Poland sets stringent new setbacks, property tax rules for wind turbines

Wind farms will disappear, says the wind power lobby

map
Map of six wind power sites run by one company in Poland, CERAC

Reuters, May 23, 2016

Poland has adopted a new law banning construction of wind farms close to dwellings and hiking project costs in a move which the industry says could hobble Poland’s move to renewables and away from coal.

Wind farms must be built at a distance from housing of at least 10 times the height of the turbine, or about 1.5 to 2 km, under the law which was adopted by the lower house of parliament on Friday.

The new regulations will also result in higher property taxes

for wind farm owners, which the industry says could trigger bankruptcies.

“As a result, wind farms will disappear from the Polish landscape,” said Wojciech Cetnarski, head of the Polish Wind Energy Association.

Czech utility CEZ, which is developing wind farm

projects in Poland, said that if the law was enforced it would be forced to write down the value of some of its Polish assets and would consider seeking potential compensation.

Representatives of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which designed the new regulations, said that it had to reform regulation of the industry and address citizens’ complaints about noise from wind farms.

“Because of the renewable energy madness we are reducing our GDP growth,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said, referring to subsidies granted to renewable energy sources.

European Union rules call for Poland, which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal, to produce 15 percent of it from renewable sources by 2020 versus around 12 percent currently.

PiS says the new regulations will not pose a risk to Poland attaining that target.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Jason Neely)

Read the full article here.

Appeal begins in Collingwood as record six appellants object to wind farm

Three municipal governments are among the appellants fighting the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and wind power developer, Germany-based wpd Canada. At issue, aviation safety and the economic survival of Collingwood (the latter not allowed as basis for an appeal.)

Hearing begins in Collingwood this morning: already a shambles
Hearing begins in Collingwood this morning: already a shambles

May 16, 2016

Six tables of lawyers make up the front of the room as the appeal against the Fairview Wind power project begins in Collingwood, Ontario. The Environmental Tribunal members for this appeal are Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins.

Already there are problems as both the Ministry of the Environment and the power developer have missed deadline for their evidence submissions related to aviation safety issues.

The power developer is claiming it cannot force the federal government to provide information for this appeal.

More details when available.

Hearings are scheduled for May 16, then 18-20, at the Collingwood Curling Club.

OPP probing missing wind farm contract documents

The ongoing lawsuit by Trillium Power, whose contract was suddenly cancelled by the McGuinty government, has revealed a “hole” in Ontario government records.

Ontario Provincial Police

Photo: PostMedia

Ottawa Citizen, May 4, 2016

David Reevely EXCLUSIVE

The Ontario Provincial Police has launched another investigation into allegations that provincial government officials illegally destroyed documents concerning an aborted contract to supply electricity to the provincial grid.

This time, it’s a green-energy contract with a company that builds wind farms.

A previous investigation into the disappearance of files, in the last days of Dalton McGuinty’s premiership, about the decisions to cancel two gas-fired generating stations has already led to charges against McGuinty’s then-chief of staff, David Livingston, and his deputy, Laura Miller. They are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system. Both of them deny any wrongdoing and are awaiting trial. McGuinty himself was never the subject of any investigation.

This investigation is new.

“An investigation was launched after allegations were made by a third-party vendor, Trillium Power Energy Corp.,” OPP Det.-Supt. David Truax said in response to questions from this newspaper. The vendor made a formal complaint and the police examined it and found it worthy of a full exploration, which has been underway for a couple of weeks. Truax did not say whether the investigation had a specific target.

“The investigation is being led by a major-case manager from the criminal investigation branch of the OPP,” Truax said. “The investigative team will be comprised by members of the anti-rackets branch as well as the technological crime unit.”

Truax wouldn’t confirm any potential connection to the Livingston and Miller case. Trillium claims in its court filing that its project got caught up in the same electoral worry before the 2011 election that led the McGuinty government to cancel the two gas plants. Those two gas plants, in Oakville and in Mississauga, were locally unpopular and might have put Liberal-held seats at risk. Ultimately McGuinty won a third term with a minority.

The cost of the gas-plant cancellations ballooned from an early estimate of $40 million to about $1 billion, according to the provincial auditor general, once you factor in all the ripple effects.

Trillium’s allegation against the government arose in the middle of a gigantic civil lawsuit it filed over a moratorium the government put on wind-energy projects on the Great Lakes in early 2011. Trillium was working on five such projects, including one in Lake Ontario, more than 25 kilometres off Kingston, that would have been the biggest in Canada.

The company was on the brink of signing a financing deal when the province decided to halt all such projects for further scientific study. The company sued for $2.25 billion, alleging that the decision was political, not scientific, meant to appease voters living close to completely separate wind projects on Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

As it sought documents from the provincial government to build its case, Trillium’s lawyer Morris Cooper said in an interview, Trillium found a hole in the archives where documents related to Trillium’s contract with the province should have been.

“We discovered that in fact the documents that one would expect from the premier’s office or the cabinet office were not there,” Cooper said. “We noticed the pattern was they were only produced if other ministries were on the paper trail.”

Ultimately the courts threw out most of Trillium’s legal claims; the government has a lot of freedom to make and change policy decisions, even if people suffer as a result. But a claim for $500 million in damages from “misfeasance in public office” remains (over allegations the government deliberately timed its moratorium on Great Lakes wind projects to ruin Trillium so badly it couldn’t afford to sue) and now Trillium has added one for “spoliation,” destroying documents relevant to the case. Neither has been tried in court yet.

The government compensated the builders for the gas plants it cancelled. It didn’t compensate Trillium. The company filed its lawsuit in September 2011.

In defending itself against Trillium’s civil case, the government filed court papers saying that no files related to the deal were “intentionally” destroyed.

Cooper alleged that Trillium-related documents disappeared in February 2013 at the same time as the files relating to the decision to cancel the gas plants.

The investigation that led to the Livingston and Miller charges took the OPP’s anti-rackets branch 2 1/2 years. This one is just getting started.

“This type of investigation will involve the interviewing of witnesses, involved persons. It will involve an extensive review of documentation, both in electronic and hardcopy formats. I’m not able to speculate how long it might take to conduct this kind of investigation,” Truax said.

Read the full story here.

MPAC misled Ontario on wind turbine neighbour property values: Conroy

“Anyone with eyes” can see wind turbines impair property values… why does an Ontario government agency insist the opposite is true?

The Times

The Wellington Times, April 22, 2016

Misled

By Rick Conroy

One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.- George Orwell

They didn’t come to talk about industrial wind turbines. Rather, the two emissaries from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)—an agency of the province of Ontario—came to apologize.

MPAC is the government agency that determines the value of your home or property for municipal taxation purposes. They know they do a poor job of it. They have such low confidence in their ability to assess the value of your home, particularly in rural, heterogeneous neighbourhoods, one phone call is often all it takes to have an assessment reduced.

So the MPAC folks came to Shire Hall to say they are sorry and want to do better. Part of a dog-and-pony-apology tour across Ontario. They came with plans to improve the way they, and clerks in municipalities across the province, might work together better.

County council members, however, wanted to know about industrial wind turbines. Specifically, they wanted to know the impact on property values of 50-storey machines erected in a scenic rural shoreline. The MPAC folks were prepared for the question. They get it a lot.

Leaning heavily on MPAC’s own study based on 2012 data, the representatives assured council industrial wind turbines nearby had “no statistically significant impact on sale prices.” When it conducted the analysis, the provincial agency knew its findings would meet with a skeptical reception, so it hired an American consultant to examine the data too. It, however, found a statistically significant impact lowering the sale prices of homes near industrial wind turbines, but that the impact was small.

That was the information shared with council. Council believed it was true.

Ed and Gail Kenney have been battling MPAC for seven years. In 2008, the couple’s Wolfe Island home was valued at $200,000. The following year, 86 industrial wind turbines sprouted around his home. Fluctuating pressure caused by the turbines makes Ed uncomfortable and edgy—he finds it difficult to sleep. Yet he doesn’t want to move.

That same year MPAC determined the value of the Kenneys’ home had risen to $375,000—driving their municipal taxes much higher. They appealed. If anything, the value of their home was less because of the turbines, not more. It took several years and a small fortune, yet they lost their appeal.

“The board found that based on the evidence, in this case, there appeared to be no evidence of any negative impact to the value of the property,” concluded the MPAC appeal panel.

The case raised serious questions about how MPAC conducts its evaluations. The hard data appeared to contradict its conclusion. A small corps of amateurs pored over the data. They found a correlation between a decline in sale prices and proximity to industrial wind turbines. But they were just raising more questions. There was no hard evidence or academic research contradicting MPAC. Until now.

A new study prepared by Clarkson University and Nanos Research paints a very different picture of what happened as a result of the industrial wind turbines on Wolfe Island.

The Clarkson-Nanos study concludes that a massive wind project proposed for Galloo Island— part of a chain of islands that includes the Duck Islands stretching from Prince Edward Point to Henderson, New York—will likely depress property values of homes with a view of the turbines. The researchers calculate the impact is likely to be more than $40 million while providing the community with little value in return.

But surely the most surprising aspect of their research, for Ontario residents at least, was what they learned about property values directly across from Wolfe Island.

Clarkson-Nanos found that properties with a view of the western side of Wolfe Island, in and around Cape Vincent, prior to turbines being built, commanded a premium of about 10 per cent relative to similar properties. After the turbines were constructed, however, they found a “strong negative impact” on property values. Further, their analysis determined that industrial wind turbines reduce property values on the American mainland by about 15 per cent.

So let’s get this straight. MPAC and its consultant couldn’t detect a significant impact on property values on homes in the shadow of these looming mechanical giants—yet across the channel, an independent research body found homes are worth far less because their view includes industrial wind turbines.

It is obvious to those with eyes that industrial wind turbines impair property values. It is surely why the province wouldn’t tolerate an appeal based on economic or property losses as a result of an industrial wind project located nearby.

Yet the provincial government continues to compel its agencies to tell the public a different story.

The last shreds of credibility MPAC may have once had, now lie in tatters.  …

 

Read Rick Conroy’s stunning conclusion and the rest of the story here.

 

Return planning powers to municipalities, MPP demands Wynne government

No municipality would ever put wind turbines beside an airport, says Simcoe-Grey MPP Wilson

April 21, 2016

Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson is not letting up on his campaign to halt the Fairview wind power project which would put wind turbines hundreds of feet tall next to the very busy Collingwood airport.

The power project is now being appealed by a record six appellants, including all the relevant municipalities, the community group, and the aerodrome owner.

Thursday, Wilson demanded the government reverse the contract with WPD in the Legislature, and also held a news conference in which it was revealed that wind power developer WPD has now restructured ownership of the project and will develop it as “WPD Fairview.”

“This is a shell company with no assets,” said Clearview resident Chuck Magwood in the news conference. The company will be able to walk away from any legal action or requirements of it: “It’s better than bankruptcy,” he charged. Magwood is known for being CEO of the company that developed and built Toronto’s Skydome.

Preliminary hearings have already been heard in the appeal, which begins mid-May.

 

 

 

Grey Highlands wind farm appeal begins in London

Onus of proof that there is no harm should be on the wind power developers, say appellants

London courtroom moments before the appeal began at 10 a.m., April 19th: seeking fairness
London courtroom moments before the appeal began at 10 a.m., April 19th: seeking fairness

News release from Grey Highlands Wind Concerns

WIND TURBINES NEVER PROVEN SAFE!

Municipality of Grey Highlands, April 18, 2016 – Lawyers for Gary Fohr will appear before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in London on Tuesday April 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. to argue an appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to affirm the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change’s decision to approve the Grey Highlands Clean Energy industrial wind turbine project in the Municipality.

Mr. Fohr is a resident of the Municipality of Grey Highlands and a member of the local advocacy group, Grey Highland Wind Concerns (GHWC). Falconers LLP of Toronto is representing Mr. Fohr.

GHWC’s appeal is based on the assertion that the Environmental Review Tribunal made an error in law that misinterpreted an earlier Superior court ruling. The Superior court ruling stated that the Tribunal must follow its statutory mandate and make a positive determination that a wind turbine project will not cause relevant harm prior to confirming the approval of the project. The Tribunal found that there is presently no scientific basis to prove that industrial wind turbine installations are safe for Ontario residents.

“The expert witnesses who testified at the ERT for the government and the wind company agreed under cross examination that there are no long term peer reviewed studies to prove that wind turbines are safe for citizens of Ontario living in the vicinity of the wind projects.” said Gary Fohr, the appellant in this appeal as well as the original ERT appeal.

Mr. Fohr is the president of the Brewster Lake Home Owner’s Association and a member of GHWC. “The Ontario government requires citizens to prove that wind turbines are harmful to human health and/or the environment yet the big wind companies and the Ministry are incapable of proving the safety of large industrial wind turbines for people or the environment. For example, drug companies are required to prove the safety of their products before releasing them to the public, yet the Ontario government does not hold the wind industry accountable for the safety of industrial turbines,” said Mr. Fohr.

Doug Dingeldein, a spokesperson for GHWC, agreed. “To date, the onus has been on citizens to provide proof of harm to human health and/or the environment. That’s an almost impossible hurdle for any citizen to overcome. We know from lots of anecdotal evidence that people are being harmed. If a Superior Court decision shifts the onus to establish safety onto the wind companies, then perhaps there will finally be some relief for embattled citizens and municipalities,” Mr. Dingeldein said.

The nine-turbine project will be located less than one kilometer from the community of Brewster Lake in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. The 130 residents in the community are concerned that the turbines will cause the same negative health impacts already experienced by citizens in other Ontario communities who live near industrial wind turbines.

Grey Highlands Wind Concerns

See related story here.

Crusading Medical Officer of Health dismissed in Huron County

Dr Janice Owen was about to investigate the health impacts from wind turbine noise, under the responsibilities she has with the Health Protection Act. Now the mayor says, “we have parted ways”

Dr. Janice Owen

Dr Janice Owens: taking health protection seriously

London Free Press, April 15, 2016

John Miner

Huron County and its acting Medical Officer of Health have “parted ways,” the latest in a string of abrupt departures of senior officials from the county’s health unit.

Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel, chair of the Huron County Board of Health, confirmed Friday that Dr. Janice Owen was no longer in the position.

Owen was appointed a year ago.

In 2013, then Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nancy Cameron was dismissed by the board.

In 2008, the county fired the executive director of the health unit for ‘philosophical differences.’

Hessel declined to discuss reasons for Owen’s departure.

“We just parted ways, that’s all I can say,” Hessel said.

“Huron County Board of Health and Dr. Owen have now parted ways, but everything is going to continue moving forward as usual,” he said.

Owen could not be immediately reached for comment.

One of the health unit’s initiatives since her appointment has been a study of the possible health effects of wind farms in Huron County, which has some of the largest turbine installations in the province.

Hessel said Owen’s departure was unrelated to the wind farm issue and that work would be carried on by health unit staff.

 

Read the full story here.

Plympton-Wyoming in court next week: prove wind turbines NOT harmful to health

Plympton-Wyoming citizens head to court next week

*Note change of date; venue remains the same

Tuesday, April 19th, 10:00 a.m.

Divisional Court, London, Ontario

Courthouse Address: 80 Dundas St. London, ON

Parking Address: 100 Queens Ave, London, ON

Your attendance is encouraged and appreciated.

 

Legal Summary:

In December 2014, The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (higher Court) in a ruling indicated that the Environmental Review Tribunal is required to engage in a two step analysis on appeals of wind turbine projects. While an Appellant is required to show that the project will cause harm (step 1), the Tribunal must also be satisfied that the project will NOT CAUSE harm (step 2).

Recent evidence that came out of the appeal of Gary Fohr showed that while the scientific evidence has been unable to conclusively demonstrate harm, the experts for the wind company and the government agreed that there is NO SCIENTIFIC DATA available to demonstrate that wind turbines do NOT CAUSE harm. The Fohr appeal has been joined with our appeal.  We, as well as the court, will have the benefit of the Fohr evidence at our appeal.

—————

The provincial government has recently approved more industrial wind projects into Ontario communities who were unwilling hosts.  More projects are slated for 2017.  On Monday, we have an opportunity to make a difference.

We appreciate your support, your attendance and your financial contributions. 

Your donations can be made:

  1. Online using Paypal or Credit Card www.wait-pw.ca
  2. Cheque made to WAIT-PW and mail to P.O. Box 219 Plympton-Wyoming, ON, N0N 1TO
  3. Deposit directly with Southwest Credit Union in Wyoming or Sarnia, ON

Decision on White Pines construction stands: Ontario Divisional Court

Court cannot rule when quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal gave no reasons for decision
Blandings turtles: endangered but not protected by Ontario government
Blandings turtles: endangered but not protected by Ontario government
Ontario Divisional Court ruled yesterday that it cannot overturn a decision made by the Environmental Review Tribunal, on the motion for a stay in construction activities for the White Pines power project in Prince Edward County. White Pines’ approval was overturned at appeal, and the ERT is now waiting on submissions for “remedy” hearings.
Here is a statement from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.
Late this afternoon we received word from the Ontario Divisional Court that our appeal of the motion for a stay has been dismissed. 
 
APPEC provided evidence from four expert witnesses of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles if WPD proceeds with vegetation clearing.  What APPEC could not provide to the Court however was the ERT’s reasons for its decision of last week to dismiss our stay as the ERT never provided reasons.  Justice Stewart noted in her decision that “the specific grounds of any such appeal are uncertain given the fact that reasons for the decision are still forthcoming.”   
 
By not providing any reasons for dismissing our motion for a stay the ERT has handcuffed APPEC in appealing its decisions.     
 
According to the Court this disposition is without prejudice to the entitlement of the Appellant (APPEC) to renew its motion if it so chooses “on a fuller record that will include the reasons for the Tribunal’s decision under appeal.”
Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC
To help with fundraising, or for more information on these proceedings and the fight in Prince Edward County, go to www.savethesouthshore.org
ToughonNature

Communities to get “more input” to wind power siting decisions: Chiarelli

Rubbing salt in the wounds of the communities who just got notice of wind power contracts forced on them, despite unwilling host declarations, Energy Minister now says process will allow for input earlier in the process. (We’re still not hearing communities can say “No.”)

Just a little bit more "input"? But Bob still doesn't want to hear you say "no."
Just a little bit more “input”? But Bob still doesn’t want to hear you say “no.”

simcoe.com, March 28, 2016

By Jenni Dunning Barrie Examiner

Towns to have input ahead of solar, wind farm decisions

“There was a problem with particular large wind and solar farms. There was not enough of an alignment of what they were doing and what the municipalities wanted,” said Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli.

“We are in the process now… It involves much more communication with the municipality. It (will be) almost impossible for (contractors) to win a contract without having participation with a municipality.”

Chiarelli clarified that “participation” referred to approval from a municipality, adding all contractors will be required to show proof they consulted municipalities. One wind energy and 13 solar projects have been approved in Simcoe County, according to the provincial Renewable Energy Projects Listing.

The Clearview project is the only wind farm. There are five solar energy projects in Springwater Township (three of which are in Midhurst), four in Tay Township (three of which are in Waubaushene), three in Orillia, and one in Oro-Medonte.

Chiarelli said he expects the ministry to announce more projects “in a month or two.”

Springwater Township Mayor Bill French said he has noticed the province has slowly started asking municipalities for more input on solar and wind projects in the past year.

They have been asked to use a scoring system to rank their support for proposed projects, he said.

“We always thought there should be a final approval process at the municipal level. It should’ve always been that way,” he said. “We’re quite welcome to that change in legislation.”

French said the township has been concerned when “fairly good agricultural land” was chosen as the location for solar farms.

“The ones that are approved, you can’t turn back the clock on those ones,” he said, adding once municipalities are more involved, Springwater will likely approve energy projects in areas with steep slopes or on smaller properties.

“Multi-acre ones, that’s going to be much more of a challenge,” he said. “We have acres and acres of rooftops around. That’s where solar panels belong.”

Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper said she has heard the promise of more municipal involvement from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“I’m hopeful. I just have not seen it thus far,” she said. “Municipalities have been sending the message for quite some time — we need to be part of the process.”

Cooper and the rest of Collingwood council voted last month to legally oppose plans to build a wind farm with eight turbines west of Stayner, near the Collingwood Regional Airport. The town is concerned about the possibility of a plane hitting a turbine.

Cooper said the province made a “snap decision” to approve a wind farm despite of this possibility.

By allowing municipalities more say in the approval process, they can help stop decisions that may negatively affect residents, said Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes.

For example, a couple in the township built a home about five years ago that ended up being surrounded by a solar farm, he said.

“If municipalities had a say in it, that would never have happened,” he said. “Residents expect their municipal council to have some protection for their property.”

When municipalities are more involved, they can demand companies complete up-to-date soil testing to avoid solar projects taking up quality agricultural land, he added.

The province also does not require companies to repair local roads if damage is caused by solar or wind projects, but some have anyway in Oro-Medonte, said Hughes. …

Read the full story here.