning.
The competitive procurement process will ensure that renewable energy developers work directly with municipalities, before contracts are awarded, and that large renewable energy generation is targeted regionally, based on system needs.  This process will better integrate renewable energy into our communities and economy, encouraging growth in the renewable energy sector and respecting communities.
Will there be a moratorium on the [wind] current projects until the two-year federal health effects study is complete as many municipalities have asked?
The government is committed to protecting the health of residents in communities that are home to renewable energy projects.  We have taken a cautious approach when setting standards for wind turbine setbacks and noise limits to protect Ontarians.
Large-scale wind energy projects in Ontario are subject to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) regulation, which includes minimum setbacks for wind energy projects, and minimum requirements for environmental studies and community consultation activities.  Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King undertook a review of the potential health effects of wind turbines. Her 2010 report stated that there is no scientific evidence to date to support claims that wind turbine noise cause adverse health effects.
The Ministry of the Environment continues to review emerging scientific, health, acoustics and engineering studies to ensure Ontario’s REA regulation remains in line with the latest and best in science. The ministry also continues to support further research by funding, through an agreement with the Council of Ontario Universities, a Research Chair for the ongoing study of Renewable Energy Technologies and Health.

Translation: if we decide your community is getting a wind power project, you’re getting a wind power project. You can have “say” but the word “no” will not be allowed.
Obviously, at the time some person in the communications warren answered The Independent’s question, the results of the Renewable Energy Technologies and Health were not known—it will be very interesting now to see  what the Minister does with that, keeping up as he is with the “latest and best in science.”
See also the blog Smithville Turbine Opposition Party for more comment.

Green energy: not playing the role it was supposed to

Here from the Lucknow Sentinel, an opinion on what is being done to our fair province…and its fortunes.Lucknow is the location of the ongoing Drennan appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval.

Green energy not playing the role it was meant to

Tracey Hinchberger
By Tracey Hinchberger, Kincardine News Freelancer

A Wind Concerns Ontario 'STOP' sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)
A Wind Concerns Ontario ‘STOP’ sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)

Is this what “green energy” is supposed to look like? This is a question I keep asking myself, and would like to pose to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.
As a writer of an environment-themed column I should be pleased to see the fruits of the provincial government’s Ontario Green Energy Act sprouting up all over our municipality.
Instead, as yet another wind farm project has been approved for the area, I find myself dismayed. I am also heartsick for the residents who have fought so hard to oppose these developments and who will be impacted the most by their presence.
While I realize wind turbines utilize an unlimited resource and produce energy that does not create pollution (at least the operational turbine itself) I have never been convinced they are the Holy Grail of clean energy. There are too many cons, such as unstudied health risks, environmental impacts and effects on energy costs.
But some of the biggest concerns I have with the “green energy” the provincial government has been installing in Ontario are the unquantifiable costs.
What I think Queen’s Park has been ignoring is the impact this program is having on Ontarians’ lives.
By denying municipalities the right of refusal in their jurisdictions, and seemingly disregarding opposition to wind projects, an environment of distrust and anger has been created. Unwilling host communities have lost trust in the process, in the government and the corporations who are developing these installations.
By not giving a meaningful voice to individuals who are impacted by neighbours’ decisions to option land, animosity and distrust have been created between former friends.
Communities have been divided.
Too many reports of ill health effects and lives disrupted have come to the forefront. Too often these same families are left unable to escape because of their inability to sell properties that fall within the boundaries of wind developments.
Pro-wind agents will argue that no health effects have been proven. However, even if no physical impacts truly exist (which I’m not convinced is the case) what about the emotional and psychological effects on these families? What about the anguish people have faced, the feelings of helplessness as massive mechanical structures are erected around their properties, and the stress in knowing their homes are now largely unsellable?
The Kincardine area is already inundated with wind development. To the south there are the 38 turbines of Ripley Wind, to the north 115, when combining the towers of Enbridge Bruce and the handful from Huron Wind. From some vantage points in the municipality there are turbines in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
The recently approved Armow Wind project will see another 92 towers erected in the north east of the municipality, almost doubling the number of turbines already in existence north of town. Compounding this is the fact that these towers will be markedly bigger than those already in place.
What the government refuses to acknowledge is that these benignly labelled “wind farms” are in reality large industrial installations, huge pieces of machinery being erected in great numbers across our rural landscape, amongst people’s homes. The province is essentially turning our municipality into a big factory.
Lives in host communities are being impacted significantly, whether it is health-wise, financially or socially.
If I could, I would invite Premier Wynne and Minister Chiarelli to actually stand amongst the turbines, take it all in and attempt to comprehend the impact of masses of towers sprawling off in every direction, with scores more to come.
I would then ask them to look at every one of the lives that have been so wrongly disrupted, imagine their own loved ones in the same position and ask “is this really what green energy is supposed to look like?”