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.
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?
“Black Water” in wells in nearby North Kent has residents concerned about water safety and wind turbine construction. The lesson from Walkerton is that the MOECC is responsible for water quality, they say
February 5, 2018
Citizens’ group Water Wells First is calling the Ontario government decision to allow temporary water tanks to be removed from North Kent homes without water supply is “cold-blooded.”
Last week, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) informed residents that the results of the Ministry’s own testing of the water that is so sediment-laden some samples appear black, showed that water quality has “deteriorated” but that there is no association with wind turbine construction and pile driving.
“It’s a strong arm tactic,” said Water Wells First Kevin Jakubec at a news conference held this afternoon at one local farm that has been without water for months.
Residents in nearby Wallaceburg are extremely concerned as the proposed Otter Creek wind power project will be on the same Kettle Point Black Shale geology as the North Kent project.
“The Ministry response to the damaged well in North Kent is not good enough,” says Violet Towell, spokesperson for community group Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns. “The deterioration of water quality in these wells didn’t just happen. As Mr Justice O’Connor confirmed in his 2002 report on the Walkerton water tragedy, the MOECC has responsibility for ensuring a safe water supply in Ontario — they should not stop investigating until they find out what is going on here.”
The Wallaceburg group says that the Otter Creek project should not receive a Renewable Energy Approval until the well water situation in North Kent is “thoroughly investigated and resolved,” says Towell.
It is a condition of Renewable Energy Approvals that “adverse effects” must be prevented; these are described in the Environmental Prevention Act, Section 1 (1) and include “adverse effect on the health of any person,” “impairment of the safety of any person,” “rendering any property or plant or animal unfit for human use,” and “loss of enjoyment of the normal use of property.”
There were so many people attending the hearing at the Ontario Superior Court in Belleville Monday that there was a half-hour delay in the proceedings so a larger courtroom could be found.
That was just the beginning of the changes that day, as the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) took on the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) over its awarding a new contract to Germany-based wind power developer wpd Canada and the White Pines project. The power project was diminished from 29 to 27 then nine turbines in various citizens’ appeals, and it was thought since the power developer had not only missed all its milestones stipulated in the contract it also now failed to meet the 75% of power required, the contract might be null and void.
That’s where things changed.
The public has “no right” to know what’s in multi-billion-dollar contracts that are the result of public policy. Not in Ontario. Not where “wind is green, wind is good” and citizens’ voices don’t matter, nor do communities, or democracy. No: instead, the IESO simply cut the developer a new contract. And the public? You have “no right” to know anything.
Our favourite quote of the day came from APPEC lawyer Eric Gillespie who said, “The contract [for White Pines] was made public, but some pretty important changes weren’t.”
Here is a formal report by APPEC.
APPEC Report on
APPEC v. IESO and WPD
Belleville Superior Court
January 29, 2018
Mr. Justice Kershman presided over the hearing of final submissions at the Belleville Courthouse. The turn-out was excellent with Mayor Quaiff, Councillor Ferguson, Wind Concerns Ontario President Jane Wilson and about 75 County residents attending. In fact, the Court Clerk was forced to find a larger courtroom to accommodate the crowd.
APPEC Final Submissions
Eric Gillespie began by pointing out that this case raises broader public policy issues of access of information from the IESO. On June 12, 2017 APPEC contacted the IESO for information about the status of WPD’s FIT contract. The IESO indicated in its reply that it could not disclose this information, citing confidentiality. Mr. Gillespie argued that this information should have been disclosed for the following reasons: (1) the IESO describes the FIT program as a standardized, open and fair process; (2) APPEC and Ontario communities are affected by the FIT Program; and (3) the information APPEC was seeking, and the IESO withheld, could not have been confidential at all as it was ultimately disclosed to the Court in November 2017.
Mr. Gillespie clarified that contrary to what the IESO contends, this is not about how to interpret clauses in the FIT contract. The clauses are negligent misrepresentation, in that APPEC was led to believe that the generation capacity of the White Pines project could not go below 75% of the generation contracted for in 2010, when the FIT contract was signed. The central issue for APPEC is that information that became known to the IESO was not made publicly available. The IESO had a choice, when it became clear that WPD could not meet the 75% condition in the contract. It could have said that things had changed, that WPD’s FIT contract would need to be amended, that WPD was in default of contractual milestone dates, etc. Mr. Gillespie noted that it’s what the IESO and WPD did with their choices that has brought us here today. WPD’s first public announcement that it was proceeding with the 9-turbine project was September 21, 2017. The IESO informed Councillor Ferguson that it had agreed to amend the FIT contract on October 12, 2017. APPEC only obtained the information it had sought in June when the IESO disclosed it to the Court on November 30.
IESO and WPD Closing Submissions and APPEC’s Reply
Alan Mark, IESO’s legal counsel, criticized APPEC’s “assumption” that it has some right to insert itself into the contractual relationship between the IESO and WPD. Mr. Mark stated that any rights are owed exclusively to WPD, the IESO’s contractual partner; there’s nothing in the statutory framework that gives APPEC “the right to anything”. Mr. Mark went on to suggest that a contract is just a statement at a point in time with no guarantee that it won’t change in the future and members of the public don’t need to know about that either. Mr. Mark added that “with all respect to APPEC, APPEC is just made up of members of the public that feel strongly about wind power projects.”
Mr. Mark indicated that the IESO has made no representations to APPEC at any time, so it could not have made a negligent representation. When Judge Kershman asked whether APPEC’s allegation is that the IESO made a representation in 2010 that the Project would not be able to proceed if the project’s generation capacity fell below 75%, Mr. Mark responded that this isn’t the case APPEC is making.
Mr. Mark noted a statement in the Skypower Decision that the FIT contract is a bilateral commercial contract between two parties. Mr. Gillespie noted that in the same Skypower Decision, Judge Nordheimer rejects this characterization of the FIT program, and says that the suggestion that this is a commercial nature entirely and not a matter of public policy is fictional.
Mr. Mark said that APPEC had all the information it needed and ignored this information at its peril. In reply, Mr. Gillespie asked why APPEC would base its ERT appeal rights on a complete unknown, i.e., would the IESO amend the FIT contract, or not?
Patrick Duffy, legal counsel for WPD, also took up the argument that APPEC had no right to insert itself into the contract between the IESO and WPD. Mr. Gillespie replied that if that was so, then why did the IESO make FIT contracts available on its website for public viewing in the first place? Mr. Duffy stated that the terms “open” and “transparent” only apply to FIT Program Applicants, not to members of the public to which Mr. Gillespie replied that we still have not been told what there was about the information APPEC sought that was privileged. Mr. Duffy noted that FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Privacy Act) is the law that applies to disclosure. However, Judge Kershnan reminded Mr. Duffy that Mr. Gillespie had already noted in his submissions how long the FIPPA process takes. Mr. Gillespie also noted that there was nothing in any of the other Party’s materials about FIPPA.
Mr. Gillespie concluded by noting the right of County residents to natural justice and procedural fairness. The IESO has not told the whole story to the community that will be affected by the White Pines wind project.
Justice Kershnan thanked the Parties and stated that he would reserve his decision. The hearing was adjourned at about 5:30 p.m.
Following the announcement last Thursday that four citizens’ groups* in Ontario are taking legal action against the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) over the noise from planned wind power projects, the groups involved have issued statements relative to each of their own local situations.
“We’re not taking this step lightly,” commented Bonnie Rowe, spokesperson for Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, the applicant in this suit. “We estimate that these five proposed wind power projects will be out of compliance with noise levels as soon as they go online. In the Dutton Dunwich case, the majority of the proposed turbines, as well as the transformer, will likely produce noise over the MOECC maximum allowable levels. That is just unacceptable, especially to the many citizens living nearby, who will be forced to endure that noise.”
“The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont are in complete support of this legal challenge,” said spokesperson Margaret Benke. “Protection of the health and safety for more than 1,200 local residents is our main concern. We feel that the MOECC must be held to account.”
Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save the Nation, says “By allowing the construction of the Eastern Fields project and using only outdated noise regulations, the MOECC would deny protection of health and wellbeing for hundreds of local residents, for the next 20 years. We strongly feel that this is unacceptable.”
“Based on what information the public has been provided so far, it appears most of the turbines [in the Otter Creek project] will be out of compliance” said Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns spokesperson, Violet Towell. “We believe many Wallaceburg and area citizens will suffer unnecessary hardship if this project is allowed to continue, and we fully endorse this judicial review.”
For more information on the legal action, contact lawyer Eric Gillespie at 416-436-7473 (phone/text)
Four community groups say the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change knows its wind turbine noise regulations were inadequate, so they changed them. Why now, are the five newest projects not subject to stricter regulation? Hundreds of people will be exposed to noise emissions from turbines that will likely be non-compliant as soon as they begin operating.
TORONTO, Jan. 25, 2018 /CNW/ – A judicial review application has been filed against the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) in the Divisional Court in Toronto. The application alleges Ontario regulations and directives limit the amount of noise any residence in the province should have to tolerate from a wind project. Modelling is used to predict these impacts.
The MOECC has admitted previous guidelines resulted in underestimates of the noise at nearby homes. However, without any evidence that this was necessary, the MOECC has allowed companies promoting at least five large-scale wind projects to ignore new government guidelines. The result is hundreds of Ontario residents near these planned turbines could be living next to turbines that produce noise out of compliance with government regulations. If these projects, located in various parts of Ontario, were required to comply with the new guidelines, it is estimated up to three-quarters of these turbines would have to be relocated or removed.
“The government knows the modeling done by wind companies is wrong. However, the government now doesn’t require them to follow the proper process. It’s not surprising people from across Ontario are joining together to vigorously oppose this,” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for the court applicant.
“We do not take this step lightly,” commented Bonnie Rowe, spokesperson for Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, applicant in this suit. “But we estimate that these five proposed wind power projects will be out of compliance with noise levels as soon as they go on-line. In the Dutton Dunwich case, the majority of the proposed turbines, will likely produce noise over the MOECC maximum allowable levels. That is just unacceptable, especially to the many citizens living nearby, who will be forced to endure that noise. We appreciate the collaborative efforts in this application, of citizens in the other affected communities in Ontario – North Stormont, La Nation, and Wallaceburg.”
SOURCE Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation
For further information: Eric Gillespie, legal counsel, 416-436-7473 (phone/text); Bonnie Rowe, Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, 519-639-5415 (phone/text); Margaret Benke, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, 613-558-9236 (phone/text); Julie Leroux, Save the Nation, 613-307-1499 (phone/text); Violet Towell, Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns, 519-350-1829 (phone/text)
With few details on how a fragile geology will be affected by wind turbine construction, and no information on noise assessments of turbines that are just prototypes, citizens are worried about water supply, health and safety
January 21, 2018
Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns
Community Group demands a reset of the Otter Creek application
Citizens’ group Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns (WAWC) has asked the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to halt the Otter Creek application process until all the missing data is complete, to follow the REA process for public input, and to hold another public meeting to present this information to the community.
The group sent a letter to the MOECC Tuesday via its lawyer.
Executive members of WAWC met with representatives of power developer Boralex and members of CK council December 7. At that meeting, WAWC learned that the noise assessment data for the as yet untested Enercon turbines was not complete, and there was no timetable for when it would be available. Boralex also indicated that the developer is considering another option for the turbine foundations, and that geo-technical testing was being planned, but again there was no date for the testing.
“We’re very concerned that there is not enough information for two critical aspects of this power project, noise and the foundations,” says Violet Towell , WAWC spokesperson. “We have asked repeatedly for the facts about the effect of the noise from these huge turbines on residents, and what the impact on water wells will be from construction and vibration during operation.”
In spite of the lack of information that is clearly required for the Renewable Energy Approval for this power project, requests for a public meeting have been denied.
Last week, residents in the Wallaceburg area were shocked to learn that pile driving had begun at a number of sites for the Otter Creek project. The developer had sent letters to a handful of residents with limited information and even more limited notice. Most of the larger community was uninformed of the activity by Boralex.
WAWC has questioned the choice of project site in an area where the soil conditions are not conducive to wind turbine construction, and also so near a town of 10,000 people. The developer’s response to WAWC was to confirm that the site was “far,far from ideal” but the company proceeded because Chatham-Kent was so accommodating.
“The Otter Creek power project must not be approved until residents of our community have accurate information about this project,” says Towell. “There are many compelling questions not answered, key information that is missing, and changing project details. In order to protect our health, our homes and our community, we want answers now.”