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.

St Columban ERT testimony highlights: Dr David Michaud

Dr. David Michaud at the St. Columban ERT Hearing
“Knowledge gaps on noise, infrasound”
   Dr. Michaud testified that there was a ‘knowledge gap’ in respect to low frequency noise emitted by wind turbines.  International standard used to assess noise do not consider low frequency noise as they do not deal with sound 31.5Hz. 

  Dr. Michaud also stated that the knowledge gaps relative to both audible and low frequency noise from wind turbines were sufficient to qualify for Health Canada funding. He stated that to receive funding, a project had to deal with a knowledge gap be of sufficient importance to Health Canada that addressing it is a priority.  In the Federal government’s view, wind turbine noise fell into this category.
  Dr. Michaud confirmed that Health Canada has received a number of complaints referring to low frequency noise but these complaints were not accompanied by data documenting the level of low frequency noise being experienced.
   The Health Canada study includes both a questionnaire to assess people’s response to wind turbine noise but also full time monitoring of noise, including low frequency sounds, at various distances from wind turbines.  Dr. Michaud was not able to specifically identify the equipment being used but did confirm that it was specialized equipment designed to measure low frequency noise.
   The Health Canada study is still on track to release its findings in late 2014.  This will include raw results plus preliminary assessments of the data which will then be subject to a peer-review process.

West Elgin residents to Council: no turbines

West Elgin Council asked residents for their opinion on hosting wind power generation projects. The answer? No.

West Elgin residents send clear message to municipal council at a jammed public meeting in West Lorne

By Patrick Brennan, QMI Agency

West Elgin resident Michael Parezanovic makes a point at a public meeting at the Elgin‌ International Centre on wind turbines Tuesday. More than 250 people attended -- most, apparently in opposition to turbines.
West Elgin resident Michael Parezanovic makes a point at a public meeting at the Elgin‌ International Centre on wind turbines Tuesday. More than 250 people attended — most, apparently in opposition to turbines.

WEST LORNE – If it were up to the majority of 254 West Elgin residents who attended a public meeting this week, there wouldn’t be any wind turbines in their municipality.
That was the dominant view expressed at the Elgin International Centre where residents jammed the large meeting hall to hear information about turbines and then offer their opinions.
West Elgin council hosted the meeting as it prepares to debate whether to be a willing or unwilling host for wind turbines.
As residents heard, the municipality does have that option which may or may not constitute some deterrence for developers who are currently approaching landowners to offer them lease agreements so they can erect turbines, which average 80 metres in height.
Residents heard from legal experts their municipality has few opportunities under Ontario’s Green Energy Act to regulate or outlaw turbines.
Regulatory powers are limited to controlling road access to the site and some local bylaws that apply generally to land use.
Carmen Krogh, a health expert who has studied the effects of wind turbines on people, told the meeting the research is clear that turbines can not only annoy people, they can cause issues relating to noise. That’s not acceptable, she suggested.
“We have a right to attain sustainable standards of health,” she said.
She noted recent concessions by the wind turbine industry to aim for a noise level of only 20% by 2025 complicates the issue.
“It really make the health research complicated,” she said.
Residents who live too close to turbines suffer from sleep disruption, nausea and irritability.
“We know these symptoms are valid,” she said.
While residents expressed their anger about the possibility of wind turbines locating here, several people pointed out it is partly due to the fact other landowners are leasing property which would allow them in.
Council will debate whether to be a willing or unwilling host for wind turbines in October.

Air traffic controller lives near turbines, exhaustion affects his work

Here from New York Magazine, a very worrying tale about an air traffic controller who lives near wind turbines.
  How hard is it to understand that if you are sleep-deprived, you are not well? (Sylvia Davis of the Ministry of the Environment?)
   Excerpt follows; go the website for the full story.

“Never Stops, Never Stops. Headache. Help.”

Some people living in the shadows of wind turbines say they’re making them sick. Almost as upsetting: Their neighbors don’t feel a thing. By Kristen French

  • By Kristen French
  • Published Sep 15, 2013


(Photo: Christopher Griffith/Trunk Archive)

On May 4, 2012, at around 8:30 a.m., air-traffic controller Mark J. Cool put two planes on a collision course over Cape Cod. “Runway 14” is what Cool heard the Coast Guard controller say when he okayed a Falcon jet for takeoff from the airport. “Runway 23” is what the controller actually said. That set the jet directly in the flight path of a twin-prop Cool had just released from another airport. On his radar display, two green splats lurched ever closer as he made a series of frantic radio contacts to set them on a corrected course. Cool’s supervisor and colleagues crowded behind him in a crescent of worry. The planes came within two thirds of a mile and 500 feet of altitude of one another. A few seconds later, they would have crashed.
Cool was immediately taken off duty, and before he could return to the boards, his supervisors flew in a guy from California to counsel him in sleep and stress management.
The cause of his near-fatal mistake, Cool insists, was the 40-story wind turbine a third of a mile behind his home in Falmouth, Massachusetts. For two years, he had been suffering from insomnia and headaches, which left him fatigued, distracted, and stressed out. It wasn’t the turbine’s noise that woke him or made his head hurt; he believes some intangible mechanism was at work, an invisible and inaudible wind turbulence. And it was all he could talk about.
“Everybody at work was like, ‘Ah, jeez’—ya know, every time I walk in, ‘Cool is talking about wind turbines,’ ” he says. “So it had pretty much captured my life.”
A 55-year-old former Navy man, Cool says his annual flight physicals, which include an EKG and a vision test, have always shown him to be “healthy as a horse.” But he started getting mysterious headaches in April 2010, almost two weeks after the turbine was turned on behind the sprawling Colonial he shares with his wife, Annie, who began battling sleep loss around the same time. He was out tending his garden when his ears started popping as though he were gaining altitude in an airplane. That turned into head congestion, which became a relentlessly painful pressure behind his ears, at the base of his head. “Not like put-your-finger-in-a-socket pain, just a dull constant,” he says. The headache didn’t go away until he left home four hours later on an errand.
For the next few weeks, the headaches hit when he was in the yard working. Cool went to see his doctor, who prescribed allergy medicine, but that didn’t help. And then he heard from a couple of neighbors who were suffering from ear popping and headaches, too, and had trouble sleeping. “It was kind of a relief,” he says, to realize he was not the only one. “I came back and started talking to my wife about it: ‘What’s new in the neighborhood? The wind turbine.’ ” It was a quick-and-dirty calculus.
Then his symptoms got worse. …

Minister Bradley responds to WCO: “no comment”

Following the closing arguments of the Environmental Review Tribunal based on the appeal of the wind power project at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to the Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley on an issue of grave concern.
  The MoE lawyer, Ms Sylvia Davis, was heard to remark that the reports of ill health from the appellants’ witnesses were not to be given any weight because they are “psychogenic,”* she said. In other words, a government lawyer was inferring that the witnesses’ reports of health problems–which the Tribunal in its decision found “credible”–were simply the result of psychological stress.
  It was heart-breaking for those witnesses who gave up their time to testify and reveal their private suffering, to hear a government lawyer dismiss their situations in this way.
  In our letter to the Minister, we asked, is this government policy? To blame confirmed health problems on the victims’ own mental state?
  And how does this mesh with other well intentioned, taxpayer-funded initiatives to de-stigmatize mental health issues?
  We received a response, sort of, today. Here it is:

Dear Ms. Wilson:
I have received a copy of your email of June 26, 2013 about my ministry’s policy regarding wind turbine noise and health.
I recognize your interest in issues relating to the approval of the development at Ostrander Point.  As you know, the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal is currently under appeal.  I hope you will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on matters which are currently before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our government’s attention.
Yours sincerely,

Jim Bradley

 We will continue our fight to have the noise complaints that are registered by the hundreds followed up, and we will continue our fight to have the voices of the victims of wind turbine environmental noise heard.And we will continue the fight to halt the advance of these huge, noise-producing power generators that are completely inappropriate next to our homes and communities.

Jane Wilson

*This comes, of course, from a spurious paper by Chapman which alleges that there are no health problems, that people just worry themselves sick because they don’t like change.

Dr Jeffreys, Carmen Krogh and Brett Hroner respond to wind biz blogger

The current edition of the Canadian Family Physician journal contains a letter to the editor, responding to comment on the authors’ article published in the journal last May. The comments were made by pro-wind power and IBM employee Mike Barnard.
  The full article is available here.

Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines

  1. Brett Horner, CMA
+ Author Affiliations

  1. Little Current, Ont
We are pleased to see the interest generated by our article in the May issue.1 Much of the feedback has been constructive and should help advance awareness of the health risks of placing industrial wind turbines (IWTs) too close to humans. However, the opinions expressed by blogger Mike G. Barnard deserve comment.2
The Society for Wind Vigilance is not an “anti-wind” campaigning organization. It is a not-for-profit organization, the purpose of which is to ensure safe positioning of wind turbine facilities based on human health research; educate through the dissemination of facts and references on the risk of adverse health effects of human exposure to IWTs; work constructively with interested parties to ensure that guidelines for wind turbine facilities will protect the health and safety of communities; and achieve vigilance monitoring and long-term surveillance regarding the risks to health of IWTs.3 Society board members are authors of peer-reviewed articles on the effects of IWTs.48

The term industrial wind turbine

Mr Barnard states that the term industrial wind turbine is “emotionally laden” and “propaganda terminology.”2
Our use of the term is not intended to invoke an emotional response, but to differentiate consumer turbines from industrial-scale turbines that have a blade radius of greater than 40 m, are greater than 140 m in height, generate multiple megawatts of electricity, and produce approximately 105 dBA of sound power.

see website for full article

Is renewable energy finished in Australia?

Here from the Guardian an interesting report from Australia: almost no mention of renewable sources of power, plenty of focus on fossil fuels, a promise to look into thorium as a power source, and once again, a promise to conduct a health study into turbine noise.

Coalition energy document focuses almost entirely on fossil fuels

Only reference to Australia’s $20bn renewable industry is repeat of promise to hold another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms

Construction Continues On Controversial Lake George Wind Farm
The Lake George Capital Wind Farm in Canberra. Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The Coalition on Thursday unveiled its new energy and resources document, which focuses almost entirely on fossil fuel developments, promising to restore coal-fired power stations to profitability, boost exploration for oil and gas, and to produce another “white paper” on energy.
Other proposals in the document prepared by opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane include an investigation into the use of thorium as a potential energy source of the future, and support mechanisms for the use of LNG as a transport fuel.
“Australians have a choice between a Coalition government that will give industry policy certainty and stability or a Labor government putting investment, jobs and economic growth at risk with erratic policies and taxation burdens on Australia’s most important industry,“ the document says.
However, the only other reference to the country’s $20bn renewable industry is the repeat of a promise made last December to hold yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms, and confirmation of a previously leaked commitment to require “real time” monitoring of wind turbine noise – a move that wind energy groups say would involve “crippling” costs.
There is no mention of renewables – least of all the “solar revolution” that state energy ministers admit is sweeping the country.
However, separate costing documents reveal sharp cuts to renewable support measures. This includes stripping the Australian Renewables Energy Agency of $150m over three years to fund the Coalition’s million solar roofs program, cutting a planned $40m program to support geothermal and ocean energy developments in regional towns, and cutting $185m from a “connecting renewables” program designed to support transmission infrastructure for renewables. The million solar roofs program – targeted for low income earners – will now feature a $500 rebate instead of a $1,000 rebate because of the fall in the cost of solar PV modules.
On wind, the energy document – in an apparent gesture towards the anti-wind members of its constituency – says: “Some members of public have serious concerns over the potential impacts of wind farms on the health of people living in their vicinity.
“The lack of reliable and demonstrably independent evidence on the subject of wind farms both adds to those concerns and allows vested interests on either side of the debate to promulgate questionable information to support their respective cases.
“We will implement a program to establish real-time monitoring of wind farm noise emissions to be made publicly available on the internet.”
The renewables industry has previously said that real-time monitoring would impose unbearable costs on the wind industry, and would be almost useless because of the inability to separate other noise in real-time.
Despite the fact that there have been 19 separate studies into wind farm health, including one by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Coalition said it would establish either an independent NHMRC research program or an independent expert panel to examine and determine any actual or potential health effects of wind farms.
A previous study by the NHMRC in 2010 found that “there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines”. A Senate inquiry into wind farm health fell largely along party lines, although it said it was unable to establish a direct link between ill health and the noise generated by wind farms.
The Coalition has said that the inquiry would be made in response to demands from anti-wind senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon, who may hold the balance of power in a new Senate.
“This panel will be modelled on the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development,” it says.
The new energy white paper will address issues of “energy security” and transparency that the Coalition says had not been addressed in the previous document.
It would also investigate the role of alternative transport fuel sources, including but not limited to biofuels, LNG, CNG and LPG, and another white paper would look at how the government would support Australia’s “world leading” expertise in petroleum and mining services industries.
The document says the Coalition would look into formalising the sale of uranium to India, and would also examine the potential use of thorium as an energy source, noting that Australia possesses an estimated 18.7% (489,000t) of the world’s identified resources.
“The primary source of thorium in Australia and globally is the mineral monazite. Thorium can be used as an alternative source of fuel for energy generation and possesses an energy content that can be utilised almost in its entirety,” it says. Thorium is often touted as a future energy source, although most experts say it is decades away from deployment.
Among other initiatives, the Coalition says it will provide $100m in incentives to boost mineral and petroleum exploration, and would convene an “urgent meeting” of state governments, gas explorers and producers and gas consumers to set in place “a workable gas supply strategy for the East Coast gas market to the year 2020”. This follows widespread warnings of a sharp jump in gas prices as the LNG terminal in Queensland begins exports, and of a potential gas shortage in some areas such as NSW.
The Coalition document noted that electricity generators across Australia have faced “huge losses” in value thanks to the carbon tax. It said these losses meant higher costs for consumers and taxpayers, although it didn’t explain how.
“The O’Farrell government has made it clear that its black coal-fired power stations will suffer a loss in value of at least $5 billion because of the carbon tax,” it said. “This is a cost that will be paid by New South Wales taxpayers already struggling with rising cost of living pressures.”
Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables initiative says the anti-wind farm stance of some Coalition members is out of touch with mainstream views.
“All available public polling shows strong public support for wind farms,” says Ewbank. “The Coalition desperately needs to make a wind energy friendly policy announcement to reaffirm its commitment to Australia’s most affordable renewable energy source.”
• Giles Parkinson is editor of

Wind turbines: they’re not wind “mills” and they’re not fans either

There has been an interesting exchange of letters in the Belwood area over the last week, in the Wellington Advertiser newspaper.
Last week, a reader wrote this:

Stories about the turbine windmills intrigued me. But is there anyone out there that can explain the difference between these large “fans” and other fans that surround us?

Why do these windmills purportedly harm us, yet we see no problem with the much closer fans in the stove, in the microwave, on the ceiling, in our computers and vehicles?

Don’t these fans whirling about, making noise and impacting the air have an effect as well?

/Anita Zomer, GUELPH/

Here is a letter from area resident Robert Service, explaining the difference between wind turbines and what some people think they are.

Fans versus turbines


Dear Editor:
RE: Large fans, Aug. 30.
I’d like to attempt to describe the difference between a household fan and an industrial wind turbine for a previous letter writer.
The first difference is clearly size;  one is about six inches tall, the other is one quarter the size of the CN Tower.
The next distinctions lie in the intensity and duration of the noise pollution produced. Household fans are used over short periods and their use does not require the owner to abandon their home.
The industrial wind turbines, on the other hand, have laid waste to neighbourhood after neighbourhood, with the sound approximating a 747 landing at Pearson airport.
Another distinction can be seen in the control the homeowner has over the sound of the fan. A household fan can be turned off at the owner’s discretion, while the unfortunate neighbour of an industrial wind turbine factory is constantly subjected to the incessant and damaging effects of the machines. To add insult to injury, this is totally out of their control.
Quite frankly, I’d have no objection to my neighbour installing a new home fan. I hope I’ve helped clarify the writer’s understanding of the issue.
Robert Service, RR1 BELWOOD