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.

Council seeks more clout in denying wind power projects

North Frontenac Council requests municipal support be a mandatory feature of the bid process, and ask other municipalities to support them

KIncardine area house w turbine

Kingston Whig-Standard, March 25, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

PLEVNA — A municipal council opposed to wind energy projects is calling for the province to make local government support for such projects a mandatory requirement.

North Frontenac Township council, which last year declared itself an unwilling host to a pair of wind energy projects proposed for the area, passed a resolution asking the Independent Electricity Systems Operators (IESO) to change the way municipal council consideration is viewed in companies’ requests for proposal for the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program.

Under the current rules, municipal support for a renewable energy project strengthens a project proposal but is not needed to ensure a successful bid. Likewise, municipal opposition does not prevent a project from being approved.

The resolution called for the IESO to make a municipal support resolution a mandatory requirement rather than one of many rated criteria.

The resolution also called for municipal councils and communities to be given the full details about proposed projects before any support resolutions are considered.

“The current process does not meet the government’s standards for openness and transparency because municipal councils are asked to support power projects based on little or no detail,” the resolution stated.

“The province has not demonstrated that renewable energy projects are of sufficient strategic importance in meeting Ontario’s electricity generation requirements and/or carbon emission reduction targets to warrant the province taking action to override municipal decisions.”

The resolution from North Frontenac council came more than a week after the province announced the projects selected as part of the first round of the LRP program earlier this month.

North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins noted that four of the projects selected are to be located in municipalities where councils did not provide supporting resolutions to the companies.

On March 7, three days before the projects were announced, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said during a visit to Kingston that municipal support would be critical to the success of any project.

“It’s almost impossible [now] for a proponent to win a [wind or solar] contract without having some kind of agreement with the municipality,” Chiarelli said.

Higgins is calling for other municipalities in Ontario to …

Read the full story here.

Citizens to file appeal vs wind power developer over premature construction start

The White Pines’ wind power project by Germany-based wpd Canada had its approval overturned on appeal, and does not have a Notice To Proceed, but the developer has threatened to begin construction anyway.

Prince Edward County residents appeal to the court
Prince Edward County residents appeal to the court

This notice is from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, on the Save The South Shore website.

March 25, 2016, PICTON —

Earlier today APPEC’s legal counsel Eric Gillespie notified WPD and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change of APPEC’s intent to appeal the ERT’s dismissal of our stay motion.

This legal action is considered to be necessary following the ERT’s decision this week to not allow APPEC’s motion.  WPD still plans to start construction on the White Pines wind project.  In WPD’s own words: “We are entitled to begin vegetation clearing immediately.”  We strongly disagree.

APPEC will be making an application as an urgent matter to the Ontario Divisional Court.  Our intent is to submit the application at the beginning of next week.

During the past few weeks we have received many messages of encouragement.  Your support is always appreciated but especially so when faced with a developer that is determined to destroy the natural and cultural heritage of our community for its own financial gain.

Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC

appec.wordpress.com

– See more at: http://savethesouthshore.org/appec-will-be-making-an-application-as-an-urgent-matter-to-the-ontario-divisional-court-orville-walsh/#sthash.zfdjkJBb.dpuf

 

Rural residents vow long fight in Dutton Dunwich vs wind power contract

Flawed bid evaluation process is one of nine points as basis of the community’s continuing fight

Mayor Cameron McWilliam stands on the front steps of the Dutton Dunwich municipality offices in Dutton.
Mayor Cameron McWilliam: this isn’t right

St Thomas Times-Journal, March 22, 2016

A citizens’ group which has led the opposition to industrial wind turbines in Dutton/Dunwich says it’s ready to fight them at every turn, despite approval granted for a proposed for wind turbine farm in the municipality.
“At this point our primary objective is to seek the cancellation of this project and future inappropriate industrial wind turbine developments,” said Jamie Littlejohn, a spokesman for Dutton/Dunwich Residents Opposed to Wind Turbines.
Invenergy’s proposal for the Strong Breeze wind farm was approved recently by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and is seen as a crushing blow against Dutton/Dunwich, where 84% of people who responded in a poll two years ago were opposed to them.
Dutton/Dunwich council was also one of the earliest municipalities in Elgin county to declare itself an unwilling host to turbines.
DDOWT met last week after the announcement to review the situation and discuss strategy.
As a result, it formed a response based on nine key points.
Littlejohn said DDOWT will be doing everything to see that Invenergy’s proposal was properly presented to the IESO.
“This may be difficult due to the lack of transparency in the process,” Littlejohn said.
The citizens’ group said it also wants to challenge the political decision on Invenergy’s application and “flawed policy that led to this decision.”
DDOWT’s strategy is based not only on countering Invenergy’s plans, but challenging the philosophy behind the province promoting wind turbines as a green energy solution based on the environmental, health and economic damage they are inflicting on rural Ontario.
Littlejohn said DDOWT will also investigate what it believes are flaws in the IESO evaluation approach.

Read the full story here.

Points from the DDOWT news release:

DDOWT is going to:

1)      Do everything we can to make sure that the Invenergy proposal was properly presented and evaluated by the IESO. This may be difficult due to the lack of transparency in the process.

2)      Challenge the political decisions and flawed energy policy that led to this award

3)      Raise public awareness of the fallacy of the “green energy” policy of the current provincial government and the environmental, health and economic damage it is inflicting on rural Ontario.

4)      Investigate and expose the flaws in the IESO LRP-1-RFP evaluation process and the potential abuse by proponents including Invenergy.

5)      Publicize the impact of the current energy policy on all Ontario electricity rate payers

6)      Actively campaign for the removal of the current provincial government at the next election based on their disregard for the concerns of rural Ontario

7)      Vigorously fight the potential development of this project at every phase of the approval process including the Renewable Energy Approval, Environmental Review Tribunal and any appropriate legal challenges.

8)      Provide support for leaseholders and adjacent land owners to rescind agreements if there were any misrepresentations, undue influence, or coercion to seek support for the proponent (Invenergy)

9)      Work with Dutton Dunwich Council and represent the residents to respect the will of the community who overwhelmingly oppose this project.

At this point, our primary objective is to seek the cancellation of this project and future inappropriate IWT developments. Failing that, we will still fight to minimize the impact of this development, on our community, economy, and natural environment.

In short, we are going to oppose and challenge Invenergy and the IESO on every possible front!

Jamie Littlejohn and Ric Walford,

Spokespersons, DDOWT