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.
Bell-Media national affairs specialist Evan Solomon interviewed two representatives of Prince Edward County this week on the White Pines wind power plant under construction by German power developer WPD.
Owner of the renowned Norman Hardie winery Norm Hardie and County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy member John Hirsch spoke with Solomon about the impacts of the wind power plant on the environment, wildlife, the local economy, and possible effects on human health.
Is this just NIMBY? Solomon asked at one point.
NO! the two men replied, and explained that The County is a destination for eco-tourists because of the huge numbers of migratory birds.
The wind power developers awarded contracts in 2016 are now gradually filing for Renewable Energy Approval, in spite of the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power, and wind power is produced out of phase with demand to the extent it is estimate 70 percent of it is wasted.
The Otter Creek project (50 megawatts, Chatham-Kent, $218 million over 20 years) was just on the EBR for comment, and now the Romney Wind Energy Centre (60 megawatts, Chatham-Kent, $261 million over 20 years) has filed documents that are being screened for completeness.
Ontario does not need this new power.
Ontarians do not need more costs added to their electricity bills.
Ontario has shown it is unable — or unwilling — to deal with thousands of reports of excessive noise from projects already operating.
These contracts should be cancelled, not granted Renewable Energy Approval.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, the wind power trade association/lobbyist/influencer has a document on community engagement for its developer members in which it advises, people have a right to object to your project.
Germany-based power developer WPD seems to have missed that page. Not only has the company faced the fact the community in Prince Edward County by and large does not want a huge wind power development as evidenced by a Not A Willing Host designation and numerous resolutions at council, but it has also seen its project decline from 29 turbines to 27 then virtually razed of 18 more by the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Undaunted in its quest for revenue from its rich contract with the Ontario government, the company now threatens to begin construction on the remaining nine turbines on Sunday, September 10. And in a move tantamount to walking into a room and putting a gun on the table, WPD sent a letter to Prince Edward County Council threatening legal action and substantial costs should the municipal government try to obstruct its project.
Mayor Robert Quaiff has called an emergency meeting at Shire Hall in Picton on Thursday at 1 PM, and Councillor Steve Ferguson is hosting a Town Hall in Milford, next week.
Update on White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County
The Tribunal’s decision of last April to remove 18 turbines from the White Pines wind project — two thirds of the total Project — seems not to have deterred wpd in the slightest. On the last day of July wpd served Notice to the County that it intends to start construction on the 9 remaining turbines in the project as of Sunday, September 10th.
In response to this Notice, South Marysburgh Councillor Steve Ferguson is calling a town hall meeting in Milford on September 5th to provide information about the wind project and to answer questions about the project’s implications to Milford residents and the surrounding area. Mayor Robert Quaiff and other Council members as well as municipal staff, will be on hand to answer questions.
Also on the meeting’s agenda is a Notice of Dispute that was issued to the County on August 23. wpd has given the County 10 days response time on a number of permit applications that were delivered to the County along with the Notice:
“In accordance with the terms of the RUA (Road Users Agreement), please advise of your decision on these applications within 10 days of this correspondence. . .The County’s failure to issue the permits to which wpd is entitled under its REA (Renewable Energy Approval) will be taken by wpd to be an act of bad faith and an attempt to frustrate its wind energy project. If we do not hear from you on or before September 7th, 2017, we will engage our external counsel to take all steps necessary to enforce our rights before the Divisional Court on an urgent basis and to seek our costs for doing so.”
While wpd blusters about others’ bad faith, its own actions tell a different story.
The company made no effort to comply with the REA condition to set up a Community Liaison Committee within three months of receiving its REA and has made no effort in the two years since receiving the approval.
To make things worse, wpd has wrapped itself in a cloak of silence. All pretense of public consultation has been dropped. wpd now declines to respond to any questions from members of the public. While everyone realizes there must be major repercussions after such a significant down-sizing, everything is now handled by wpd out of the public eye.
This has only fuelled speculation about the status of wpd’s FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) contract, the OEB approval for leave to construct a (now non-existent) 28-kilometre, 69-kv transmission line, the change from a transmission to a distribution project and all that involves, Hydro One’s potential involvement and rumours that wpd may be opting to hang power lines above-ground on poles in direct contradiction to their REA commitment to bury the lines (with two minor exceptions where overhead lines were required).
As September 10th draws closer, members of the public of Prince Edward County are looking for answers.
ONTARIO ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO REPEAT WIND POWER MISTAKES
August 22, 2017
Wellington, Ont. —
Applications for approval of new, huge wind power projects now being filed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate should be denied, says Wind Concerns Ontario.
“There have been so many problems and mistakes with the government’s wind power program that not a single new project should be approved,” says Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson.
Recently, problems with well water have been revealed in the Chatham-Kent area, where vibrations from turbine construction and operation have disturbed the shale bedrock resulting in toxic heavy metals such as arsenic contaminating water, making it undrinkable.
On August 21st, Chatham-Kent council voted to demand a halt to construction of a new wind power project.
The Otter Creek project by French power developer Boralex is proposed to be built on the same geologic formation and there are questions as to whether it could also create water problems.
Turbine noise is an ongoing concern: Wind Concerns received MOECC documents earlier this year showing that the ministry has had thousands of complaints about excessive noise and vibration from operating wind turbines, but has not resolved any of the problems. Complaints about noise emissions from the turbines continue, often beginning as soon as the power projects begin operation. Citizens affected report sleep disturbance for weeks at a time, and other health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and cardiovascular symptoms.
“The Ministry doesn’t seem to be learning anything from reports of problems created by wind power projects,” says Wilson. “Their own field officers have documented issues with existing noise regulations and observed health effects, and now we have people with formerly pure well water turning black, but the MOECC continues to receive and approve these huge power projects based on the same regulations that have proven to be flawed.
“If the MOECC were a private business, they would acknowledge these mistakes and problems, and work to resolve them — that’s not what this government is doing.”
Wind Concerns filed a document recommending the Otter Creek project, now in review, not be approved. The turbines proposed have never been used and there are no actual noise output measurements for them, WCO says of the project which will operate immediately north of Wallaceburg.
“The modelling documents filed with their approval request are just estimates based on estimates,” says Wilson. “That’s not good enough to assure citizens of Wallaceburg their health will be protected.”
WCO says that projects not built yet should also be halted, such as the North Kent II, where water problems persist, and Amherst Island, to name two, where a tiny island community will be exposed to noise emissions from 26 50-storey high wind turbines and endangered wildlife will be affected.
The damage to the environment and to human health is inexcusable, WCO says, especially when the power projects are not needed. According to a report by the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 percent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted as it is produced out of phase with demand, and Ontario has a surplus of electrical power.
The approval for proposed Fairview Wind power project has finally been revoked by the Environmental review Tribunal, on the basis of serious harm to human health and risk to aviation safety — the project was close to two airports.
Our question is, HOW did this power project get as far as it did? How could Transport Canada not block this? Why should taxpayers have had to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect safety and the environment from their own Ontario Ministry of the ENVIRONMENT and Climate Change?
In the original decision issued last fall, the Environmental Review Tribunal accepted the appellants’ aviation expert testimony, which included a rejection of any “mitigation” proposed by the wind power developer, wpd.
In specific the panel noted:
 For these reasons, Tribunal accepts that the margin for error posed by introducing the proposed wind turbines at their proposed locations would be inadequate to either prevent collision with a wind turbine, or prevent a crash due to wind turbine-induced turbulence.
 The Tribunal finds that Mr. Cormier has provided informed criticisms of the proposed mitigation measures that were not contradicted by the Director’s or Approval Holder’s experts, and, therefore, the Tribunal accepts Mr. Cormier’s evidence in this regard. As such, the Tribunal finds that there is insufficient evidence that mitigation measures will be effective.
The reason for the delay in revocation of the approval was because a secondary issue was harm to the Little Brown Bat and the Tribunal felt it necessary —despite the clear risk to human health — to review and evaluate the mitigation procedures proposed. The Tribunal in its decision released this week, did find that the mitigation measures were acceptable but in any event, the risk to human health was sufficient to cancel the approval.
In the October decision, the Tribunal noted that documents from the power developer referred to Transport Canada in an apparent claim that that government agency was OK with proposals for new approaches for pilots to avoid the turbines. However, the Tribunal noted that the Transport Canada letter was “carefully worded” and did not, in effect, provide approval for the power developer’s notion of how to avoid plane crashes.
At “the end of the day” as lawyers say, we are left scratching our head as to how such a proposal could get so far when common sense would seem to dictate otherwise, and why our own government could be so blinded by its “green” ideology that it is more than willing to defend the proposal?
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.
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 wastes other clean supply and devalues exports.”
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.”
Thousands of noise complaints remain unresolved in Ontario.
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
Environment Minister says health concerns “bogus” — staff acknowledge health problems in official records
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.”