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.
Owen Sound District Manager for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Rick Chappell told West Grey Council and a packed room of citizens today that the controversial single wind turbine in Port Elgin owned and operated by Unifor, is not compliant with provincial noise regulations.
A noise abatement plan has been ordered by the Ministry and must be in place by March 18.
The Unifor turbine has resulted in hundreds of complaints of excessive noise over the years, several TV news stories, and statements from the local municipality to the effect that the MOECC is failing in its role as a regulator.
West Grey Council, which had asked Chappell to appear to answer questions about why wind turbine noise complaints were not being resolved, accepted the news, and one councilor demanded that the MOECC now personally call everyone who had filed a report, and give them the news.
Councillors remarked that the decision to test the Unifor wind turbine noise output was the result of citizen complaints; a councilor advised residents to “keep complaining.”
Wind Concerns Ontario has reports provided by the MOECC that show 236 reports were filed up to the end of 2014. In the years 2009-2014, over half of the noise reports received by the MOECC got no response.
Representatives of three community groups where wind turbine projects are currently under construction, addressed the Wind Concerns Ontario conference in Kingston this past weekend, and told hair-raising stories of violations of Renewable Energy Approvals, disobedience of municipal orders, ignoring conditions of road use agreements, and more.
The White Pines project was originally planned to produce electricity for Ontario’s surplus-laden power grid via 29 huge wind turbines. A successful appeal based on heritage aspects of The County reduced the turbine number to 27; another appeal (Hirsch v. MOECC) was partially successful and saw the project reduced from 27 to 9 turbines, based on harm to endangered species.
“We had been operating under the belief that having to meet the 75 percent of power requirement in the contract with the IESO [Independent Electricity System Operator] actually meant something,” said Walsh. “It turns out, it doesn’t. Contracts don’t mean anything — they can do whatever they want.”
Dumbrille echoed that with a litany of abuses. The White Pines project is way past its specified commercial operation date, she said, which should mean the IESO could terminate the contract, but it hasn’t. “The Long Stop Date has no meaning or relevance, despite being in the regulations,” she said. “The decision appears to be political.”
The public also expected that while the power project was being appealed, construction work would not be allowed, particularly in the areas presented as habitat for the endangered Blandings turtle, but in fact, both the MOECC and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry allowed it. Only when citizens took action in court was a stop work order achieved.
“Why must citizen groups rather than government protect habitat destruction?” Dumbrille asked.
The land clearing in turtle habitat continued after the appeal for the nine remaining turbines outside the limits imposed by the Environmental Review Tribunal. Again, citizens went to court, and again a stop order was issued, but not before habitat was destroyed. A transmission station is planned to be built in a stream bed which is against regulations and will require the taking of water. Again, the MOECC appears to side with the power developer on all issues.
“All the rules are made to be broken,” said Dumbrille, “to benefit the wind power developer. And the public has no right to information, apparently.”
Janet Grace, past chair of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), described numerous violations of the Renewable Energy Approval, road use agreements, and provincial safety regulations by “Windlectric” a shell company developing a power project on the island for Algonquin Power. Construction staff and vehicles are supposed to be using a barge to get to the island, she said, but they’re not: instead, they use the passenger ferry which is resulting in delays for Island residents, many of whom work across the water in KIngston, and concerns about safety.
Roads are blocked without notice, and construction throughout the winter has virtually destroyed roads, so much so that the municipality Loyalist Township issued a stop work order. Resident photographs indicate however, that the order was ignored, with the power developer construction firm continuing work. In addition, Grace said, the company is supposed to stop work at 7 PM, but in reality is working until 11 PM.
“The sad thing is, Grace said, “we know this is just the beginning of what is being done to our Island. There are rules being broken, and violations … the MOECC gives them exemptions. They’re just getting away with it all.”
Being asked to do a presentation at Wind Concerns Ontario’s annual conference this past Saturday, to describe the costs associated with industrial wind turbines was something I relished!
The presentation I developed used IESO information for 2017.
Discovered in the preparation of my presentation was the fact that that nuclear and hydro power alone could have supplied over 100% of all grid-connected consumption for 2017, at a average cost of about 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
The cost for Class B ratepayers in 2017 however, was almost double, coming in at 11.55 cents per kwh.
So why the big jump? Have a look at the presentation to see why and look at Slide 6 in particular where you get an inkling of how IESO view the reliability of industrial wind generation in their forward planning process!
Court finds an established association between annoyance (used as a medical term) and some diseases that result from prolonged stress
Pathway to Disease: Australian court links wind turbine noise with possible diseases Hamilton Spectator
15 February 2018
In a World first, Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has declared that the “noise annoyance” caused by wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound “is a plausible pathway to disease”.
At the AAT hearing in Adelaide, the impacts of wind farm noise were considered by a senior Federal Court judge; the most thorough medial and scientific inquiry on the subject matter conducted in Australia to date.
The Tribunal’s findings were based on the “established association between noise annoyance and some diseases, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, possibly mediated in part by disturbed sleep and/or psychological stress/distress”.
In its summary, and with unanimous support from relevant experts, AAT found that there were numerous recorded instances of wind turbine noise exceeding 40 dB(A) — a recognised threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance.
“Even if it is not audible, low-frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood,” the summary reads.
“Those effects may include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus -like symptoms.”
It was also established that the current method adopted by windfarms to measure noise — the dB(A) scale was not suitable for the task, because a significant proportion of sound emitted by wind turbines is in the lower frequency range, where the scale cannot accurately identify the presence of frequencies or the peaks and troughs of their occurrence.
Instead, the dB(A) scale averages out the sound levels, masking the occurrence that could be causing harmful health side-effects.
The dB(A) weighting system is the basis of every wind turbine noise guideline in operation throughout the world.
With majority support from relevant experts, the Tribunal found that the most accurate way of determining the level and type of sound present at a particular location is to measure the sound at that location.
In conclusion, AAT noted the World Health Organisation stance that there is “sufficient evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the populations exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects”.
A Moyne shire resident living next to the MacArthur windfarm outlined the health impacts she has experienced since the wind farms were established.
“Severe ear pressure and pain, it’s actually in the inner ear; head pressure and headaches; my heart goes bananas, my whole body burns, and I feel sick,” she said.
“And (the symptoms) just come back immediately when in direct proximity to low-frequency emissions, it can happen anywhere, and it’s not just mild, it’s really debilitating.”
AGL started the consultation process with the community surrounding the proposed Willatook windfarm, raising concerns from residents about the proliferation of turbines in the area.
Community members met with South West Coast MP Roma Britnell over the weekend to voice concerns.
“Really (the meeting) centred around the fact that they will be surrounded, some of them, by the wind farms,” Ms Britnell said.
“They felt that it was a cluster effect and that it was unfair, that just because the power line goes through one area, they shouldn’t have to be the ones to had to take all the load of the 220-metre from tip- two-base structures in their backyard.”
Ms Britnell expressed no strong opinion in favour or against wind energy, simply saying we need to “get it right”.
“I am all for getting the renewable energy balance right, and wind is part of the solution, but wind is not the answer where there is no ability to store it,” Ms Britnell said.
“I’m afraid I still can’t meet the demand for supply when I want to milk my cows or have my shower when the wind isn’t blowing.
“Wind is not meeting the baseload and the biggest restriction I hear from community members is the supply issue, and that’s what the government is really not addressing.”
Tony Edney, director of the water foundation — an advocacy group for properly conducted, multidisciplinary research into health problems reported by people living in the vicinity of wind turbines and other industrial uses — told the Spectator that not every windfarm would necessarily generate problems.
“The location, topography, layout and design of the installation of factors that combine with climactic conditions to produce sound generating profiles of potential harm for some receiver sites,” Mr Edney said.
“And not everyone is adversely affected by wind farm noise. It is in part a matter of individual sensitivity or propensity, think of seasickness, and how we are not impacted equally by that malaise.”
Mr Edney said it was “simply no longer possible” for the industry to say that its technology was “clean, green and completely harmless”.
“Country people deserve to know what exactly they are dealing with when talk starts up about our windfarm proposed for their district,” Mr Edney said. Hamilton Spectator
A municipality fighting back against a corporation has won its defence of a lawsuit, and its rights to defend citizens’ water has been upheld. The Precautionary Principle must be applied. This case will be important to Chatham-Kent area residents whose wells have failed during wind turbine construction activity.
Oil and gas developer Gastem sued municipality Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est for $ 1 million for adopting a regulation prohibiting all drilling within 2 km of its drinking water sources.Photo: Radio-Canada
The Superior Court dismissed the motion of Gastem, which sued the Municipality of Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est for $ 1 million.
A text by Joane Bérubé with the collaboration of Sylvie Aubut and Ariane Perron-Langlois
The oil and gas exploration company claimed that the municipal by-law protecting drinking water had forced it to stop its exploration activities in the area.
In her decision, Justice Nicole Tremblay states that the by-law “is the result of serious work” and that “Restigouche must ensure the protection of watercourses in accordance with government rules”.
The judge ordered Gastem to pay Restigouche-Partie-Sud-Est $ 154,000 within 30 days of the decision.
The company will also have to pay $ 10,000 for part of the costs incurred by the Municipality to defend itself. The trial took place in September in New Carlisle, Gaspésie.
A relieved municipality
Restigouche-Part-Southeast welcomes with relief the decision of the court. For four years, the small municipality of 157 inhabitants tried to raise funds to finance his defense against Gastem. The Restigouche Solidarity campaign raised more than $ 340,000.
“Today, we raise our glass of drinking water to the health of Quebec’s water and to all those who supported us! “Said the mayor of Restigouche-Part-South-East, François Boulay.
According to Mayor Boulay, the bill for the expenses incurred by the Municipality amounts to $ 370,000.
The money that Gastem has to pay will be welcome. Should Gastem waive its recourse rights, the surpluses will be transferred to another case for drinking water in Quebec, says Mayor Boulay.
The Municipality, however, prefers to wait to hear Gastem’s decision on his right of appeal before disposing of it.
François Boulay, Mayor of Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est Photo: Radio-Canada
The case was very important for other municipalities, since it involved their power to legislate to protect drinking water. The judgment also contains several references to the duty of municipalities to protect the environment and the duty to subscribe to the precautionary principle.
Raymond Savoie, president of Gastem, says he is disappointed with the judgment. “We read the document, we try to understand; for the moment we are there, “says Savoie, who refuses for the moment to comment on the decision.
Mr. Savoie does not rule out the possibility that the company can appeal the decision, but prefers to wait for a more detailed analysis of the judgment.
In the region, Sylvain Roy, MNA for Bonaventure, is pleased with the verdict.
Impacts on other municipalities?
The deputy Roy believes that this is a “great victory for democracy and territorial sovereignty”. Mr. Roy hopes the decision will serve as case law for similar cases.
The lawyer of the Municipality, Jean-François Girard, is not surprised at the amounts that will pay Gastem in Restigouche-Part-Southeast. “We had,” he said, “very carefully pleaded the abusive nature of the appeal and the fact that it was up to Gastem to reimburse us for these costs. ”
The fact that the court recognizes this element of law is also very important, according to Mr. Girard. “It will force companies who want to sue municipalities to think twice if it is not legally sound,” he says.
For the lawyer, the victory is indeed that of a small municipality struggling with a pursuit that had no other purpose than to be punitive. “You have to think about it, there are 84 taxpayers in Restigouche! Says Girard.
The latter also sees the victory of the municipal world. “This judgment,” he adds, “recognizes the role of municipalities and the fact that municipalities can take up the cause according to the interest of their citizens, interest in the health and well-being of their population. . ”
Mayor Boulay also believes that the judgment brings very important elements on the municipal competences in environmental matters.
The president of the Quebec Federation of Municipalities (FQM), Jacques Demers, also welcomes the fact that the judgment reaffirms the municipal powers and their duty to intervene in the protection of the environment. “However, we must not forget that these powers must be exercised in compliance with the legislative framework in force,” says Demers.
District Manager for Owen Sound Rick Chappell (and apparent designated point person for issues on complaints and compliance) will appear before Council for the Municipality of West Grey, on Monday, March 5.
The Council meeting begins at 10 a.m. but we have learned Mr. Chappell’s presentation is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.
The West Grey invitation is the latest in a series of Ontario municipal council invitations to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, asking for an explanation to hundreds — thousands — of unresolved complaints about wind turbine noise.
Mr. Chappell previously appeared before Council in Kincardine. A video record of his appearance, in which he states that the MOECC’s position is that infrasound has no effect on health, is here.(Start at minute 12)
Mr. Chappell has also stated that he understands “annoyance” is a result of exposure to wind turbine noise emissions, but he commented that the annoyance was like hearing barking dogs, and not related to serious adverse health effects. He is not correct: the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency both acknowledge “annoyance” as a medical term denoting stress or distress, which can in turn result in adverse health impacts.
Rick Chappell also appeared recently before the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group. Following his presentation, representatives of the Working Group wrote to Chappell and stated that in their view, the MOECC was misleading the public. See a report on that meeting and read the letter here.
“Your presentation was disappointing. It appeared to be designed to mislead the public into thinking there are no health problems. You presented a rosy picture of a government that is busy working on our behalf. But our experience shows that it is not.
You admitted at the meeting that you are aware that some people living near wind turbines are getting sick. You agree that IWTs cause annoyance and that leads to health issues. It is time to accept this and move forward— to protect the public so that they are not adversely impacted.”
In recent appearances, Mr. Chappell described the current situation in Ontario in which few wind power projects actually have completed a full I-emission audit which is needed to check compliance with the noise regulations; when there are noise complaints, he said, the response would be to check against an audit, but if there isn’t one, the MOECC simply requests that the power developer/operator complete the audit. (Any resemblance to a hamster wheel for Ontario residents living next to wind turbines is completely by design.)
Citizens from West Grey will be able to attend the meeting next week and observe. The Council meeting is also televised here.
Wind Concerns Ontario received information from the MOECC in 2017 on reports of excessive noise and vibration and learned that of the thousands of complaints received, more than half (54%) received no response at all from Ministry staff; a further 31% were noted as “planned” and 14% were “deferred” but only 1% were noted as a priority. The Ministry does not publicly report on “Spills” or complaints regarding wind turbine environmental noise.
Former oil drilling roughneck now university professor says vibrations such as from pile-driving is well known to affect wells. The MOECC, however, relies on a report from the power developers’ consultant, which says it doesn’t. Choosing what to measure seems key.
Debate continues on water wells and contamination
Special to Ontario Farmer
February 20, 2018
Geological engineer Maurice Dusseault wasn’t surprised to hear that Chatham-Kent water wells were contaminated in the wake of pile driving for wind turbines.
“Pile driving emits a lot of low-frequency energy, and it is not at all surprising to me that there could be related groundwater effects. The concept of large-amplitude, low frequency excitation as an aid to liquid flow is reasonably well-known,” the University of Waterloo professor said.
“Low frequency deformation waves are absolutely known to lead to fluctuation in ground water levels as well as changes in the particulate count in shallow groundwater wells.”
In addition, Dusseault said affected residents were well-advised in having their wells baseline tested prior to construction last summer. It’s the type of evaluation he recommends.
Before and after tests sent by the Water Wells First citizens’ group to RTI Laboratories in Michigan show an exponential increase [in] turbidity among the 14 affected wells, including [a] large proportion that can be attributed to Kettle [Point] black shale particles that are known to contain heavy metals, including uranium, arsenic and lead.
That’s not the conclusion reached by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, as outlined in letters recently sent to affected well owners living near the North Kent One project in the northern part of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
While there’s been an admission that wells have indeed been contaminated, that contamination can only be attributed to “unidentified factors.”
Pile-driving activities associated with wind turbine development are not to blame, the MOECC maintains.
The MOECC, in coming to its conclusion, relied upon the vibration evaluations prepared for the developers Samsung and Pattern Energy, by Golder Associates Limited. Golder measured changes to particle velocity as a measure of vibration intensity created by pile driving.
“The ministry has reviewed Golder’s assessment and agreed with the conclusion that any pile driving -induced vibrations at your well would have been much lower than those created during common daily activities around the homes,” a letter to one of the affected families states.
The parameters used by Golder, however, may be flawed…. Read more
The St. Thomas Times-Journal has reported that the Oneida First Nation in the London area of Ontario is not happy with the approval process for a wind power project that saw them left out of the consultation process entirely, while the Chicago-based power developer went to other First Nations, one as far away as north of Lake Superior, near the Manitoba border.
Oneida Chief Randall Phillips says the wind power approval process in Ontario is “not straight up” and is rife with flaws.
The First Nations that did lend their support to the Dutton Dunwich project claimed that they have few if any opportunities to participate in renewable energy projects, and that they saw the project as a way to enrich their community. Meanwhile, members of the First Nation that would be affected by the project were not even made aware it was being proposed.
The Ontario government, as the Crown, has a legal obligation to consult with Aboriginal peoples when it contemplates decisions that may adversely affect Aboriginal or treaty rights.
In 2014, the Fort William First Nation took legal action to show that both the wind power developer and Ontario had failed in their duty to consult over a proposed wind power project. The project was eventually not approved, for a variety of reasons, not least of which were First Nations concerns about consultation and environmental impact.
The “Strong Breeze” project by U.S. power developer Invenergy has gone through the formal application process and is now waiting for Renewable Energy Approval (REA) by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. #MOECC . A referendum held by the municipality showed that 84 percent of resident opposed the project but the Ontario government proceeded with the application-approval process anyway.
A Prince Edward County community group seeking a Judicial Review of decisions made by government to push forward an unwanted and unneeded wind power project has had all motions dismissed by an Ottawa court. They’re not stopping …
February 13, 2018
The County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE-Naturally Green Inc.) last year filed for a Judicial Review of decisions behind the White Pines power project in Prince Edward County, and on the relationship between government and wind power developers.
Here is the latest news, from John Hirsch, CCSAGE director.
Status of CCSAGE Judicial Review Application
Asreaders may recall, CCSAGE filed motions at the Superior Court in Ottawa last June 14 and 15 regardingtheir Judicial Review Application. The motions sought to protect CCSAGE from costs, and to compel the government agencies to produce the records of their decisions regarding the approval of wpd White Pines and the transmission lines. A motion was filed by OEB regarding their removal from the case.
In his decision on these Motions, issued on January 9, 2018, Justice Labrosse essentially denied all ofCCSAGE’s requests but did allow OEB to be removed from the case.
CCSAGE has studied Justice Labrosse’s decisions and found them to contain numerous errors and misunderstandings.
Consequently,CCSAGE is appealing all the negative decisions to the Divisional court.The appeal is in the form of a “Notice of Motion to Vary”.
CCSAGE believes their arguments are sound and thatthe Judicial Review application is more important than ever.
Of special interest to Wind Concerns Ontario members, Ontario’s rural residents, and rural communities is the statement by Mr. Justice Marc Labrosse that the motion to have the case proceed as a matter of “general interest” was denied because — you won’t believe this — “It appears that the GEA and REA process have taken their place in this province without significant opposition throughout rural Ontario. I am left to infer that this is a local issue in Prince Edward County and that it is not of general importance.”
A “local issue”? The facts are:
almost every single wind power project in Ontario since 2009 (and some before that) faced an appeal by members of the ‘host” community
116 Ontario municipalities, or about one-quarter of the total, have passed resolutions at Council demanding a return of the local land-use planning powers that were stripped by the Green Energy Act
More than 90 Ontario municipalities have officially designated themselves “unwilling hosts” to wind power projects
Several municipalities have engaged in legal battles with the government and wind power developers to retain rights under the Municipal Act, in order to protect their citizens
Several academic articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals (Stewart Fast et al, 2016) have noted the Ontario government’s failure to respond to community concerns over wind power projects
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition with about 30 member community groups and hundreds of individual and family members, that has been active since 2009
This decision, and the various machinations of the parties involved, can be seen in no other way but an attempt to see that once again, justice is denied to Ontario’s rural citizens.
Of course, one expects there to be a certain amount of upset when a community is in the midst of construction, especially such a huge project as the (unwanted, unneeded) wind power project on Amherst Island.
But residents there are deeply concerned over unscheduled road closures, road blockages and more. On Tuesday, a resident reports, roads were closed so that people could not leave their properties at all—questions were raised about access by emergency vehicles, should they have been needed.
In a recent report by Global News, residents state that unscheduled road closures have meant missed ferry trips to the mainland, but there is more. The local mayor says the wind power developer is actually out of compliance with agreements and contract conditions.
Loyalist Township Mayor Bill Lowry says he’s exhausted and frustrated that promises that were made to the municipality have been broken. He says residents are voicing their concerns to council but their patience is running out.
“How long do we have to take this, how long does the island have to take this? It’s been far too long, we’ve been three months of being out of compliance,” Lowry, told Global News.
“I’m in communication last week and this week with the IESO, which is the Independent Electricity System Operations, which are basically responsible for the construction of these energy projects. I’m so frustrated with the province in the fact that they don’t have a ministry that’s coming to our aid.”
In a statement to CKWS News, Windlectric Inc. says in part, “there is an agreed upon Operations Plan that sets out how to best build the project in a way that is minimally disruptive for area residents. Our goal is for all aspects of the project to run smoothly.”
Where is the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change? Where is the IESO? Where is the Ontario Ministry of Labour?
Where are the government assurances of a better, safe environment for the people of Amherst Island?