Risk of turbine construction, operation high for Nation Rise project: geoscientist

October 15, 2018

ERT chair Maureen Cartier-Whitney hears evidence on groundwater. Geoscientist said it is possible there is no effective mitigation for the vibration produced by turbine construction and operation.

Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.

Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.

Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.

She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”

The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded  “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”

A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.

The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.

When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.

The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.

In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.

The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.

The proponent has not fulfilled a requirement to identify all wells in the project area. Signs demanding water testing line a street in Finch, Ontario.

 

 

Wind power developer failing to meet conditions for well water in North Stormont

October 9, 2018

Hello! EDP! We have a well here! Citizens stand up and demand to be counted (Photo: Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, John Irven)

FINCH, Ontario — If the approval signed by the Wynne government for the Nation Rise wind power project were a bird, it probably wouldn’t be able to fly, because it is so weighted down with conditions.

One of those conditions was that the power developer, EDP of Spain, identify and map all water wells in the project area near the proposed wind turbines, because of concerns about the construction activities on the local aquifer.

That hasn’t happened, say residents. Now, signs are popping up all over the country roads and in the communities of North Stormont, as part of an information campaign about risk to the local water supply, and to demand that wells be identified and tested by the developer. Residents are concerned about the impact of vibration from pending wind turbine construction and turbine operations on their water wells.

The “Nation Rise” wind power project is currently under appeal, but the power developer is supposed to be proceeding with meeting the terms and conditions of its contract with the Ontario government, which was approved just days before the June election.

One of those conditions is that the company identify certain wells and “make reasonable efforts, to the satisfaction of the Ministry [of the Environment], to contact owners of all active water wells within 1 km from each individual Equipment, communication tower, and meteorological towers, and seek permission to undertake a groundwater survey at existing water wells. “

The problem is, EDP’s count of the number of water wells that need identification and testing does not correspond to the summary of the situation in the Renewable Energy Approval or REA. As a result, wells may be missed in the pre-construction survey and then be ineligible for help should problems arise after the power project is built.

According to Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the power developer may be off by as much as 50 per cent of area wells.

People are worried, Benke says, for several reasons: a wind power project in the Chatham-Kent area is linked to disrupted function and outright failure of as many as 10 percent of area wells, resulting in contaminated “black” water. The situation is so dire that the new Ontario government has pledged an investigation of the situation.

The wells in North Stormont depend on an aquifer that has been designated as “highly vulnerable,” she says. The signs being posted at the end of North Stormont driveways say “EDP we want our well water tested.”

“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Benke explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area.  As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”

That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.

The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.

“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”

The appeal resumes October 15th in Finch Ontario, with testimony from an expert in hydrogeology.

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Cancel wind power contracts to get electricity bills down: the Fraser Institute

Wind power revenue is from the Global Adjustment subsidy, not actual power sales. Recent moves by government to cancel new contracts won’t get electricity bills down (but will stop them from going up) — more action needed says the Fraser Institute

Electricity Reform in Ontario: Getting Power Prices Down

October 4, 2018

A new report from the Fraser Institute says that decisive action is needed on Ontario’s wind and solar contracts of the new government under Premier Doug Ford is serious about getting consumers’ electricity bills down.

“Energy poverty” is a new watchword in the province as the Liberal governments’ renewable energy policies, which were not based on any kind of cost-benefit analysis, boosted electricity customers’ power bills sky-high, forcing many families to have to choose to “heat or eat.” The association of food banks noted electricity bills as a critical factor in poverty in its 2016 “Hunger Report.”

Moves by the Ford government to cancel new renewables projects, including three huge wind power projects, may stop future increases but they won’t get current bills down.

The answer?

“The logical next step for the government would be to use its legislative powers to cancel funding commitments under the FIT contracts. This would reduce the GA by almost 40 percent, resulting in an approximately 24 percent reduction in residential electricity prices.

In addition to cancelling the existing FIT contracts, the Ontario government could take further action to reform various other components of the GA, including reducing payments to the relatively new small-scale hydroelectric plants of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and cutting funding for unneeded conservations programs. In order to quantify the potential consumer price reductions from such measures it would be necessary to examine detailed GA allocation accounts, which have not been released publicly.”

Read the report from the Fraser Institute here: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/electricity-reform-in-ontario-getting-power-prices-down

 

 

Why the Green Energy Act had to go: PostMedia editor Lorrie Goldstein

Good riddance to toxic Green Energy Act

PostMedia

September 21, 2018

OPINION

By Lorrie Goldstein

The new Belle River project by Samsung will cost about $700 million, and is an example of the damage brought by the Green Energy Act.

 

By scrapping the Green Energy Act, passed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty in 2009, Premier Doug Ford is ending one of the worst legislative disasters ever inflicted on the people of Ontario.

Ford ran on repealing the GEA and the end of this appalling legislation cannot come soon enough.

The GEA is largely responsible for Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity prices.

It’s the reason we’re paying outrageously high prices for green energy the Liberals didn’t need in order to eliminate coal power, which was actually done using nuclear power and natural gas.

The jobs the Liberals promised under the GEA never materialized, according to former Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 annual report.

The GEA made Ontario’s energy grid less efficient because it required the province to buy expensive and unreliable wind and solar power from green energy developers under 20-year contracts, before purchasing other forms of energy.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported in 2016 that Ontario electricity consumers had overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy, because the Liberals ignored the advice of their own experts on how to price it.

The GEA led to the gas plants scandal, because the Liberals had to frantically build new natural gas plants to back up the unreliable power they were getting from wind and solar energy, then scrapped the gas plants planned for Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election.

As PC Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said Thursday, the GEA took away the planning rights of municipalities, which will now be restored, leaving them without any say in the location of green energy infrastructure.

That deprived Ontarians of natural justice, turning neighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately-owned lands in rural communities for massive wind turbines and solar farms, with the projects then sprung on those communities as a fait accompli, in which they had no meaningful say.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, still ranting about Ford cutting the size of Toronto council in half, voted with the Liberals to pass the GEA, a far more sweeping attack on municipal governments.

Under the GEA, the Liberals abdicated from the proper role of government, which is to balance public and private interests.

Instead, they became cheerleaders for the wealthy green energy lobby.

Citizens opposed to green energy projects imposed on their communities faced the impossible task of fighting the industry and the Liberal government.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported by the CBC, revealed the Liberals ignored warnings from their own environment ministry that the province needed stricter noise limits on turbines, had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them, and that computer models for determining residential setbacks were flawed.

In 2011, when McCarter investigated the Liberals’ renewable energy strategy built around the GEA, he reported his auditors had to start from scratch, because the Liberals, incredibly, “had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.”

McCarter warned the GEA had, “created a new process to expedite the development of renewable energy by providing the Minister (of Energy) with the authority to supersede many of the government’s usual planning and regulatory processes … As a result no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate” its financial impacts.

Ford is right to scrap the GEA. 

The tragedy is that the economic damage it caused under the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals will be felt for decades to come.

Former Ontario government “specifically designed” practices to hide debt: Fedeli

Fair Hydro Plan “specifically designed” to hide debt

September 21, 2018

News report: CTV News

In a shocking speech in Toronto this morning, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the provincial debt is $15B, a fact that was hidden from the public by the former government.

In fact, during the pre-election period this year, the Wynne government claimed it would have a “small surplus” when the reality was a deficit of more than $3B.

The Global Adjustment charge on electricity bills and the Fair Hydro Plan were “specifically designed” to hide billions in debt.

The bad practices started early on with the Green Energy Act, Fedeli said, in which Liberal insiders were given lucrative contracts for wind power projects to supply power Ontario didn’t need.  The government started the process to repeal the Green Energy Act, which was supported by the NDP in 2009, yesterday.

Mr. Fedeli said that the Ford government plans to enact solid financial management.

They could start by cancelling the Romney Wind and Nation Rise wind power projects, which would represent savings of $700 million.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

CanWEA’s Alberta-Ontario power play

Big Wind’s Canadian lobbyist is not letting the bad experiences in Ontario halt its “green” dream, and is now focused on Alberta. (And, it really really hopes Ontario forgets all the bad stuff.)

 

Angry Ontario citizen confronts Dalton McGuinty, sponsor of Ontario’s Green Energy Act which began the wind power invasion of rural Ontario. She’s still mad…

September 4, 2018

 

The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA is enacting a hard-hitting PR campaign, promoting wind power as a “low-cost” form of electrical power generation that can also provide hundreds of jobs. Aimed at hard-hit Alberta, the message is clear: you get to meet climate/environment goals, grow your economy (or at least keep it from going over a cliff), and replace the faltering oil industry.

The lobbyist even points to a recent report that apparently confirms all that so you don’t have to just take their word for it.

But there’s a problem. Energy commentator Parker Gallant in his newest post says that the report referred to by CanWEA fails to explain that the jobs will be temporary, and also, that they may not actually be in Alberta.

And there’s another problem: the newest rosy outlook for wind power fails to chronicle the disastrous history of wind power development in Ontario. Two Auditors General took the previous Liberal governments to task for pushing wind power forward without any cost-benefit analysis, and current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has noted that, because of above-market contracts awarded by those same McGuinty and Wynne governments, Ontario’s electricity customers overpaid for power by more than $9 billion.

The Association of Ontario Food Banks linked growing poverty and specifically “energy poverty” to Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity bills, in its 2016 annual report on hunger in the province.

Electricity bills have been named as a factor in businesses leaving Ontario and job losses.

But even looking back at a road full of failure—high electricity bills, environmental harm such as dead birds and endangered bats, and thousands of citizen noise complaints—CanWEA is not giving up where money might still be made. The lobbyist is hoping to sway the new Ford government not to cancel wind power contracts as the PC Party pledged to do during the election because wind power can happily fill in for nuclear plants when several units have to go offline in a couple of years for refurbishment. Rumour has it they have even purchased ads on Toronto Transit vehicles.

The sad fact, omitted by CanWEA, is that wind can’t replace anything. It is intermittent, unreliable, and in Ontario, produced out-of-phase with demand. Output from Ontario’s closed coal power plants was made up by nuclear and hydro.

Ontario’s Society of Professional Engineers says that, because wind power is intermittent and needs back-up from other forms of generation, meaning natural gas, wind power will actually increase carbon emissions, not reduce them.

It’s even worse than that: According to Marc Brouillette who wrote a report for the Coalition for Clean Energy, wind power in Ontario is wasted almost 70 percent of the time. Moreover, Ontario electricity customers not only pay for wasted power, they pay generators NOT to produce power during frequent situations of surplus.

Low-cost? Reliable?

Energy analyst Steve Aplin of Ottawa recently commented on Twitter in response to CanWEA’s that wind power is a “sinkhole for ratepayers’ money.”

We really hope Alberta is smarter than politicians were back in 2003 in Ontario; we hope they can see the truth.

Contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Courtesy Steve Aplin

Ontario announces cancellation of renewable energy contracts

Citizens of Dutton Dunwich oppose the Invenergy wind power project

July 13, 2018

The Ontario government just announced cancellation of renewable energy contracts for which significant contractual milestones had not yet been met.

The move will save $790 million from being added to electricity generation costs, and passed on to consumers’ electricity or hydro bills.

The contracts to be cancelled likely include the five newest wind power projects, which were awarded contracts by the IESO in 2016, and which have not yet been given final approval. One, the “Nation Rise” project in North Stormont, did get a Renewable Energy Approval on May 4, just days before the write period for the recent election. That project is being appealed by a community group, The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

“This was the right decision,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “There were significant environmental and health concerns inherent in each of these projects, the communities did not want them but were being forced to have these industrial power projects, and the costs would be yet more burden on Ontario citizens.”

Health effects of the noise produced by the huge wind power generators is a concern especially, as Wilson says, “because there are literally thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise across Ontario that are to this day unresolved, and the ministry under the previous government was not even responding to complaints from Ontario families. Staff noted adverse health effects in documents released to us, but no action was taken.

Given this evidence and these serious concerns, it is a good decision not to add to the existing problems with how wind power was implemented in Ontario.”

Basic Feed-in-Tariff Contract Costs[1]

  Name Plate Capacity (MW) Annual Cost ($M) 20 Year Cost ($M) Annual Cost Per Household ($)
Operating Turbines 4,936 $1,693 $33,856 $352
Under Construction   393 $   128 $ 2,567 $ 27
LRP I Projects   (Pre-Construction)   299 $       65 $ 1,307 $ 14
Total 5,628 $1,886 $37,730 $393

[1] Estimated costs are based on FIT Contract rates of $135 per MW and average costs for the RFP projects of $89.5 per MW based estimated actual electricity production.

 

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind farm contracts can be cancelled: legal opinion

Companies without a Notice To Proceed or who have not reached key milestones “have reason to be concerned”

July 6, 2018

In a just released review of the energy landscape in Ontario under the new Ford government, Mike Richmond, wind power contract specialist with law firm McMillan LLP, says the contracts between government and wind power developers can be cancelled in certain situations.

Wind Concerns Ontario has long maintained this to be true, even recommending to the Wynne government that an effective way to reduce electricity bills for Ontario consumers — or at least, not have them go higher — was to cancel the $1.3B of new wind power contracts and to cancel any others where significant milestones have not been met.

Mr. Richmond’s legal opinion and review is here.

The government will be directing IESO to exercise termination rights

An excerpt:

Developers, lenders, construction firms, installers, landlords and other clients with interests in contracts for projects which have not yet been granted Notice to Proceed (NTP) by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) (or acceptance of Key Development Milestones for Large Renewable Procurement (LRP I) projects) have reason to be concerned.

While the [PC election] platform was not long on detail, it was absolutely clear that where pre-construction contracts contain provisions allowing the IESO to terminate at or prior to NTP or other equivalent milestones, before expensive capital equipment has been delivered and installed, the Government will be directing the IESO to exercise those termination rights.

Anticipating such a directive, the IESO had already begun holding back on the issuance of NTP approvals for Feed-In Tariff (FIT) projects prior to the June 29 swearing-in, instead electing to issue NTP Deferral Notices. By doing so, the IESO is able to limit its liability for the eventual termination of those projects to the “Pre-Construction Liability Limit”, which is set at:

  • $400,000 plus $2.00/kW for wind, biogas or biomass facilities;
  • $250,000 plus $10.00/kW for solar facilities; or
  • $500,000 plus $20.00/kW for waterpower facilities.

These figures only represent liability caps. To be eligible even for these amounts, developers will have to be able to demonstrate that they incurred, after being awarded a FIT Contract, “soft” costs up to these amount for items such as environmental approvals, EPC and financing contract negotiations, land rights, resource assessments, connection cost deposits, equipment deposits and permitting. Costs spent on generating equipment (other than reasonable non-refundable deposits), and amounts representing lost profits, are not eligible.

Some questions remain:

Given the stated election platform, and the fact these contracts were a key campaign issue, why then did the Wynne government issue a Renewable Energy Approval to Portugal-based EDPR  for its unneeded 100-MW “Nation Rise” wind project just days before the writ was drawn up for the June election, and why did the IESO toss its termination rights overboard on the WPD “White Pines” project, during the active election campaign?

What pressures were brought to bear on the former government by the power developers?

And why are taxpayers now being forced to pay for the new government’s defence of a bad decision made by the Wynne government, in the Nation Rise appeal?

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

IESO stuns with final approval of contested wind farm

Hundreds marched in Picton on October 15th. Clearly a critical issue in the election campaign–so why did the IESO issue final approval during the election? (Photo Wind Concerns Ontario]

June 26, 2018

Community members in Prince Edward County were shocked to learn this past weekend that Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) had granted the final approval required for the “White Pines” wind power project.

The IESO apparently gave the project final Notice To Proceed. Projects without a Notice To Proceed or NTP can still be cancelled.

Worse, the NTP was given apparently on May 11, which was four days after the writ for the 2018 election was drawn up.

It is accepted practice that in the immediate election period, certainly after the writ has been released, the sitting government does not make major announcements or take important decisions.

Especially on a subject like the White Pines power project which is involved in two separate legal actions currently, and was certainly a major issue in the local election campaign.

It is also arguable whether the Renewable Energy Approval for the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, announced days before the writ, is acceptable.

Certainly, there are questions to be asked about influence on the IESO and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to take these actions when they must have known they were outside accepted practice.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Rural hopes for a new Ontario government: peace, justice

Sunrise at Belle River power project: new hope for justice and resolution

June 8, 2018

Yesterday saw a dramatic change in governance in Ontario. Fifteen years of Liberal rule were over, and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario — which has its base in rural Ontario — will form the new government.

For Ontario citizens who have been forced, through the previous government’s Draconian Green Energy Act, to live inside noisy, disruptive wind power projects, there is new hope for justice.

The Green Energy Act superseded 21 pieces of legislation in Ontario, and removed local land-use planning for “renewable” power projects. That meant that people living in small communities could see their municipal government seek consultation on other forms of development, but be without influence when multi-million-dollar industrial-scale wind turbines were put forward by the government and (mostly foreign-owned) wind power developers.

The government promised that if there were problems, they would pay attention to them: they didn’t. They promised they wouldn’t force the highly invasive, high-impact power projects on communities that didn’t want them: they did. And to this very day, to this minute, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is ignoring the thousands upon thousands of reports of excessive noise and other impacts of the wind turbines. The government went so far as to instruct employees not to respond, event o close files without resolution, and to appoint certain employees to preach the gospel of non-harmful wind power while ignoring current research and even denigrating resident reports of health effects and harm (Rick Chappell in Owen Sound, we mean you).

The PC Party was the only one that actually developed a plan to do something about the misguided wind power plan in Ontario. They promised, months ago, to:

  • cancel the newest wind power projects
  • examine possibilities for renegotiating other contracts
  • enforce the noise regulations for wind turbines
  • revise the Green Energy Act

The new Premier, Doug Ford, also promised a public health investigation into the well water problems in Chatham-Kent, a situation for which the previous government dodged responsibility.

This new government will be facing a great deal of work now, with so many things mishandled in Ontario, but it is our hope that they soon fulfill these promises, which will benefit all people of Ontario by reducing electricity costs, and reducing harm to our fellow citizens.

Wind Concerns Ontario