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.
Weather-dependent wind power doesn’t stack up against other power sources and results in higher costs, uncertain supply, Judge says
September 13, 2021
A decision rendered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently determined that a natural gas power plant would better serve the public interest than a simultaneously proposed wind and solar power project.
In her decision, Judge Louise Dovre Borkman relied on information from the state’s public utilities analyst coordinator, who said that “wind and solar capacity does not always translate into available energy because those resources are unpredictable and uncontrollable—the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining.”
A critical factor in the decision was a statement in Minnesota Statute §216B.2422, subsection 4(3) saying that due to the “intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities” there could be an impact on the cost of energy.
“In fact,” the Judge wrote, “as Minnesota Power illustrated in its EnergyForward , the output from those resources can ebb significantly even over the course of a single day.
“When that happens, or customer demand increases, Minnesota Power must increase output from more reliable resources, like coal or natural gas generators, or purchase power on the regional market.”
The Judge noted testimony from a consulting expert on energy who said that adding more wind instead of natural gas would leave the power company “doubly vulnerable to market pricing, both to sell surplus energy into the market when prices are low and to buy energy when prices are high.”
The final conclusion was that a “wind or solar alternative is not in the public interest” because the costs are higher.
The reasoning didn’t mention Ontario’s disastrous experience with wind power but it might have: two Auditors General said Ontario’s electricity customers had lost billions. And unlike Minnesota which appears to have approached this with care and consideration, there was never any cost-benefit analysis.
The City of Ottawa is about to make the same mistake, with its Energy Evolution plan, putting forward wind, solar and battery storage as the sole solutions to producing energy for the future.
The failure of a wind turbine at the Bow Lake wind power facility near Sault Ste. Marie is raising questions about safety around the giant industrial structures and current Ontario regulations.
The collapse of the Bow Lake turbine is being investigated by the power facility operator, BluEarth Renewables, and there were no injuries associated with the event. However, as can be seen from the photo of the debris field, it is worth questioning what might have happened if the collapse had occurred on a farm property in southern Ontario.
Interviewed for the story in Sault Online , engineer Bill Palmer said “this incident is the 10th wind turbine failure in Ontario that has put the blades (and in this case all three of the 50 metre long blades for the failed turbine) onto the ground… this is the second collapse of a very similar GE wind turbine and the 6th case in Ontario in which GE turbines have put blades on the ground”.
Palmer has published numerous academic papers and appeared at international conferences on wind turbines and health and safety. He noted that his personal experience with a turbine failure showed that debris was flung more than 500 metres.
The Ontario regulation for setback between a wind turbine and a roadway or right of way is currently blade length plus 10 metres. In the case of the Nation Rise power project for example, that would be 79 metres or just 259 feet.
Just two months ago, a turbine failed in Southgate, just west of Toronto. The roadway nearby was closed for a week. No conclusions of the investigation into the event have been published to date.
“People who have never seen an actual modern wind turbine and who are familiar only with images from the wind power developers’ lobby group may not understand that these are industrial structures,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “We are calling for an update to Ontario’s regulations for these power generators, for both safety and health. The current regulations are unchanged from 2009 and the McGuinty government, despite the fact turbines are growing more massive every year.
With the City of Ottawa calling for the installation of wind turbines as part of a Net Zero emissions strategy, more turbines could be on the way for Ontario.
As long as old regulations for wind turbine noise and setbacks remain unchanged in Ontario, anger is not going anywhere
September 1, 2021
Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is reported to have said of citizens objecting to wind power projects in 2009: “They can’t stay mad forever”.
But, it seems they can.
Writer Tom Van Dusen explores this in the August 24 edition of Ontario Farmer and asks, why, when the Nation Rise power project has been approved and is now operating, after lost citizen appeals and even a court case, is the opposition to the project just as strong?
Why aren’t people just accepting of the 29 giant turbines, and getting on with their lives?
Appeal process was a sham
For one thing, there is the sense of injustice about it all. Almost every single wind power project was appealed, before 2009 to the Ontario Municipal Board and after, when the Green Energy Act prescribed an appeal process before the Environmental Review Tribunal. Legal writers have described the task of appeal as almost impossible to win, the way the rules were set up. Instead of power developers having to prove there would be no harm, citizens, with limited time and resources, had to prove there would be.
Birds killed? Sure, Ontario said, but turbines would have to kill so many that entire species would be wiped out. Impossible. (Except when it came to turtles…)
A recent academic paper showed that “the people were not wrong” in their concerns about the dangers to people and the environment that led them to take action. Many of the risks they foresaw in the power development proposals have actually become reality.
Among those, noise is paramount. The Ontario government now has about 7,000 formal complaint records called incident Reports dating back to 2006. There appears to be no process in which these records are collected and submitted to the environment ministry for review, analysis and action. They stay in the District Offices until asked for (which we do, every year.) There are families in Ontario who have been complaining about noise for five years and more—there is no effective response.
The Green Energy Act is not gone
The Green Energy Act may have been repealed in Ontario but the Regulation that governs noise limits and setbacks, Regulation 359/09, still exists, unchanged from 2009.
The Renewable Energy Approval process is likewise unchanged; if there were to be another rush for wind power (like the City of Ottawa is proposing as “local” power), the process will not save anyone from being invaded by huge turbines that will make noise, produce vibration and sound pressure, and will affect wildlife.
Disturbed water wells are another concern: dozens of families in North Kent are awaiting the results of a public health investigation into why their wells, some operating for decades without problems, suddenly stopped working after construction began on a wind power project.
Developers claim that griping “non-participating” landowners are just jealous of the lease fees. It’s true that it is tough when they see leaseholders driving around in new trucks, said one Nation Rise resident. But the reason it’s tough is because their actions left other property owners with homes that have lost value, and are perhaps not even sellable.
Opposition to wind turbine projects continues around the world, and is growing in the U.S. where some states (New York) are actually forcing through legislation to steamroll over local opposition. And there is opposition, with key states being Illinois, Michigan, New York and Vermont, to name a few.
Mr. McGuinty was wrong: we CAN stay mad forever…and we will until there is justice for the unwilling neighbours of industrial wind power projects.
Wind Concerns Ontario
What needs to happen:
REVISE Regulation 359/09 with new setback distances and noise limits
Revise Renewable Energy Approval process to reflect reality of wind turbine noise emissions
Revise and update 2010 Chief Medical Officer of Health statement on wind turbine noise and health
City of Ottawa doomed to repeat Ontario’s failed experiment with intermittent wind and solar power
In the current edition of Ontario Farmer, is a story “Wind opponents claim Ottawa turbine plan disastrous” by Tom Van Dusen. An excerpt:
City council is ignoring the “disaster” wind power has been for Ontario in encouraging installation of industrial wind turbines in its rural areas as part of a Climate Change Master Plan.
So says the leader of an anti-turbine group Ottawa Wind Concerns (OWC) which for the past several years has been leading the charge in Eastern Ontario.
“While most of us were worrying about the pandemic, council accepted a document titled ‘Energy Evolution: Ottawa’s Community Energy Strategy’,” chair Jane Wilson stated. “What concerned us in the 101-page document is the strategy to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 by using industrial-scale wind power.”
The energy document calls for 20 megawatts of wind power by 2025 and 3,218 MW by 2050, the equivalent of 710 turbines…all part of a $57 billion energy transition plan.
Wilson accused the city of ignoring the role wind power played in creating energy poverty in the province “boosting electricity bills by 270 percent.” Turbines, she added, also have a high impact on the environment killing birds and bat, and produce disturbing noise emissions.
Rather, the city should adopt the current provincial position of pursuing “affordable and reliable” energy sources of which wind power isn’t one. Why not, Wilson said, take a serious look at incinerating waste into power and at modular nuclear reactors which the federal government already supports at the demonstration stage.
“Funding is supposed to come from the federal government–so every Canadian taxpayer–as Ottawa repeats the failed experiment with wind power.”
More wind power equals more natural gas.
“Higher electricity bills, more burden on taxpayers, less reliable power, industrialization of quiet communities and takeover of important food land: That’s what will happen if this goes ahead.”
The story is not online at ontariofarmer.com
Contact Ottawa Wind Concerns, a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org
No analysis in the plan, no way of knowing what the real costs might be,says energy economist Robert Lyman
CITY OF OTTAWA CLIMATE PLAN- THE FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES
By Robert Lyman
The Climate Plan approved by the Ottawa City Council is based on the Energy Evolution documents prepared by its consultant, Sustainable Solutions, for attaining the goal of “net zero” carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The Council’s approval of the plan does not mean that it has approved a budget. In fact, the document submitted to Council states explicitly that “all information presented represents high level estimates that are currently uncommitted and unfunded capital and operational needs.”
Nonetheless, the financial analysis in the plan offers an “order of magnitude” estimate of what implementing it would cost the City and its residents over the period from 2020 to 2050. The analysis projects that the cumulative community-wide expenditure from 2020 to 2050 will total $52.6 billion, with a present value of $29.7 billion. All of this is above and beyond the expenditures that are currently underway or planned. The analysis states that the returns from this investment will be $87.7 billion (unexplained) but only $12.4 billion when discounted to 2020 dollars. In other words, the net cost of the plan is estimated by the consultant to be $17.3 billion. In normal economic analysis of public policy measures, this would be a clear signal to not proceed with the plan.
There is no analysis of the costs per tonne of carbon dioxide emission avoided. In other words, there is no way based on the consultant’s analysis to know whether the proposed expenditures are cost effective compared to other options, or to make sense in terms of the alleged value of the emission reductions.
The plan foresees annual community-wide expenditures of approximately $1.6 billion per year net present value for the decade 2020-2030. Of this, $581 million per year net present value would be spent on transit and “active transportation” (bicycle and walking path) infrastructure and an additional $40 million per year net present value for municipal building retrofits, the zero-emission non-transit municipal vehicle fleet, and methane production from landfill and other sources.
Sources of Funds
The consultant acknowledges that Ottawa will not be able to meet expenditures of this size alone. It therefore assumes that a substantial (but unstated) amount of funding will come from the federal and provincial governments. This assumes, of course, that governments that support such high “climate emergency” expenditures will be in power for the next 29 years. Otherwise, the full funding obligations would have to be borne by city taxpayers.
The plan includes suggestions for several additional taxes and fees that could be imposed on city residents, the largest of which are road tolls ($1.6 billion) congestion charges ($388 million), development charges ($234 Million), road user fees ($188 million) and land transfer tax increase ($130 million). No doubt, the imposition of such charges will create some controversy.
The City of Ottawa Budget for the 2021 fiscal year anticipates the spending of $4.3 billion. The proposed Climate Plan expenditures thus would increase that total by 37%. Even if the federal and provincial governments contributed half the Climate Plan funding, an extremely optimistic assumption, Ottawa taxpayers would be required to pay (one way or another) about $800 million per year, or 19% more than they now pay annually.
The magnitude of the spending anticipated over the 2020-2030 period is even more striking when compared to the city’s present sources of funds and current spending allocations.
Ottawa’s projected revenues from property taxes, the largest single source of funds, in 2021 is $1.85 billion. The Climate Plan expenditure of $1.6 billion per year would absorb 86% of that.
The largest spending item in the 2021 municipal budget is $746 million to be spent on community and social services. The Climate Plan expenditure would be equal to more than twice that.
The second largest spending item in the 2021 municipal budget is $647 million to be spent on transit. The Climate Plan expenditure would be equal to two and a half times that.
The main financial impact on an individual resident of Ottawa would be through a massive increase in the cost of owning and operating a vehicle; the plan marks an intensification of the City Council’s longstanding war on cars and car owners. If one could portray it in terms of a property tax increase, for each of the next ten years the owner of a house with an assessed value of $400,000 would see his or her property tax rise from $4,035 per year to $4,780 per year assuming senior government aid or to $5,528 per year without senior government aid.
If the costs of taxes and fees rise high enough, people will not be able to afford to live in Ottawa and they will simply move elsewhere, even if it means moving to communities just beyond the city’s boundaries.
Driving people out of Ottawa would, of course, help to reduce emissions.
Thanks to Robert Lyman for this article—Ottawa Wind Concerns
This article is reposted from ottawawindconcerns.com
Just move—or maybe get tubes in your ears, family told by government officers
April 23, 2021
Among the desperate complaint documents provided to us following a request for Ontario wind turbine noise complaint records under Freedom of Information legislation is correspondence from one family that lives inside the Brookfield Comber project.
On the advice of their lawyer, they now file reports of excessive noise and adverse effects once a month, and they keep a daily log.
For the month of April 2018, this was their record:
24 days the noise level was high pitched to unbearable high pitched
4 days were medium pitched
2 days were low and bearable
They concluded their report that month with “[redacted] noise inside your head 24/7 whenever the turbines are running … trying to live a normal life in your own home is not possible.” The described the noise on one complaint as being like “a dentist’s drill.”
TWO DAYS of the month were “bearable.” Just two.
May that year was a slightly better month for the family. Slightly.
25 days the noise levels inside our home were high pitched to unbearable high pitched sound
2 days were medium pitched
4 were low bearable days.
Did they get any help from the power operator or the environment ministry? Here’s what the record says, in an email dated June, 2018:
“Following a letter we wrote to Mr Glenn Murray [then Minister of environment], we have been dealing with them [the then MOECC] concerning the Wind Turbine Infrasound we have been experiencing inside our home since 2012. …. After lengthy conversations, with two members of that office [Windsor] we were told our symptoms were that of infrasound but because the Ministry of Health does not consider that a health problems their hands were tied. Since then and after an Officer attended our home on January 19, 2018 and suggested perhaps we just just move, or get tubes in our ears to ease the pressure, they have now refused to acknowledge our monthly reports on the noise levels we are experiencing.”
FACT: the Renewable Energy Approvals granted to wind power projects in Ontario require that the project operators identify and resolve the cause for each complaint about emissions from their project.
FACT: It is beyond the scope of Ontario Environmental Officers to be telling people what surgical procedures to have.
FACT: It is the job of the Environmental Officers to receive and record complaints received from Ontario citizens about wind turbines.
Wind turbine noise reports missing
The family has since told Wind Concerns Ontario that in 2018, they filed a total of 26 reports of excessive noise/vibration/pressure; in answer to our Freedom of Information request, we received NINE.
This system is beyond broken, it was badly set up and a sham to begin with.
Ontario is dealing with the worst of the pandemic right now to be sure, but steps must be taken to fix this, and Ontario’s environment officers must do their jobs.
Don’t stop calling: to report wind turbine noise, effects on water wells, harm to wildlife, adverse health effects, call
1-866-MOE-TIPS. And be sure to get an Incident Report number.
Reality is biting hard in North Stormont in Eastern Ontario as residents who didn’t get involved in the multi-year fight to halt the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project are now getting to see what a wind “farm” really looks like.
It is plainly an industrial use of the land.
The North Stormont turbines—29 of them—are among the largest in North America.
Here’s what the developer told people the turbines would look like, based on a photo from its nearby South Branch project. You have to give them credit at least for not proffering photos of a single turbine with cows grazing around the base, as some other developers do.
The photo from the Crysler area depicts a partially constructed acoustic barrier around the transformer substation—it should not be possible to see the equipment, but you can.
The farmland in the Nation Rise project area is Class 2 with some areas of Class 1.
Construction activity continues this week as EDPR races toward its June Commercial Operation Date, as required in its contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). There are no details as to where construction activities will be taking place.
Anyone experiencing sound or noise that seems to be excessive and is causing adverse effect should contact the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) via the 24-7 Spills Action Centre line at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number and describe any effects you are experiencing.
Complaint process for wind turbine noise inherited by the Ford government not effective
April 12, 2021
Wind Concerns Ontario has just released its latest report on how the Ontario government has responded to citizen complaints about excessive wind turbine noise from grid-scale wind power projects.
Warning: the contents of this report can make for difficult reading.
The excerpts of comments from people calling into the 24/7 Spills Action Centre telephone line, or sending emails to their local District Office of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks are an alarming demonstration of the desperation felt by families forced with the wind turbine noise—some of them, for many years.
“We ache all over and can hardly function we are so tired. Please tell us what to do. Please respond.”
“Noise described as a ‘whooing’ sound, both heard and felt.”
“This continues to be horrendous.”
“Caller reports a pulsing roar.”
“This is the 65th time they have called.”
“We can’t go on like this.”
Polluted acoustic environment
One complaint documented was from a technician hired to do monitoring of bat populations near Bow Lake, who questioned whether he/she could continue the work due to the “acoustic pollution” from the wind turbines. The wind turbines were “generating unacceptably intrusive and potentially dangerous noise emissions into the natural environment,” the person reported. This is a “polluted acoustic environment.”
This report is based on Incident Reports created in 2018, received as the result of a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. The request was filed in January 2019; we received almost 4,000 pages of documents this past March. The report is fourth in a series, examining ministry response back to 2006.
It’s not working
The overarching conclusion from examining the complaint records as a whole is that Ontario’s complaint monitoring process, which the current government inherited from previous administrations, is not working. Key findings:
Complaints about wind power projects are part of the process government promised would ensure protection of health and safety. Robust enforcement of the regulations in response to these complaints will fulfill that responsibility.
In total, almost 6,000 files of complaints about wind turbine noise, vibration and sound pressure have been released to Wind Concerns by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
39 percent of complaints in 2018 noted adverse health effects.
The records show that complaints do not result in real action by the project operators, despite requirements of approvals for the project.
The process to accept and record citizen complaints is inconsistent, and information gathered is incomplete.
There appears to be no ministry-wide evaluation and review process for citizen complaints about environmental noise produced by wind turbines.
The report concludes with recommendations on how the complaint handling process could be improved as an enforcement tool, and could provide opportunities to act on other issues such as electricity costs.
Health Canada released an update today on progress toward “modernization” of the Radiation Emitting Devices Act or REDA.
A consultation process was held last year in which the public and stakeholders could submit opinions and recommendations. Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a document which gave an overview of wind turbine proliferation in Ontario, and resulting complaints about noise and vibration.
Health Canada received 20 submissions from a variety of participants including interest groups and professional associations.
“Although many of the special interest groups and individuals expressed general support for strengthening the provisions of REDA,” Health Canada said, “concerns were raised in relation to the application of REDA to address noise emissions from wind turbines. Respondents expressed a desire to ensure that the provisions of REDA, specifically the general prohibition and notification requirements, apply to wind turbines as well as other products that emit tonal infrasound.”
Wind Concerns Ontario referred to numerous federal documents including the Health Canada wind turbines and noise study published in 2014 and the 2015 Council of Canadian Academies report, which both acknowledged problems with wind turbine noise emissions. Current protocols for monitoring noise from the turbines do not capture the full range of emissions, the Council noted.
Wind Concerns Ontario said:
There are processes in place for the people of Canada to report adverse reactions or adverse effects from the use of medications and medical devices, and to report problems with machinery or other equipment that pose a risk to health. In the case of wind turbines in Ontario, there have been thousands of reports of problems with exposure to wind turbine noise emissions.
The REDA must be employed to halt the risk to human health.
This is particularly important now as well, as the federal government seeks to encourage an expansion in development of renewable energy, which may mean the planning and construction of more wind power facilities. …
It has been a heartbreaking and frustrating exercise reading reports on wind turbine noise emissions and attendant health impacts filed by the people of Ontario who thought their government would really protect them.
Health Canada says the comments are under review and may result in some revisions to the proposed legislation.
Are wind power operators profiling people who call them to complain about noise or other effects from wind turbine operations?
In response to a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, Wind Concerns Ontario received what appears to be internal documents used by Suncor in 2016, related to the company’s Adelaide wind power project.
On the forms is the guide to staff to “indicate if the individual is a member of a larger stakeholder group”.
Wind Concerns Ontario is a community group coalition with dozens of community groups throughout the province, most of which actively criticized the imposition of grid-scale wind power facilities on their communities. Many also launched legal appeals before various tribunals and in court.
Was this question meant to intimidate people exercising their rights to complain under the government compliance process?
We sent an email to Suncor, in specific Jason Weir, the staff member who is named on the reports we received, but have had no response. Mr Weir has been listed as Site Supervisor and “Owners’ Representative” in the past, according to a search on his name.
Again these were internal forms for use by staff to guide information gathering. Other questions include asking about details of the complaint, wind direction, etc.