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.
To subscribers of Ontario Farmer, please take note: in the opinion column by Tom Van Dusen on a wind power information meeting held recently in Finch, Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson is quoted as saying Ontario ought to put wind “farms” in isolated areas where they won’t bother anyone. Mr Van Dusen then quoted the CanWEA representative Tom Levy as rebutting the statement, citing transmission costs when power is transported over great distances.
Mr Van Dusen’s recollection of the remarks is false: what Wilson said, in response to a question from the floor about why wind “farms” aren’t simply located in the North, was that people live there too, and the significant environmental damage done by wind “farms” was a factor, everywhere, including the North. Mr Levy did add the issue of transmission costs.
Wind Concerns Ontario will be sending a letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer to correct this misstatement by Mr Van Dusen.
Despite a claim by staff in the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of Health Canada in a meeting with Wind Concerns Ontario last November, that data from the Wind Turbine Noise and Health study would be available to Canadians, via universities and research projects, the health ministry is actually rebuffing attempts to use the data for independent study.
Staff attending that meeting included project director David Michaud and policy director Tara Bower.
As part of his submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into wind turbines, associate professor Richard Mann of the University of Waterloo makes note of a paper recently presented at an international noise conference in Glasgow, and further mentions the fact that access to the taxpayer-funded Health Canada data has been refused.
Professor Mann states:
Our research paper has just been presented in Glasgow, Scotland. The citation is: J. Vanderkooy and R. Mann. “Measuring Wind Turbine Coherent Infrasound”. Wind Turbine Noise 2015, INCE/EUROPE, Monday 20th April to Thursday 23rd April 2015. Glasgow, Scotland. Link: http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mannr/WTN2015.pdf
Repeated requests to Health Canada, either to work together, or to study the data independently, have been denied. Accordingly, I have filed the following “access to information” request, listed below.
A-2015-00042: Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study. MG Acoustics was contracted by HC to study infra sound. Request all correspondence between HC and MG. Also request all raw data collected by MG for this contract. This includes all microphone, microbarometer, vibration, weather station, and turbine operational data (turbine orientation, RPM, power output, wind speed at turbine, etc). Note: Informal request made to David Michaud (March 2, 2015), redirected to Stephen Bly (March 9, 2015), and ultimately rejected by Stephen Bly (March 24, 2015)
Health Canada spent $2.1 million on the wind turbine noise and health study; the conflicting conclusions were published in a summary paper in November 2014, and also in a colour brochure (which has been very helpful to the wind power developers).
The Government of Canada also spent $1.75 million on a study aimed at the logistics of rolling out wind power across Canada, which included a payment of $650,000 approximately to the wind power lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Meanwhile, the Government of Ontario recently told Wind Concerns Ontario that it has received over 2,800 noise complaints since 2009; health complaints related to turbine noise are reported separately.
Not everyone exposed to the infrasound produced by utility-scale wind turbines gets sick from it. But those who do, can get really ill, acoustics specialist Kevin A. Dooley told a packed audience at Wind Concerns Ontario’s conference Saturday, in Guelph Ontario.
Testing of infrasound inside and outside homes confirms that the infrasound produced by large wind turbines is “symmetrical,” Dooley said, and provides a false cue to the human body which results in “sensory conflict.”
A sensory conflict occurs, Dooley said, “when sensory inputs from one or more senses conflict with other sensory inputs. Since infrasound is and has always been associated with motion in an atmosphere, sensory detection of infrasound without other motion cues will cause sensory conflict in some people, leading to motion sickness symptoms.”
These conclusions are supported by work done and published in 1985 by David Nussbaum, Dooley explained.
About 15 percent of people exposed will experience dizziness, nausea, headaches and other symptoms, he said. “That’s in line with the recent Health Canada research, which shows 16.5 percent of people in close proximity showing distress.”
Mr Dooley, who has more than 100 patents to his name for technological solutions to problems with noise and other issues, has published several papers on wind turbines and infrasound.
The research is there, he said. The wind power companies say that there is no link between the infrasound produced by their turbines and human health, but that is incorrect, he said.
What is needed now, Dooley concluded, is research done by “an independent institution” so that government policy and regulations can be altered to protect the health of residents forced to live near wind turbines.
For more information on Mr Dooley and his research, go to his website.
Received by email today, a response to our letter of June 19.:
Thank you for taking the time to share your kind words of congratulation. It is an honour and a privilege to continue serving this great province as Premier.
I have noted your comments on behalf of Wind Concerns Ontario and have shared a copy of your correspondence with my colleague the Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, for his information.
My colleagues and I are committed to building a brighter future for all the people of Ontario. We understand that being fiscally responsible is fundamental to our future, and that building a fair and inclusive society is at the heart of a more prosperous Ontario. These are the principles that will guide us as we work with you, and all our partners, to make Ontario a better place to live, work and raise a family.
When it comes to building opportunity for the people of Ontario and securing our province’s future and well-being, my colleagues and I want to hear everyone’s voice and listen to everyone’s input. That is why I am grateful for your ideas and suggestions.
Thank you again for your kind words. Please accept my best wishes.
Toronto’s Exhibition Place Turbine Part 2: investment in a green future or financial sinkhole?
In Part 1, Parker Gallant revealed that the mythology around the iconic Toronto waterfront wind turbine doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Yet, the venture was presented as a way to invest for a green energy future. Parker Gallant dives into the numbers and comes up with a different truth.
How well did Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. or THESI management perform in choosing the Exhibition Place turbine as an investment? It’s in the best interests of both ratepayers and taxpayers in Toronto to know! I attempted to review the logic behind THESI’s acquisition to see if it made economic sense. In 2011, I emailed several questions to CEO and President, Anthony Haines, copying several Toronto politicians—I was ignored.
Next, I used the FOI (freedom of information) process; the response to my application was a request for hundreds of dollars to answer these questions.
1. How much is THESI paying per kWh?
2. How much was THESI’s investment in WindShare?
3. What is the current depreciated value?
4. How many kWh of power has WindShare delivered?
After exchanges with THESI’s Executive Vice President, Paul Sommerville (formerly with the Ontario Energy Board) and getting the runaround I gave up and went to the Ontario Privacy Commissioner to seek mediation. This was ultimately successful and I finally received the answers I sought but the information came via major Bay Street law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, not from Mr. Sommerville. “Transparency” is apparently not a watchword for THESI’s executive—they will run up legal bills to avoid directly answering pertinent questions that may prove embarrassing!
The answers to the four questions were:
1. $111.30 per MWh (or 11 cents per kWh)
2. $1.1 million
3. Depreciated to $350,816.26 as of December 31, 2013
4. Approximately 9,000 MWh.
Not as advertised
On the last question, I assume that the power delivered was to the December 31st, 2013 date so the claim is that the last six years of operation produced more power (annually on average) than was delivered during the initial five years of operation. I suspect this was/is an exaggeration but in any event, the turbine either operated at 15.6% of capacity @ 600 kw or 14.1% @ 660 kW or 12.4% @ 750 kw—nothing close to the original claims.
Looking further at the answer to payment per MWh, the 9,000 MWh delivered over the 11 years would have generated $1,001,700 or approximately $91K annually. That would barely cover the depreciation (assuming a 20-year life of the turbine) and leave nothing for maintenance or interest, let alone the ability to pay a dividend to the investors. As well, the cost to THESI is fixed at 11.13 cents per kWh without considering the negative return on their investment—that would put the price per kWh well over 20 cents.
Trekking into TREC So exactly how was THESI management convinced that the Exhibition Place wind turbine was a worthwhile investment? From all appearances THESI were never in it for the money as a presentation by Brian Iler on March 20, 2013 to the Co-op Zone Legal Network, described WindShare as follows:
“II. Example 1: WindShare Financing
Early grants from Trillium Foundation
Partnership with Toronto Hydro: TREC did the work, TH paid invoice for 50% @ fmv. Staff were paid far less than fmv, so these first two elements were substantial financial resources.
Offering to members ~$800K – Preference shares with a variable dividend; member shares were also sold for a nominal amount to give membership rights.”
Iler noted that TREC (Toronto Renewable Energy Co-op) incubates renewable energy co-ops. This is about “community power. WindShare was not a financial success.” (My emphasis)
From all appearances “community power” in the mind of Brian Iler and those involved in TREC is all about securing taxpayer and ratepayer funds which truly involves the community—the community just didn’t have a choice. The Offering Statement for the original shares in WindShare contains interesting information confirming the receipt of a Government of Canada forgiveable loan of $150K and a $495K repayable loan from TAF (Toronto Atmospheric Fund) a Toronto taxpayer-owned foundation. TREC has also received considerable grant monies from the Trillium Foundation (well over $200K), TAF (over $400K), Toronto Hydro (compensation for TREC staff), and an unnamed “Foundation” via the share offerings in WindShare who purchased shares on behalf of the Daily Bread Food Bank and another charity.
The Offering Statement carried some interesting forecasts on revenue and profit which have not come to pass despite all the taxpayer/ratepayers funds thrown at TREC for the project. When TREC officers were out selling the shares they used a PowerPoint presentation which on page 9 offered these reasons to invest in WindShares: “1. Earn a financial return, 2. Earn a good financial return and 3. Earn a good financial return for many many years”! The presentation also had a disclaimer warning investors!
TREC is still trying to launch a 20-MW wind turbine development referred to as LakeWind near Kincardine and again they lie about the number of homes that could be powered. The claim is 3,000— that would require the turbines to operate at 71% capacity.
Despite the obvious inability of TREC’s management to “incubate” a viable renewable energy project without taxpayer, the media holds them up as a great success. The taxpayer and donor-funded TVOntario show The Agenda frequently invites TREC’s Executive Director Judith Lipp as a spokesperson for the renewable energy advocates.
While the “iconic” Exhibition Place wind turbine that WindShare erected with help from THESI costs each of the 701,000 Toronto Hydro ratepayers only 15 cents annually, the truth is, its impact is much larger. It played a key, emblematic role in the politicization of the electricity sector through the push for renewable energy and ultimately the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and that in turn was a major factor in the costs for average Ontario ratepayers individually of hundreds of dollars annually, and collectively in excess of $100 billion over the next 20 years.
TREC’s founders will go down in history not only for the Toronto turbine but also for their part in the biggest rip-off ever of Ontario’s taxpayers and ratepayers.
July 4, 2014
The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.
With the report of the tragic deaths of two young men who were working to maintain a large-scale wind turbine in The Netherlands, questions have been raised about the reports of turbine fires, and whether safety issues have been adequately addressed. Among the questions raised was, how do we know how many fires there actually are?
We recall an article in an industry magazine in 2011, which suggests there are enough fires for the industry itself to be very concerned. In the North American Clean Energy article titled Taming turbine fires before they start: it’s when, not if…, author Scott Starr, a director with Firetrace International, states that “Property damage to the turbine and nearby areas from fires reported in the past decade ranged between $750,000 and $6 million.” That’s quite the range.
The range of damages is significant, he reports: “Aside from the imminent hazards of a burning turbine, there is also the risk if sparks, embers, or debris falling to the ground and setting off a wildfire…” Ontario has had experience with that, when a fire in a turbine near Goderich last spring caused debris to be spread over hundreds of meters, as well as noxious smoke and fumes.
Starr outlines the cause of turbine fires: “The most common cause of a turbine fire is a lightning strike—a risk that is heightened by the installation of taller and taller wind turbines. Turbines are now being built that are up to 320 feet high. They’re frequently sited in exposed and high-altitude locations.” In fact, in Ontario, many turbine projects have equipment that will exceed 400 feet in height, and some (not yet built) over 500 feet.
The problem is so significant in the U.S., Starr writes, that the National Fire Protection Association added standards for wind turbines to its 2010 NFPA 850 “Recommended Practice for Fire Protection for Electric Generating Plants.” The revisions include recommendations for the safety of construction and operating personnel.
Wind turbines are usually constructed in locations with restricted access, “placing them beyond the prospect of immediate action by fire service. Even when emergency services are able to respond quickly, few have the equipment capable of firefighting at the height of modern turbines.”
The solution, Scott says, is adequate fire suppression systems that do not require an external power supply, and which can stop a fire before it “can do irreparable damage to the turbine or spread elsewhere.”
“Wind farm fires do happen,” Scott concludes, “and many in the industry suspect they occur far more frequently than statistics suggest…. Many insurers are becoming increasingly concerned and the opinion of many can be summed up by the following statement: ‘Fire. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.’ ”
Wind Concerns Ontario has a copy of a fire protection bylaw pertaining to turbines, which can be sent to you by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org