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

MOECC, RES Canada discriminate against francophones in Eastern Ontario

Save The Nation protester: no way to read the documents and participate in the consultation process

May 31, 2018

We learned today from Sauvons La Nation/Save The Nation (one of the 30 community groups in our coalition) that the wind power developer responsible for the Eastern Fields power project, RES Canada, has refused to provide documentation on the project in French.

La Nation, according to Statistics Canada, is about 70% francophone; the Township of Champlain’s francophone population is about 62%.

According to a spokesperson for Sauvons La Nation, RES Canada told community members it would cost too much to translate all the documentation.

RES Canada stands to make about $7 million a year from the 32-negawatt power project.

The MOECC translated a small portion of the documentation in the introduction but is alleged to have told the community, the documents aren’t really for the general public anyway.

Right now, Eastern Fields is currently posted on the Environmental Registry for comment. Residents have been asking for French documentation prior to the June 2nd deadline but to no avail. The result is, francophone residents who will be affected by the Eastern Fields project, for which there are significant environmental concerns, have been excluded from participating in the legislated public consultation process. The community has made its concern over this power project known in many ways, from presentations, public meetings that attracted hundreds, and hundreds of signatures on a petition taken to Queen’s Park.

Discrimination

Of all the ways the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has excluded the people of Ontario and abused rights to due process, this has surely got to be one of the most egregious.

Wind Concerns Ontario contacted the Senior Project Evaluator for Eastern Fields — she’s away.

We contacted an official in the Minister’s Office whose name was given to us — he’s away until after the election.

We also contacted the Office of the Human Rights Commission for Ontario: no response.

What the MOECC should do:

-require RES Canada to provide documentation in French

-provide it to the residents in the areas affected by Eastern Fields

-embark on a new 45-day comment period.

It was interesting the Ontario’s premier was in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell today, the riding in which Easter Fields would be built, if approved, and spoke about the importance of francophones in Ontario.

When it comes to wind power projects, apparently, francophone Ontarians can be ignored and discriminated against like everyone else in Ontario’s rural communities.

 

#MOECC

 

Ontario government approves new wind farm over “vulnerable aquifer”

May 8, 2018

The Ontario government announced late in the day last Friday it had given Renewable Energy Approval (REA) to the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, proposed by Portugal-based EDP Renewables.

The project is proposed for North Stormont, between Ottawa and Cornwall.

Many comments were received by the government during the comment period for the power project, many of which related to the unusual geology of the area.

In fact, according to a map of the project, almost every single wind turbine will be located over what is designated as “vulnerable aquifer.”

Ontario has already seen the results of wind turbine construction over fragile hydrogeology (though denied by the government), in Chatham-Kent where water wells have been disturbed such that at least 20 families do not now have water from their own wells. Several parties are now calling for a public health investigation.

Nation Rise map: the fine pink striped area is all “vulnerable”

In the case of the Nation Rise project, the ministry responded in the notice (emphasis is ours):

Impacts to groundwater
Concerns were raised that ground-borne vibration generated during construction (pile-driving) and operation of turbines (blade rotation) may impact well water quality. These concerns were based on allegations and complaints that ground-borne vibration generated during pile driving and blade rotation of wind turbines in another area of the province has impacted well water quality. Concerns were also raised regarding the potential for other project-related activities to contaminate groundwater.

Upon review of the groundwater aspects of the application, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has decided to include a series of conditions in the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) related to groundwater and ground-borne vibration monitoring. Among these conditions is the requirement for the proponent to: not commence pile driving or blasting activities until groundwater monitoring and ground-borne vibration monitoring plans are submitted to and approved by the MOECC; implement groundwater monitoring and ground-borne vibration monitoring during various project phases; and implement a well water complaint response plan/protocol and contingency plan, as necessary.

and

Geological/geotechnical concerns and impacts as a result of natural hazards
Concerns were received regarding the viability of installing the project within leda clays and the potential impacts of the project as a result of natural hazards, such as landslides and earthquakes. Concerns were also received regarding the potential for the project to facilitate the development of a landslide.

To ensure that the project will be safely constructed in this geological setting, as a condition of the REA the proponent will not be permitted to commence construction of turbine foundations and access roads until a detailed geotechnical report has been submitted to and approved in writing by the MOECC.

One would think that, given the seriousness of these concerns, and irreversibility of any damage to the aquifer, the Ministry would have required these reports before issuing an approval.

Residents have other concerns including effects of being exposed from the noise emissions from that many wind turbines which will also be among the most powerful in the province. That concern is magnified by the fact that this new wind power project did not have to abide by Ontario’s newest set of rules for wind power generators, but was able to opt for the less strict, older guidelines. It is possible that many turbines will be out of compliance with new regulations the minute they begin operation.

If the project goes ahead.

The community is now pondering next steps, which could include an appeal of the approval.

For more information, contact Concerned Citizens of North Stormont : http://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/

or Wind Concerns Ontario at contact@windconcernsontario.ca

#MOECC

Ontario Environment Minister served with summons on violation of the Environmental Protection Act

“We had no choice” : Wind Concerns Ontario on taking legal action regarding wind turbine noise reports

NEWS RELEASE

Citizens’ group charges Environment Minister with violation of Environmental Protection Act

May 1, 2018, Toronto, 10:00 EDT – The president of Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a volunteer-led coalition of 30 community groups and many Ontario families, has filed a private prosecution against the Honourable Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), for violating Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

Private prosecutions are important tools in empowering private citizens to hold those persons in power to account.

The EPA prohibits anyone from permitting the “discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect.” Adverse effects listed in the EPA include “an adverse effect on the health of any person,” “harm or material discomfort to any person” and “loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.” (Section 14 subsections 1 and 2)

“We don’t take this step lightly,” says Jane Wilson, WCO President and a Registered Nurse, “but with the MOECC not responding to thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, which is affecting sleep and health for Ontario families, we had no choice. These are examples of adverse effects that Minister Ballard should not be permitting to continue.”

WCO recently received MOECC documents under a Freedom of Information request that showed thousands of unresolved reports of noise, many with staff notes about sleep disturbance and health impacts. Between 2006 and 2016, there were more than 4,500 recorded reports, 35% of which contained staff notes about adverse health effects; between 2015-2016, the MOECC response rate to the reports of excessive noise was less than 7%.

“Citizens report going without sleep for days, weeks, even months,” said Wilson. “Sleep disturbance is linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Mr. Ballard, as steward of environmental protection in Ontario, is responsible for allowing this environmental noise pollution to continue.”

On April 30, 2018, Mr. Ballard was served with a summons to appear before the court on May 17, 2018.

CONTACT: Jane Wilson  president@windconcernsontario.ca

www.windconcernsontario.ca

 

Excerpts from Ontario resident wind turbine noise reports:

“You have done nothing to help myself or my family. How many times [do we have to complain] before the MOECC will do something?”

“Another week has passed with no response from you. It has been terrible here off and on the past week …continue to be unable to get a good night’s sleep.”

“When will you reopen our file and help us?”

“We just want to sleep…”

“After a week of east wind and no sleep in our house this has become intolerable … it is up to you to address this”

 

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s reports on the MOECC pollution Incident Reports here.

The 2017 report on noise complaints 2006-2014 NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May1

The 2018 report on noise complaints 2015-2016 Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL

 

Legal foundation for a private prosecution

Ontario Private Prosecution

 

#MOECC

Is the MOECC interpreting Environmental Tribunal rulings?

A recent letter from the Minister contains troubling language

Breaking all the rules and getting away with it, in Prince Edward County and on Amherst Island (Photo: Brian Little)

April 24, 2018

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) recently responded to a citizen of Prince Edward County, who wrote with concerns about German-based power developer WPD’s published construction schedule. The schedule appears to ignore stipulations put in place by the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal to protect the endangered Blandings Turtle, which is resident in the County, and the area where nine industrial-scale wind turbines are under construction.

The letter said:

“The REA restricts construction and maintenance activities within Blanding’s Turtle habitat to between October 15 and April 30 where possible. If construction and maintenance activities between May 1 and October 14 are unavoidable, the company must ensure additional measures are in place to avoid the Blanding’s Turtle and that its actions do not cause an adverse effect to the natural environment, including the Blanding’s Turtle.

“Construction of the nine turbines began on September 18, 2017. On September 21st and, in reference to the REA, the MOECC requested that construction stop in areas of Blanding’s Turtle habitat until October 15th, unless wpd White Pines Wind Inc. was able to prove the work was unavoidable.  Construction continued in areas not identified as Blanding’s Turtle habitat per the REA.

“Construction has proceeded throughout the site as permitted by the REA. The company has proposed a construction schedule that will complete all construction in Blanding’s Turtle habitat between October 15, 2017 and April 30, 2018 with the exception of erecting one turbine which is in Blanding’s Turtle habitat.  The proponent has successfully demonstrated to the MOECC that erecting the one turbine is unavoidable.”

“Requested”? “Unavoidable”?

Not very clear language from the MOECC, whose job it is to protect the environment, not aid and abet power developers.

On Amherst Island, the same situation is playing out. There, the Environmental Review Tribunal dismissed the appeal of the approval of the “Windlectric” power project brought forward by citizens, but stipulated certain conditions to protect the endangered turtles there. (Never mind the birds, apparently they keep up with this via social media and will avoid the turbines, eventually.)

However, those conditions are being ignored, so the Protect Amherst Island community group has written to the Ministry demanding that their own rules be enforced.

Once again, Ontario citizens are fighting to protect the environment from the Ministry of the Environment.

#MOECC

To write the MOECC use the contact form here: https://www.ontario.ca/feedback/contact-us?id=26985&nid=72714

You may also use Twitter @ONenvironment and #MOECC

 

 

CPP promises to be “responsible steward” of Ontario wind farms

April 17, 2018

Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter recently to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, expressing concern about the planned investment in a portion of U.S.-based power developer NextEra portfolio in Ontario, namely four wind power projects and two solar power facilities.

“Our concern with this announcement stems from the fact that at present, there are dozens of unresolved official reports of excessive environmental noise emissions from the four wind power projects in the portfolio,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in the letter.

WCO also provided excerpts from documents received under the Freedom of Information request process, related to one of the wind power projects involved in the purchase.

“Many of the formal complaints involve staff records of health impacts from sleep disturbance or deprivation (a known factor in health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stress, etc.) … we offer staff records (these are legal documents) pertaining to the NextEra Conestogo project.

“Staff notes in 2013: resident bothered, sleep disturbed for the family every day, headache, resident “had to stay out of the house all day due to operation of the [wind turbines”. (Master Incident Report 7145-93U9N3, which contains 30+ subordinate records and staff notes)

“And, Staff notes November 2015, noise from this project is an ‘ongoing issue.’ With regard to one specific complaint, the MOECC Provincial Officer wrote, “Subsequent to February of 2015 no resources have been made available for any additional after hour WTG [wind turbine] compliance monitoring/observation/measurements. Additionally, emission and imission audits required by the facility REA [Renewable Energy Approval] despite indicating compliance with the REA have been found to be incomplete at the time of submission. As no resources are available to confirm or deny an after hour WTG noise exceedance and EAB/EASIB have not rejected the above noted audit reports, Abatement Staff are left with no further options to address this complaint. As such: no further action on this IR.” (Source: Master Incident Report 6238-A3W75J)

WCO added that it was concerned the MOECC has not fulfilled its responsibilities as a regulator, as regards wind turbine noise.

Yesterday, Wind Concerns Ontario received a response from the CPP Investment Board Director of Industry and Stakeholder Affairs, Jeffrey Hodgson, who explained the Board’s decision.

“I do want to assure you that our singular objective is to achieve a maximum rate of return on our investments without undue risk of loss, securing the retirement of 20 million workers in Canada. CPPIB’s decisions are not influenced by government direction or any non-investment objectives.

When evaluating transactions such as this one, our organization engages professional advisors and undertakes thorough due diligence on elements including contracts and approvals. And as a long-term investor, we are committed to being a responsible steward of the assets in our portfolio in light of legal requirements, and environmental and safety guidelines.

Thank you again for sharing your perspective and providing us with an opportunity to respond.”

The purchase agreement must now go through a regulatory review by the federal government but if approved, the sale could close in the second quarter of 2018.