Saugeen Shores mayor to MOECC: you are failing to regulate

Unifor turbine: Years of procrastination and failure of the regulator to regulate

There is news in the ongoing tragic tale of the single turbine owned by Unifor at its Family Education Centre in Port Elgin.

It’s not good.

The wind turbine — which would not be permitted under today’s regulations, lax though they are — has resulted in hundreds of noise complaints. Promises of noise measurement have been made but little or no real action has taken place, and members of the community are still suffering from sleep disturbance and anxiety as a result of the noise emissions.

Recently, Unifor had a deadline to produce a compliance audit. Here is correspondence from this week between the MOECC and Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau, sent to Wind Concerns Ontario.

 

On Aug 21, 2017, at 12:30 PM, Barton, Andrew (MOECC) <Andrew.Barton2@ontario.ca> wrote:

Good Afternoon Mr. Charbonneau,

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is committed to seeing that renewable energy projects are developed in a way that is protective of human health and the environment, and takes noise concerns very seriously. The ministry needs conclusive E-audits and I-audits in order to determine compliance with applicable noise conditions.

On April 28, 2017, following finalization of the revised Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise, Unifor undertook the commencement of the acoustic audit as required by the ministry. Insufficient data was collected in the spring to make a valid assessment in accordance with the ministry’s Compliance Protocol. Unifor will reinstall the sound level monitoring equipment in September, when ambient noise will be lower to collect additional data so a valid assessment can be made.

To date, the ministry has not determined that the Unifor Wind turbine is operating outside of the terms and conditions outlined in their Certificate of Approval, nor has the ministry confirmed any adverse effects due to the operation of the facility.  If the ministry determines the facility to be in non-compliance with our legislation, ministry staff will take appropriate action through application of appropriate compliance and enforcement tools.  Actions taken by ministry staff are assessed on a case-by-case basis and based on many factors, including an evaluation of risks to the environment and human health.

Although the ministry has not identified any non-compliance related to noise, Union Building is voluntarily derating and shutting down the wind turbine under certain conditions.

I understand that the [citizens filing a noise complaint] were sent the complaint numbers they requested this morning, complaint numbers are assigned automatically when a complaint is logged within the ministry’s IT system.  Sincerely,

Andrew Barton

District Supervisor, Owen Sound District Office, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

RESPONSE

You cannot permit this to continue while people suffer

From: Luke Charbonneau Sent: Monday, August 21, 2017 1:13 PM

To: Barton, Andrew (MOECC) Cc: Chappell, Rick (MOECC); council@saugeenshores.ca

Subject: Re: UNIFOR Wind turbine complaint

Thanks Andrew

I am, unfortunately, all too aware of the information in your email. UNIFOR’s voluntary derating and shutting down of the turbine has been in effect for many years now – it has not abated the negative impact on neighbouring property owners.  UNIFOR’s ‘voluntary’ acoustic audit has been promised for four years now.  They have failed to deliver it because you consistently fail to demand it.  The Ministry has not determined that the turbine is operating out of compliance because you have failed to investigate in spite of four years of ongoing complaints from the neighbours who are experiencing “unconfirmed” adverse effects.

You are a regulator and you failing to regulate. 

You cannot permit this years long delay and procrastination to continue while people continue to suffer.

I again ask you to order the turbine shut down until the often promised (never delivered) audit can be completed – this, in the interest of public safety and your legal and moral obligations.

Luke

 

Wind Concerns Ontario received documentation on wind turbine noise reports 2006-2014 earlier this year via a request through the Freedom of Information Act. Many of the Master Incident files (i.e., files that had so many individual complaints they were bundled into larger “master” files) were related to the Unifor turbine, so many in fact that the single turbine ranked fourth in the number of complaints after multi-turbine projects Melancthon, Enbridge, and Talbot wind farms. In one report dated 2014, the MOECC staff recorded: “extremely loud swooshing and raking sound from the turbine blades – also a banging noise from the turbine vibrations could be felt.” The complaint, as others, was referred to Unifor for action.

Once again, with problems like these ongoing and without proper action by the ministry, no new wind power contracts should be approved. This government needs to acknowledge the problems and take action, immediately.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Ontario Environment Ministry set to repeat mistakes if new power projects approved

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

NEWS RELEASE

ONTARIO ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO REPEAT WIND POWER MISTAKES

August 22, 2017

Wellington, Ont. —

Applications for approval of new, huge wind power projects now being filed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate should be denied, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

“There have been so many problems and mistakes with the government’s wind power program that not a single new project should be approved,” says Wind Concerns’ president Jane Wilson.

Recently, problems with well water have been revealed in the Chatham-Kent area, where vibrations from turbine construction and operation have disturbed the shale bedrock resulting in toxic heavy metals such as arsenic contaminating water, making it undrinkable.

On August 21st, Chatham-Kent council voted to demand a halt to construction of a new wind power project.

The Otter Creek project by French power developer Boralex is proposed to be built on the same geologic formation and there are questions as to whether it could also create water problems.

Turbine noise is an ongoing concern: Wind Concerns received MOECC documents earlier this year showing that the ministry has had thousands of complaints about excessive noise and vibration from operating wind turbines, but has not resolved any of the problems. Complaints about noise emissions from the turbines continue, often beginning as soon as the power projects begin operation. Citizens affected report sleep disturbance for weeks at a time, and other health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and cardiovascular symptoms.

“The Ministry doesn’t seem to be learning anything from reports of problems created by wind power projects,” says Wilson. “Their own field officers have documented issues with existing noise regulations and observed health effects, and now we have people with formerly pure well water turning black, but the MOECC continues to receive and approve these huge power projects based on the same regulations that have proven to be flawed.

“If the MOECC were a private business, they would acknowledge these mistakes and problems, and work to resolve them — that’s not what this government is doing.”

Wind Concerns filed a document recommending the Otter Creek project, now in review, not be approved. The turbines proposed have never been used and there are no actual noise output measurements for them, WCO says of the project which will operate immediately north of Wallaceburg.

“The modelling documents filed with their approval request are just estimates based on estimates,” says Wilson. “That’s not good enough to assure citizens of Wallaceburg their health will be protected.”

WCO says that projects not built yet should also be halted, such as the North Kent II, where water problems persist, and Amherst Island, to name two, where a tiny island community will be exposed to noise emissions from 26 50-storey high wind turbines and endangered wildlife will be affected.

The damage to the environment and to human health is inexcusable, WCO says, especially when the power projects are not needed. According to a report by the Council for Clean & Reliable Energy, 70 percent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted as it is produced out of phase with demand, and Ontario has a surplus of electrical power.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind Concerns Ontario comment to the MOECC on the Otter Creek project: CommentsOtterCreek-August18

Home in Huron County: thousands of noise complaints remain unresolved — yet government approving more projects? [Photo Gary Moon]
Turbines will cause devastation of Amherst Island heritage community, endanger wildlife — project should be cancelled, says WCO [Map: Wayne Gulden, Wind Farm Realities]

Modern day larceny: independent editor on Ontario’s wind power push

Rick Conroy, editor of the independent Wellington Times news paper in Prince Edward County, has had a front-row seat to at least three, probably four, wind power projects in The County. All have been vanquished save for the “White Pines” unwanted, unneeded power project which has been reduced from 29 turbines to 27 then to nine, and still, the power developer threatens to proceed.

Conroy has an interesting perspective, including a view across the water to nearby Amherst Island, where a tiny island community will almost certainly be destroyed by the Windlectric unwanted, unneeded wind power project … that will take a whole lot of wildlife down with the island, too.

Here is his editorial from the most recent edition of the paper.

No matter how you look at it, Ontario’s energy policy doesn’t make any sense

Ontario is currently working toward another electricity import deal with Quebec. It is likely a good thing. Most of our neighbour’s electricity is generated by massive hydro dams on the James Bay and St. Lawrence watershed—so, by today’s convoluted meaning of the word, it is clean. It is also reliable and manageable—the opposite of the wind and solar power sources in which Ontario has invested billions over the past 15 years. The deal is expensive, however, about 40 per cent richer than Quebec earns from other exported electricity contracts.

But here is the interesting bit.

Coincidentally, the quantity of imported power represented in this deal, combined with another with Quebec in 2015— equals almost precisely the total electricity generated by wind and solar in Ontario. Ten terawatt hours of wind and solar are being made redundant by ten terawatt hours of hydro electricity. Maybe coincidence is the wrong word.

Put another away—the nearly useless intermittent power generated by wind and solar has been replaced by two power deals with Quebec. Electricity that is cheaper, cleaner and manageable.

It’s a sign, perhaps, the adults have wrested control of the province’s energy management away from the politicians.

The deal illustrates rather bluntly that Ontario’s wind and solar power projects are like costume jewellery—showy and glittery to a distracted public, but bearing little actual value.

Worse, these intermittent electricity trinkets are a persistent headache to the electricity system operator. Each year we spill enough electricity through exports to neighbouring jurisdictions, including Michigan and New York, to power a large part of their economies. We regularly export this power at a loss—sometimes we pay them to take it.

Sickeningly we spend as much as a $1 billion each year for others to take our unwanted electricity. Without these outlets, however, Ontario’s power grid would succumb to the variability of wind and sunlight on an electrical grid ill-equipped to endure it. And electrical systems operators in Michigan and New York know it.

So, they take advantage.

It is sophisticated modernday larceny. Here is how it works. Lacking formal purchase agreements, Michigan buys Ontario electricity mostly on the spot market, typically paying between one and two cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)—a fraction of what it costs the state to generate its own electricity. (The County’s Parker Gallant does a much more thorough job of explaining how this works in his regular contributions to the Wind Concerns Ontario blog, the Financial Post and other publications.)

To its credit and downfall, Ontario’s electricity market is utterly transparent—anyone with a computer can monitor the demand for electricity and the supply available at any given moment (as well as many other facets of the system). They can see plainly when the province is headed for a critical system overload— when Ontario must shed power or risk catastrophe. Folks in Michigan know it too. They know when Ontario will be calling them to offload electricity. They are happy and ready to oblige.

From time to time, the imbalance between too little demand and too much uncontrollable supply in Ontario’s electricity system becomes so precarious that grid operators in Michigan and New York can actually compel Ontario to pay them to take it the power. It is how it came about that today Ontario now powers about 10 per cent of Michigan’s electricity needs. And we lose money on every kilowatt.

All this has been said and explained before by others. The facts are uncontested. It is all easily verifiable thanks to Ontario’s transparent electricity operations.

Yet we continue to build useless wind and solar projects. We continue to make the problem worse.

Across the channel from Cressy, Amherst Island residents are bracing for a disheartening defeat. Their local government has recently conceded that it has secured the most it is likely to get from the developer of 26 industrial wind turbines and the province in order to protect the residents, the delicate waterway, the roads and other infrastructure as well as the endangered species that reside there. Any lingering regret over its own shortcomings at Loyalist Township hall, however, is likely to be eased by the $500,000 payment it has been promised each year by the industrial wind project owner.

Meanwhile on the ground, the developer’s actions sometimes bear little resemblance to the plans it submitted and promises made when asking from provincial approvals. For example, it told the Environmental Review Tribunal that it would widen only about three kilometres of road. Now it figures it will need to widen more than six times that length—a threat to the Blanding’s turtles and other animals. It is also threatening to fundamentally change the character of this pastoral island for a generation or more.

Folks on Amherst Island have begun to mourn the looming decimation of the quiet, rural island life that drew them to this place. We mourn with them.

Michigan residents, meanwhile, are likely unaware of the sacrifices that some Ontario residents on a wee island are making to subsidize their electricity bills.Will we connect these dots next June?

 

rick@wellingtontimes.ca

The sobering lesson of Ontario’s green energy experiment

Ontario’s experiment with green energy via the Green Energy and Green Economy Act has not had the rosy effects the McGuinty-Wynne governments said it would: electricity prices up dramatically, promised jobs did not materialize, and all this has had “modest” environmental benefits, says Michael Trebilcock in a report released by the C.D. Howe Institute today.

Mr. Trebilcock’s language is somewhat reserved compared to what he said at the time when the Green Energy Act was passed. Then he remarked, “This combination of irresponsibility and venality has produced a lethal brew of policies.”

Focus on electricity is out of proportion with other areas of the economy in need of closer scrutiny, such as transportation – Michael Trebilcock

Excerpt:

With the enactment of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (Green Energy Act) in 2009, the Ontario government committed ratepayers to massive subsidization of various forms of renewable energy, especially wind power and solar energy, along with the phasing out of coalfired generation in the province – a goal achieved in 2014. In the eight years since the initiation of these policies, what tentative assessment can we make of their impact? Such a review is especially important in light of recent commitments by the federal government and most provinces to adopt a minimum carbon tax (or its equivalent) across Canada and to provide a variety of subsidies to users of low-emission technology.

Any evaluation of the impact of Ontario’s green energy policies to date should focus on three factors: i) the costs of renewable energy; ii) the environmental impact of these policies; and iii) their impact on employment in the province. On the evidence to date, these policies have had a dramatic impact on electricity costs in the province, but they have generated very limited environmental benefits and have had a negligible to negative effect on economic growth and employment. In short, the current Ontario green energy policies have run up against Pielke’s iron law of climate change: when citizens are faced with a major trade-off between the economy and the environment, the former will almost always prevail (Pielke 2010). Ontario’s experience shows that, rather than an extensive reliance on technology or activity-specific subsidies, the best approach by far is a carbon tax (or its cap-and-trade equivalent) that is technology-, activity-, and revenue-neutral.

Environmental Effects

About 60 percent of Ontario’s current generation capacity is already accounted for by low-emission hydro or nuclear-generated electricity, with the balance provided by natural-gas generation and to a lesser extent by renewables. Wind power and solar energy, because of their intermittency and unpredictability, require back-up generation, especially during peak-load capacity, and that has generally entailed the construction of natural-gas plants. In Ontario, the phasing out of coal-fired generation has likewise led to the construction of more natural-gas– fired generation.

The electricity sector’s share of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario in 2012 was only about 9 percent of total emissions, compared to the transportation sector with 34 percent and the industrial sector with 30 percent (Ontario, Auditor General 2015), meaning that further environmental gains in the electricity sector are inherently limited.4 In any event, this impact needs to be compared to other alternatives, such as further enhancing transmission connections and expanding power purchase agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions, in particular Quebec and Manitoba, which have substantial clean hydroelectric resources. More generally, developing a competitively structured capacity market in Ontario may be a preferable long-term alternative strategy (Goulding 2013).

The focus on electricity is out of proportion with the areas of the economy that are most in need of closer scrutiny, such as transportation. Although the industrial sector accounts for the largest share of energy use in Canada,5 the growth in use in the transportation sector outpaced all other sectors between 1990 and 2013 with a 43 percent growth, compared to 7 percent in the residential sector, 30 percent in the industrial sector, and 23 percent in the commercial sector (Natural Resources Canada 2016).

Read the news release and link to the full report here.

Welcome Minister Ballard: now here’s a list of things to do

An Open Letter to the newly appointed Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Chris Ballard. “You have work to do”

The former Minister of the MOECC left behind a full list of things that need doing, now [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]
July 31, 2017

To the Honourable Chris Ballard

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Queen’s Park, Toronto

 

Welcome to your new position as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Unfortunately, Minister Glen Murray has left you an extensive list of action items requiring your immediate follow-up. We highlight the key issues for you in the following list, related to Ontario’s energy policy and wind power projects.

White Pines – Withdraw the Renewable Energy Approval for this project as developer wpd cannot meet the terms of their contract. There are significant environmental concerns with this project that remain, even after a successful appeal by citizens before the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Amherst Island – Rescind Renewable Energy Approval for this project which is planned for the tiny island heritage community. Significant environmental risks are present including the serious impact on migrating birds that congregate in this area; Ontario does not need the power from this project.

Saugeen Shores – The single wind turbine at the Unifor educational facility has been fraught with problems and engendered hundreds of complaints about excessive noise. This turbine would not be allowed under present regulations. You can immediately address the failure to meet a June 30 deadline for submission of a compliance audit report.

K2 Wind – This is another wind power project, a large one, with many problems in its relatively short history. You can deliver on Minister Glen Murray’s mid-May commitment to Black family, and others, to provide a solution to wind turbines that MOECC testing indicated were not compliant with Ontario regulations to protect the environment and health.

Address Concerns Raised at Request of Minister Murray – Many people across Ontario took Minister Murray at his word when he said that there were no complaints reaching his office and that he would ensure his officials responded quickly to address the issues. They wrote to him and are still waiting for action on their issues.

Complaint Tracking Process – Complaint records released to WCO in response to an FOI request indicate that the MOECC does not respond to most complaints about wind turbine noise. These complaints should be a source of learning for the Ministry rather than being ignored as currently appears to be the case. A full revision of the process is needed to ensure that complaints are actually resolved with procedures that allow the Minister’s office to track resolution. MOECC records indicate little or no resolution of more than 3,100 formal Pollution Reports made by Ontario citizens between 2006 and 2014.

REA Approval Process – Increase setbacks from residences to reflect learning from MOECC complaint records that include staff reports that confirm that current regulations are not sufficient to protect health of residents living in wind projects. Last week, the Supreme Court set out standards for consultations with communities which are substantially more rigorous that the standards used for Ontario Renewable Energy Projects.

MOECC Noise Modeling Procedures – implement new noise modeling procedures based on MOECC internal testing that demonstrates wind turbines routinely exceed predicted levels.

Otter Creek – Retract decision to deem this application “complete” for the Renewable Energy Approval process. The proponent is unable to provide noise emission data for the turbine equipment proposed. The noise report submitted with the application for a REA is not grounded in fact but rather is estimates based estimates. Also, a full MOECC investigation of the impact on well water is required.

LRP I Contracts – suspend REA process for remaining LRP I projects until full review of requirements based on internal complaint records is completed.

Noise Compliance Audit Protocol – Expand the wind speeds covered under the protocol to include wind speeds below 4 metres/second which are the source of a substantial portion of complaints about excessive noise. Even MOECC testing shows these wind speeds are the source of noise levels exceeding 40 dB(A), which completely undercuts the credibility of this audit process.

REA Enforcement – REA terms make the project operator responsible for addressing the concerns raised in each complaint to ensure that it does not recur. The MOECC needs to follow up on all operating with projects to ensure compliance with these terms and take action where it is not occurring.

Shadow Flicker – The flickering shadows produced when a turbine is positioned between the rising or setting sun is a major irritant for residents. It is not considered in the REA approvals and is easy to address by turning off the turbine for the times when it is casting moving shadows on a house.  In some projects, these changes have been implemented by the wind company but in other MOECC staff is telling residents no action is required, even though the REA requires the wind company to address complaints like these.

Infrasound – Expand MOECC testing to include the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines as independent testing shows the presence of elevated levels of infrasound in homes where residents have had to leave to protect their health.

Health Studies – The Ministry has been telling residents that its policy is based on the “best science” available since the first turbine projects were built. MOECC records clearly show that this is not correct, but the Ministry continues to be willfully blind to input from both residents and its own staff, quoting dated and selective literature reviews in a field where the science is rapidly evolving.  The need for noise studies and other investigation has been highlighted in numerous reports but never undertaken.  It is time for some serious field studies of the problems being caused by wind turbine projects in rural communities across Ontario. This was an information gap identified in 2010 by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

 

Last, it is important that as you prepare for this major portfolio, you understand that industrial-scale wind power generation offers no significant benefit to the environment.

Wind power generation on this scale is a high-impact development for little benefit, if any. Two Auditors General for Ontario recommended that Ontario undertake a cost-benefit and/or impact analysis — that has never been done.

We ask you to approach this issue with honesty and honour, and respect the wishes of the citizens of rural Ontario.

Sincerely,

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power development on Ontario’s economy, the natural environment, and human health.

Wake-up call for Ontario Environment Minister Murray

Letters to Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Minister and wind power developer about disturbing strobe effect go unheeded

July 31, 2017

Wherever Environment Minister Glen Murray is this morning, we’re sure this isn’t what he’s seeing in his home.

 

The video is of shadow flicker experienced in a home in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, Ontario, produced by a wind turbine in the K2 wind power project.

The family is just one of several complaining of shadow flicker or strobe effect produced by nearby wind turbines. It is disturbing and annoying, and can be a safety factor for anyone operating heavy machinery while it’s going on.

Fixing it is a simple matter: but the company won’t and despite their mandate of protecting the public, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change won’t insist that they do.

The family has sent letters to Minister Glen Murray*, the Spills Action Line, the K2 power developer, and Owen Sound District Office director Rick Chappell — no action.

It may be a good morning in downtown Toronto, but in rural Ontario, another day or torment is just beginning…

 

*Minister Murray resigned yesterday evening, July 30.

Ontario’s wind turbine noise complaints still unresolved

Government promises help on water issues, no action on noise pollution

Home in Huron County: empty promises of help and responsibility [Photo Gary Moon]
July 30, 2017

Last week, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Chatham-Kent and was met by protesters with a variety of complaints about her government, including high electricity bills, and the problems with water quality possibly due to vibrations produced by wind turbines in the area.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault also met with citizens in Chatham-Kent, and promised that complaints would be dealt with by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

This is the same government, indeed the same ministry, that promised to deal with reports of noise and other effects from industrial-scale wind turbines.

In 2009, then Premier Dalton McGuinty said that if there were “real concerns” about environmental issues, then they must be brought to the government and “we must find a way to address those.” (Toronto Star, February 11, 2009)

The fact is, according to the MOECC’s own records, obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario under Freedom of Information and Privacy legislation, the government knew in 2006 there were problems being experienced by people living near wind turbines. During the years 2006-2014, more than 3,100 formal reports were recorded, many of which entailed so many complaints that large “Master” files were created.

The result? NO action in 54% of the files, “planned” action in 31%, and deferred action in 14%. Only one percent of the files got “priority” response.

To this day, compliance audits are not filed, resident reports of noise pollution and health impacts (noted by MOECC staff in 59/100 master files) are not acted on, and instead of listening to and acting on citizen concerns as promised by Premier McGuinty, the MOECC’s “client” is the wind power industry …. not the people of Ontario.

Despite claims by Minister Glen Murray that there few actual reports, and a promise of action on the ones he does have, little substantive action has occurred since the release of our report May 31, and the airing of a Global News investigative report in June.

Moreover, in a clear demonstration of willful blindness, the government persists in granting more contracts and approvals to new wind power projects.

Glasses of black water in Chatham-Kent make it easy to see that there is a problem, but we still see no accountability in this government, or the MOECC.

Read the WCO report on wind turbine noise complaints and how the government manages the issues while not responding, here: NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May9

 

Report calls for end to wind power expansion

Tuesday Jul 4, 2017

By John Miner

The writer farms in Huron County

Ontario’s plan to double its wind energy capacity will make a bad situation worse, according to a report published by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy.

There is already so much intermittent wind [power] generation in the Great Lakes Region that demand is over-supplied, prices are collapsing and generation must be curtailed, said the report released in June by the council, a non-profit organization formed by volunteers from universities, public sector business leaders, and labour.

The report’s author Marc Brouillette, a principal consultant at Strategic Policy Economics, calls on the province to reconsider its commitment to ongoing deployment of wind resources.

“Analysis shows that wind intermittency makes it an unproductive and expensive choice that doesn’t meet customers’ needs and also undermines the price of electricity exports,” says the report titled Ontario’s High-Cost Millstone.

The opportunity to pull back from the plan to expend wind energy comes this summer when Ontario updates its long-term energy plan.

A key part of the problem with wind energy, according to the report, is that it is misaligned with demand because of its intermittent nature.

Ontario’s energy use is highest in the winter and summer and lowest in spring and late fall.

“This is almost a mirror image of wind production patterns: wind is highest in the spring and fall, when electricity needs are lowest, and lowest in summer when electricity demand peaks,” the report notes.

The result is that two-thirds of wind [power] generation is surplus to demand and must be wasted or dissipated either through forced curtailment of hydro and nuclear generation, or by increased exports to Quebec and the United States, generally at low prices.

… Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of citizens’ groups critical of Ontario’s wind energy program, said the report underscores what two Auditors General told the McGuinty and Wynne governments — they should not have launched the program without any cost-benefit analysis.

“Now, Ontarians are paying four times as much for wind power which is very invasive and has had a huge impact on rural communities for very little benefit. The need for more fossil fuel natural gas to back it up means it is not even achieving the simple environmental goals.

“For people living with the noise and vibration of the huge turbines interfering with their lives, this is outrageous,” Wilson said.

No new wind power approvals should be granted, and development of projects not yet in operation should be halted, she said.

Brandy Gianetta, Ontario regional director for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said the report fails to fully recognize that wind energy is making a significant contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply needs today and this contribution will only grow in future years.

CanWEA contends that Ontario should be securing the lowest [cost] non-greenhouse gas emitting electricity to fill the gap and ensure it can meet its climate goals.

“Wind energy, which is now the least-cost option for new electricity generation available in Ontario, is the best available resource to meet both of those needs, Gianetta said in an email.

 


FACT CHECK: wind power contributes about 6% of Ontario’s electricity supply, at four times the cost of other power sources; wind power is not the “lowest-cost” option—the turbines are cheap to build but there are many other costs associated with wind power and its intermittency; wind power cannot replace hydro and nuclear—the fact is, coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas, a fossil-fuel-based power source. Ms Gianetta did not trot out the usual wind industry myth of massive job creation in Ontario because that has proven not to be true, here as in other jurisdictions. Jobs are short-term and related to construction activity, in the main. Other costs associated with wind power such as property value loss, effects on tourism, and human costs in terms of effects on health, have never been calculated.

Designed to fail: biologist criticizes wind farm environmental assessments

The Short-Eared Owl, a resident of Amherst Island. Are environmental assessments designed to protect wildlife? Or, not to find any?

An independent wildlife researcher with a degree in wildlife biology and 50 years experience tracking raptors, has written a critique of the wildlife assessment done by consulting firm Stantec, for a New York wind power project in St. Lawrence County.

Stantec has also been the consultant of record for environmental assessments done by many wind power developers hoping for approval of projects in Ontario.

While it is unfortunate that the researcher felt he/she had to choose not to attach his/her name to the document, the comments in it are interesting, and may point to an approval process that is geared toward success for the power developers.

Speaking generally on the surveys of raptors (hawks, eagles) to be used by Stantec for the wind power project, the author of the paper said, “they [defy] logic and are not based upon sound scientific research. These Stantec surveys are supposed to identify bird, bat and raptor usage in and around the North Ridge Wind Energy project, yet these surveys are designed to miss much of this species usage by breeding and migratory species. Stantec gives no reasoning for choosing the flawed and inadequate methodology planned for these studies.”

The author accuses Stantec of choosing to do a survey only of spring migration for the birds while birds are actually at greater risk in the fall because they are moving more slowly (there is not the push to build a nest and raise this year’s offspring), and because there are young birds making the trip for the first time. “It defies all logic,” the writer says.

As to surveys of breeding birds, Stantec’s timing is several months too late, and is very limited — a “keyhole” approach, the writer says. “This keyhole approach will miss most of the opportunities to observe nesting activities because nesting activities for some species start in January. For adult geese, this activity begins in late winter as soon as waters open up. This keyhole approach will also miss or eliminate all the vital migratory bird species data and site usage in the fall.”

Bats and the mounting kills seen at turbine sites are a concern but Stantec again designed its work for this power project to find no risk, the author says. “After all this lengthy Stantec discussion and distorted reasoning, this planned bat survey was designed to miss what is probably the most utilized and most important bat habitat located in the project site. Bats are attracted to wetlands and bodies of water because of the abundance of insects. Look at the image below and note the two reds circles. ”

The author provides a map that shows where the bat habitat is, and the study area done by Stantec.

The company’s post-operational survey work is deeply flawed too, the author says, and refers to work done at Wolfe Island, which is now known as a wind power project with one of the highest kill rates for birds in North America. But could the numbers be higher still?

The author of this paper says Stantec’s insistence on checking for carcasses very near to the turbines is giving false numbers: “The Wolfe Island studies conducted by Stantec reported hundreds of carcasses with just several reported beyond 50 meters. I believe the furthest carcasses distance reported was 59 meters. For 400 ft tall turbines this is not reality and it is simply not possible. What is possible is that 50-80% of the carcasses were not reported and this was never disclosed. The wind industry’s own data proves that any carcass hit by a turbine blade has a much better than 50/50 odds or 1 of 2 chance of this carcass landing at a distance beyond a turbines blade length.

Community groups who know their environment well have insisted that the wildlife studies being done are not realistic. On Amherst Island, for example, where more than 30 endangered or at-risk species shelter and where many thousands of migratory birds stop, the risk was determined to be negligible. In the Niagara area, the presence of a known Blandings Turtle habitat was dismissed, and the power project approved.

Once again, it appears that Ontario and the wind power industry — both well funded — are counting on citizens not to have the expertise or the resources to present the truth about wind power projects, and danger to the natural environment.

Read the paper here.

 

Wynne government “let people down” on wind turbine noise

Thousands of noise complaints remain unresolved in Ontario.

Home in Huron County. [Photo Gary Moon]
In the current edition of Ontario Farmer is this story by writer John Miner.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change received thousands of formal complaints from people living near industrial wind turbines, but did little about it, a coalition of groups and individuals opposed to wind farm development is charging.

“People really trusted the government and they were let down,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Two years after filing a Freedom of Information request for summaries of noise complaints received by the ministry, Wind Concerns Ontario was provided 450 pages* covering the period 2006 to 2014.

In that period, the Ministry logged 3,180 complaints with people reporting they were suffering from sleep disturbance, headaches, dizziness and other illnesses.

Some people said they had been unable to sleep for days, sometimes weeks.

In some cases, the Ministry arbitrarily dismissed complaints. In others, they closed the file without investigating if the complainant quit calling, Wilson said.

No action to revise regulations

In a 27-page report based  on the documents released, Wind Concerns Ontario said there is absolutely no indication that the Ministry took the complaints seriously, and took any steps to review and revise existing regulations and processes. based on real-life experiences of the people of Ontario.

Responding to the report, a Ministry spokesperson said in an emailed statement that they take all complaints seriously and follow up to ensure that the facility is in compliance with all provincial requirements.

“Our priority is to protect public health and the environment by promoting and ensuring compliance with ministry rules and requirements,” the Ministry Statement said.

Wilson said Ministry staff in the early days attempted to investigate noise complaints and sometimes recommended action be taken against the wind farm, but that was overruled by more senior staff.

Computer modeling, not real-life measurement

As the complaints piled up, the Ministry started to rely ion computer modeling provided by wind farm companies to determine if there might be a basis for a complaint, the report found.

“They kept saying, we went too the power developer and according to the predictive noise modeling this can’t be happening and therefore it isn’t, and took no action,” Wilson said.

A standard adopted by the Ministry based on information from wind farm developers was that no one could hear a wind turbine beyond 1,500 metres. Therefore, there was no need to respond to a complaint if more distance was involved.

Ministry staff were not allowed to investigate complaints at night and when there was high humidity. The equipment they had for measuring noise could not be used when temperatures were below zero degrees Celsius.

“We don’t blame the staff in any way. Some of the officers really seemed to want to help,” Wilson said.

Wind Concerns Ontario is calling on the Ontario government to halt wind farm approvals and adopt tougher noise standards.

Wind Concerns Ontario also hopes to be able to meet with Ontario Minister of the Environment Glen Murray to discuss the report.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: the 450 pages were Master Incident files, comprised of files with multiple Incident Reports, some as many as 90 reports of excessive noise, vibration, and health effects