Energy, Environment ministers promise action on wind turbine problems

“We get it” ministers tell community leaders from Ontario rural communities

Minister of Environment Rod Phillips tells rural residents the government is taking action on Ontario’s wind turbine problems: it won’t happen overnight, but we are working on it. L-R MPP Daryl Kramp, Energy Minister Greg Rickford, Environment Minister Rod Phillips, WCO president Jane Wilson, MPP Goldie Ghamari [Photo courtesy MPP Goldie Ghamari]
June 2, 2019

Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Northern Development Greg Rickford attended an event at Queen’s Park sponsored by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and hosted by Wind Concerns Ontario this week with his colleague Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Minister Rickford said the two are working together on responding to citizen concerns and reports of noise and other adverse effects from the thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines that were forced on Ontario communities by the McGuinty-Wynne governments.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Minister Rickford said, but we are dedicated to helping communities with concerns and problems with wind turbines.

In recent days, the environment ministry has determined that two large wind power projects are not in compliance with provincial noise regulations. K2 Wind is out of compliance and now the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan within the next two weeks, and further, to establish firm dates for new audits to demonstrate compliance to the revised noise protocol by mid-July.

The Director has also stipulated that K2 Wind, which is owned now by Axium Infrastructure, must review resident complaints as part of its response.

The Order, the requirements for immediate noise abatement, and the acknowledgement of resident concerns mark a significant departure from how complaints were managed by the previous government, which treated the wind power operators as their “Client” and failed to respond to the majority of complaints. Response to complaints about noise and other effects is a requirement of Renewable Energy Approvals.

The “Windlectric” project on Amherst Island was also determined to be out of compliance; Wind Concerns Ontario is unaware of a Director’s Order for that project.

The Energy Minister said that cancelling the contracts with wind power operators was difficult and likely not possible, but the government was taking other action to deal with problems. Minister Phillips said they are very aware of the problems being experienced.

“We need more material from you,” he said, speaking to community leaders from across Ontario.

Many of the MPPs who have wind turbines in their ridings attended the event including Lisa Thompson (MInister of Education), Rick Nicholls (Deputy Speaker), Laurie Scott (Minister of Labour), Sam Oosterhoff, Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation) and of course, Daryl Kramp, who sponsored the information event. Other MPPs attending were Daisy Wai, Belinda Kalaharios, Michael Parsa, Robin Martin and Effie Triantafilopolous (both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Health), Dave Smith, Doug Downey, Goldie Ghamari, Logan Kanapathi, Vijay Thanigasala, Will Bouma, Jim McDonell, and Jane McKenna.

Senior staff members for MPPs also attended the event.

“When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised action to address any concerns about health and safety associated with wind turbines,” said WCO president Jane Wilson. “That’s not what happened — today, we have thousands upon thousands of complaints filed with government about noise and other effects, and the former government did almost nothing.”

Minister Lisa Thompson, who was environment critic while the PC party was in Opposition, told WCO president Jane Wilson, “I think about this every single day–I have been with you from the beginning.”

MPP Rick Nicholls, who has many turbines in his Chatham-Kent riding, said the reality of wind turbines has resonated with the public which no longer believes the mythology about impact-free, “green” wind power generators. He referred to the defeat of the pro-wind Chatham-Kent mayor as a sign of the public’s changed attitude.

“I think they get it that there are concerns,” said Stewart Halliday of Grey Highlands, who is vice-chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, and who came to represent municipal concerns about noise and safety issues. “They reassured us and now they are starting to take action with K2 and Amherst Island.”

Posters were presented around the room, outlining major concerns and suggestions for government action. A slide show featured pictures from wind turbine projects all over Ontario including Amherst Island, Bow Lake, K2 Wind, Bluewater, Belle River, and Chatham-Kent.

A WCO member and resident of West Lincoln wrote to WCO after the event to say “spirits were uplifted” for area residents after the ministers’ statements and recent actions by the MECP.

 

 

 

 

Alberta conservative win means change for wind power

New Alberta Premier Jason Kenney: not a fan of subsidized wind power

April 18, 2019

The win by Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) on Tuesday may mean changes ahead for the corporate wind power industry’s aggressive plans for the province.

According to industry publication Windpower, Premier-designate Jason Kenney has said he will not hold a new auction for renewable energy sources in Alberta.

Mr. Kenney has said he does not support the subsidies for renewable power and prefers a “market-driven” approach, instead.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) stated it “looks forward to working with the new government to ensure market-driven approaches are in place” to aid wind power development.

CanWEA also says that wind power in Alberta is a very competitive 3.7 cents per kWH but Ontario energy commentator Parker Gallant says that ignores a variety of subsidies. In Ontario, the cost of wind power must factor in the cost of wasting other forms of emissions-free power because the wind power companies negotiated “first to the grid” rights.

 

Thousands exposed to wind turbine noise in Ontario: Wind Concerns Ontario survey

Home in Huron County surrounded by turbines, many within 1500m –setbacks inadequate [Photo Gary Moon]
April 4, 2019

In a recent meeting with senior officials in the Ontario Ministry of Health, members of Wind Concerns Ontario executive were told that “not that many people” are affected by wind turbines in Ontario.

We launched a research project to estimate the numbers of people now forced to live with wind turbines and discovered:

THOUSANDS Ontario citizens are living near turbines, and inside turbine arrays in wind power generation projects.

Going back over project documents and wind power developer noise impact estimates, we learned that in fact, there are over 30,000 homes located within 1,500 metres of a wind turbine in Ontario. Applying a conservative figure of 2.5 people per residence, that means that 91,300 people are exposed to the highest levels of noise, vibration and other wind turbine noise emissions.

In other words, the number of people being exposed to wind turbine noise is equivalent to the population of the City of Pickering.

“This puts an end to the notion that there are only a few people in Ontario living next to these industrial power generators,” says Jane Wilson, RN, president of the Wind Concerns Ontario community group coalition. “We know from the calls and emails we get that there are many people in Ontario suffering from exposure to the noise. At a minimum, they have sleepless nights from the noise they can hear. At worst, they have other problems including severe headaches, vertigo and cardiovascular symptoms.

“This is a major public health problem that is being ignored.”

Wind turbine noise regulations* only apply to homes within 1,500 metres; the government has assumed that beyond this distance, people will not experience any effects of wind turbine noise emissions.

Records of noise complaints dispute this, however, and even the poorly designed Health Canada report on wind turbine noise indicates that problems persist beyond the 1,500-metre distance.

So, what does that mean in terms of the likelihood of adverse health impacts from the noise produced by the huge power generators?

Strong health impacts

According to a paper published in 2012 by the Acoustic Ecology Institute, “up to 20 percent of nearby neighbours [of turbines] are strongly impacted with sleep disruption, stress issues, and their sense of home and place is forever changed.” The paper notes that some impacts may be “extreme” and result in noticeable changes to health status.

The Ontario government was aware of this very early on in its wind power program, when a report by consultants under contract to the McGuinty government contained this statement:

“The audible sound from wind turbines is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed.** As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound for wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress-related health impacts in some persons …”

Today, the Ontario government has records of thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise and vibration, which are largely unresolved. In a review of Master Incident Reports prepared by Provincial Environmental Officers, Wind Concerns Ontario discovered that 35 percent of the files contained notations from the officers about adverse health effects from the noise emissions reported.

Burden on healthcare system

Many people seek medical attention for the symptoms being experienced due to the exposure to wind turbine noise, and often have many interactions with our healthcare system. For example, one member of one family reported multiple visits to the family physician who arranged both MRI and CT scans and consultations with audiology, ear, nose and throat, as well as neurology specialists. The cost to the healthcare system to investigate the physical effects of exposure to wind turbine noise in just one person is considerable.

The Nation Rise power project in North Stormont will add hundreds more people exposed to wind turbine noise, with virtually every resident in a nearby hamlet living within 1,500 metres of a turbine. The project is being appealed currently to Environment Minister Rod Phillips.

 

Sample of Ontario wind power projects and the number of receptors within 1,500 metres

Project # of turbines # of “receptors”/houses # of People
Melancthon 1 and 2 133 3,286 8,214
Grand Bend 48 2.527 6,318
South Kent 124 2,138 2,138
Niagara Region Wind 77 2,129 5,323
Jericho 97 1,329 3,323
Belle River 41 968 2,420
Wainfleet 5 954 2,385
Unifor (CAW) 1 681 1,703
Nation Rise 35 543 1,358
Amherst Island 26 487 1,218

Note: Receptor numbers based on Noise Reports prepared by the proponent as part of the REA approval process. Population estimates were reached by applying a factor of 2.5 per residence. Vacant receptors were not included in this survey. Source: Wind Concerns Ontario

Copyright: Wind Concerns Ontario

*Section 6.2.4 of Ontario’s Noise Guidelines for wind power facilities

**”Annoyance” in this context is used as a medical term denoting stress or distress.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca or president@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind power lobby wants Ontario to forget the past

Wind power lobby cajoles Ontario to ignore all the problems and take another chance on invasive, problem-ridden wind turbines.

Lobbyist for multi-billion-dollar wind power developers want Ontario to forget the past and choose industrial wind … again. {Shutterstock image]

April 2, 2019

Canada’s lobbyist and trade association for the wind power development industry, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), has just launched its campaign to make the Ontario government reconsider its position on wind power.

On Sunday, March 31st, CanWEA published a blog post entitled “Why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply.”

Ontario director Brandy Gianetta then lists five points.

Not a single one of them is true.

But here’s what is true:

Wind doesn’t work.

Everyone wants the best for the environment, and we all want “clean” electricity, but here’s what we know about the giant wind experiment in Ontario over its 13-year history:

  • Industrial-scale wind turbines have a high impact on the environment for no benefit
  • Wind power never replaced any form of power generation: coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas
  • Wind power is intermittent, and produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario; the Coalition for Clean & Reliable Energy notes that almost 70% of wind power is wasted in Ontario … but we have to pay for it anyway.
  • Wind is not “low-cost”; claims of 3.7 cents per kWh prices from Alberta ignore government subsidies. Wind power contracts are a significant factor in Ontario’s high electricity bills, and the trend to “energy poverty.”
  • Wind power has had multiple negative impacts in Ontario, including thousands of complaints of excessive noise reported to government. These have not been resolved, and many power projects may be out of compliance with their approvals; enforcement of the regulations is needed.
  • The promised jobs bonanza never happened.

In fact, a cost-benefit/impact analysis was never done for Ontario’s wind power program, according to two Auditors General.

Ontario doesn’t need more power now says the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), but if we did, why choose an intermittent, unreliable source of power that has so many negative side effects?

Wind doesn’t work.

 

Wind Concerns Ontario

See also Wind Concerns Ontario noise reports: Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL

Energy Minister refuses to confirm wind farm cancellation

Independent MPP Amanda Simard: tough question for the Ford government, no answer. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia

March 19, 2019

Independent MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Amanda Simard rose in the Legislature at Queen’s Park yesterday to ask the Ontario energy minister whether he could confirm that the “Eastern Fields” wind power project in The Nation was actually cancelled.

The project was on a list of “cancelled” projects announced last July by the Minister, Simard said, but residents were shocked to learn the project has now been granted a 20-year licence to generate electricity by the Ontario Energy Board.

Is this project cancelled, “yes or no,” the MPP pressed the Minister, in two questions.

“This has been a difficult file,” Rickford answered, and then followed up with boilerplate comments on the Ford government being “committed” to reducing electricity rates for Ontario businesses and consumers.

So, in other words, no: he cannot confirm the project is cancelled.

Because it isn’t.

In an email received by Wind Concerns Ontario and community group Save The Nation, program evaluator Sarah Raetsen, with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, said:

The government has not cancelled these renewable energy projects or any renewable energy approvals (REAs) that they have obtained (with the exception of the White Pines Wind Project).  Winding down of the IESO contracts does not mean automatic cancellation of REA applications currently with the ministry – these are two separate matters.

and

At this time, the MECP is still undertaking the technical review of the REA application for Eastern Fields Wind Project.

 

See MPP Simard’s question here, at minute 27 onward.

The fact the people of The Nation believed the project was cancelled means they have lost seven months of valuable time in which they could have been gathering data on the environmental impact of the power project, and contacting subject matter experts to prepare for any legal action they might take.

The project has been proposed to provide a potential of 32 megawatts of intermittent power, at a cost of more than $130 million to the people of Ontario over 20 years.

In an article in local paper The Review, an RES Canada spokesperson said the Eastern Fields project was “on hold” and could not offer details as to the company’s plans, but suggested that RES had spent “millions” developing the project. That number is very high, considering the project is in development, and only at the application stage: no actual physical work toward construction has been done.

For more information on the community group Save The Nation/Sauvons La Nation, please go here.

Why complaints about wind turbine noise are important (and why Ontario is failing to use an important public health tool)

February 21, 2019

Many organizations act on consumer or user complaints because they know those complaints are an important indicator of the success — or failure — of a product or program.  The Ontario government now has records of thousands of complaints dating back to 2006 regarding excessive noise and shadow flicker or strobe effect. The detailed files on these complaints, which contain notes by Provincial Officers with the ministry of the environment, also contain comments on adverse health effects stemming from exposure to the noise emissions.

While organizations like Health Canada act on reports of adverse effects from medications or problems with medical devices, the Ontario government instead maintains all complaints about wind turbines under the environment ministry and, to the best of our knowledge, does not even share these complaints and records with the provincial health ministry.

An article titled “Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada” was published recently in an international open-access library; the paper reviews the Ontario situation in the context of other public health reporting tools, and refers to documents Wind Concerns Ontario received via requests made via Freedom of Information legislation.

Conclusion? Ontario instituted a complaint process with the purpose of assuring citizens health and safety will be protected … but they’re not using it.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Documentation of citizen noise reports received from the government shows that in the beginning, staff of the province’s environment ministry made an attempt (though apparently without resolution) to respond to the reports of excessive noise and other effects of wind turbine noise emissions. This may have conflicted with the government’s “green energy” policy as the efforts appear to have changed from response to issues management as the response rate to complaints declined to 6.9 percent in 2015-2016, from 40 percent in 2006-2014 ([9], p. 4).


Copies of staff training materials in Ontario which were received in the  [Wind Concerns Ontario] FOI request show that employees were given specific directions from management as to what action, if any, to take. For example, in one PowerPoint training session, staff was directed not to treat wind turbine noise as tonal (
[9], p. 9). It is possible the reason for this, could have been that according to the government noise measurement protocol, a 5 dBA penalty would have to be applied to noise measurements in the case of tonal or cyclical noise emissions, in which case a turbine might have been found non-compliant with regulations.


Notes from staff in summary reports of Incident Reports also indicated that staff recommendations to middle and upper management to issue orders for
noise abatement or other actions were ignored (
[10], p. 12). It appears that the process of filing wind turbine Incident Reports and its purpose for addressing concerns about effects on health and safety may have resulted in more reports than expected and may have been dissonant with stated
government policy objectives to promote “green” energy.

Read the full article, here.

 

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

Documentary from Germany on wind turbines and infrasound: what you can’t hear can harm you

November 18, 2018

[Photo: ZDF.de]

 

A documentary aired on ZDF, the national public television broadcaster in Germany, featuring multiple interviews with scientists on the topic of wind turbine noise emissions, specifically infrasound.

See the transcript here–open in Google for a translation.)

Here are some excerpts from the report.

Interviews (in German) include conversations with a geoscientist, cardiovascular surgeon, and an expert in noise measurement.

 

Introduction

The natural sources of infrasound include, for example, earthquakes and sea surf. Technical sources are – to name just a few – combined heat and power plants, airplanes and also wind turbines. In recent years, doctors and scientists have increasingly dealt with infrasound from wind turbines. Because with the energy turnaround and the expansion of wind power, the load from these sources increases.

People who live near wind turbines often complain of sleep disorders, dizziness, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. Not infrequently dismissed as crazy, they usually have nothing left but to leave the area. Because in the common opinion frequencies below 20 Hertz are not audible and therefore can not cause any health damage.

Perception below the hearing threshold

But is it really like that? Professor Christian-Friedrich Vahl, Director of the Clinic for Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz feels reminded in such an argument to the early radiologists who experimented with X-rays, but “because they did not see that, only much later realized that they cause cancer. ”

Medical and scientific evidence is increasing that not only some animals, but also humans are able to perceive infrasound below the hearing threshold. No wonder actually, because “infrasound is an energy,” explains Prof. Vahl, “And every energy has physical effects, whether you hear it or not.”. For two years, he and his team have been addressing the question of how infrasound affects the power of the heart muscle. They have already completed two series of experiments investigating the acute effects of infrasound on human cardiac muscle, and the results are available: “In both series of tests, a clear reduction in cardiac muscle strength has been observed with infrasound signals,” says the cardiac surgeon , Something that you do not consciously perceive, So you can still get sick. Or at least have an effect.

Effects on the brain

Investigations by scientists of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)also show effects of infrasound on the brain. They found that infrasound presented below the individual threshold of hearing activates certain regions of the brain. Interestingly, regions that are involved in the processing of stress and conflict. Why this is so is still unclear, but Professor Simone Kühn of the UKE has a hypothesis: “We have speculated that if you hear something consciously and know there is something, you can perhaps better hide it. […] But with things that are so semi-perceptible, you may not have the directive to say, that’s what I’m ignoring now. “Unconsciously perceived things may put you in stress, at least when it’s not. A follow-up study by the UKE is now looking into the question

Worldwide attempts by the military to use infrasound as a non-lethal weapon are another indication that this low-frequency noise can have a negative effect on humans.

Experts estimate that between ten and thirty percent of the population can feel the symptoms of infrasound.

Different measuring methods

Nevertheless, to this day there is no standard for the frequency range below 20 hertz, which would represent the noise level of wind turbines unadorned. On the contrary, on the part of the authorities, a measurement standard is used that partially filters out the infrasound emissions of wind turbines. Frequencies below 8 hertz are completely ignored. By averaging (third-octave analysis) so-called “tonal peaks” are largely smoothed out, which means that certain high rashes are not visible in the result.

The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) already showed in 2004 how the emissions from wind turbines in the infrasound sector really look like and how far they reach them. The BGR is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ( CTBT). Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) to control. For this purpose, the Federal Institute operates several measuring stations, of which two stations register infrasound. To avoid disturbing the measurement, the BGR determined the distance the wind turbine measuring instruments must have and concluded: ”

As a rule, a distance of about 20 kilometers between the station and the wind farm should be maintained to ensure an undisturbed registration and detection of transients acoustic signals. ”

A distance from which the neighbors of wind farms can only dream.