CBC: wind turbines a “hot” topic at municipal conference

Here is a link to a CBC story on the recent Association of Ontario Municipalities conference. We should add here what Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott said: “a year from now, in August 2014, wind power is going to be the hot topic in the Ontario municipal elections.”

Turbines in Windsor-Essex region

 

 

Amherstburg, as well as several municipalities in Lambton County, have put their foot down when it comes to wind turbines.

Amherstburg is among 64 communities that are on an “unwilling hosts” list. Those municipalities don’t want any more wind turbines going up. Another 33 municipalities have “expressed concern” about turbines. Leamington is on that list.

Currently there are more than 100 hundred wind turbines in the Windsor Essex Region and like Amherstburg – Leamington may soon join the “unwilling” list as well. A recent proposal to ban wind turbines in the Leamington area was brought to council last week.

Along with solar power, wind energy is hailed as the way of the future but this type of power generation has many in the province divided.

Until a recent trip to Ottawa, the Ontario government may not have been listening to the concerns of municipalities, according to Leamington mayor John Patterson.

“We had no authority, no power to say where solar farms or wind turbine products could be located,” said Patterson. “Now we have a say … but if the government determines that it’s viable they will probably approve the farm.”

But after attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference last week, Patterson says the government is willing to listen to concerns from across the province.

Patterson was glad to hear that, because some residents say turbines are a drag on the municipality.

“Property values are driven down because wind turbines are established everywhere and driving down our tax base. There’s an argument on both sides of that point,” he said. “Knowing past discussions on this when there was a proposal to put 750 turbines out in Pigeons Bay, it caught the attention of every tax payer in both communities. I suspect the same kind of feeling may exist on council in regards to turbines on the land.”

Wind ‘farms’ no success story: Fisherville letter

n this week’s edition of the Hill Times, following last week’s feature, the following letter to the Editor:

Ontario’s wind farms not a success

Published: Monday, 08/19/2013 12:00 am EDT
Last Updated: Monday, 08/19/2013 3:37 pm EDT

Bob Chiarelli is quoted in The Hill Times as saying “wind power produces no greenhouse gases and is part of a program of modernization of Ontario’s power system. It’s a tremendous success story” (“Critics call Ontario’s wind farms ‘a disaster’ in rural areas but Energy Minister Chiarelli says government is working with municipalities,” Renewable Energy Policy Briefing, Aug. 12),
I beg to differ with that statement. Mr. Chiarelli is either uninformed or very disingenous and he is totally wrong. It takes several thousand tons of coal to produce one industrial wind turbine. How is that modernizing the system? Coal produces greenhouse gasses.
Ontario has spent millions of dollars ($60-million in 2009) for the Bruce Power Plant not to produce power. We do not need nor can Ontario afford IWTs. It is all a financial disaster for Ontario.
IWTs were forced on us by the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals. They turned our rural area into an industrial zone.
As a result, we are “enjoying” our senior years surrounded by IWTs. We have tried to sell and move to a smaller property but no one is looking. The whole area is in turmoil as family members, neighbours and friends are about to start a class action law suit against the land owners and wind proponents. Many are suffering health problems related to IWTs and Mr. Chiarelli calls this a “success story?”
Frank and Helen Belbeck
Fisherville, Ont.

Environmental hearings on DWP limited to serious health risks

The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) will consider only whether the Dufferin Wind Power project and its transmission line pose serious risks to human, animal and plant health or would cause irreversible damage to the environment, among similar considerations, the preliminary hearing was told Monday.
The actual hearing is set for Aug. 20 in Grace Tipling Hall, Shelburne. There’ll be a few familiar faces participating along with several lawyers of note who’ll be acting for some parties to the hearing.
Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing Dennis Sanford of Melancthon in opposition to the project. Mr. Gillespie gained turbine recognition in Chatham-Kent proceedings a couple of years ago, and is currently waging a multi-million-dollar battle over turbine leases near Stayner, among other actions.

Joan Lever, also an opponent of turbines since the development of Melancthon Phase 1, is representing herself as a participant. In a somewhat lengthy and impassioned presentation

A Niagara Escarpment Commission manager appeared Monday to lodge an objection to the proximity of the wind farm to the escarpment. In part, the NEC’s opposition is to visual impact.
Amongst the heavy hitters, DWP is represented by Toronto’s Torys LLP, and Conserve Our Rural Environment (CORE) by the Toronto office of Davis LLP.
Davis lawyer Laura Bisset made representations for Dr. Crysdale of Mulmur whose property adjoins that of the most northerly farm within the DWP area at issue. She didn’t outline the doctor’s credentials but said his concerns are for human health.

Read the entire article at the Orangeville Citizen

Longer setback requirements in Germany

A new post on the German Energy Blog notes a number of German states with more stringent setback requirements than Ontario’s.
The latest being 1 km.

On 12 July 2013 representatives of the Saxon State Ministries of Economics and of the Interior signed a joint “Decree on Minimum Distances between Residential Housing and Priority Areas and Other Areas Suitable for Wind Power”. The decree essentially stipulates a general minimum distance of 1,000 metres between residential housing and wind power plants, a press release issued by the State of Saxony says.

This would help to “reduce conflicts between immissions and adverse affects on the landscape on the on hand and the need for a moderate and sensitive expansion of wind power”, the statement says.

Judging from the press release (the decree is not available yet), the minimum distance seems to refer mainly to immission control law and seems stricter than in other German states. The Bavarian wind power decree points out that the Federal Immissions Control Act does not stipulate a minimum distance, pointing out that below a distance of 800 metres an expert opinion on the noise caused by the wind power plant (Lärmschutzgutachten) would have to be submitted. The wind power decree of the State of Baden-Württemberg states that regional planning authorities should observe a minimum distance of 700 metres from areas in which housing can not only be permitted by way of exception when designating priority zones for wind power.

The State of Saxony also informed that it plans to submit an amendment of the Federal Building Code (Baugesetzbuch) together with the State of Bavaria that would allow the federal states to set minimum standards to residential housing depending on the height of the wind power plant.

The entire article may be read at the German Energy Blog

Wind-power projects as harmful as cancelled gas plants, critic contends

OTTAWA —The same process that led to Ontario’s “gas plant fiasco” is being used for wind-generation projects with disastrous results, says the head of a group concerned about a proposed wind farm in rural southern Ottawa.
“The gas plants got all the attention, but the wind-power projects are more widespread — and causing real problems for communities in terms of health problems, social disruption, lost property value and harm to the natural environment,” wrote Jane Wilson in a submission to the Ontario Power Generation and the Independent Energy System Operator as part of a “dialogue” about the way the province locates large power projects.
The consultation process stemmed from the political controversy around the location, and cancellation, of planned gas plants in southern Ontario. The Liberal government’s handling of the costly gas plant issue is the subject of an inquiry and a criminal investigation.
Ottawa Wind Concerns, which Wilson heads (in addition to Wind Concerns Ontario) wants a new system for planning and siting all large energy projects, including wind, that gives local communities more control.

Continue reading at the Ottawa Citizen

Ontario Energy Ministry or the Freedom of NO Information

For some time the interest in the release of the Ontario Electricity Finance Corporation’s (OEFC) annual report has been on the minds of many of Ontario’s ratepayers. The OEFC’s year-end is March 31st and in line with the annual budget an audit of the OEFC is a requirement of the Electricity Act 1998 (Act). According to part” 81. (1)” of the Act; “The Financial Corporation shall, within 90 days after the end of every fiscal year, submit to the Minister of Finance an annual report on its affairs during that fiscal year, signed by the chair of its board of directors. 1998, c. 15, Sched. A, s. 81 (1).”

By this date (mid July 2013) the public should have had acess to the March 31, 2012 and March 31, 2013 annual report but we don’t. Now if one delves further into the Act we note that: “The Minister of Finance shall submit the annual report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and shall then table the report in the Assembly. 1998, c. 15, Sched. A, s. 81 (3).” Insofar as the March 31, 2012 annual report is concerned the Minister responsible would have been our now retired and private sector employed former Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan and for the March 31, 2013 report it would have been the current Finance Minister, Charles Sousa. Needless to say neither of the past and current Finance Ministers have, as suggested in the act, submitted “the annual report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council” nor have they followed up by “then table[ing] the report in the Assembly.”

With the foregoing in mind I submitted a request to the “Freedom of Information Coordinator” of the Ministry of Energy, on June 24, 2013 in which I asked for the copy of the annual report for the year-end March 31, 2012 for OEFC. As the letter preceded (by 6 days) the “90 days” applicable to the 2013 annual report I thought that the FOI request would carry more weight.

As it turned out my request was forwarded to the FOI Coordinator at the Finance Ministry Office and I received a phone call on July 9th alerting me to that fact. During my conversation with that individual I was offered a choice of future actions; the first was that they could return my cheque for the $5.00 and I would get no information or they would cash my cheque and send a letter that would tell me that under “Section 22” of the Ontario FOI Act they would respond that: “(b) the head believes on reasonable grounds that the record or the information contained in the record will be published by an institution within ninety days after the request is made or within such further period of time as may be necessary for printing or translating the material for the purpose of printing it. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 22.”
I opted for the latter and then checked Hansard to determine the next “Legislative sitting” which has been scheduled for September 13, 2013 or 81 days after the date of my letter. Presumably the hope of the FOI officer responding to my letter is that Finance Minister Sousa will in fact table the March 31, 2012 OEFC annual report to the Lieutenant Governor before Sunday September 22, 2012.

While I appreciate that bureaucrats, no matter their political stripes are concerned about their job I find it appalling that the new Wynne Liberal Government who claim to want a “conversation” do not wish to table these annual statements from OEFC that annually bill 4.5 million Ontario ratepayers for approximately $1 billion. Two full years have passed and the take on the “stranded debt” from the ratepayers of the province is about $2 billion and we have had no accounting.

It begs the question where has our money gone and why are they keeping it a secret?

Parker Gallant, 

July 18, 2013