“Like a death”: new research explores why some wind turbine neighbours were forced to leave their homes

“It was basically like a death when we had to move from our home”

New research catalogues the reasons behind families in Ontario who decided to abandon their homes after wind turbines started up.

June 29, 2020

“I couldn’t sleep anymore”

“Nowhere to go, no hiding from it [the noise]”

“We had beautiful water–you couldn’t drink it afterwards [turbines began operation]”

“I asked my doctor [if my health problems could be” about [wind] turbines. She said, ‘Yes’.”

Those are just a few of the comments made by Ontario residents who participated in a special study done by a team of health care professionals, acoustics specialists and investigators. A new paper by Dr. Robert McMurtry, Carmen Krogh, acoustics specialists Robert Rand, Jerry Punch, Stephen Ambrose and others*, reviews the reasons behind the desperate choice made by dozens of Ontario families to leave their homes, to preserve their health–both mental and physical.

The new paper, published last week, is based on a study carried out over three years involving 67 Ontario residents and additional family members for a total of 165 people. They all lived within 10 km of industrial-scale wind turbines or wind power generators.

More than half reported adverse health effects after being exposed to noise emissions and vibration from operating wind turbines; stray voltage and disturbed water wells were also cited as key factors in decisions to leave the houses. The people participating in the study had lived in their houses for a mean period of 20 years, or a range of three to 66 years.

The aim of the paper is to present policy-makers with information on the “potential outcomes of placing wind turbines near family homes,” the authors state in their conclusion.

“The comments made by the people in this study are just heart-breaking,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “We’ve seen them over and over in the Incident Reports we received from Freedom of Information requests, together with statements from people indicating they can’t put up with the turbines and the adverse effects anymore. It is well past time the government enforced the rules, changed the rules, and developed rules that truly protect the people of Ontario.

“Bravo to this study team, and all the work they’ve done to expose the terrible things that have happened to innocent citizens.”

Read the full paper here: https://m.scirp.org/papers/101098?fbclid=IwAR3XcUKEebiBR-sLAyIEbNpGHnP3-EQU3_hwtOx4_ovfW6f-cI6JQj7Igfc

 

*Other authors include community group leaders such as Anne Dumbrille (CCSAGE), Linda Rogers (Mothers Against Wind Turbines) and Debra Hughes.

Environment minister move to protect wildlife “quashed” by judges’ decision

Minister cancelled wind power project approval to “exercise precaution” regarding endangered bats; judges say, No and side with wind power lobby and developer on all points

May 15, 2020

A panel of judges in Toronto in the Ontario Superior Court released their decision yesterday over the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont, “quashing” the environment minister’s decision to revoke the project approval.

The decision is important —- and worrying —- as it appears to limit the environment minister’s powers to act over risks to the environment. Lawyer for the community group which filed appeals of the power project over a number of environmental concerns published a news release early this morning. It is available here: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/court-denies-minister-s-ability-to-protect-ontario-environment-823653654.html?fbclid=IwAR0ZEpgR1PRHmtE4lgDFu5SCI-WcVu5I4-TzXPf-b8pnZOyqsJ70ebu9fYM

Lawyer Eric Gillespie says that the decision rules the environment minister is unable to act and raise further issues after the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal has made a decision, even if there are factual errors alleged.

“This appears to leave the entire Province highly vulnerable,” said Margaret Benke of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont group, calling the decision a “tremendous step backward for environmental protection.”

The Attorney General’s Office, which defended the minister’s decision in court, has yet to respond to yesterday’s decision.

“This is astonishing,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “We know how difficult it is to present environmental concerns before the Tribunal and how the test was made very difficult to meet. Yet almost every wind power project in Ontario has been appealed, at a cost of millions to citizens and municipal government. To handcuff the minister like this is very concerning.”

While the community group learned of the decision Wednesday afternoon, power developer EDPR had workers back at the site earlier in the day. Somehow, the NDP energy critic was also informed and posted a message about the minister’s “batty” decision on Twitter Wednesday evening.

The judges’ decision is here: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onscdc/doc/2020/2020onsc2984/2020onsc2984.html?resultIndex=3

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind turbine noise complaints mount, documents show

“Unbearable torture…please help us”

Wind Concerns Ontario releases a report on Ontario government records of 2017 wind turbine noise complaints

A report released today by Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) shows that the government under Premier Kathleen Wynne did little to respond to citizen reports of environmental noise pollution by industrial-scale wind turbines. And, when government staff in the environment ministry offices did try to enforce Ontario noise regulations, they were rebuffed by corporate wind power operators.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report is a review of almost 700 noise complaints from people living inside 23 wind power facilities across Ontario. The total number of complaints records received by WCO now exceeds 5,200.

Response by the environment ministry was recorded in only 1.3 percent of the records in 2017; 54 percent of the files were marked “No” response by government staff.

Adverse health impacts were noted in staff notes and recorded comments by citizens calling in or emailing in 42 percent of the files, and 16 percent contained description of symptoms suggestive of exposure to low-frequency noise which is not audible but can cause harm.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report comes after a 17-month wait and several appeals to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner following the initial request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act. The noise complaints were made to the MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change during the pro-wind power Wynne government’s last full year in office.

Excerpts from the citizen complaints are included and provide a “litany of suffering” according to the WCO report.

“We find no peace … the assault is the same and at times greater in low wind speeds. [We have had] a thumping noise through our heads, long and steady, all day,” was one comment from someone living near the single turbine in Port Elgin, owned by the union Unifor.

“The noise has been bad for 24 hours,” said another resident, living inside the 140-turbine K2 Wind power facility. “I am exhausted from not sleeping.”

Another K2 Wind neighbour reported that the noise “drives a person insane when it goes on for hours…We are being impacted health-wise and are extremely agitated with the noise.”

“Unbearable … torture,” said another person. No response from the environment ministry was recorded on the file.

The corporate power operators are required by the terms of their Renewable Energy Approvals or REAs to act on these complaints, and to investigate the cause of complaints, take action, and ensure the complaints are not repeated. The Environmental Protection Act gives specific power to the environment ministry to take action.

In practice, however, Wind Concerns Ontario found in its review, the power operators were delinquent in filing audits to confirm compliance, and refused to take action when called upon by ministry staff. When the Owen Sound District Office, for example, demanded the operator of K2 Wind respond to noise complaints and implement noise mitigation until their (overdue) audit was filed, the company wrote back from its Texas headquarters with a refusal, stating “It is the Company’s view that the current circumstances do not objectively establish reasonable and probable grounds to require interim mitigation measures.” The operator, Pattern Energy, referred to its computer-generated predictive modeling for noise and said the modeling “is accurate.” In other words, our models say this can’t happen, therefore it isn’t.

The situation is unacceptable, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

“We’re recommending that the current Ontario government take action to enforce the regulations immediately,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It’s time to get rid of the outdated and non-protective protocol for measuring noise, stop letting the corporate power operators police their own operations, and re-invest and support our trained Environmental Officers—let them do the job they were supposed to do, and help the people of rural Ontario who have been forced to live next to these power generating machines.”

The Wind Concerns Ontario report on 2017 noise complaints is available here: Wind Turbine Noise Reports to MOECC in 2017-FINAL (3)

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the negative impacts of industrial-scale wind power development on the environment, the economy, and people’s health.

The wind ‘farm’ everyone forgot

More wind turbines going up in Chatham-Kent; millions more to be added to Ontario electricity bills

Turbine under construction October 5 near Wheatley: more Unreliables Ontario doesn’t need… and can’t afford [Photo: Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns]
October 7, 2019

Chatham-Kent residents living near Wheatley Ontario were surprised to see construction work last week, and delivery of components for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines.

The “Romney Wind Energy Centre” turbines are now being erected, with a projected commercial operation date early next year.

Romney was one of five LRP I (Large Renewable Procurement) projects that received contracts in 2016 under the Wynne government; three of those (Dutton-Dunwich, Otter Creek, and La Nation) were “cancelled” by the Ford government last year, but two were considered to be too far along in the process, having achieved “Key Development MIlestones” or KDMs as the IESO calls them, to be cancelled.

Pity.

Romney will cost Ontario electricity customers more than $260 million over its 20-year contract. The maximum pre-construction liability for cancelling the project would have been around $500,000.

The project capacity is 60 megawatts of power, which Ontario does not need at present. Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, and wind power projects rarely achieve more than 30% of capacity. Developer EDF of France of France promised construction updates for the projects so residents can know when traffic will be disrupted, but the last update posted was for a single week in August.

The other project that escaped cancellation was “Nation Rise” in North Stormont in Eastern Ontario. The community there launched an appeal, which was dismissed and currently has a final appeal and a request for a Stay of Construction before the MInister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. That project will cost electricity customers more than $400 million, and posed significant environmental risks as presented in the appeal.

The Romney project was not appealed.

 

FAIL: Ontario’s wind turbine noise monitoring process

New information reveals audits of Ontario wind power projects still not complete after years in review

September 30, 2019

When the Ontario government under premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009, the premier promised that regulations for setbacks between the industrial-scale wind turbines and Ontario residents’ homes would be based on science, for health and safety.

“If you have concerns [about health and safety],” he said, “ we must find a way to address those.”[1]

So, promises of protection were made to the people of rural Ontario, who were without recourse as their quiet communities were transformed into power generation facilities.

But there was little or no protection.

Information provided to Wind Concerns Ontario by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks shows that lengthy periods, sometimes years, elapsed between the submission, review and acceptance of technical reports required to confirm that turbines were safe. The majority are still either not complete or in review.

Meanwhile, citizen complaints of excessive noise, many with reports of adverse health effects linked to sleep disturbance, continue. Thousands of complaints have been registered with the government, most without resolution.[2]

Regulations exist but checking for compliance involves comparing real noise measurements via “audits” (done by the wind power operators themselves, using acoustics contractors) against their own “modelled” or predicted noise levels.[3]

According to the information provided by Eugene Macchione, Acting Director Client Services and Permissions Branch of the environment ministry in an email dated August 9 this year, of the 49 wind power projects listed in response to our request under Freedom of Information legislation:

  • 16 are determined to be incomplete
  • 15 are still in review
  • 12 have demonstrated compliance with regulations
  • 3 are not yet due
  • 2 are non-compliant and in Noise Abatement plans, and
  • 1 was never submitted.

These figures mean that, according to the environment ministry’s list, Conservation and Parks, almost 70 percent of the audits required to assure health and safety are either not complete as submitted, are in review, not compliant, or not submitted at all.

The list is not complete and is missing 11 post-Green Energy Act projects; more projects, at least 19, are also not listed.

 

WIND POWER PROJECT AUDIT STATUS AS OF JULY 30, 2019, FROM MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, CONSERVATION AND PARKS

Not only are the required audit reports not completed, the time elapsed between submission of the audits and conclusion of the government review is astonishing. The Conestogo wind power project began commercial operation on December 20, 2012, and is listed as still being “in review” as of July 30 for 2,058 days — that’s over five and a half years. According to noise report data provided to Wind Concerns Ontario via FOI, Conestogo has been the subject of dozens of noise complaints from nearby residents.

East Durham Wind Energy Centre began commercial operation in 2015, but after 1,087 days, it is now listed as incomplete; the project racked up almost 300 formal noise complaints in just a year and a half.

The Summerhaven power project has been operating since August 2013, and remains “in review” after more than 2,000 days, or 5.4 years.

The list provided by the ministry is not only incomplete, however, it is inaccurate: the K2 Wind power project, which is number three in Ontario for noise complaints as of 2016 (it started operation in 2015) is listed as “incomplete” when in fact, the project was found to be out of compliance with more than 80 of its 140 turbines not meeting the regulations. The project is currently under a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan.[4]

Bluewater is one project that was determined to be “in compliance” (despite many noise complaints against it), but its audit report was in review for four years.

The single wind turbine owned by union Unifor is not named on the government list but was the subject of over 300 complaints by the end of 2016, with many more reported in the media. Meeting recently with environment minister Jeff Yurek, residents of Port Elgin told him that audits were never done for the turbine, in spite of hundreds of complaints, many with reports of adverse health effects. [5]

 

DAYS IN REVIEW: WIND TURBINE PROJECTS CURRENTLY DEEMED “INCOMPLETE” AS OF JULY 30, 2019

Source: Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, August 9, 2019

The new government seems to be actively demanding audits be done, and several Ontario projects are now under order to reduce noise, but a lot of people have been waiting a long time for these reviews, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

In April 2017, MPP Lisa Thompson asked a question in the Ontario Legislature regarding resolution of complaints about wind turbine noise emissions experienced by two families in her riding of Huron-Bruce. Then Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the Wynne government Glen Murray assured members of the Legislature that:

The … law works. There are standards. When people call, I’m very proud of the officials. They respond quickly and they enforce the law. The law is being enforced here. If wind turbines or any other type of technology exceeds sound levels, we enforce the law. … No one should have to suffer noise or noise pollution from any source, and certainly not wind turbines in their community.[6]

“People were promised—and they are still being told by environment staff, every day—that the rules are there to protect them,” Wilson says. “But here’s the truth: the rules may be there but they’re not adequate, and they haven’t been enforced. The previous government appears to have been very protective of the wind power business.”

The Ministry has multiple options to force wind power operators to comply with regulations, including shutdown. (See Sections E1 and E3 of the Compliance Protocol). The project operators are required to post the submitted audits publicly, but there is a serious inconsistency in this. The Compliance Protocol on the ministry website appears to have been edited and is now contradictory.[7] As of September 24, 2019, the protocol (with the apparent cut-and-paste errors) reads:

The Ministry will also require that all Acoustic Audit reportsSummary [sic] documents are also acceptable but upon request, the complete audit should be made available. be posted [sic] on the project website within 10 business days of the Acoustic Audit being submitted to the Director and District Manager. The Ministry expects the owner/operator to ensure that the Acoustic Audit reports, and any updates, remain available to the public on the project website for the life of the project.

The larger issue is the fact the Compliance Protocol is flawed: it is based on audible noise and does not take into account the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines. Low-frequency inaudible emissions are implicated in many adverse health effects, but were not included in the regulations which were themselves formulated with guidance from the wind power lobby.

“While the current government seems to be committed to enforcing the noise regulations for wind power generators, there is a long way to go before the people of rural Ontario are protected,” says Wilson.

© WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Read the MECP document here: I and E Audits July 30 2019 – (Aug 9 2019) (1)

NOTE: data on noise reports filed with the Government of Ontario are only available at present for 2006–2016; requests have been made for 2017 and 2018 data, but have not been fulfilled. WCO recently applied for a second appeal with the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Office for refusal to reply to the 2017 data request.

[1] Toronto Star, February 11, 2009. “McGuinty vows to stop wind farm NIMBYs.” Available at: https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/02/11/mcguinty_vows_to_stop_windfarm_nimbys.html

[2] Wind Concerns Ontario. Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints, 2nd report 2015-2016, February 2018.

[3] According to the Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise two kinds of audits are required as part of their Renewable Energy Approval, and to comply with Ontario regulations. They are: E-Audits to verify the validity of the sound power levels provided by manufacturers, and used in acoustic models to determine the noise impact of a wind facility at receptor locations; and I-Audits to verify the validity of predicted sound pressure levels in Acoustic Assessment Reports, and verify compliance with applicable sound level limits at receptor locations.

 

[4] Scott Miller, CTV News London, May 27, 2019. Wind farm ordered to reduce noise. Available at: https://london.ctvnews.ca/wind-farm-ordered-to-reduce-noise-1.4438989

[5] Shoreline Beacon, September 24, 2019. Environment minister hears about Port Elgin wind turbine suffering. Available at: https://www.shorelinebeacon.com/news/local-news/environment-minister-hears-about-port-elgin-wind-turbine-suffering

[6]Hansard, Ontario Legislature, Oral Questions, Session:  41:2   Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2017

[7] Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Compliance Protocol, Section E5.1 Complete Submissions. Available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/compliance-protocol-wind-turbine-noise

Ontario to investigate link between wind turbines and well water quality

In 2018, MPP Monte McNaughton presented a bottle of brown well water to Chris Ballard, environment minister in the Wynne government, asking that something be done. Nothing was.On July 19, MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) announced that the Ontario government had struck a five-member panel of scientists to investigate whether there is a link between the vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation and the disturbance in more than 80 wells in Chatham-Kent. Mr. McNaughton made the announcement with fellow MPPs Rick Nicholls and Bob Bailey at a news conference.

The news release is as follows:

July 19, 2019

Ontario Conducting Health Hazard Investigation

Province Creates Independent Panel of Scientists to Investigate Water Wells, Fulfilling Commitment

Chatham Kent — Ontario’s government for the people has formed an expert independent panel to investigate well water in Chatham Kent, MPP McNaughton announced today.

The five-member independent panel will determine if the water from private wells in Chatham-Kent is safe for consumption.

“Our government made a promise to strike this panel,” said McNaughton. “Today we are fulfilling that promise.”

The five-member independent panel will consist of four experienced toxicologists and one local geologist. All members are independent from government and are experienced toxicology professionals that have served on advisory committees.

The panel is empowered to take a fresh look at new samples collected from certain water wells in Chatham-Kent where residents have raised questions about water quality. Samples from up to 189 private wells will be taken by a third-party business and tested by a commercial laboratory.

The announcement fulfills a government commitment.

“Barely one year after this promise was made, we are fulfilling it,” said McNaughton. “And we’re doing it in a way that will inspire confidence from the people of this community. People can trust the results this independent panel delivers.”

BACKGROUND

The five independent experts comprising the panel are:

Dr. Keith Benn, PhD – A local geologist and past professor of geology at University of Ottawa.

Dr. Glenn Ferguson, PhD, QPRA – An environmental health scientist with 25 years experience in toxicology, epidemiology, and human health risk assessment.

Dr. Shelley A. Harris, PhD – An epidemiologist and associate professor at University of Toronto who specializes in exposure measurement.

Dr. Ron Brecher, PhD – A specialist in toxicology, risk assessment and risk communication.

Mark Chappel, MSc, DABT – A toxicologist with significant experience in supervising and managing comprehensive toxicity studies.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

John Fraser

John.Fraser@pc.ola.org

 

“This is welcome news for the people of Chatham-Kent, who raised the effect of wind turbine construction on the water at appeal as a concern,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “That appeal was withdrawn because the proponent sprung a consulting report on the appeal and the Tribunal refused to allow the citizens time to examine it — they were left with no choice, and no chance for real presentation of the issues.”

Wilson, a registered nurse, said she hoped the independent panel of scientists will be free to examine water samples and review the experience of the families’ whose water wells have been affected.

“The response of some authorities, including the local Medical Officer of Health, is that the wells were not of good quality to begin with. That’s absurd and defies belief, when you have dozens of wells fail in a short time,” said Wilson.

Wilson added that the same consultants who claimed there would be no problems in North Kent, were also called upon to refute citizen concerns in North Stormont, where the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project is currently under construction. At appeal, citizens produced experts who said there were problematic turbine locations within the project; the province has designated the entire project area as a “highly vulnerable aquifer.”

 

Cut red tape, enforce wind turbine noise rules: WCO to Ford government

Ontario rural residents caught on a ‘hamster wheel’ of emails and phone calls to government, and endless testing for wind turbine noise — but nothing ever gets done

February 18, 2019

One of the cost-cutting initiatives of the now eight-month-old Ontario government is the “Red Tape Reduction” plan, spearheaded by Government and Consumer Services Minister Todd Smith.

Last week, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to Minister Smith (who is also the MPP for Prince Edward County where citizens have been fighting wind power projects for over 10 years) to suggest that reviewing to wind turbine noise compliance protocol and actually enforcing Ontario’s noise regulations could go a long way to cutting “red tape.”

“The Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise is a costly and ineffective process,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in a letter that accompanied a box of printouts of noise complaints and Master Incident Report summaries that are government records collected since 2006. “Rather than requiring the project operators to address complaints to the satisfaction of local residents, the focus of enforcement has shifted to proving compliance with audible noise levels using this protocol. While the original Ministry compliance actions were focused on the actual complaints about the project, the new compliance process has no direct connection to the complaints registered with the Ministry about the turbine operations.”

“That is complex and costly for both the government and the power operators,” Wilson said.

This process is incredibly problematic, Wind Concerns Ontario asserts: staff time is being used to receive and respond to complaints coming in to the Ministry via its complaints tracking process (the Spills Action Centre and District Offices), staff is involved in liaising with wind power operators over the audit process, and now, an enormous backlog of long overdue audit reports is also being dealt with by staff. And meanwhile, complaints about the adverse effects created by wind turbine projects are not being resolved.

“This is the very definition of inefficiency,” Wilson said.

In one example provided to the MInister, a family in the Windsor area has been complaining about wind turbine noise and adverse health effects for more than eight years. According to documents received via Freedom of Information request, in one year the family had more than 50 interactions with government staff, staff with staff, and staff with the power operator. Ministry staff made two site visits with no action taken. Meanwhile, one member of the family visited the family’s doctor multiple times and underwent diagnostic testing including MRIs and acoustic testing, all of which place a burden on Ontario’s healthcare system.

“The fact is, the government and the power operators are relying on this protocol instead of listening to resident’s actual complaints, some of which clearly indicate the presence of other than audible noise. These complaints need to be addressed, the noise emissions need to stop, and the enormous cost to the people of Ontario can be identified,” said Wilson.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner absent on wind power environmental problems

House at Belle River: Wind Concerns Ontario asked the ECO for a systemic review of problems with wind turbine noise. No action was taken.

December 1, 2018

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner or “ECO,” lawyer Dianne Saxe, sent out a Tweet on Friday to say that in spite of the fact her office is being folded into that of the Ombudsman for Ontario, and her own position is disappearing, for the moment, she will continue to monitor for compliance with environmental regulations.

Unless the problems relate to wind power, of course.

On that issue, Ms. Saxe, a former member of the board of directors for Toronto’s Exhibition Place wind turbine, is notably and consistently missing.

In 2016, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a long, detailed letter to the ECO, after receipt of records of more than 4,000 complaints of excessive noise from wind turbines. In the Master Incident Reports we received — detailed reports prepared by Provincial Officers — there were more than a few reports of adverse health effects being experienced by the people filing complaints with the environment ministry. By our count in the records from 2006 to the end of 2016, 35 percent of the master reports contains explicit mention of adverse health effects. This did NOT include the reports made in the small hours of the night when one might logically conclude that callers were experiencing sleep disturbance.

We wrote to the ECO:

We request that the Environmental Commissioner’s office undertake a full broad review of systemic issues related to the MOECC’s management of the implementation of the Green Energy Act. From our perspective, the documentation shows a complete failure to take accountability for its legislated responsibilities.  At the same time, there is clear evidence that the legislation and rules currently used in relations to wind turbines are not sufficient to protect the health of nearby residents. We hope that you will give a priority to this review as the Ministry is continuing to process approvals for new wind turbine projects based on a set of regulations that are clearly inadequate. 

We also attended a meeting at Queen’s Park in 2016, organized by then Opposition environment critic MPP Lisa Thompson, to present these concerns. The ECO response? Priorities for the office are set well in advance, they only deal with a few things a year. You’re not on the list, have a nice day.

A major concern has always been her pro-wind power bias. I the recent report Making Connections, the ECO addresses the problems of wind turbines and has this response (page 153):

Many reasons have been given for opposing wind farms, including a powerfully held belief that wind turbines are harmful to human health, often because of turbine noise. All of the 46 wind projects appealed to the ERT have used serious harm to human health as one of the grounds for appeal.12 After extensive expert evidence, and having considered numerous studies from around the globe, the ERT has consistently dismissed appeals based on alleged harm to human health. The sole exception was the Fairview wind project in Simcoe County, which was proposed to be located too close to the Collingwood airport, thus affecting aviation safety. The noise impacts of wind on people are controlled through noise limits in the REAs, and through mandatory setbacks established by the Environmental Protection Act.

So, despite the multitude of complaints of excessive noise, vibration/sensation and shadow flicker or strobe effect which clearly indicated a problem that was not being resolved, the ECO maintains that wind turbine operations in Ontario are being properly monitored and that the existing protocols are adequate for protection.

We disagree.

 

 

Environment ministry lawyer avoids reality in Tribunal arguments

You expect lawyers to defend their clients. But shouldn’t a government lawyer always act in the public interest?

November 29, 2018

Last Friday in Toronto, the appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for the “Nation Rise” wind power project—an appeal launched and funded by the community—heard closing arguments from the citizens’ group appealing the approval, the multi-billion-dollar Portuguese wind power developer, and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The latter was represented by Ottawa-based lawyer Paul McCulloch. His job is to defend the Wynne government’s hasty approval of the 100-megawatt power project, south of Ottawa.

Question: Should a government lawyer not be also responsible for defending the residents of North Stormont from the adverse effects caused by a wind power project?

What happened though, was that Mr. McCulloch made astonishing comments in response to evidence brought forward on the risk to human health.

Mr. McCulloch alleged that “no” wind power project has ever been tested and found out of compliance in Ontario. This is patently false. To name just one example, the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin has resulted in hundreds of noise reports, it was found out of compliance and is now under a power reduction order and noise abatement plan (though noise complaints have not stopped).

Similarly, there were many noise reports for the Melancthon wind power project between 2006 and 2009, that the environment ministry did inspections and testing and concluded “the sound discharged into the natural environment from the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect.” * The company was ordered to reduce noise levels, and remodel several of the turbines; when that was not entirely successful, the ministry further worked with the operator to employ a noise abatement plan and in 2011, implemented a “noise reduced operating plan” according to a ministry report obtained under Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario.

So, yes, turbines have been found out of compliance and abatement orders issued; the reality is, many others are caught up in a seemingly endless round of audible noise testing through a flawed protocol.

Mr. McCulloch also dismissed government records of complaints from residents presented by Wind Concerns Ontario as evidence of problems and especially adverse effects from wind turbine emissions, saying no conclusions can be drawn from self-reported complaints.  However, “assessment” of noise/adverse effects complaints has not been a requirement of the process, so there would not be such records of medical opinions. And the ministry doesn’t follow up on reports of adverse effects, or even refer them to the Ministry of Health. The MOECC (now MECP) also does not collect information on academic credentials of the people as part of the complaint tracking process. The reality is, trained healthcare and medical professionals are among those who have filed complaints about the impact of wind turbines on their health, and others have had their assessments confirmed by healthcare professionals.

Government lawyer Mr. McCulloch, however, essentially stated that unless people registering complaints with the MECP provide medical proof, their reports are of no consequence. Does this mean that the thousands of provincial records of noise complaints are meaningless? That adverse health effects being reported to government are ignored? That is a terrible message for the people of rural Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s comments may also have undermined a community health investigation being carried out at the request of Huron County citizens, funded by Ontario taxpayers. The investigation was initiated by public health officials in the Huron County Health Unit in response to clusters of health complaints related to wind turbines. It is being carried out under authority of the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act.

But now, is all hope for this project dashed? At the hands of a government lawyer? Mr. McCulloch, a public servant, demeaned the investigation process and criticized the fact that it relied on information solicited from “volunteers.” By “volunteers” he meant Ontario citizens, the same citizens who have been dutifully filing complaints with the environment ministry since 2006, with little or no action.

Contrary to Mr. McCulloch’s remarks on the methodology in the investigation, it is modeled on the Health Canada community study, and received ethics approval from a university. Various challenges in the community (non-disclosure clauses in wind turbine lease agreements, distrust of more “study,” and despair at the lack of government action) have led to a lower participation level than expected by the investigating health professionals.

In recent weeks, the Medical Officer of Health and the staff epidemiologist have been in the media, renewing invitations for citizens to participate.

Who will participate in that important ongoing community health project now? Speaking apparently on behalf of the government, lawyer McCulloch essentially said any results will mean nothing to the MECP.

The lawyer also told the Tribunal that current Ontario setbacks and noise limits reflect the “consensus view” of the impact of wind turbines on health. That statement purposely ignores a report prepared by the Council of Canadian Academies for the federal government that demonstrated the basic measurement tool Ontario uses to assess wind turbine noise is inadequate, as well as the report issued by the Australian Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbine Noise, and recent announcements from the World Health Organization recommending a more stringent noise standard for wind turbines in Europe than is used in Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s statements to the Environment Review Tribunal were misleading.

The environment ministry should clarify his remarks immediately, in order for the Tribunal to be informed with the truth.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

*Master Incident Report 7465-8KCC68, pages 2-3

For information on the Huron County community investigation: https://www.huronhealthunit.ca/reports-and-statistics/investigations/wind-turbine-study/

 

End unnecessary wind power project and save $400 million: WCO to Premier Ford

 

A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

October 31, 2018

At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.

He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:

Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?

Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*

And,

Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?

The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.

Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).

And, it’s expensive.

Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.

Nation Rise may cost Ontario  as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**

But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.

Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.

He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.

It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.

#CancelNationRise

*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.

**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.