WCO: MPAC study a “self-serving” exercise

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

STATEMENT ON MPAC 2012 ASSESSMENT BASE YEAR STUDY: “IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY ASSESSMENT IN ONTARIO”

April 25, 2014

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation or MPAC, the independent property assessment body which reports to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, released its long awaited report on the effect of industrial wind turbines on property assessment in Ontario in mid-April.

Anyone waiting for this report, which was more than a year late in coming, was disappointed: despite studies done by real estate appraisers in Ontario showing significant loss in value for properties near wind turbines, MPAC said it “cannot conclude any loss in price” due to proximity to a wind turbine.

Wind Concerns Ontario consulted with several individuals including real estate appraisers and finance professionals about the MPAC report.

“It’s just a self-serving, bureaucratic  exercise in mathematics done by MPAC for their government masters,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “The study was done by assessors, not appraisers—this was not a real-world study using on-the-ground valuation techniques such as direct comparison to property sales.”

In fact, Wilson said WCO’s advisors point out that the MPAC study actually does show a property value loss of 25%. “They claim there is no value loss, but then they present a chart that shows there is, and the effect extends out as far as five kilometers,” Wilson said.

What they left out

What MPAC left out of the study is more interesting than what’s in it, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

Here’s a summary:

-MPAC studied areas near turbines 1.5 megawatts or larger in capacity—this excludes areas with older, less powerful but still large-scale turbines; these are areas where studies by independent real estate professionals have indicated significant property value loss.

-MPAC used only sales after 2008, which means for areas like Kincardine and Ripley, the damage was already done, and is reflected in the data they are using for comparison

-MPAC chose not to include properties that are now vacant, such as those that have been purchased by wind power developers as they have become uninhabitable

-MPAC left out the sales that would have been most informative, i.e., those that sold for significantly less than their assessed values and surely demanded some further investigation before being dismissed.

-MPAC as assessors study sales data only—there is no data on houses listed for sale that do not sell, or which are on the market for extended periods of time

U.S.-based real estate appraiser Mike McCann examined the study and concluded that the assessors went against their own professional standards for assessment methodology: “the IAAO (International Association of Assessing Officers) standards discourage regression analysis and instead recommend the use of paired sales methodology, with direct, detailed comparisons of individual sales data, near and far from the environmental disamenity in question,” he said. MPAC’s regression studies actually show a loss of property value, he explains, when the raw data is sorted by distance, yet the authors somehow concluded there was no impact on value.

The real meaning of MPAC’s report

Prior to the Green Energy Act being passed in 2009, countless municipalities asked the Ontario government for economic analysis of the impact of wind power projects on their communities. “They never got that,” says Jane Wilson. “And the Auditor General in his 2011 annual report said Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for the impact of wind power generation projects on Ontario’s economy—we never got that either.

“This government doesn’t want the public to know the true impact of its decision to rush into large-scale industrial wind power on Ontario’s small towns and rural communities—property value loss would be one metric of just how badly this decision has harmed our economy.”

Instead, Wilson says, “ MPAC obliged its government masters by coming up with this flawed and self-serving study that was designed to produce a specific result, which will doubtless now be used by the government and its wind power industry partner to put a ‘chill’ on requests for re-assessment, and on legal actions based on lost property value.”

CONTACT

Jane Wilson WCO.president@gmail.com

MPAC study available here.

MPAC sales chart showing loss of value: http://www.mpac.ca/pdf/AppendixD2.pdf

 

 

 

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US-based NextEra racks up wind power project number 7 with Jericho approval

Middlesex-Lambton community group considering an appeal

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment issued a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) earlier this week for the company’s proposal to build a 150-megawatt wind farm spanning Lambton Shores, Warwick Township and North Middlesex.

Some final details still need to be worked out, but construction of the Jericho Wind Energy Centre is expected to begin as soon as possible, said Ben Greenhouse, director of development with Nextera Energy Canada.

The project has been in the works since 2008, he said, and was submitted for ministry approval 14 months ago.

“We’re excited,” he said, noting a laydown yard — headquarters for construction — will soon be built on Thomson Line, north of Jericho Road and south of Northville Road.

But not everyone is enthused about the approval.

Lambton Shores resident Marcelle Brooks, with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, has been a vocal opponent of the project.

It was a sad day when she saw the approval, she said.

“It was just devastating that our voices simply aren’t being heard.”

Concerns raised about whether turbines are being set back the required 550 metres from residential properties, and environmental concerns about nesting eagles near powerlines, haven’t been adequately addressed, she contends.

Concerns have also been raised about wind turbines affecting tundra swan migration, and the potential health impacts to people living nearby.

Brooks said she was planning to convene a meeting Wednesday with people affected by the project — connecting to Hydro One’s distribution system — to talk about options.

Read the full story here

 

U.S. Superior Court judge orders turbines off: “irreparable harm”

From Falmouth, this story.

udge Orders Falmouth to Run Wind Turbines on 12-Hour Schedule

By: Christopher Kazarian, November 22, 2013
Two of Falmouth's wind turbines, one at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility (left) and the other at the Falmouth Technology Park, as viewed from the Chapoquoit Beach parking lot.

GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE – Two of Falmouth’s wind turbines, one at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility (left) and the other at the Falmouth Technology Park, as viewed from the Chapoquoit Beach parking lot.

Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse has ordered the town to operate its wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility for 12 hours per day except on Sundays starting today.
The preliminary injunction was filed late last night and requires the town to turn off the machines from 7 PM to 7 AM daily. Additionally, Judge Muse’s decision calls on the turbines to be turned off on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The move follows what was a supposed agreement reached two weeks ago in Barnstable Superior Court between Falmouth’s attorneys and lawyers representing neighbors living near the turbines. That agreement—to reduce the operating hours of the turbines from 16 hours per day to 12 hours per day as a temporary move toward a more comprehensive settlement—was tied to the town’s appeal of the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals decision in May upholding Neil P. and Elizabeth Andersen’s claim that the wind turbines constitute a nuisance. The Andersens live near the turbines on Blacksmith Shop Road and have been outspoken in their criticism of the machines and impacts they have had on their lives shortly after the first, Wind 1, became operational in March 2010.
Since that time selectmen have refused to return to the 12-hour operating schedule, something that the board’s chairman Brent V.W. Putnam announced at Town Meeting last Wednesday.

This morning Town Counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. said he was unsure why the board could not come to an agreement on the matter. “In the end we wound up exactly where we would have been, turning them on from 7 AM to 7 PM,” he said.
In his ruling Judge Muse wrote that the “town’s actions, (or inactions), require this court to employ its direction in ruling upon the Andersens’ motion…”
He later noted that the Andersens “have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their position that the ZBA’s decision that both turbines created a nuisance” and that if the court did not file a preliminary injunction “the Andersens will suffer irreparable physical and psychological harm.”
Judge Muse said that while the town may suffer financial penalties for the reduced energy production of its turbines, the Andersens would benefit from his proposed operational model, noting that “they will experience sufficient periods of time to sleep and relax in their home, with a commensurate increase in the use and enjoyment of their impacted property.”
Mr. Duffy said the town has the right to appeal Judge Muse’s injunction within 30 days. He said he believed that Town Manager Julian M. Suso would be asking selectmen to hold an executive session to discuss that matter further.
If the board does not vote to file an appeal, he said, Falmouth would have to wait until Judge Muse either releases the preliminary injunction or the court case goes to trial. Mr. Duffy said this case is not scheduled to go to trial until December 2014 at the earliest. “For what it is worth we will continue talking to neighbors about reaching a solution,” he said.

In an article written by Garth Manning*, QC, human rights lawyer Julian Falconer says that Ontario’s Green Energy Act violates human rights, due to the potential health effects from wind power generation projects, encourage and subsidized by the Ontario government through the act.

 Toronto human rights lawyer Julian Falconer argues that the GEA and the government’s approval of wind projects “implicates their right to security of the person” as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights, in view of potential health impacts. These health impacts were noted on Oct. 17, 2013 when the Ontario government’s Research Chair for Renewable Energy Technologies and Health at the University of Waterloo reported a statistically significant correlation between proximity to industrial wind turbines and sleep deprivation, tinnitus and vertigo. The government of Ontario has been widely criticized, even by its own agencies, for its roll out of the GEA four years ago. Ontario’s Auditor-General reported in 2011 that a cost-benefit analysis was never done and there was no impact study of the effects on property values, tourism and health. Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner and Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal opposed the effect of industrial wind turbines on wildlife at Ostrander Point. Economists, health care providers, mayors, and those affected have consistently made their views known, but concerns have fallen on deaf ears. 

Read the full article here.

Garth Manning QC is Chair of CCSAGE, the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy. He has had a long and prestigious career in the law and was awarded the Louis St Laurent aware by the Canadian Bar Association for his contributions to the profession. He resides in Prince Edward County.

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. http://smithvilleturbinesoppositionparty.ca/news/energy-minister-bob-chiarelli-answers-turbine-questions/

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

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(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. …