Wake-up call for Ontario Environment Minister Murray

Letters to Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Minister and wind power developer about disturbing strobe effect go unheeded

July 31, 2017

Wherever Environment Minister Glen Murray is this morning, we’re sure this isn’t what he’s seeing in his home.

 

The video is of shadow flicker experienced in a home in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, Ontario, produced by a wind turbine in the K2 wind power project.

The family is just one of several complaining of shadow flicker or strobe effect produced by nearby wind turbines. It is disturbing and annoying, and can be a safety factor for anyone operating heavy machinery while it’s going on.

Fixing it is a simple matter: but the company won’t and despite their mandate of protecting the public, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change won’t insist that they do.

The family has sent letters to Minister Glen Murray*, the Spills Action Line, the K2 power developer, and Owen Sound District Office director Rick Chappell — no action.

It may be a good morning in downtown Toronto, but in rural Ontario, another day or torment is just beginning…

 

*Minister Murray resigned yesterday evening, July 30.

Report calls for end to wind power expansion

Tuesday Jul 4, 2017

By John Miner

The writer farms in Huron County

Ontario’s plan to double its wind energy capacity will make a bad situation worse, according to a report published by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy.

There is already so much intermittent wind [power] generation in the Great Lakes Region that demand is over-supplied, prices are collapsing and generation must be curtailed, said the report released in June by the council, a non-profit organization formed by volunteers from universities, public sector business leaders, and labour.

The report’s author Marc Brouillette, a principal consultant at Strategic Policy Economics, calls on the province to reconsider its commitment to ongoing deployment of wind resources.

“Analysis shows that wind intermittency makes it an unproductive and expensive choice that doesn’t meet customers’ needs and also undermines the price of electricity exports,” says the report titled Ontario’s High-Cost Millstone.

The opportunity to pull back from the plan to expend wind energy comes this summer when Ontario updates its long-term energy plan.

A key part of the problem with wind energy, according to the report, is that it is misaligned with demand because of its intermittent nature.

Ontario’s energy use is highest in the winter and summer and lowest in spring and late fall.

“This is almost a mirror image of wind production patterns: wind is highest in the spring and fall, when electricity needs are lowest, and lowest in summer when electricity demand peaks,” the report notes.

The result is that two-thirds of wind [power] generation is surplus to demand and must be wasted or dissipated either through forced curtailment of hydro and nuclear generation, or by increased exports to Quebec and the United States, generally at low prices.

… Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of citizens’ groups critical of Ontario’s wind energy program, said the report underscores what two Auditors General told the McGuinty and Wynne governments — they should not have launched the program without any cost-benefit analysis.

“Now, Ontarians are paying four times as much for wind power which is very invasive and has had a huge impact on rural communities for very little benefit. The need for more fossil fuel natural gas to back it up means it is not even achieving the simple environmental goals.

“For people living with the noise and vibration of the huge turbines interfering with their lives, this is outrageous,” Wilson said.

No new wind power approvals should be granted, and development of projects not yet in operation should be halted, she said.

Brandy Gianetta, Ontario regional director for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said the report fails to fully recognize that wind energy is making a significant contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply needs today and this contribution will only grow in future years.

CanWEA contends that Ontario should be securing the lowest [cost] non-greenhouse gas emitting electricity to fill the gap and ensure it can meet its climate goals.

“Wind energy, which is now the least-cost option for new electricity generation available in Ontario, is the best available resource to meet both of those needs, Gianetta said in an email.

 


FACT CHECK: wind power contributes about 6% of Ontario’s electricity supply, at four times the cost of other power sources; wind power is not the “lowest-cost” option—the turbines are cheap to build but there are many other costs associated with wind power and its intermittency; wind power cannot replace hydro and nuclear—the fact is, coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas, a fossil-fuel-based power source. Ms Gianetta did not trot out the usual wind industry myth of massive job creation in Ontario because that has proven not to be true, here as in other jurisdictions. Jobs are short-term and related to construction activity, in the main. Other costs associated with wind power such as property value loss, effects on tourism, and human costs in terms of effects on health, have never been calculated.

Wind power: Ontario’s high-cost “millstone”

“Wind wastes other clean supply and devalues exports.”

Ontario should reconsider its commitment to wind, policy consultant Marc Brouilette says. Two-thirds of Ontario’s wind output is surplus. [Photo Gary Moon]

In a stunning commentary published yesterday by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy, energy policy consultant Marc Brouilette says that Ontario’s wind power program is an expensive adventure that does not achieve any of its goals for the environment or economic prosperity, and is in fact, making things worse.

At a cost of $1.5 billion in 2015, Brouillette says, the fact that wind power generation is completely out of sync with demand in Ontario results in added costs for constrained generation form other sources. Constrained nuclear and hydro cost $300 million that year, and a further $200 million in costs was incurred due to “avoided” natural gas generation.

And, the power isn’t even getting to the people who need it. “[O]nly one-half of total provincial wind output makes it to the Central Region and the GTA where most of Ontario’s electricity demand exists,” Brouillette states.

All things considered, wind costs more than $410 per megawatt hour, which is four times the average cost of electricity in Ontario. This is being charged to Ontario’s electricity customers, at an increasing rate.

Ontario should reconsider its commitment to more wind, Brouillette concludes: “these challenges will increase if Ontario proceeds to double wind capacity to the projected ~6,500 MW.”

Wynne government “let people down” on wind turbine noise

Thousands of noise complaints remain unresolved in Ontario.

Home in Huron County. [Photo Gary Moon]
In the current edition of Ontario Farmer is this story by writer John Miner.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change received thousands of formal complaints from people living near industrial wind turbines, but did little about it, a coalition of groups and individuals opposed to wind farm development is charging.

“People really trusted the government and they were let down,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Two years after filing a Freedom of Information request for summaries of noise complaints received by the ministry, Wind Concerns Ontario was provided 450 pages* covering the period 2006 to 2014.

In that period, the Ministry logged 3,180 complaints with people reporting they were suffering from sleep disturbance, headaches, dizziness and other illnesses.

Some people said they had been unable to sleep for days, sometimes weeks.

In some cases, the Ministry arbitrarily dismissed complaints. In others, they closed the file without investigating if the complainant quit calling, Wilson said.

No action to revise regulations

In a 27-page report based  on the documents released, Wind Concerns Ontario said there is absolutely no indication that the Ministry took the complaints seriously, and took any steps to review and revise existing regulations and processes. based on real-life experiences of the people of Ontario.

Responding to the report, a Ministry spokesperson said in an emailed statement that they take all complaints seriously and follow up to ensure that the facility is in compliance with all provincial requirements.

“Our priority is to protect public health and the environment by promoting and ensuring compliance with ministry rules and requirements,” the Ministry Statement said.

Wilson said Ministry staff in the early days attempted to investigate noise complaints and sometimes recommended action be taken against the wind farm, but that was overruled by more senior staff.

Computer modeling, not real-life measurement

As the complaints piled up, the Ministry started to rely ion computer modeling provided by wind farm companies to determine if there might be a basis for a complaint, the report found.

“They kept saying, we went too the power developer and according to the predictive noise modeling this can’t be happening and therefore it isn’t, and took no action,” Wilson said.

A standard adopted by the Ministry based on information from wind farm developers was that no one could hear a wind turbine beyond 1,500 metres. Therefore, there was no need to respond to a complaint if more distance was involved.

Ministry staff were not allowed to investigate complaints at night and when there was high humidity. The equipment they had for measuring noise could not be used when temperatures were below zero degrees Celsius.

“We don’t blame the staff in any way. Some of the officers really seemed to want to help,” Wilson said.

Wind Concerns Ontario is calling on the Ontario government to halt wind farm approvals and adopt tougher noise standards.

Wind Concerns Ontario also hopes to be able to meet with Ontario Minister of the Environment Glen Murray to discuss the report.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: the 450 pages were Master Incident files, comprised of files with multiple Incident Reports, some as many as 90 reports of excessive noise, vibration, and health effects

 

 

MOECC staff knows about wind turbine health effects, WCO tells Minister

Environment Minister says health concerns “bogus” — staff acknowledge health problems in official records

Home in Huron County: the Minister says claims of health effects from turbine noise are “bogus” but his staff say different [Photo Gary Moon]
Last week, following a report by Global News based on information obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, there was a barrage of questions in Question Period at Queen’s Park on wind power projects and related issues, including reports of adverse health effects from exposure to the noise emissions from the power generators.

In response to a question from MPP Laurie Scott of Haliburton-Kawartha-Brock, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray tossed back:

This government spent a considerable amount of money hiring the leading experts and doing medical research, as did the federal government, and found out the totality of the opposition party’s claims were completely bogus and like so much, not science-based.

In fact, the “science” the Minister Murray refers to, including the Health Canada study, supports concerns about adverse health effects from wind turbine noise, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario produced a brief review in 2010 that concluded that there were significant gaps in the information available at that time (seven years ago) and that actual noise measurement was needed.

But what the Minister seems not to know, says Wind Concerns Ontario, is that his own staff are aware of people experiencing health effects from wind turbine noise, according to official staff notes included in the information received n the Freedom of Information request. That information consisted of 3,180 Incident Reports and 100 Master Incident reports; several of the Master files contain dozens of reports to the government about the turbine noise and vibration, and include staff observations.

“It is very disturbing that a Minister of the Crown could be so dismissive of the health concerns of Ontario citizens,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in a letter to Minister Murray, sent yesterday. “While the view that there is no link between wind turbine noise emissions and any health effects may be that of the wind power development industry and its trade association, it is not supported by the Master Incident complaint records that your Ministry released to Wind Concerns Ontario via a request under Freedom of Information legislation.”

Of the 100 Master files, 59 contain specific reference to health complaints, Wilson said, chiefly loss of sleep, headache, and feelings of “pressure.” Some people reported not having slept for weeks, due to the noise.

“It is therefore completely inaccurate to say that there are no health effects from wind turbine noise in Ontario,” Wind Concerns advised the Minister.

In several records, staff noted that wind turbine noise exceeded regulations: ““Staff have attended at the complainants homes on multiple occasions … noise measurements were obtained…subjective observations were made by Provincial Officers…the conclusion of the POs were that the noise emissions from the wind turbines were causing an adverse effect contrary to S. 14 (1) of the EPA at the complainants locations…”

““…the conclusions of the Provincial Officers who conducted the inspections that the sound discharged into the natural environment by the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect…” was the staff note in another official record.

Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 30 community groups and individuals and families, is asking that no new Renewable Energy Approvals be granted to wind power projects — five projects received contracts in 2016 but which do not have approval yet from the Environment Ministry.

“You have to ask why the government is treating the wind power industry and these huge corporations differently from other businesses,” Wilson says. “If this were any other product or service, with thousands of complaints, there would be a halt to exposure… instead, the Ontario government refers to the wind corporations as its ‘client’. We think the government should answer to the people of Ontario.”

 

 

Global TV News team on Ontario unresolved wind turbine noise reports

“What happens in Ontario when you report wind turbine noise?” asks Global National News reporter Shirlee Engel in a two-part special report? “Not much…”

@globalnews

Global News’ investigative team aired the two-part story last week, based on information obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change under access through Freedom of Information legislation.

The report was repeated this past weekend on Global’s news feature, Focus Ontario.

Part 1 is available here.

Part 2 is available here.

A story by Associate Producer Brian Hill is available online here.

Carla and Mike Stachura: their ‘dream home’ is now a power plant

Carla Stachura and her husband Mike thought they’d found the perfect spot to retire.

A house in rural Ontario where they run a wildlife sanctuary with lamas and a variety of birds, and planned to spend their retirement years enjoying the peace and quiet of country life.

But that dream was shattered when wind turbines began popping up near their Goderich, Ont. home. Since then, their dream has become a nightmare. The couple says they’ve been unable to sleep and exposed to prolonged periods of annoying noise. Adding to their frustration, they say the provincial government won’t lift a finger to help them, other than order more tests.

The couple purchased the property in 2003. They say it was paradise until the K2 Wind Farm, operated by Pattern Energy, started operations in the spring of 2015.

The Stachura’s complaints of government inaction are not unique. In fact, Global News has learned that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change does not respond to the majority of complaints made by residents concerned about wind turbines.

Documents released through Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act and obtained by Global News reveal officials from the Ministry of Environment chose not to investigate or deferred responding to – meaning they did not make immediate plans to investigate – roughly 68 per cent of all noise and health complaints lodged against wind turbine operators in the province between 2006 and 2014. This represents nearly 2,200 individual complaints.

The documents also show limited resources sometimes prevented the ministry from responding to complaints.

Originally obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, the documents include a list of 3,180 complaints. They also include a 458-page collection of “master incident reports,” which the ministry has verified as authentic, detailing the ministry’s response – or lack thereof – in cases where residents complained multiple times.

The documents show that in 54 per cent of all cases – more than 1,700 individual complaints – the ministry did not investigate residents’ concerns. In another 450 cases, roughly 14 per cent of total incidents, the ministry deferred responding to complaints.

In most cases, the documents do not reveal why the ministry chose not to respond. Instead, they tend to focus on whether the wind farm was compliant with ministry standards or past efforts to resolve residents’ concerns.

“The lack of response from the ministry shows just how unprepared they were for the potential effects of putting these giant machines so close to people and their communities,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. …

Read the full article here, and see video interview with Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray.

National seniors organization targets Ontario electricity bills

Wind power contracts a factor in highest rising bills in North America

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons or CARP has created a “Heat or Eat” campaign designed to focus on the plight of senior citizens in Ontario, who are being affected by the province’s rapidly increasing electricity bills.

CARP has created an online petition, and plans a special television event with a panel of experts to look at the choices people on fixed incomes have to make, such as heating their home or buying food, or paying for medication.

“Shame on you, Kathleen Wynne!” says a senior profiled in a Zoomer TV video.

Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) officials have admitted that Ontario’s above-market contracts with generators of renewable power such as wind, are a significant factor in the rising electricity bills, which are now the fastest rising in North America. While the government has announced certain measures for relief on electricity bills, the government has yet to introduce any real measures to actually reduce costs, such as the cancellation of wind power contracts awarded in 2016, which will cost Ontario citizens more than $3 billion over 20 years. Ontario has a surplus of power generation which is expected to persist for the next 10 years.

Surplus power: the not so rosy side of wind power

One of the reasons behind the skyrocketing electricity bills for Ontario consumers is the cost of dealing with surplus power, a result of the fact that wind produces power out of phase with demand (refer to two Auditors General reports for confirmation of that fact).

While the current Minister of Energy claims that Ontario is making a “profit” on its exports of surplus power, that is blatantly untrue: Ontario’s electricity ratepayers pay premium rates for wind power, which is then sold when not needed at a loss.

Parker Gallant takes aim at both the wind power lobby group and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in his latest article on Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives.

Here’s an excerpt:

What IESO’s concerns and subsequent recommendations suggest is the variable and unpredictable nature of wind generation has created serious problems in the eyes of those entrusted to run Ontario’s electricity system.

So, here are the facts: power generation from wind cost Ontario’s ratepayers over $1.7 billion (approximately 12% of total generation costs) in 2016 for just over 6% of demand, and will cause ratepayers hydro bills to be further affected negatively.   IESO’s responsibility to manage the system through the exercises suggested in their recommendations will cost the system more money, increasing costs just to ensure industrial wind developments are able to extract money from the pockets of Ontario’s ratepayers.

A clear example of “alternative facts” from both the industry and an agency of the Ontario government.

More Ontario municipalities demand final say in wind power sites: more than 100 stand up to Wynne government

Ontario municipalities want local land-use planning control back
Ontario municipalities want local land-use planning control back

September 11, 2016

Now 111 municipalities in Ontario have either passed or formally endorsed a resolution at Council, demanding that municipal support be a mandatory requirement for contracts in the Wynne government’s next round of Large Renewable Procurement.

The municipalities include several urban municipalities with rural components including Ottawa, Hamilton, and Stratford.

“That number, 111, represents more than a quarter of all Ontario municipalities,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

“They believe that they are the best judge of where important infrastructure should be sited, and that they are the voice of their community concerns about where power generation projects are located. Development is only sustainable and appropriate where there is community support — and as we are seeing, many rural communities don’t support the government’s policy of forcing these power facilities on people, and the environment.”

Local land-use planning for developments such as wind and solar power generation facilities was removed by the Green Energy Act in 2009.

Despite a surplus of power in Ontario, the cost of long-term contracts for renewable sources of power,  and province-wide protests about Ontario’s rising electricity bills, which have forced several hundred thousand residents into “energy poverty,” the Wynne government still plans to launch a new procurement process in 2017. The deadline for corporate wind power developers to file a request for qualification with the IESO was Thursday, September 8th.

Energy analyst Tom Adams told Global TV news last week that the government needs to cancel contracts where it can, and cancel the planned Large Renewable Procurement (LRP II).

Wind turbines may close busy airport: pilots launch political campaign

This is an excerpt from the August edition of COPA Flight, provided by a member of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.

So ridiculous, pilots can't believe anyone would put turbines at an airport
So ridiculous, pilots can’t believe anyone would put turbines at an airport

Windmills may close airport

By Russ Niles

The owner of an Ontario airport that will be in the shadow of a proposed wind turbine project fears Transport Canada [TC] will close his strip if the windmills are built.

Kevin Elwood says he’s been told by a senior TC official that the department will not intervene to prevent construction of the windmills but it will act to ensure public safety after the fact by restricting or even stopping operations at the affected airport.

“He said that if [the province of Ontario] chooses to put green energy before airports, that’s their choice,” he said. “We will respond by restricting airport operations and we will go so far as to close airports,” he {Elwood] quoted the official as saying.

That would seem to fit with the scenario now playing out over the so-called Fairview Project, a group of eight, 152-metre turbines planned for farmland adjacent to Elwood’s Clearview Aerodrome (also known as Stayner Airport). The huge windmills will be directly in the flightpath of aircraft in the circuit for his airport and the nearby Collingwood Airport.

TC has declined to oppose the project and that means the only hope Elwood and other opponents of the windmills have is the rarely used power on the Minister of Transport to unilaterally stop the project on safety grounds.

Minister Marc Garneau has so far been silent on the issue and COPA is calling on its 17,000 members (and voters) to apply their significant political influence to nudge him out of that complacency.

COPA has launched a full-scale letter writing campaign to draw attention to the issue that Elwood is convinced is an immediate threat to both airports and will set a precedent that could affect airports across the country.

The turbines would be in blatant violation of Transport Canada’s airport obstacle guidelines and Garneau, a long-time pilot and COPA member, has the power to stop their construction. In fact, because of the protection afforded such projects by Ontario’s Green Energy Act, Garneau is probably one of the few who can stop them. He won’t even talk about the issue, however.

“We really have a good working relationship with Transport Canada, very open and collaborative,” [says COPA President Bernard Gervais]. “As part of our regular discussions I presented the situation and possible course of action,” Gervais said. “Section 6.41 of the Aeronautics Act authorizes the minister to make an interim order to deal with such threats to aviation. If the minister is of the opinion that the windmills are hazardous to aviation safety, he (or his deputy) has the authority to stop such construction. … the lack of feedback from TC and knowing this is a very sensitive political issue, drives me to think that our only course of action at this point is to go on the political front.”

ERT members unfamiliar with aviation safety

COPA appeared at the original [ERT] hearings in the approval* process along with many other opponents, and all of the arguments were essentially ignored. … Complicating that process is the fact that the two members hearing the health arguments have no aviation background at all and have had to be schooled on airport operations and aviation terminology.

… [Elwood] says that if it plays out as he thinks it might, TC will either close his airport or make it so difficult and inconvenient to use that it might as well be closed. The aerodrome is home bas to Elwood’s business, an aircraft management and business charter operation. Over the years he’s invested heavily in hangars and other infrastructure and if the windmills go ahead, a lifetime of work might go down the drain.

[The wind turbines] will prevent pilots from using the recently re-invigorated [Collingwood Airport]. Ironically, the federal government has spent millions on improvements to the field, including a new terminal and lots of new pavement.

“Even people who don’t fly, [says Collingwood based pilot Austin Boake], they realize it’s just common sense …It’s just so ridiculous I can’t even believe it.”

*The author means the “appeal process.”

For more information on the COPA appeal go to: http://www.copanational.org/FeedFeds.cfm