The hidden and obvious costs of Ontario’s wind power

Wind power’s negotiated “first rights to the grid” mean other clean power is wasted–but paid for. By you.

March 2, 2020

The wind power lobby in Canada is busy crowing about “low-cost” and “free fuel” but the truth is something else. Entirely.

Sure, it’s fast and easy the whack up wind turbines, faster than building new nuclear (though not small modular reactors, but that’s another story) but there are many costs to wind that are both visible and invisible.

Parker Gallant documents the costs in his most recent article*, here. An excerpt:

An article posted February 10, 2020 highlighted how wind generation, on its own, represented a cost of $12.760 billion over the ten years from 2010 to 2019 to Ontario ratepayers. Industrial wind turbines (IWT) delivered 83.3 TWh and curtailed 10.5 TWh over that time.  The combined cost of the generation and curtailment represented an average delivered cost per kWh of 15.32 cents—without factoring in costs of gas plants being at the ready when the wind wasn’t blowing or spilling clean hydro.

Over the same ten years, exports of surplus power to our neighbours cost ratepayers about $12.5 billion dollars. Wind’s habit of generating power in the middle of the night and spring and fall when demand is low drives down the market price, the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price), resulting in export sales at prices well below contracted rates. This results in ratepayers having to pay the difference.

Last weekend (February 22 and 23) was no exception.  The wind was blowing for the two days but Ontario Demand was low, averaging 341,800 MWh.  IWTs however, were generating power we didn’t need with grid-accepted wind at 148,175 MWh and 14,900 MWh curtailed.  The cost of both was $24 million or 16.2 cents/kWh. IESO was busy exporting surplus power of 141,648 MWh or 96% of grid-accepted wind.

On top of that we were probably spilling water (and paying for it) at the same time.

The question is, how much were we paid for those exports?  Exports sold February 22 were at the average price of $1.99/MWh and $1.64/MWh on February 23, so total revenue earned was a miserly $239,000 versus a cost to ratepayers and taxpayers of the province of over $24 million just for what the IWT delivered.  Our US neighbours must love us!

Wind’s hidden costs

While the foregoing confirms IWTs are unreliable and intermittent and require backup from gas plants, they have other bad habits.  One example is their killing of birds. The Audubon Society has suggested it is anywhere from 140,000 to 328,000 annually. They also kill bats in large numbers. Bird Studies Canada in 2016 estimated the kill rate in Ontario was 18.5 kills per turbine (over 50,000 annually). Many killed are on the endangered list!  Additionally, tourism areas may also be negatively affected by IWT as noted in a poll in Scotland by the “John Muir Trust found that 55% of respondents were ‘less likely’ to venture into areas of the countryside industrialised by giant turbines”.

A recent report from Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) raises many other negative issues related to IWT.  The report is a synopsis of complaints about IWTs submitted by rural residents of Ontario living within close proximity.  Those complaints were submitted to the MOECC (now the MECP) in 2017. The report titled: “Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints” analyzed 674 complaints made during 2017.  The shocking issue revealed is: “Only nine of the 674 complaints, or 1.3% of total records, indicated there was a field response” [from the MOECC].  What that suggests is the MECP’s field offices are either not equipped to deal with complaints or believe the IWT-contracted parties will somehow resolve them.  In excess of 5,200 complaints have been logged by WCO since IWT first started to appear in the province and most of them were related to audible and inaudible (infrasound) noise levels. Other complaints have been associated with aquifer (water) contamination, shadow flicker, ice throws, etc.

Approximately 15% of the population will experience negative health effects from the proximity of IWTs, a similar percentage to those who suffer from motion sickness [on a ship or vehicle].  The effects of audible and infrasound noise will produce nausea, headaches, anxiety, ringing ears, feeling of exhaustion, etc.  Those individuals will naturally contact their doctors or other health care professionals for treatment, adding to the cost of Ontario’s health care system. Those costs are not attributed to the cause, which are the IWTs!

Let’s summarize the visible and invisible costs of IWT:

      1. Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
      2. Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
      3. Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
      4. Increased surplus power from IWT often means other clean sources must either spill (hydro) or steam off (nuclear) power which adds costs to our electricity bills.
      5. IWT kill birds and bats, many of whom are “species at risk” meaning insects, damaging to crops, are not eaten and farmers must spray their crops with insecticides adding costs to produce.
      6. IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
      7. IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
      8. IWT cause property values to fall affecting the realty tax base where they operate and the value of the property should the occupants try to sell after the installation of those IWT has occurred.
      9. IWT lifespan is relatively short (20 years at most) compared to traditional sources of electricity generation and when unable to perform, create costs of remediation and disposal of recyclable and non-recyclable materials they consumed when built and erected.

 

 

*This is provided for information purposes only and does not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy; the views and opinions are the author’s.

 

 

Pro-wind legislation sacrifices democracy

Sign in Dutton Dunwich: a community referendum saw a majority say NO to a wind power project that was approved anyway–then cancelled by a new Ontario government

February 27, 2020

Recent news from New York State and Arizona indicate a disturbing trend in the United States. With the awareness of negative impacts on the environment and human health from industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines rising (together with discontent over rising electricity costs), opposition to wind power projects has become vocal and powerful.

The answer?

Legislate their approval no matter what and obliterate the possibility of any opposition from communities.

Quoted in an article in today’s Post-Journal, NY Senator George Borrello said the move to fast-track wind power projects by Governor Cuomo is clearly aimed at “crushing” any citizen opposition. Borrello said:

“The governor’s 30-day amendment to accelerate renewable energy projects is a maneuver designed to bypass Article 10, which established a siting process for these projects that, appropriately, included local input. Now, in order to advance an extreme environmental agenda, he is proposing to eliminate home rule in order to force these renewable energy projects on communities. This is bypassing local zoning and crushing any opposition. In order to meet his environmental targets, these projects will need to be constructed on a massive scale and with a density that will literally change the face of upstate New York, transforming it into a barren industrial wasteland. Countless acres of farmland will need to be blanketed with solar farms. Our beautiful shorelines will be marred by the sight of massive mechanical wind turbines towering over the water.”

Ontario’s Green Energy Act passed in 2009 by the government under Dalton McGuinty, did much the same thing, removing all local land-use planning powers with regard to renewable energy projects. The current Ontario government returned those powers but few municipal governments have followed through on the opportunity to protect their citizens from negative impacts of potential wind power developments by enacting protective zoning bylaws.

The democracy-killing trend is not unanimous, however: In Ohio, the state government is considering legislation that will allow communities to hold a referendum for a proposed renewable energy project.

“No one should underestimate the influence of the well-funded wind power lobby,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

CanWEA, the Canadian wind lobbyist, has been approved for Intervenor status in the court action over the revoking of the Renewable Energy Approval for the Nation Rise wind power project. The Ontario environment minister said in a letter to the community group which had appealed the approval that the power from the project wasn’t needed, and proceeding on it was not worth the environmental risks.

 

Wind turbine noise complaints mount, documents show

“Unbearable torture…please help us”

Wind Concerns Ontario releases a report on Ontario government records of 2017 wind turbine noise complaints

A report released today by Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) shows that the government under Premier Kathleen Wynne did little to respond to citizen reports of environmental noise pollution by industrial-scale wind turbines. And, when government staff in the environment ministry offices did try to enforce Ontario noise regulations, they were rebuffed by corporate wind power operators.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report is a review of almost 700 noise complaints from people living inside 23 wind power facilities across Ontario. The total number of complaints records received by WCO now exceeds 5,200.

Response by the environment ministry was recorded in only 1.3 percent of the records in 2017; 54 percent of the files were marked “No” response by government staff.

Adverse health impacts were noted in staff notes and recorded comments by citizens calling in or emailing in 42 percent of the files, and 16 percent contained description of symptoms suggestive of exposure to low-frequency noise which is not audible but can cause harm.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report comes after a 17-month wait and several appeals to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner following the initial request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act. The noise complaints were made to the MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change during the pro-wind power Wynne government’s last full year in office.

Excerpts from the citizen complaints are included and provide a “litany of suffering” according to the WCO report.

“We find no peace … the assault is the same and at times greater in low wind speeds. [We have had] a thumping noise through our heads, long and steady, all day,” was one comment from someone living near the single turbine in Port Elgin, owned by the union Unifor.

“The noise has been bad for 24 hours,” said another resident, living inside the 140-turbine K2 Wind power facility. “I am exhausted from not sleeping.”

Another K2 Wind neighbour reported that the noise “drives a person insane when it goes on for hours…We are being impacted health-wise and are extremely agitated with the noise.”

“Unbearable … torture,” said another person. No response from the environment ministry was recorded on the file.

The corporate power operators are required by the terms of their Renewable Energy Approvals or REAs to act on these complaints, and to investigate the cause of complaints, take action, and ensure the complaints are not repeated. The Environmental Protection Act gives specific power to the environment ministry to take action.

In practice, however, Wind Concerns Ontario found in its review, the power operators were delinquent in filing audits to confirm compliance, and refused to take action when called upon by ministry staff. When the Owen Sound District Office, for example, demanded the operator of K2 Wind respond to noise complaints and implement noise mitigation until their (overdue) audit was filed, the company wrote back from its Texas headquarters with a refusal, stating “It is the Company’s view that the current circumstances do not objectively establish reasonable and probable grounds to require interim mitigation measures.” The operator, Pattern Energy, referred to its computer-generated predictive modeling for noise and said the modeling “is accurate.” In other words, our models say this can’t happen, therefore it isn’t.

The situation is unacceptable, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

“We’re recommending that the current Ontario government take action to enforce the regulations immediately,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It’s time to get rid of the outdated and non-protective protocol for measuring noise, stop letting the corporate power operators police their own operations, and re-invest and support our trained Environmental Officers—let them do the job they were supposed to do, and help the people of rural Ontario who have been forced to live next to these power generating machines.”

The Wind Concerns Ontario report on 2017 noise complaints is available here: Wind Turbine Noise Reports to MOECC in 2017-FINAL (3)

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

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

Wind turbines and the N-word

Too close for comfort, say academics about Ontario wind turbines [Photo of the problematic Unifor wind turbine: Greg Schmalz]

“Government and industry not trusted to resolve noise complaints effectively or fairly” researchers said in 2016

January 20, 2020

An interesting story popped up in the news feed this morning, out of Missouri.

A wind power project has been proposed for Buchanan County and a new protective zoning ordinance drafted. The ordinance specifies a two-mile setback between turbines and the city limits, but there is no restriction on the distance between the huge wind power generators and rural homes.

Once again, rural communities are pitted against city dwellers; the latter seems all too eager to have their wind power but not have to hear it, too.

Any minute now, the N-word will come up.

City dwellers will be encouraged by the wind power proponents to accuse their country cousins of being “NIMBY” (Not in My Back Yard) while at the same time, these large power generators will never be in their back yards. Or even close to them.

The use of the epithet NIMBY has been used effectively by the wind power lobby as a marketing strategy designed to put rural residents offside, and help depict them as uninformed people worried only about property values and views.

The Buchanan County ordinance is interesting because a) it acknowledges that there are problems with wind turbine noise, and b) significant setbacks are needed to try to counter that problem.

Let’s be clear: NIMBY is an insult. It’s also completely inappropriate say two authors and academics, in a paper published in the journal Renewable Energy Law and Policy, not long after the Green Energy Act was passed.*

When it comes to community concerns about wind power projects being forced on residents, there are very real problems, authors Stephen Hill and James Knott said. Noise issues were “conflated with other social issues such as property value,” there was “inadequate communication and public engagement” and a “loss of local government authority over planning matters,” all of which led to a “growing mistrust in government and industry’s ability to effectively and fairly manage the risks of wind turbine noise.”

The McGuinty and Wynne governments became regarded “not as a neutral arbiter of wind regulation but rather an active proponent,” the authors said. “A crucial error, in our view, was not to have created an independent expert panel to assess the central points of controversy,” i.e, the noise and health impacts.

Hill and Knott are not alone: several other academic authors said that use of the term NIMBY is “an oversimplification of opposition that more accurately is based on a complex mix of factors.”

“Many communities have genuine concerns about impacts on environmental integrity, viewscapes, food production, and social fabric” wrote a team of authors, also published in the Renewable Energy Law and Policy journal.**

Today, with thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise and complaints of associated health effects logged by the Ontario government (even with a deeply flawed and inadequate reporting system), we have more than enough evidence that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

Ontario’s current government has pledged to do something to help; insisting on complete compliance with current noise regulations (which do not meet World Health Organization standards) and enforcing Renewable Energy Approvals is a start.

In the meantime, in view of all the very serious problems with industrial-scale wind power, no one should be calling anyone a NIMBY.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

*Stephen Hill and James Knott. 2010. Renewable Energy Law and Policy. Too Close for Comfort: Social Controversies Surrounding Wind Farm Noise Setback Policies in Ontario.

** D. McRobert, J. Tennent-Riddell and C. Walker. 2016. Renewable Energy Law and Policy. Ontario’s Green Economy and Green Energy Act: Why a Well-Intentioned Law is Mired in Controversy and Opposed by Rural Communities.

Other reading: Carmen Krogh, Jane Wilson, Mary Harrington. 2019. Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada: a review, Why are they important. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331174238_Wind_Turbine_IncidentComplaint_Reports_in_Ontario_Canada_A_Review-Why_Are_They_Important

Environment minister revokes approval for Nation Rise

Minister Revokes Approval for Nation Rise wind power project

Controversial wind power project will cause irreversible harm to wildlife minister says in revoking approval; decision made in context that the power isn’t needed

Farm near Berwick Ontario; 31 huge wind turbines were planned for the quiet rural communities in North Stormont [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]
December 9, 2019 OTTAWA:

Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks issued a decision revoking the Renewable Energy Approval for the Nation Rise wind power project under construction in North Stormont, near Ottawa.

The Minister’s decision was in response to an appeal filed by community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont of a quasi-judicial decision supporting the project approval.

In his decision, the Minister concluded that the wind turbines would cause serious and irreversible harm to endangered bat populations in the area. The potential for harm to wildlife was considered in the context of the contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply in Ontario, which would be minimal; the Minister concluded that it was in the public interest and a precaution to protect the environment to revoke approval for the power project.

Margaret Benke, representing the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS) welcomed the Minister’s decision. The group had raised many concerns about the environment in its appeal. “Now,” she says, “the environment, wildlife and human health will be protected from the harmful effects of wind turbines.”

Benke thanked the many people who supported the Concerned Citizens group financially and with submissions of information for the original appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal and subsequent appeal to the Minister.

“This power project has been very divisive for our community; now North Stormont can again be a good place to grow.”

The Nation Rise project consisted of up to 33 turbines located near Finch, Berwick and Crysler in Eastern Ontario. The project was planned to generate up to 100 MW of electricity under a 20-year, $400-million contract awarded by the IESO.

CCNS is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

CONTACT: Wind Concerns Ontario at contact@windconcernsontario.ca or president@windconcernsontario.ca

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont: macbenke@aol.com

Letter from Minister Jeff Yurek: Nation Rise – Minister’s Decision wrt the Appeal

Ontario to review energy contracts

“a particular focus on larger gas, wind and solar…”

More than money: communities have had genuine concerns about the impact on the environment, health, and the economy from grid-scale wind [Photo: DDOWT]
November 8, 2019

Ontario energy minister Greg Rickford and associate energy minister Bill Walker have announced a Minister’s Directive to retain an “independent party” to conduct a review of the province’s power generation contracts, to reveal cost-saving opportunities.

The Order-In-Council specifically says [emphasis ours]:

Therefore, in accordance with my authority under subsection 25.32(5) of the Act, I hereby direct (IESO) as follows:

      1. To retain the services of an independent third party with relevant qualifications, experience and expertise to undertake a targeted review of existing generation contracts to identify opportunities to lower electricity costs within such generation contracts.
      2. The review referred to in paragraph 1 shall:
        1. identify measures or adjustments that could result in reduced costs for Ontario consumers;
        2. place a particular focus on larger gas, wind and solar contracts that expire in the next ten years, including portfolios of contracts held by the same proponent and any other areas where IESO or the third party determine that there is the potential for cost savings; and
        3. take into consideration system reliability and potential impacts to Indigenous, municipal, and local partnerships.
      3. The review shall not consider the Bruce Power Refurbishment Agreement or contracts related to conservation and demand-management initiatives.
      4. IESO shall provide the third-party report containing its key findings and recommendations, along with IESO’s assessment of the findings, to the Ministry by no later than February 28, 2020.

The statement that “impacts to … municipal and local partnerships” is interesting: it may mean that citizen reports of excessive noise/vibration and water well disturbance (to name a few negative impacts of grid-scale wind power development) may also be considered in the review.

It is also a positive move in that the review will include “system reliability”: many analysts and stakeholder groups such as Ontario’s professional engineers have repeatedly demonstrated that wind power is variable, unreliable, and produces power out-of-phase with demand, which means much of it is constrained (operators are paid not to have power added to the grid) or sold on the open electricity market at a loss.

“Wind Concerns Ontario welcomes this review,” says president Jane Wilson. “For too long wind power has skated by common sense and basic economic principles on the ideology that it is ‘good’ for the environment. We know from multiple environmental impacts such as the thousands of citizen reports of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, with accompanying adverse health effects, that wind power is high impact on the environment for little or no benefit.

We look forward to a comprehensive review that takes all these factors into account.”

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

K2 Wind claims it’s compliant with Ontario noise regulations

Meanwhile, complaints from residents mount

The only measure of success in resolving Ontario’s wind turbine noise problem is the complete cessation of resident complaints — that’s not happening. Yet.  [Shutterstock photo]
October 9, 2019

In a letter from Senior Environmental Officer Scott Gass in the Owen Sound District Office of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Ministry staff report that the operator of the massive K2 Wind power project claims the project is now in compliance with Ontario noise regulations for industrial-scale wind turbines.

K2 Wind was found out of compliance earlier this year and was the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a Noise Abatement Plan for 90 of the 140 turbines in the power project.

Now, says Mr. Gass in his letter to a resident with longstanding problems (who wishes to be anonymous), the noise issue appears to be resolved. Mr. Gass’ email, it should be noted, was to furnish the residents with official Incident Report numbers for ongoing reports of excessive noise and vibration.

His email stated:

“At this time, in response to the additional Part D noise analysis completed in the spring, K2 has taken steps to de-rate approximately 90 turbines to reduce noise emissions. The information supplied by the company indicates that the wind turbines, with the interim curtailment in place, meet the ministry’s sound level limits. This is an interim measure put in place while K2 develops a long-term noise abatement action plan for ministry review. Once a long-term plan has been implemented, additional monitoring will be required to assess the noise emissions.” [Scott Gass, email October 4, 2019]

The ministry continues to rely on outdated regulations in its Compliance Protocol, which assess audible noise emissions only. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Act clearly states that the operator of a wind power project must address all conditions causing “adverse effect” and take steps to address the complaints from nearby residents.

So, in short, the only sign of success in noise abatement would be a complete halt in complaints about noise and adverse effects — that’s not what is happening. Resident complaints do not appear to be a factor in assessment of compliance.

The family emailed by Mr. Gass lives on a farm surrounded by turbines in all directions, and has been reporting excessive noise from multiple K2 Wind turbines for four years — since the project began operation.

Problems with wind turbine noise are prevalent all over Ontario, with more than 4,500 formal reports filed  up to 2016. (Wind Concerns Ontario has requested  data for 2017 and 2018 but so far, has not received any information, and has in fact filed for a second appeal to obtain the 2017 records.)

Environment minister Jeff Yurek recently visited residents in Port Elgin who have filed hundreds of complaints about the Unifor wind turbine in that community.

While a pledge to enforce regulations is a step forward from the previous government, which had a very close relationship with the wind power industry, there can be no “success” on this front until all noise complaints and reports of adverse health effects have stopped.

That will require political courage and decisive action, including the shutdown of wind turbines.

 

Note: if you are experiencing noise/vibration/sensation of pressure from wind turbines, please report it to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks by calling the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number and keep a record of your call. You may wish to copy your MPP.

The wind ‘farm’ everyone forgot

More wind turbines going up in Chatham-Kent; millions more to be added to Ontario electricity bills

Turbine under construction October 5 near Wheatley: more Unreliables Ontario doesn’t need… and can’t afford [Photo: Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns]
October 7, 2019

Chatham-Kent residents living near Wheatley Ontario were surprised to see construction work last week, and delivery of components for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines.

The “Romney Wind Energy Centre” turbines are now being erected, with a projected commercial operation date early next year.

Romney was one of five LRP I (Large Renewable Procurement) projects that received contracts in 2016 under the Wynne government; three of those (Dutton-Dunwich, Otter Creek, and La Nation) were “cancelled” by the Ford government last year, but two were considered to be too far along in the process, having achieved “Key Development MIlestones” or KDMs as the IESO calls them, to be cancelled.

Pity.

Romney will cost Ontario electricity customers more than $260 million over its 20-year contract. The maximum pre-construction liability for cancelling the project would have been around $500,000.

The project capacity is 60 megawatts of power, which Ontario does not need at present. Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, and wind power projects rarely achieve more than 30% of capacity. Developer EDF of France of France promised construction updates for the projects so residents can know when traffic will be disrupted, but the last update posted was for a single week in August.

The other project that escaped cancellation was “Nation Rise” in North Stormont in Eastern Ontario. The community there launched an appeal, which was dismissed and currently has a final appeal and a request for a Stay of Construction before the MInister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. That project will cost electricity customers more than $400 million, and posed significant environmental risks as presented in the appeal.

The Romney project was not appealed.

 

FAIL: Ontario’s wind turbine noise monitoring process

New information reveals audits of Ontario wind power projects still not complete after years in review

September 30, 2019

When the Ontario government under premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009, the premier promised that regulations for setbacks between the industrial-scale wind turbines and Ontario residents’ homes would be based on science, for health and safety.

“If you have concerns [about health and safety],” he said, “ we must find a way to address those.”[1]

So, promises of protection were made to the people of rural Ontario, who were without recourse as their quiet communities were transformed into power generation facilities.

But there was little or no protection.

Information provided to Wind Concerns Ontario by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks shows that lengthy periods, sometimes years, elapsed between the submission, review and acceptance of technical reports required to confirm that turbines were safe. The majority are still either not complete or in review.

Meanwhile, citizen complaints of excessive noise, many with reports of adverse health effects linked to sleep disturbance, continue. Thousands of complaints have been registered with the government, most without resolution.[2]

Regulations exist but checking for compliance involves comparing real noise measurements via “audits” (done by the wind power operators themselves, using acoustics contractors) against their own “modelled” or predicted noise levels.[3]

According to the information provided by Eugene Macchione, Acting Director Client Services and Permissions Branch of the environment ministry in an email dated August 9 this year, of the 49 wind power projects listed in response to our request under Freedom of Information legislation:

  • 16 are determined to be incomplete
  • 15 are still in review
  • 12 have demonstrated compliance with regulations
  • 3 are not yet due
  • 2 are non-compliant and in Noise Abatement plans, and
  • 1 was never submitted.

These figures mean that, according to the environment ministry’s list, Conservation and Parks, almost 70 percent of the audits required to assure health and safety are either not complete as submitted, are in review, not compliant, or not submitted at all.

The list is not complete and is missing 11 post-Green Energy Act projects; more projects, at least 19, are also not listed.

 

WIND POWER PROJECT AUDIT STATUS AS OF JULY 30, 2019, FROM MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, CONSERVATION AND PARKS

Not only are the required audit reports not completed, the time elapsed between submission of the audits and conclusion of the government review is astonishing. The Conestogo wind power project began commercial operation on December 20, 2012, and is listed as still being “in review” as of July 30 for 2,058 days — that’s over five and a half years. According to noise report data provided to Wind Concerns Ontario via FOI, Conestogo has been the subject of dozens of noise complaints from nearby residents.

East Durham Wind Energy Centre began commercial operation in 2015, but after 1,087 days, it is now listed as incomplete; the project racked up almost 300 formal noise complaints in just a year and a half.

The Summerhaven power project has been operating since August 2013, and remains “in review” after more than 2,000 days, or 5.4 years.

The list provided by the ministry is not only incomplete, however, it is inaccurate: the K2 Wind power project, which is number three in Ontario for noise complaints as of 2016 (it started operation in 2015) is listed as “incomplete” when in fact, the project was found to be out of compliance with more than 80 of its 140 turbines not meeting the regulations. The project is currently under a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan.[4]

Bluewater is one project that was determined to be “in compliance” (despite many noise complaints against it), but its audit report was in review for four years.

The single wind turbine owned by union Unifor is not named on the government list but was the subject of over 300 complaints by the end of 2016, with many more reported in the media. Meeting recently with environment minister Jeff Yurek, residents of Port Elgin told him that audits were never done for the turbine, in spite of hundreds of complaints, many with reports of adverse health effects. [5]

 

DAYS IN REVIEW: WIND TURBINE PROJECTS CURRENTLY DEEMED “INCOMPLETE” AS OF JULY 30, 2019

Source: Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, August 9, 2019

The new government seems to be actively demanding audits be done, and several Ontario projects are now under order to reduce noise, but a lot of people have been waiting a long time for these reviews, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

In April 2017, MPP Lisa Thompson asked a question in the Ontario Legislature regarding resolution of complaints about wind turbine noise emissions experienced by two families in her riding of Huron-Bruce. Then Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the Wynne government Glen Murray assured members of the Legislature that:

The … law works. There are standards. When people call, I’m very proud of the officials. They respond quickly and they enforce the law. The law is being enforced here. If wind turbines or any other type of technology exceeds sound levels, we enforce the law. … No one should have to suffer noise or noise pollution from any source, and certainly not wind turbines in their community.[6]

“People were promised—and they are still being told by environment staff, every day—that the rules are there to protect them,” Wilson says. “But here’s the truth: the rules may be there but they’re not adequate, and they haven’t been enforced. The previous government appears to have been very protective of the wind power business.”

The Ministry has multiple options to force wind power operators to comply with regulations, including shutdown. (See Sections E1 and E3 of the Compliance Protocol). The project operators are required to post the submitted audits publicly, but there is a serious inconsistency in this. The Compliance Protocol on the ministry website appears to have been edited and is now contradictory.[7] As of September 24, 2019, the protocol (with the apparent cut-and-paste errors) reads:

The Ministry will also require that all Acoustic Audit reportsSummary [sic] documents are also acceptable but upon request, the complete audit should be made available. be posted [sic] on the project website within 10 business days of the Acoustic Audit being submitted to the Director and District Manager. The Ministry expects the owner/operator to ensure that the Acoustic Audit reports, and any updates, remain available to the public on the project website for the life of the project.

The larger issue is the fact the Compliance Protocol is flawed: it is based on audible noise and does not take into account the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines. Low-frequency inaudible emissions are implicated in many adverse health effects, but were not included in the regulations which were themselves formulated with guidance from the wind power lobby.

“While the current government seems to be committed to enforcing the noise regulations for wind power generators, there is a long way to go before the people of rural Ontario are protected,” says Wilson.

© WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Read the MECP document here: I and E Audits July 30 2019 – (Aug 9 2019) (1)

NOTE: data on noise reports filed with the Government of Ontario are only available at present for 2006–2016; requests have been made for 2017 and 2018 data, but have not been fulfilled. WCO recently applied for a second appeal with the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Office for refusal to reply to the 2017 data request.

[1] Toronto Star, February 11, 2009. “McGuinty vows to stop wind farm NIMBYs.” Available at: https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/02/11/mcguinty_vows_to_stop_windfarm_nimbys.html

[2] Wind Concerns Ontario. Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints, 2nd report 2015-2016, February 2018.

[3] According to the Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise two kinds of audits are required as part of their Renewable Energy Approval, and to comply with Ontario regulations. They are: E-Audits to verify the validity of the sound power levels provided by manufacturers, and used in acoustic models to determine the noise impact of a wind facility at receptor locations; and I-Audits to verify the validity of predicted sound pressure levels in Acoustic Assessment Reports, and verify compliance with applicable sound level limits at receptor locations.

 

[4] Scott Miller, CTV News London, May 27, 2019. Wind farm ordered to reduce noise. Available at: https://london.ctvnews.ca/wind-farm-ordered-to-reduce-noise-1.4438989

[5] Shoreline Beacon, September 24, 2019. Environment minister hears about Port Elgin wind turbine suffering. Available at: https://www.shorelinebeacon.com/news/local-news/environment-minister-hears-about-port-elgin-wind-turbine-suffering

[6]Hansard, Ontario Legislature, Oral Questions, Session:  41:2   Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2017

[7] Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Compliance Protocol, Section E5.1 Complete Submissions. Available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/compliance-protocol-wind-turbine-noise

Environment minister hears stories of wind turbine noise, health impacts

The previous government did not respond to complaints, or do the testing required in its own regulations, Saugeen Shores residents say

Unifor turbine: hundreds of complaints, no resolution under the previous, pro-wind government in Ontario [Photo: Greg Schmalz]
September 25, 2019

Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, met privately with residents of Port Elgin/Saugeen Shores to discuss the hundreds of complaints filed by families there about noise emissions from the single wind turbine owned by Unifor.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau, who has long advocated for the residents and tried to resolve the problems with the Unifor turbine, was also present at a meeting, wrapped up by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson.

Local community leader Greg Schmalz was grateful for the minister’s attention (“I had to pinch myself”) and said the government seems to understand that new regulations for wind turbine noise, including the low-frequency or inaudible noise emissions from turbines, is part of the answer.

Read this account in the Shoreline Beacon, here.

An excerpt:

Port Elgin resident Greg Schmalz, founder of STOP/ Saugeen Turbine Operation Policy, said the medical harm the CAW wind turbine has caused local residents makes Port Elgin “the lab rat test case” for Ontario.

“They put a low-powered machine amongst 1,300 people living 1,000 metres (of the turbine) – you’ve got an experience that generated the highest number complaints about any wind turbine in Ontario – half which are about audible noise and the half are ‘I’m feeling sick’ complaints due to infrasound,” Schmalz said in a Sept. 24 telephone interview, adding the constant feeling of nausea by at least one local couple forced to them to sell their new Port Elgin home near the turbine.

Schmalz said after years of not so much as an email from ministry officials on turbine issue, he was “pinching myself” to believe he was actually in a room with the minister who was listening.

After the meeting Schmalz was confident they got more than lip service from Minister Yurek, who is on a turbine fact-finding tour of Ontario.

Schmalz hopes the first-hand testimonies and scientific data provided to the minister will lead to regulations prohibiting health harming ‘nauisogenic frequency range’ audio emissions that can’t be heard but are felt by the body.
“Part of the remedy, that I believe the PC government is examining, is how to create regulations that could address the measuring of very low frequency of sound inside people’s homes – the nauisogenic frequency range emissions,” Schmalz said, adding they presented the minister with their expert’s testing results and information uncovered after STOP filed a Freedom of Information request that showed the turbine was operating out of compliance with provincial rules.

Schmalz said they key message to the minister was they’ve done the science.

Noise and infrasound harms people and here’s the people that were harmed,” Schmalz said, adding after 10 years of opposition to the turbine, STOP wants to end the endless cycle of noise complaints to the ministry about the UNIFOR turbine and help finding a solution.

Provincial officials made a written commitment for annual emission testing of the UNIFOR turbine when it began operating in 2013, but that testing was not done.

Private testing by STOP and a Freedom of Information filing found the turbine had been operating out of compliance, and last spring a noise abatement plan, including reducing output to 300Kw from 500Kw, showed it was in compliance under those conditions.

Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau revealed details of the meeting after-the-fact, saying the minister wanted no advance notice to prevent “some big splashy thing where a lot of people – no offense media – show up,” Charbonneau said , adding the minister wanted the affected people to be the story, not his visit.

Charbonneau said two or three years ago, the very notion that the minister would come and speak to the affected people was impossible, so “just the very gesture means a lot to me and those folks who had a chance to speak to him the other say,” Charbonneau said after the Sept 23 council meeting.

Charbonneau said the minister listened, but did not say anything that would advance the issue.

“I hope and expect the government will make some decisions based on what they are hearing from the people,” on the minister’s fact-finding tour.

Charbonneau said Huron Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, facilitated the meeting, and wrapped up the Sept. 19 meeting asking Minister Yurek to comment on what he’d heard.

 

Wind Concerns Ontario reminds everyone living inside wind power projects to continue to file noise reports with the ministry by calling a local office or the “Spills Line” at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of the call.