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.
As reports of contaminated well water in Chatham-Kent rise, the Ministry of the Environment is strangely silent. They can’t dodge this any longer
November 3, 2017
It must be getting harder and harder to work in Communications at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in Toronto: passing on all those media clips to management which then doesn’t respond, is not how they tell you things work in college or university.
Usually, when a company, or a government has a problem — especially with a public health issue — they meet it head on, and respond.
Not the MOECC.
A few months ago, we published a report that thousands of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines were being ignored by the Ministry, with the staggering figure of actually NO RESPONSE for more than 50% of the citizen complaints, and a resolution rate of 1 %.
And over the summer and into the fall, the reports of problems with well water in Chatham-Kent continue to mount, as residents link the failed wells to wind turbine operation and construction.
“Black water” and heavy sediment is being found in 14 water wells near the North Kent wind power project, now under construction, which residents say is linked to vibration from pile-driving for the turbine foundations.
They’re not the only ones saying that: geoscientists and hydrologists are worried too, with one retired professional actually saying, he couldn’t believe they hadn’t stopped construction to get to the bottom of this issue.
The wind power developer claims no responsibility, relying on a consultants’ report which says well water interference is impossible.
Really, said another geoscientist. Speaking at a public meeting last week in Wallaceburg (where the province is thinking of approving another wind power project on the very same geology), Keith Benn said, If you have a model with predictions that are being countered by facts and evidence, it’s the model that might be wrong, not the facts.
This is serious business and, believe it or not, it is even worse than the situation described here.
Residents say there have been problems with well water since the first North Kent power project began but because most of the people having problems were leaseholders who had signed contracts with non-disclosure clauses about negative wind turbine effects, the well water problems were not public. So, a potential public health problem has gone unreported, essentially because the government gives a pass on most things to the “clients,” the wind power developers.
The media is all over this story, with reports every week; residents are writing to the Ministry, complaining to the so-called “Spills” line, and even writing MInister Chris Ballard. Nothing but platitudes; promises to act, promises of testing, even, but no action.
Chatham-Kent’s Council is concerned, and worried about what a crisis in the water supply might mean for residents and taxpayers if the municipality is forced to supply municipal water to farms and homes formerly supplied by their own wells.
We think the Ontario government, and specifically this Ministry whose mandate it is to protect the environment and people’s health, should act.
But the Ministry has been notably Missing in Action.
“The Green Energy Act was the biggest con ever in Ontario” — MPP Todd Smith
October 16, 2017
Hundreds of community members in Prince Edward County marched down Picton Main Street yesterday to protest the “White PInes” wind power project, and the Ontario government’s wind power policy. The march was followed by a three-hour information session.
The project by Germany-based wpd was trimmed from 29 to 9 turbines in various appeals, but the developer is still proceeding despite questions as to whether it actually has a contract with the Ontario government, and whether the 9-turbine project makes any financial sense.
Among the speakers at the information session was Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, who reviewed the findings of the organization’s request for documents on reports of excessive wind turbine noise made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.
“We wondered, what happens to all the reports being made to the government? Here’s what we learned: The government does nothing,” Wilson said.
“This government has completely abdicated its role as a protector of the environment and people. Instead of functioning as a regulator, it is now a facilitator for huge multi-national corporations whose last concern is any benefit to the environment.”
Everybody knows there are health effects
Dr Robert McMurtry said adverse health effects related to wind turbine noise emissions, including inaudible noise and low-frequency noise, are disturbing, especially because both government and industry deny them. “Everyone’s pretending the emperor has clothes,” said Dr McMurtry, a member of the Order of Canada and a former Dean of Medicine. “There are adverse health effects and everybody knows it — that’s why we have setbacks in the first place.”
Other community members spoke on concerns for wildlife, heritage features (the nine turbines will surround the historic Loyalist settlement of Milford), and the effect on citizens’ water wells. While the power developer claimed there would be no problems as a result of sinking huge wind turbine foundations into the ground, which features fragile karst topography, Les Stanfield remarked that there are sinkholes all over the County, and there were concerns about the turbines’ effect on aquifers.
MPP Todd Smith said loudly, what no one had said was that the whole push for wind power and the Green Energy Act was “the biggest con job” ever in Ontario.” Obviously, he said, repealing the controversial act is mandatory.
Renowned vintner Norman Hardie said the power project “must not go ahead.” Eco-tourism, the County’s economy, and the entire character of the area would be irreparably damaged, he said.
Power not needed
The last speaker was Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff who said that the project must not proceed, and nothing less than 100-percent success in stopping it was acceptable. He questioned the contract with the IESO, and the feasibility of the project. “I can’t understand why [wpd] is doing this? Are they punishing our community for daring to oppose them?”
Wilson added to her presentation that at the time of the event, wind power was being constrained or held back at record levels in Ontario, according to IESO data for Sunday.
“That just adds insult to injury,” she said.
Residents last week filed notice of legal action against the Independent Electricity Systems Operator or IESO over the project, which they say has no legal contract. The first court date is November 17 in Picton. Donations accepted at the community group website.
Friday October 6th, 2017 was a work day just before the Thanksgiving weekend. At 10 AM that morning, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers had much to be thankful for. Power generation from wind amounted to just 27 MWh, but that 27 MWh wasn’t really needed as nuclear, hydro and a little gas were providing all the power we needed. And, both hydro and gas were capable of producing lots more if Ontario demand required it.
The hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) during that hour was $13.50/MWh (megawatt hour) so the value of the 27 MWh that wind produced in that hour cost ratepayers about $365.
Two days later, Thanksgiving Sunday was a different story: at 3 AM wind power was working in the night, generating 1,145 MWh with another 2,797 MWh curtailed (wasted, held back, not added to the grid). Ontario’s ratepayers were paying $135/MWh for the grid-accepted wind and $120/MWh for the curtailed wind.
The HOEP was a negative $3/MWh so the grid-delivered wind was costing ratepayers $415.95/MWh or 41.6 cents/kWh! In total, that one hour cost ratepayers $476,274 for unneeded generation. On top of that, because Ontario demand for power was low (most of us were fast asleep so the LED lights were out), Bruce nuclear was steaming off excess generation (we pay for that), OPG was probably spilling water (we also pay for that), and we were exporting 2,802 MWh to Michigan, New York and Quebec and picking up the $3/MWh cost.
So, comparing the two hours suggests we didn’t need wind generation on October 6th during a business day and we didn’t need it on October 8th in the middle of the night!
This is more proof that wind power is produced out of sync with demand.
The time has come to stop all contracting for additional wind generation and to cancel any that are not under construction.
“To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.” From the independent Wellington Times, a powerful overview of what the McGuinty-Wynne governments have done to Ontario while aiding huge corporations to build wind power plants
Mary Shelley is said to have conceived the story of Frankenstein, a manmade monster let loose upon the countryside, while under the influence of opium in the cold summer of 1816. The gothic horror story, it turns out, was the work of a dark imagination fuelled by opioids.
It begs the question: what was Kathleen Wynne and her government smoking when they let loose their own man-made monsters across rural Ontario—in the form of industrial wind developers and speculators?
Even if you buy the sentiment that their motivations were well-intentioned, the undeniable outcome of the Green Energy Act is that Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have spawned armies of amoral monstrous corporate creatures and have let them loose to roam unfettered across the province. To wreak havoc in rural communities. To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.
Worse, our government has paved the way, clearing hurdles and slashing regulations to enable these creatures to prey upon vulnerable communities, natural habitats and endangered species. Now they have lost control of their grotesque creations. Even Kathleen Wynne must know how this story ends.
Near Chatham, folks believe the wind developer working nearby has poisoned their wells—allowing toxins into their drinking supply. They have done the testing. They have spoken out. They have protested. Marched on Queen’s Park. Kathleen Wynne has ignored them.
Wynne, her government and her supporters comfort themselves believing the scourge they have unleashed—though ugly and abusive— is a necessary evil. That the greater good is being served. They ignore the folks holding up jars of black liquid, pleading with the province to test their water, drawn from wells that have become undrinkable since the wind developer began driving piles into the bedrock to secure its massive wind turbines. Even Chatham- Kent’s mayor has demanded Kathleen Wynne intervene to protect these residents. It has made no difference.
Left without the protection of the province—without the safeguards that would protect them from any other development— these folks took matters into their own hands. In August, they began blockading the construction site— neighbours joining together to form a line against the threat to their drinking water.
On Monday, in a cruel blow, the developers— a Korean conglomerate and its American partner—won a court injunction barring any further blockades of the project. The judge said he wasn’t trying to muzzle opponents, but to “prohibit unlawful acts”.
People have to prove their water has been poisoned
In Ontario’s perverse hunger for industrial wind turbines, it turns out Chatham-Kent residents must first prove they have been poisoned by the developer, before they may seek justice. By then, of course, the damage will have been done. Recourse will expensive and, for most, unattainable.
Four years ago, the giant American wind developer Next Era sued Esther Wrightman for defamation. On her website she had altered the company’s logo to NextError and Next Terror. They wanted the logos removed or they would litigate the mother of two young children into oblivion. All these years later, the legal action is still pending. Wrightman wakes up every morning with the weight of this action still weighing on her head.
In Prince Edward County, a wind developer has been barred from constructing a nine-turbine project near Milford between May 1 and October 15. This was done expressly to protect the nesting grounds and habitat of the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species in the province.
Nevertheless, crews have been busy these past few weeks clearing vegetation, preparing the site and delivering heavy equipment onto these protected lands. There are no consequences for ignoring the rules.
Families have left homes–no one will help
So, a developer ruins drinking water without penalty, another bullies a young mother into silence, and yet another crushes rules meant to save an endangered species. This is our Ontario. There are dozens more distressing stories just like these. Too many sad accounts of families forced to leave their homes because the noise and vibration from the massive machines proved intolerable.
No one is coming to help the folks in Chatham-Kent. No one from our government—those we entrust to protect us—is intervening between Next Era (market capitalization of $68 billion) and Esther Wrightman. And no one is coming to protect endangered species in South Marysburgh.
Wynne has lost control of her destructive and unscrupulous brutes. When the Liberal government eliminated the safeguards that once protected us from these threats, and cut municipalities and communities out of decision-making, they may have believed they were just streamlining processes. Instead, they unleashed wild dogs onto the Ontario landscape without oversight or the means to bring them back to heel.
Untethered by moral, ethical or community concerns, these corporate beasts consume and ravage everything they can get away with. Folks who have fought for years to protect the things our government was supposed to safeguard, have been left gasping in despair. Lacking legal remedies or protection, some have begun considering other means to protect their families, their communities and their land. If the government won’t protect them, they will do it themselves.
This is the horror Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have wrought.
Wynne government “moves the goalposts,” bends the rules to get wind power through … and nobody knows why, says prominent Prince Edward County businessman
October 3, 2017
One of the questions Wind Concerns Ontario routinely gets from the media, after we’ve detailed the lack of environmental benefit from industrial-scale wind power developments, the harm being done to the environment, and the physical harm being done by exposure to the noise emissions from wind turbines to some people, is WHY does the government persist in this policy, in the face of all the evidence — even just the questions — about it?
WHY, when the government admits it has a surplus of power (and is selling off wind power at a loss to other jurisdictions) is it continuing to sign contracts and grant approvals for new projects?
WHY, when the Minister of Energy has admitted there are problems and “sub-optimal siting” does the government have plans to inflict unwanted and unneeded wind power projects on more Ontario communities like Otter Creek, The Nation, North Stormont and Dutton Dunwich?
Our answer has been, there is something else going on here, agreements that have been made, contracts signed that we may never know about, that prevents the Ontario government from responding rationally.
That thought was echoed yesterday in an interview Jerry Agar of CFRB 1010 did with Norm Hardie, owner of the renowned Norman Hardie Wines in Prince Edward County.
On the sensible side, Hardie says in his interview, the government could pay $500,000 to get out of the White PInes contract and save $100 million in costs to electricity consumers … but it won’t. They know all the objections, Hardie says, but he can’t help but feeling “there is a back-handed deal …there is something creepy going on we will probably never know about … something is not right.”
Despite the money being lost, the damage to the environment, community and potentially to the local community in Prince Edward County for example, Hardie says, “they are intent on destroying us.”
The impact of the well above normal temperatures Ontario has been experiencing for the past several days in September was seen in hour 17 (5 pm) yesterday, September 25, 2017.
From all appearances, hour 17 set the record for high peak demand in the province for the current year as businesses and homes had air conditioners and fans blasting away, drawing power from the grid.
Peak demand for hour 17 was 21,639 MWh.
Nuclear and hydro along with gas generated 20,091 MWh during that 60 minutes and was supplemented by net imports of 1,221 MWh from Manitoba and Quebec.
Where were “renewables” (excluding hydro), wind, solar and biomass? Together, they generated a miserly 307 MWh. In fact, wind power generators probably consumed more then they contributed with a minuscule 67 MWh. That 67 MWh represented about 1.5% of their grid connected capacity of 4,213 MW.
Put another way, wind power contributed .3% of peak demand!
All this simply proves industrial wind turbines (IWT) are unreliable and intermittent. If they can’t be counted on when we need the power, why does our Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault and Premier Wynne continue to support them? Why not cancel contracts for wind power plants that have not commenced construction?
The time has come for the Ontario Liberal government to admit that industrial-scale wind turbines deliver nothing more than unreliable, intermittent power that must be backed up with reliable power in the form of nuclear, hydro and gas.
Scottish electricity customers are upset that they are paying millions to wind power producers not to produce — Parker Gallant says Ontario has that beat … by a long shot.
Here’s his latest on how Ontario pays millions (added to our electricity bills) to wind power producers, because wind power is produced when it’s not needed.
And the winner (loser) is … Ontario
A recent article appearing in Energy Voice was all about the costs of “constraint” payments to onshore industrial wind developments in Scotland. It started with the following bad news:
“According to figures received by Energy Voice, the cost of paying wind farm operators to power down in order to prevent the generation of excess energy is stacking up with more than £300million* paid out since 2010.” (£300 million at the current exchange rate is equal to about CAD $500 million. )
What Scotland refers to as “constrained” Ontario calls “curtailed,” but they mean exactly the same thing. Ontario didn’t start constraining/curtailing generation until mid-September 2013, or almost three full years after the article’s reference date for Scotland. Curtailment prevents the grid from breaking down and causing blackout or brownouts.
The article from Energy Voice goes on: “In 2016 alone, Scottish onshore wind farms received £69million in constraint payments for limiting 1,048,890MWh worth of energy”.
Ontario in 2016, curtailed 2,327,228 MWh (megawatt hours). That figure comes from Scott Luft who uses data supplied by IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) for grid-connected wind power projects and conservatively estimates curtailed wind for distributor-connected turbines to compile the information.
What that means: in 2016 it cost Ontario’s ratepayers CAD $$279.2 million** versus £69 million (CAD equivalent $115.2 million) for Scottish ratepayers. So, Ontario easily beat Scotland in both the amount of constrained wind generation as well as the subsidy cost for ratepayers who in both cases paid handsomely for the non-delivery of power!
The article went on to note: “By August 2017, the bill had already reached in excess of £55million in payments for 800,000MWh”!
Once again Ontario’s ratepayers easily took the subsidy title by curtailing 2.1 million MWh in the first eight months of the current year, coughing up over $252.5 million Canadian versus the equivalent of CAD $92 million by Scottish ratepayers.
In fact, since September 2013, Ontario has curtailed about 5.5 million MWh and ratepayers picked up subsidy costs of over $660 million.
Ratepayers in both Ontario and Scotland are victims of government mismanagement and wind power industry propaganda, and are paying to subsidize the intermittent and unreliable generation of electricity by industrial wind turbines.
(C) Parker Gallant
* One British Pound is currently equal to approximately CAD $1.67.
**Industrial wind generators are strongly rumored to be paid $120 per MWh for curtailed generation.
Turbines in K2 Wind power project were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations months ago. Since then, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has done nothing, says a report by CTV News London.
Last spring, the MOECC determined that several industrial-scale wind turbines in the K2 Wind power development near Goderich, Ontario were operating out of compliance. This was the result of noise testing done by the Ministry, following numerous complaints by residents.
Former minister Glen Murray had promised action, saying there are rules to be followed, and his department would make sure they were.
Months later, nothing has been done. And residents continue to file reports of excessive noise and vibration daily.
In a report by Scott Miller of CTV London resident Mike Stachura says, “Nothing has changed…This is our home, we have to live here and we keep hoping the government will do something to help.”
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson raised the issue in the Legislature Tuesday, asking new minister Chris Ballard when the Wynne government was going to take action to protect residents’ health. The minister responded with criticism of the Opposition, and reverted to the government’s green energy mantra.
Wind Concerns Ontario has been urging people experiencing noise, vibration and other effects from being exposed to wind turbine noise emissions to report these to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
We have just received a letter that underscores the need to continue reporting.
In a letter from the District Manager in Ottawa regarding a wind power project in Eastern Ontario, he writes “… additional complaints in the area were not received by the ministry.”
And, he said, the wind power developer did not hold Community Liaison Committee meetings further than the mandated four events because of a “lack of participation by members of the public.”
While the latter statement is not accurate (the power developer said at its very first meeting that it never intended to hold more than four), the message is clear: no reports of excessive noise to the ministry means NO PROBLEM.
Again, if you have experience with excessive noise, sound pressure, vibration, shadow flicker, or altered well water, please call the MOECC Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060 or, if you have the District Office telephone number and you are calling during business hours, call that.
Be prepared to give your location, any observations about weather, wind speed if you have it (you can get this from your cell phone), and any other observations about what you are experiencing.
Be sure to get an Incident Report number and keep a log of your calls.
If you do nothing, you are one-hundred-percent guaranteed nothing will be done.
This past spring, Wind Concerns Ontario conducted an analysis of Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) response to reports of excessive noise and vibration(MOECC) and concluded the process for responding to citizen complaints is deeply flawed and largely ineffective. Global News ran a two-part investigative report on this information, which featured Ontario families who have been complaining about turbine noise for years, with no resolution.
More documents recently released under Freedom of Information (FOI) and correspondence with Ministry staff reveal problems with the Cornwall office that are further examples of a poor strategy for response. The documents and email also are a clear indication that the MOECC has completely abdicated its role as a regulator, and leaves resolution of any problems up to corporate wind power developers.
The Cornwall office up to now has only had to deal with any reports of excessive noise stemming from the 30-megawatt South Branch power project in and around Brinston, Ontario. Documents show that noise complaints were made even before the project began commercial operation in March, 2014.
No report number means no records?
Our initial request for information resulted in three records, which did not match Wind Concerns Ontario members’ experiences with this power project. It turned out, the Cornwall office had not been giving Incident Report numbers to people reporting, as is procedure, so their complaints were not recorded or tracked. On the advice of insider, we re-filed a request, this time asking for “investigative” reports and a handful — again, at odds with our members’ real-life experiences–was turned over.
In the records was an email from the Senior Environmental Officer to the power developer EDP Renewables, in which the MOECC staff member actually apologizes for passing along a complaint. [Emphasis ours]
Tuesday July 22, 2014
Hi Ken [Ken Little , EDPR project manager for South Branch]
Sorry about this …
I received a noise complaint last week –not specific to any particular time last week, but a complaint of noise when the winds are from the west or south west. The resident lives [redacted] and is bothered by the noise from the turbine [redacted] The caller stated he cannot open his winds when the winds are from that particular direction due to the noise. …
Do you have any acoustic results for that specific turbine yet?
Excerpts from other complaints
May, 2014: There have been several nights when I am awakened with the window closed. I shudder to think of having the windows open all the time now …
March 20, 2014: I have had several sleepless nights when the wind is in the east direction as the sound waves of the turbines kept me awake from 12:30 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. until morning. [Redacted] Is there any way we can control the wind turbine motion for daytime hours only as [sic] they do not run from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.?
And, in one actual Incident Report:
June, 2014 IR 5006-9KYK5D: ..caller report last night was the 7th night since start-up of wind turbines as SBWF that she has been unable to sleep for the noise …Noise is described as drone of an airplane — very loud with windows closed.
MOECC noted: “acoustic monitoring conducted by tech support July 14-18 2014, report under review with noise engineer”
This summer, a Brinston area resident wrote to Minister Murray about the complete lack of response to her reports of excessive noise (she has had to sleep in her basement on occasion because of the noise and vibration), and an officer with the Cornwall Office telephoned her.
Here’s what she was told.
*Ministry staff were completely unprepared for wind turbine noise complaints.
*They still don’t really know what to do.
*They “lost” her records — even though she had so many reports that the MOECC actually installed equipment and did noise measurement for several days.
*Last, it was too bad they lost everything pertaining to her situation and reports but it didn’t really matter, she was told because “You’re the only one complaining.”
“Lost” records? Citizen complaints under the regulations “don’t matter”? And she was “the only one”, which is completely false?
Outrageous behavior for a regulator
Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter to new MOECC Minister Ballard, stating “This is outrageous treatment of a citizen of Ontario, who is simply following the process communicated to her by both the Government of Ontario and the wind power developer, who is mandated under its Renewable Energy Approval to act on and resolve any complaints of excessive noise.”
Moreover, WCO noted in its letter to the Minister, the Cornwall office is not ensuring compliance to conditions of the Renewable Energy Approval, specifically results of the compliance audit, which must be posted on the wind power project website, but are not. The response from the Cornwall Office (August 10, 2017):
“Copies of the acoustic audits can be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. I haven’t had a chance to check, but some reports have been included in the SBWF website– I assume you’ve already checked there. Let me know if you are interested in pursuing an FOI request and I’ll direct you to the form and process.”
When WCO responded that the report is supposed to be public as per the protocol released by the MOECC in April 2017, the Senior Environmental Officer replies [emphasis ours] on August 10, 2017:
“Ah…I haven’t had a chance to review this new protocol in its entirety…there are some changes worth noting. Thank you for bringing my attention to this. I will be requiring the SBWF to post their reports on their website. I’ll keep you apprised.
“This is completely inappropriate behaviour for a regulator,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote to Minister Ballard.
“The people of this particular area are now facing approval of a 100-megawatt power project by the same developer, this one close to TWO communities,* and they have no assurance whatsoever that the Cornwall District Office is prepared, or even competent, to respond effectively to noise complaints.
“On behalf of our members, we ask that you investigate this situation. Government staff should be prepared to fulfill the department’s mandate, and carry out their responsibilities to the people of Ontario.”
As of September 4, 2017, the mandated compliance report is still not on the South Branch Wind Farm website.
We have just been informed by the MOECC that the EDP documents have been reviewed and found to be incomplete and cannot be posted at this time.
This project has been in operation for three years.