Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Council for the municipality of Nation, just east of Ottawa, met last evening and decided to reverse a motion of support for two wind power projects, in St Bernardin and St Isidore. Nation is now Not A Willing Host to wind power projects, making it the 90th community in Ontario to reject wind power proposals.
The community group Save The Nation/Sauvon La Nation held a huge public meeting last week, and revealed that council had passed the support motion with no public discussion or input. The majority of residents are opposed to the power projects on the grounds that the potential for environmental damage is significant, and the impact on agriculture and the social fabric of the communities would be extensive.
“We are not for sale,” said Julie Leroux of Save The Nation in an interview.
EDF of France had claimed it has spent hundreds of thousands wooing the community, paying for hockey dinners and other events designed to sway farm owners to sign leases for the project.
Community opposition to industrial-scale wind power mounting
Excerpt from “Eastern Limits” by Tom Van Dusen
I’m not sure what it is about North Stormont Township but wind power developers seem to love it.
Their calculations must have discovered more forceful winds than normal stirring the township. On the surface, though it seems no more or less windy than any other rural municipality.
In increasing numbers, developers have been wafting through the township looking for prime sites* to erect their industrial turbines. As in other communities where they’ve landed, their efforts have been the subject of increasing protests, petitions, and testy meetings.
Correctly gauging the way the wind is blowing on the issue, township council has just taken a stand against turbines and their proponents…for what that’s worth. With the provincial government relentlessly pushing wind power, it’s probably not worth much.**
Mayor Dennis Fife has explained that too many ratepayers are against wind projects for council to reasonably support them. Fife has expressed his personal opposition, claiming wind will never match nuclear power generation.
Typical of disgruntled ratepayers is Roger Villeneuve who worries that towers “much taller than any tree I’ve ever seen or will ever see” will soon dominate the local landscape.
…Council was helped along in its decision by Concerned Citizens of North Stormont which circulated an unwilling host petition, demanding that elected representatives back it at a meeting July 28. They did.
In explaining its opposition the citizens’ committee cited the loss of property values and prime agricultural land, increased hydro costs to cover wind power expansion, environmental impact on birds and bats, health issues related to pulsating noise and shadow flicker, and eventual decommissioning costs.
…Developers have been through all this before, in several other Ontario municipalities where they’ve landed. You see, they have carte blanche from the province under the Green Energy Act, trumping any local motions, opposing them. Projects are decided by the province’s Independent Electricity Service Operator [sic–it is “System” Operator] (IESO) with little regard for local concerns.***
…a growing number of wind power opponents are urging councils to use other tools at their disposal…one suggested option is refusing a bylaw to permit road access to turbine sites. ****
“Enjoy the natural horizon while there still is one,” says ratepayer Roger Villeneuve.
Wind Concerns Ontario notes:
* What they are looking for is willing landowners. Wind doesn’t really have much to do with it.
** The Not A Willing Host declaration stems directly from a statement by Premier Kathleen Wynne that she wouldn’t force wind power projects on communities that weren’t willing. Her failure to honour her word is underscored by the 89 (soon to be 90?) communities that have protested by municipal resolutions.
*** This is true but the failure of a developer to gain municipal support does not help them in a successful bid. Bids without community support are ranked lower.
**** This is not actually a valid option: several communities have tried this already and what happens is, the developer goes to the Ontario Energy Board which then grants permission to use road allowances. The municipality is then left without a road use agreement and possibility of compensation for the sometimes considerable damage to public roads.
Up to two dozen more wind turbines are being proposed again for an installation in the middle of Essex County, and critics can’t be blamed for being unenthusiastic about the new plan. GDP Suez Canada Inc. is behind the Blue Sky Wind Project, its second proposed wind farm for the same area.
The latest, slightly downsized proposal is to erect 20 to 25 turbines southwest of the Town of Essex. The installation would be roughly enclosed by a triangle formed by Walker Road on the west, South Malden Road on the southeast, and on the northeast by Highway 3 between Oldcastle and Essex.
A similar GDP Suez proposal for 27 turbines failed to win the support of the Town of Essex in 2012. But under Ontario’s blatantly pro-turbine approval process, that doesn’t necessarily end a project.
The Ontario government has suspended normal planning rules in the case of renewable energy projects, allowing proponents to trample local concerns all over the province. The Liberal government grudgingly began to allow more local input two years ago. But their attempt to mollify the critics still denies residents real veto power over unwanted projects.
After its last rebuff, GDP Suez said it was “determined” about the project. It’s opponents are, too. And this time they have an additional weapon at their disposal: cost.
Wind farm opponents invariably cite the alleged health effects caused by vibration and strobe effects. There is also alleged noise pollution. Finally, the visual impact of the looming machines is considered an imposition by many, and too many birds are said to be killed by the machines.
But isn’t the economic impact of wind turbines the issue of biggest concern to the most people? Turbines are a hugely expensive way to produce limited and unreliable power. The more that are approved, the higher everyone’s bills will be. They cause economic hardship and job losses. That should be reason enough to oppose adding two dozen more to the local grid.
Ontario’s controversial green energy schemes have saddled consumers and employers alike with growing bills, with little to show for them other than a questionable green pride on the part of the government of the day.
Wind farm owners are well rewarded for their investments, the farmer landlords a little less so. But consumers are stuck with paying hundreds of millions above market rates for the power produced, and one employer after another has cited rising rates as a reason they aren’t hiring. To add insult to injury, consumers are even forced to pay to dump wind power at a loss into the U.S. grid when it isn’t needed, because the contracts are so one-sided.
Essex County has embraced efforts to green the grid and accepted the installation of 170 turbines between Amherstburg and Tilbury. But if the main effect of them is merely higher power rates, perhaps enough is enough.
Warwick Mayor Todd Case says the latest process to bid for wind energy projects amounts to extortion and his municipality won’t be part of it.
Four wind energy companies are in the process of bidding for industrial projects in Warwick, Brooke-Alvinston and Enniskillen. As part of the process, the companies are approaching municipalities to talk about what is going on and hoping to gain some form of support to improve their chances of approval.
Under the new process approved in June, companies receive bonus points for some forms of municipal approval. There is a form to say they have met with the municipal government which bears no points. If a company signs an Community Commitment Agreement with a municipality, it receives points which make the project more likely to be approved. Municipalities can also endorse projects; those projects are mostly likely to be approved.
Suncor Energy and NextEra, which are both preparing bids for projects in Warwick, are pressing the community to sign Community Commitment Agreements which include compensation for having the turbines in the community.
But Mayor Case says Warwick is not about to sign anything and shouldn’t be penalized financially because of it.
“The process, in my opinion, stinks,” he tells The Independent. “The province says it now gives municipalities a chance to weigh in but there are points for the companies if you sign (for compensation). That’s extortion in my point of view.”
Case says it is clear Warwick is not a willing host but because of the way the process is not structured, it can only get compensation for the projects if it helps the companies by signing the required forms making the project more likely.
“Wind turbine companies come in and say ‘sign on the dotted line if were approved you’ll get this huge amount of cash. If you don’t sign and we’re approved, you get nothing.”
So Case says Warwick is getting creative – and political – to point out the flaws in the new system. It’s had lawyers draft a letter which has been sent to the companies outlining what the municipality expects for compensation should the projects be approved. There is about $45,000 to reimburse the municipality for legal costs, $6,000 for every turbine they put up and flat fee of $200,000 among other things.
“They like to put things in front of us to sign…if you really want to talk the talk, walk the walk,” says Case. “We could sit back and do what were doing,…but let’s throw something back at these guys…this is what you’ll be paying if it’s approved against our wishes.
“If the process is going to disrespect our community we feel you should pay compensation anyway.”
So far, Case says one of the companies has refused to talk about the letter, the other has spoken to them but made no commitments.
The municipality is hoping to catch the province’s eye with the move hoping to change the process. “The Green Energy Act where everything is laid out and it’s mucked up.”
Case has asked for a meeting with the Energy Minister during the annual Association of Municipalities conference in mid-August. He’s just been told that won’t happen and he’ll be meeting with the parliamentary assistant instead.
“This is a big enough issue for rural Ontario right now, you’d think the minister would meet with us,” says Case. “We’ll take the meeting …but I’m totally disappointed of the total disrespect for rural Ontario.”
Can communities say no to wind turbine installation? The answer, my friend, may be blowing in the wind.
The Township of North Stormont will hold a council session on Tuesday where they will be receiving a report from chief administrative officer Marc Chenier and community planner Amy Doyle on proposed renewable energy projects in the region.
EDF proposed a substation to funnel energy from a project in The Nation Municipality and have secured a lease with a landowner south of County Road 9.
Leader Resources is planning a 61 MW wind turbine operation on the east side of the township, around Crysler and Berwick. According to their proposal they will build no more than 21 turbines.
EDP is looking to build turbines on the west side of the township, proposing a 100 MW operation of 29-50 turbines. EDP will host a community meeting on Aug. 6 at the Finch Community Arena to meet with the public and discuss the large renewable procurement (LRP) process.
Council will have to decide whether or not to support the projects, however, they will have little say over whether or not the projects go through.
As noted in the report, townships can declare themselves unwilling hosts, while this has been perceived as opting out of having projects take place in the region, this is not how the application process works. Ontario’s Green Energy Act allows all decisions regarding the placement of renewable energy projects to be carried out at the provincial level of government. According to the report, municipalities have little to no say in whether or not they will have renewable energy projects in their region.
“Almost all of those who declared themselves as an unwilling host still received a renewable energy project (i.e. wind turbines),” the report reads.
The projects have received backlash from the community. When Crysler local Todd Brazeau got the notice about companies looking to put wind turbines in, he contacted his municipal council and MPP to protest.
“It seems like the community doesn’t have a say and the politicians aren’t being honest at all,” Brazeau said.
MPP Jim McDonell started a petition requesting “that the Ministry of the Environment revise the Green Energy Act to allow full public input and municipal approvals on all industrial wind farm developments.”
According to McDonell, the petition already has hundreds of signatures.
“People are upset,” McDonell said. “We don’t benefit from (these projects) in general.”
EDP Renewables has taken the brunt of the negative response from the community. Leaflets distributed with McDonell’s petition in May made specific mention of the plan to put in 29-50 turbines. EDP declined to answer questions regarding public response to their proposal.
North Stormont mayor Dennis Fife said that almost all of the township’s council are opposed to the installation of wind turbines, but noted declaring as an unwilling host will do nothing to stop the project, only cut down on the cents per kilawatt incentive for the renewable energy companies.
“I don’t think it is a good thing,” Fife said. “Wind will never replace nuclear.”
In closed session following tonight’s council meeting at Shire Hall, councillors are to receive legal advice from the County Solicitor in regard to appealing the province’s recent decision to issue a Renewal Energy Approval (REA) for the White Pines Development for 27 industrial turbines in South Marysburgh and Athol.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change announced approval Thursday, July 16 for the $195-200 million 20-year project.
Last week, Mayor Robert Quaiff wrote a letter written to premier Kathleen Wynne and minister of environment Glen Murray, requesting a moratorium on wind projects and requested a meeting.
“You have committed to listening to the local concerns of municipalities. I implore you to not only listen – but to truly hear our concerns – and discuss them with us. We are incredibly distraught over this decision and its devastating impact on our community,” he said in the letter.
Quaiff is a member of the Wainfleet Working Group supporting 90 “Unwilling Host” municipalities in Ontario to help address their concerns with industrial wind turbines.
Controversy has surrounded the wpd project, just as it has the nine turbine Gilead Power project at Ostrander Point which is heading back to the Environmental Review Tribunal to make a case for “remedy” that would protect the threatened Blanding’s Turtles. The Ontario Court of Appel reversed a lower court ruling regarding a REA approval. The decision reinstated the initial finding of the ERT that turbines would cause the turtles “serious and irreversible harm”.
wpd Canada hopes to begin construction this fall or next spring.
Any resident of Ontario may require a hearing by the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) within 15 days after July 16, 2015 by written notice.
On June 10th, North Frontenac Council passed a resolution declaring the township an “unwilling host” for the NextEra wind power projects, NorthPoint 1 and Northpoint 2. It was a unanimous vote among the 7 member Council.
The company had offered a sweetener for municipal support for the project, in the form of a community vibrancy fund that would have been worth as much as $200,000 per year for 20 years, in addition to a projected increase in tax revenue of more than $100,000 per year. The money was available under two conditions: the township needed to pass a motion supporting the project; and NextEra’s bid for the project needs to be a winner in the procurement process that has been set out by Ontario’s Independent Energy Service Operator (IESO).
The motion that was proposed to Council at a Special meeting on Wednesday night (June 10) was crafted by Mayor Ron Higgins, and when contacted on Tuesday he said that he has been talking to members of Council about the NextEra proposal and is confident his stance will be endorsed by the entire Council.
“Conflicts with our economic development strategy,” says Mayor
“There were many red flags about this proposal as far as North Frontenac is concerned, starting with the fact that instead of being approached by the company we initially read about it in the newspaper in early March. It also involves major construction and conflicts with the entirely different economic development strategy we have been developing,” he said. “and beyond that our residents have voiced their opposition in large numbers.”
The NextEra bid to IESO can proceed without municipal support; however the statement that North Frontenac is not a willing host will cost NextEra valuable ranking points in the procurement process, which will make it difficult for them to compete with bidders in “willing” townships
While the municipal support provision was included in the latest wind energy procurement process to provide for some local input, it does not go as far as granting municipalities any authority to approve or reject proposals.
In spite of Council’s decision, NextEra could still submit a winning bid, and the turbines would be built in North Frontenac. In that case all that North Frontenac Council will have accomplished by stating they were “not a willing host” will be to lose up to $10 million in revenue over 20 years.
It is this fact that led North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins to write a letter of complaint to Premier Wynne.
“Ultimately it is the way the province set up this process that has put us in this position. I thought it was important to explain our position to them and to add our voice to those municipalities who oppose the way the Green Energy Act has been formulated and implemented,” said Higgins about the letter.
The letter asks the Premier and the Minister of Energy to change course and begin to work with local municipalities more directly.
“Fix this, North Frontenac tells Premier Wynne”
In the conclusion to the letter, Higgins wrote, “We implore the Minister of Energy to take this resolution and similar resolutions from other municipalities very seriously. Like us, you were elected to office to set policy and support the people who put you in these positions. If the policy is flawed, as it is in this case, then fix it. The Government of Ontario has stated they are going to provide more focused support for rural municipalities. The support you can give us now is by supporting our resolution, which would help us stay focussed on our strategic direction and our vision. It may take us longer to accomplish our goals rather than accepting this temptation put in front of us today, but we will be a much better and sustainable community long into the future.”
As the September 1st deadline approaches for proposals to build new wind power generation projects in Ontario under the Large Renewable Procurement program for renewable energy, more projects are coming to light each week.
S.W.E.P., a partnership of W.E.P. North America and Scotian Windfields, has proposed three new projects in Chatham-Kent, and one in Haldimand County.
NextEra and Suncor have projects planned for Lambton County.
NextEra is also proposing a 150-MWQ project in the Land O’Lakes area (North Frontenac and Addington Highlands—North Frontenac just declared itself Not A Willing Host June 10th), and RES Canada is rumoured to be bidding in that area as well.
In Eastern Ontario, developers EDP and Invenergy (based in Portugal and the U.S., respectively) are proposing more than 150 MW of capacity, despite the fact that the IESO has stated there is no capacity in that area.
Also not worrying about capacity issues are EDF (150 MW) in Prescott-Russell with its St-Isidore project (Casselman area) and again, RES Canada is rumoured to have a proposal forthcoming.
Once again, there has never been a cost-benefit analysis for this program. Ontario has a surplus of power with no increase in demand forecast. Wind power is a high-impact, low-benefit form of power generation.
MANVERS TWP- You have to hand it to the people of Manvers Township. They don’t go down without a fight.
And, they plan to legally challenge two more wind farms planned for the area; one approved and another expected to be.
Manvers Wind Concerns (MWC), a group of residents opposed to mega-wind turbines planned in three locations in the area, led the charge to fight wpd Canada’s Sumac Ridge project, which will see five turbines erected near Pontypool.
The Province approved that project in December of 2013 and MWC, the Buddhist Cham Shan Temple (which plans a four-Temple pilgrimage centre) and Cransley Home Farms Ltd. immediately appealed to the Environmental Review Tribunal.
That process took most of 2014 but the Tribunal ruled against the appellants. They then appealed to the Ministry of Environment for a judicial review and are awaiting that decision.
The Sumac Ridge appeal was handled by environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie, with help from dozens of volunteers with expertise in many fields mounting an impressive case during the hearing.
Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble has been front and centre in the fight to keep the wind turbines out; especially since the City of Kawartha Lakes is also opposed to them.
On May 7, the Province approved Settlers Landing Nominee Ltd.’s wind farm, known as Settlers Landing Wind Park, also planned near Pontypool.
Capstone Infrastructure’s Snowy Ridge wind park is planned to be built near Bethany, although approval for that project has not been announced to date.
One of the opponents’ main objections to the mega-turbines is many are to be built on the Oak Ridges Moraine, and provincial legislation is already in place prohibiting building on such a sensitive environmental area.
Coun. Stauble confirmed the community plans to fight all of the planned projects in Manvers. In an email, she said,
“All local projects are being appealed. The community has rallied to appeal the most recent project, Settlers Landing, beside Pontypool and on the Oak Ridges Moraine and, if approved, Snowy Ridge, near two local schools and the community of Bethany.”
There will be a meeting about the Snowy Ridge project on June 16 at 7 p.m. at The Ranch Resort, 252 Ski Hill Rd. in Bethany.
Fears about declining property values, health concerns, and environmental protection were among the hot topics discussed at two meetings, a combined meeting of North Frontenac and Addington Highlands Councils on May 11, and a packed public meeting in Denbigh on the afternoon of May 30. The meetings concerned the Northpoint II Wind Energy Center, a proposal by Nextera, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light, to install approximately 100 wind turbines in Addington Highlands and 50 wind turbines in North Frontenac.
A common concern for many of the folks in attendance at both meetings was property values.
Local realtor Chris Winney spoke about her fear that building a wind farm in the area would drastically hurt real estate values.
“It can be on somebody else’s land and still have an effect on your property. It just cuts down on the number of people who are going to be interested in buying it. If there are fewer people interested in buying it then the value goes down” Winney told council.
Construction on the proposed project, if their bid is successful, is expected to take less than a year to complete, following a longer permitting process that Nextera would have to go through. Ben Faiella, a representative from Nextera was in attendance at the Flinton meeting and explained how Nextera had built a 92 turbine wind farm in Southwestern Ontario last year in about 6 months.
At the Flinton meeting, Dave Winney, a local resident, inquired whether council should hire on a consultant to “look at what has happened in other areas…” and to offer advice.
Addington Highlands Councillor Bill Cox said, “No, this council has not. It costs money and we don’t have it…We don’t have money to give consultants.”
Dan Carruthers, a cottage owner on Ashby Lake in Addington Highlands, then offered his assistance.
“I will personally pay for both a referendum, legal counsel, and any consultants. I will write you a cheque because I see this as an investment in protecting the property investments already made in this region for multiple generations.”
Carruthers went on to say “the only compelling reason I’m hearing for approval of these wind turbines is the ‘community vibrancy fund’ which is a bribe by any other name…it’s a small amount of money relative to what I think is gonna be the negative offset on this place being an attractive area for investment… 90 communities…across Ontario declared themselves ‘not a willing host.’ They’ve gone through this process.
North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins suggested that for them it was too early to bring a consultant into the discussion as they were still waiting on some crucial information.
Councillor Tony Fritsch brought Carruthers $50,000 offer to the Addington Highlands council meeting on May 19. The idea was rejected by a vote of 4-1.
Sarah Miller, an outspoken opponent of turbines, who said “the only control these councils have is right now. Right at the very beginning. If you declare yourself not a willing host you have the control. After that you have zero control. These companies move in and they will do whatever it takes. They are bulldozers. They are steamrollers.”
Another resident said “these cottage people pay the majority of the taxes. If these turbines come, there will be no cottage people.”
Helen Yanch, Councillor for Ward 2 in Addington Highlands spoke about some of the positives of the proposed project. “I know that there are some seniors that have signed up to have one, or two, of these [turbines] on their property and maybe they were thinking of it being an income for them”
A concerned lady in the audience said “I’m interested in property value because I too am a senior and I’m looking at probably in the next while, while all these shenanigans are taking place, having to sell and re-locate and I know, that because of what’s going on, my property value is going to go down…”
Paul Issacs made a request to council to “please, please don’t make your decision based on ‘it’s gonna happen anyway’…I think if you do that you’ve abandoned your responsibilities to represent us.”
“We’re listening.” Reeve Hogg said.
“Personally I don’t have a feeling for what the community thinks yet…” Councillor John Inglis from North Frontenac said.
There was little doubt about what the segment of the community that gathered in Denbigh last Saturday thinks about the project.
Two different speakers, Carmen Krogh and Parker Gallant, took to the microphone to help offer some insight and clarity to a discussion surrounding the possible negatives of having a large wind farm in the area.
Krogh, a retired pharmacist with over 40 years of experience in the health studies, detailed, via an elaborate presentation, some of the possible health effects that residents should be aware of when living close to wind turbines.
“We have got some pretty strong evidence that concludes that our noise levels and our distances [setbacks] currently in Ontario aren’t working very well” Krogh stated.
She explained that both children, and adults, are vulnerable to noise, especially children born pre-term or with a low-birth weight, and that not enough research has been conducted yet to determine what the long-term effects on people living by wind turbines are.
She then spoke about the controversial study published in April of this year by the Council of Canadian Academies stating that the only adverse health effect they could prove connected to wind turbines was ‘chronic annoyance’. Krogh presented articles and studies that defined symptoms such as heart effects, vertigo, headache, sleep disturbance, and other issues that she said are connected to annoyance.
Krogh’s presentation went into detail on the science connected with amplitude modulation, which is the “swishing noise that people hear”, and how it tends to be the main source of the annoyance, along with light flicker from the towers. She also referenced a few accounts of people leaving their homes because of vibrations caused by wind turbines.
Krogh suggested that taking children into consideration is important when trying to find a solution. She also advocated for the government to do vigilance and long-term surveillance monitoring like they do in the pharmaceutical industry and concluded that more research is needed on possible health effects before approving wind farms.
Parker Gallant, a retired banker who had a 33-year career with TD Bank, dissected how we pay for energy in Ontario and suggested that in the last 15 years we’ve seen hydro rates almost triple. He explained how Ontario is currently generating more electricity than it can consume and that the excess power is sold to New York and Quebec and that even when it’s not sold off HydroOne still has to pay the companies that are generating it for the electricity, regardless if the province is using it or not.
Gallant explained that in the first 4 months of this year “Ontario exported over 8 terrawatts of energy that we didn’t need” and how that much energy would be enough to provide “over 900,000 households in Ontario with power for a full year.” His presentation was aimed at the flaws in HydroOne and the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) that NextEra’s proposal falls under.
The wind turbines that Nextera are proposing for this project can be as tall as 110 metres to the hub, with the blade extending even higher. For comparison, as someone at the Denbigh meeting pointed out, these would be significantly taller than Bon Echo Rock.
The deadline for Nextera to submit their proposal to the IESO for this LRP is September 1st 2015 but they are seeking support from the townships by July 20. The project, if successful, is expected to be up and running by 2019.
Nextera is hosting open houses this coming weekend in Addington Highlands and North Frontenac to explain more about their projec.t The projects are awarded based in part on which company brings in the lowest price to the IESO. There is a 100-point system as part of the bidding process that discounts the proposal price by having support from the local council and a local Aboriginal group.
The Addington Highlands meeting takes place on Friday June 5th at 5pm at Denbigh Hall and a North Frontenac public meeting will take place Saturday June 6th at 10am at Harlowe Hall, followed by a presentation from Nextera.