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.
An aviation safety expert says the location of wind turbines as proposed by WPD Canada would be “unwise.”
Charles Cormier also told an Environmental review Tribunal hearing on an appeal of the province’s approval of a renewable energy application (REA) for the Fairview Wind project that the eight turbines could have a negative impact on growth at the Collingwood Regional Airport.
Collingwood, Clearview Township and Simcoe County have joined Kevin Elwood, Preserve Clearview, and John Wiggins in appealing the approval by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
“It’s a growing airport, a very busy airport,” Cormier told the tribunal during four hours of testimony.
Cormier has reviewed the turbine issue several times on behalf of the Collingwood Regional Airport, and rebutted the opinion of experts hired by WPD Canada that the turbines would have a negligible effect on aircraft movements.
The Ontario Liberal government claimed that concern about the impact on water quality was behind its decision to cancel wind power projects in the Great Lakes, not lost Liberal votes. The trouble is, there is no research being done on this issue. No surprise: there was never any research on the onshore 550-metre setbacks either…
Ontario wanted to be a leader in both onshore and offshore wind power development (Illustration: www.boem.gov)
Not only has the Ontario government ordered almost no research into wind farms on the Great Lakes since it banned them so it could do more research, it’s done none whatsoever on the worry that prompted the ban: the risk of poisoning Ontario’s drinking water with gunk stirred up from the lake bottoms.
The province has previously been very vague about what research it’s waiting for, and it’s now pretty clear why. There’s no indication that research is coming anytime soon.
Back in 2011, the province killed numerous projects to put industrial windmills out on the waters of Ontario’s big lakes, where the wind is strong and it’s easier to build really large wind farms — potentially generating as much power as a nuclear reactor — without enraging as many neighbours as wind farms on land can. The world had wind farms in oceans but not in freshwater lakes, and the government wanted more science done on how to build them safely, the province said at the time.
It was the second time we froze Great Lakes wind farms, after a shorter ban imposed before the 2007 election. The government lifted that one in 2008; the newer one is still in place.
Offshore wind farms were once a pillar of Ontario’s green-energy plans. We were going to spend some money and take some chances and become world leaders and reap the rewards. Officially, they still are — we just aren’t allowing any.
Plus the government is facing a $500-million lawsuit from one would-be wind-farm developer called Trillium Power, a roughly $500-million claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement from another called Windstream, and now an Ontario Provincial Police investigation over the alleged deletion of documents related to the decision to impose the second moratorium. All without a windmill to show for it.
Since 2011, the government’s received three studies on freshwater wind farms that it had underway at the time, and waited four years before commissioning two more in 2015. Together, the five studies look at protecting fish habitat, how windmill noise carries over water, a review of existing “coastal engineering” research on offshore wind farms, and what to think about when we eventually have to take worn-out windmills down.
None of them has much to do with what the Liberal environment minister who imposed the 2011 moratorium, John Wilkinson, says concerns him most about wind farms in the Great Lakes.
Wilkinson laid it out in a formal witness statement entered in the NAFTA case at an international tribunal in The Hague, which went into vastly more detail than the public announcement of the moratorium. That just cited a need for more scientific research generally, not on any specific subject.
“While I was briefed on many environmental concerns related to noise emissions, disturbance of benthic life forms, navigation, potential structural failure, safety hazards and decommissioning, the issue that heavily influenced my decision was the effect the construction of an offshore wind facility might have on drinking water,” his signed statement says. The Windstream project would have stirred up the bed of Lake Ontario in 100 places and “I was concerned about how this might displace the historically contaminated sediment on the lakebed and whether it would end up in the drinking water system.”
The statement elaborates for pages, talking about protecting both Canadian and U.S. water supplies and invoking Ontario’s experience at Walkerton, where a badly run municipal water system got contaminated with bacteria that killed seven people.
The ban was absolutely not about saving Liberal-held lakefront seats, it says. “It was a Solomon decision,” the statement says.
Wilkinson stands by the judgment.
“There’s a century of toxic industrial waste in the Great Lake sediments,” he said in an email exchange this week. “My decision was based on the principle we would not allow folks to disturb that pollution until we could reasonably predict the consequences and ensure no threat to drinking water, both ours and our American neighbours.”
He pointed to annual algae explosions in Lake Erie believed to be fed by phosphorus in fertilizer. Some kinds of algae release toxins that conventional water treatment can’t remove.
“Sediments at the bottom of the Great Lakes contain the cumulative phosphorus from agricultural runoff that has settled there over decades. If left undisturbed, it cannot feed an algae bloom. But there was no way to construct hundreds of proposed offshore wind turbines without stirring up the phosphorus and other contaminants,” Wilkinson said, and in his view the existing rules on protecting drinking water didn’t properly cover construction way out in the lakes.
On the face of it, that’s a totally reasonable thing to worry about. But here’s the thing. If you were worried about sediment and drinking water, you’d have somebody study sediment and drinking water, right?
Wilkinson was environment minister for eight months after he imposed the moratorium, until he lost his southwestern Ontario seat in the election later in 2011.
“I can’t tell you what happened regarding the science after I left government, since I don’t know,” Wilkinson says. “What I can say is my decision left the door open to small pilot projects to develop the science. I do recall that proponents, after I made the decision, rejected building pilot scale projects, citing economics.”
The current environment minister, Glen Murray, wouldn’t say whether he shares Wilkinson’s concerns about drinking water, because of the NAFTA case.
Municipalities vote for more say in wind power locations
May 25, 2016
Hard as it is to believe, with electricity bills soaring, hydro and nuclear power being wasted, and Ontario’s surplus power being sold at bargain-basement rates to neighbouring U.S. jurisdictions, Ontario still plans to let contracts for 600 more megawatts of expensive, intermittent utility-scale wind power.
The new bid process begins later this year.
Although the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) claims the citizens of Ontario have a “say” in where these huge power projects — which result in considerable impact on the environment and communities forced to have them — they still can’t “say” NO.
In March, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said it was “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract for wind power without municipal support—then the IESO announced five new contracts, three of which were in Not A Willing Host communities. One, Dutton Dunwich, had even held a referendum on the wind power bid, which resulted in a resounding 84 % NO vote, but a contract was awarded there anyway.
Now, more than 60 Ontario municipalities have told the Ontario government under Premier Kathleen Wynne that they don’t think that’s right — in future, the municipalities say, local or municipal support must be a mandatory requirement in wind power bids, not just a way to get more points in the bidding process for Large Renewable power projects.
Last evening, council in Prince Edward County voted unanimously to send that motion to Queen’s Park. The County is currently battling two high-profile wind power projects on the basis of the clear danger to wildlife, specifically the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat. The County is also on the flyway for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds each spring and fall.
Among the cities and municipalities which have passed the resolution are the City of Kawartha Lakes (which is itself the size of a county) and the second largest city in Ontario and Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa.
“Communities have good reasons for not wanting these huge power projects,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Wind power represents high impact on the environment, both natural and social, for very little benefit. What’s worse, wind power on this scale has no benefit in actions aimed at climate change. Everyone wants to do what’s best for the environment —this isn’t it.”
A list of municipalities that have passed the motion to date is here.
Poland has adopted a new law banning construction of wind farms close to dwellings and hiking project costs in a move which the industry says could hobble Poland’s move to renewables and away from coal.
Wind farms must be built at a distance from housing of at least 10 times the height of the turbine, or about 1.5 to 2 km, under the law which was adopted by the lower house of parliament on Friday.
projects in Poland, said that if the law was enforced it would be forced to write down the value of some of its Polish assets and would consider seeking potential compensation.
Representatives of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which designed the new regulations, said that it had to reform regulation of the industry and address citizens’ complaints about noise from wind farms.
“Because of the renewable energy madness we are reducing our GDP growth,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said, referring to subsidies granted to renewable energy sources.
European Union rules call for Poland, which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal, to produce 15 percent of it from renewable sources by 2020 versus around 12 percent currently.
PiS says the new regulations will not pose a risk to Poland attaining that target.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Jason Neely)
No one is forced to have wind turbines on their land; communities shouldn’t be, either.
Ontario Farmer, May 17, 2016
By Jane Wilson and Warren Howard
Recently, a Mitchell, Ont. resident wrote to Ontario Farmer saying that the wind turbine siting process seems fair to him: “no one [has been] forced to have a wind turbine.”
We beg to differ: with almost 2,600 industrial-scale wind turbines now operating or under construction, the fact is thousands of Ontario residents have been forced to live with wind turbines, without any effective say in the matter.
The decision to host wind turbines should not rest with the few individuals who lease land for the project, but also with the entire community; many people can be affected by this decision.
The Green Energy Act of 2009 removed local land-use planning for wind power projects, at the same time as it overrode 21 pieces of democratically passed pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, the Environmental Bill of Rights — even the Places to Grow Old Act.
Can’t say NO
The result is a process in which citizens and their elected governments now have no “say” whatsoever. Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this past March that it would be “virtually impossible” for a power developer to get a contract in a community that did not support turbines, but that’s exactly what happened.
Even a community that held a formal referendum, in which 84 per cent of residents said “no” to wind power, is now being forced to have turbines.
Compare this to the procedures for other forms of development: they are relatively open, in which the community is presented with detailed information and opportunities to comment on the type and scope of development proposed.
The opposite is true for industrial-scale wind power projects. Municipalities are asked for support with very little information on environmental, economic, or social impacts. In some cases, where the developer has determined formal municipal support is unlikely, the company simply files a document saying it “tried” to get municipal support but failed — the truth is, municipalities will meet with anyone. Failure to meet on such an important project should be a red flag to contracting authorities about the nature of the development and the degree of opposition to it.
The public information meetings held by developers often occur after municipal support is requested. A paper produced by a team of academics published this year termed these meetings “dog-and-pony shows” which is an indication of how much real information is offered.
Municipal support must be mandatory
Wind Concerns Ontario submitted a series of recommendations to the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) on the contracting process, which included: a requirement that all documents related to the project should be released prior to any public meeting or municipal consultation; the precise location of turbines must be revealed as well as a broader set of site considerations; there must be a process through which municipal government, community groups and individuals can comment on these documents and their accuracy; and last, municipal support must be a mandatory requirement of any contract bid.
It may be true as the letter writer suggests: no one is forced to have a turbine on their own property, but communities and neighbours should not be forced to have them either.
Before people sign for lease turbines, they need to talk to their neighbours (because the whole community will be affected by the decision to lease) and learn from the experiences in other communities where turbines are operating. They may discover that the small lease payments offered are not worth the impact on the community, and on their friends and neighbours.
The fact is, wind turbines result in high impact on communities for very little benefit. The Ontario government needs to respect the right of Ontario citizens to make decisions on wind power developments for themselves.
Jane Wilson is president of Wind Concerns Ontario. Warren Howard is a former municipal councillor for North Perth.
The Unifor wind turbine towers over a neighbourhood of 200 homes in Port Elgin. It would be illegal today. So far, the union has defied mandatory noise testing requirements, and ignored citizen concerns about the noise, and health impacts
Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union (formerly the CAW) owns and operates a wind turbine that generates revenue for the union through taxpayer subsidies. Plagued from its beginning by controversy and compliance issues, Unifor’s turbine continues to operate in defiance of mandatory noise audits and despite hundreds of noise complaints from families forced to live near it.
Unifor’s turbine is not only contentious, it should be illegal by today’s standards due to legislation that came into effect May 1st. But, it’s not the first time the turbine has had this problem. And, the union has always managed to solve it — with a little help from its friends in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).
Unifor’s wind turbine is a square peg the union forced into a round hole. Located at their Family Education Centre (FEC) in the tourist community of Port Elgin on Lake Huron, the turbine sits in a sports field adjacent to the facility’s parking lot. The 35-storey, 800kw turbine towers over a neighbourhood of about 200 homes with some as close as 210 m.
The union chose the FEC location over a remote plot of 128 acres of undeveloped land it owned about a mile away because, President Ken Lewenza said (in the Shoreline Beacon, Dec.20/11), the undeveloped land was “economically or environmentally unfeasible.” No sooner was the turbine built, the union subdivided the undeveloped land into building lots and sold them for substantial profit.
The union’s decision to locate its turbine in a densely populated neighbourhood posed many legislative hurdles. But, none the union hasn’t been able to handle — at least, so far.
In 2005, when Town Council objected to the turbine’s location, the union took the case to the provincial municipal board (OMB) and got the rejection overturned.
When noise modeling analysis showed that the turbine’s noise would exceed provincial standards for a rural community (making it illegal), the union and the MOE agreed to classify the rural neighbourhood as semi-urban to accommodate the increased noise. The turbine’s noise problem was solved. But, not for long.
Soon after, the MOE issued new legislation focused on health and safety, requiring turbines of its height and power to be located a minimum of 550 m from homes. Again, the not-yet-built turbine would be illegal. However, the MOE agreed to grandfather the union’s turbine approval certificate, exempting the turbine from the mandatory 550 m setback. The union had dodged another bullet. But, the turbine wasn’t yet in the clear.
New noise assessments on the turbine (due to the union’s decision to upgrade it to 800kw) showed it would again exceed provincial noise standards. Once more, it was illegal. This time, the union said …
To get an idea of what Ontario could look like a couple of decades out under Liberal energy minister Glen Murray’s “climate action plan” — which was revealed in detail in Monday’s Globe and Mail — who better to rely on than the man himself, Glen Murray?
Back in 2008, when he chaired the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, Murray — along with his acting CEO, Alex Wood, now executive director of the Ontario Climate Change Directorate — offered up a plan that looked remarkably similar to the new Liberal cabinet document. In fairness, the NRTEE document hardly offered the perniciously micro-managed prescriptions for people and businesses that Murray has graduated to now. And this new plan, billed by the Liberals as a “once-in-a-lifetime transformation” for Ontario’s economy, may also prove the end of Ontario’s lifetime of economic progress. In an era where assisted dying is the big thing with Liberals, this could be the first case where it’s tried on a province.
The leaked cabinet document, reportedly signed-off on by Premier Kathleen Wynne, lists a jaw-dropping 80 or so policies including: The eventual ban on heating new homes and buildings with natural gas, with only electric or geothermal being legal; $4 billion to be doled out by a “green bank,” funded by carbon taxes, to subsidize retrofits of buildings to get them off natural gas; the requirement that homes undergo an “energy-efficiency audit” before they can be sold; and a stack of rules, regulations and handouts to get an electric car into every two-car household within eight years, including rebates, free electric charging, and plug-in stations at every liquor store. Naturally, there will be billions more in traditional government-spending programs on public transit, bike paths, upgrades for schools and hospitals, and “research” funds and centres of climate excellence, not to mention new ethanol fuel standards that will gratify the Liberals’ top corporate donors in the biofuel lobby.
Ontario continues its buy-high, sell-low policy for electricity by wasting cheap hydro in favour of expensive, intermittent wind. And the government is contracting for more, says Parker Gallant.
Ontario Power Generation or OPG just released their first quarter 2016 results; while revenue increased 9.1% or $123 million, net income was down from $234 million in the 2015 first quarter — a drop of 47.4%. The blame for the drop in net income was principally laid on the “Regulated-Nuclear Waste Management segment” caused by lower income from the “Decommissioning Segregated Fund.”
But they didn’t blame water spillage for hydroelectric power. Why? Because OPG now are paid for wasting what would cost ratepayers a miserly 4.4 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) delivered to the grid.
The spillage and waste of cheap hydroelectric power increased from .3 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 to 1.7 TWh in 2016; the OPG quarterly statement makes reference to that stating “Reducing hydroelectric production, which often results in spilling of water, is the first measure that the IESO uses to manage SBG [Surplus Baseload Generation] conditions.”
Bear in mind that power generation from wind which has “first to the grid” rights in Ontario, is the real reason for spilling hydro. That means ratepayers pick up the costs of spilled hydro at $44 million per TWh and at the same time, customers paid for surplus wind generation at $133 million per TWh or $226 million for the spilled 1.7 TWh. Ontario’s benevolent electricity ratepayers also picked up the cost of idling gas plants tasked with backing up wind and solar generation. A rough estimate of those gas plant costs (we pay from $10K to $15K per MW per month) would be 9 cents/kWh, or about $150 million (to back up 1.7 TWh of wind generation). That brings the total cost of wind generation displacing 1.7 TWh of spilled hydro to a cost of $450 million or 26.5 cents/kWh.
Do the math, Bob
Wind generation cost @ $133/MWh (1.7 TWh @ $133 million per TWh = $226 million)
+ gas generation backup of 330 MW (assuming an average of $12,500 per MW per month and 60% capacity generation per MW) = $150 million
+ the cost of spilled hydro @ $44 million per TWh = $75 million for 1.7 TWh.
The total cost (without inclusion of steamed-off nuclear, cost of solar power, losses of revenue for exports, etc.) is
$451 million for the 1.7 TWh OPG spilled.
Cost to Ontario ratepayers for the 1.7 TWh OPG spilled cost ($451 million/1.7 TWh) = an average of 26.5 cents per kWh.
What this means: the Green Energy Act and its many flaws has created a situation where publicly and privately owned generators suffer no consequences from producing power “out of sync” with demand, and as a result, electricity ratepayers are penalized by paying six times the actual cost for a kilowatt of electricity (including a built-in profit).
Our Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli appears to lack the ability to apply basic math to the management of his portfolio, as is apparent from his April announcement that he wants another 600 MW of power we don’t need from wind.
I want to be certain the nature of my concern with regard to the awarding of the industrial wind turbine project in my community, the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich, is understood.
As the mayor of Dutton Dunwich, it is my responsibility to represent the citizens in my community. We spent the time and resources to survey the entire community about IWTs and asked for responses from every adult. Eighty-four per cent of the 1,503 who responded stated they were not in favour of having wind turbines. Our total adult population is 3,020. Based on this response, council stated it was not in favour of an IWT project coming to Dutton Dunwich.
Council and staff took action and had community meetings and requested delegations with the Minister of Energy. We were granted several delegations, both with the minister of energy as well as the parliamentary assistant to the minister. We prepared briefs and presented them. Each of these stated we did not want this project.
Nevertheless, on March 10, we learned that IESO had decided to award an American wind development company, Invenergy, a contract for an IWT project in Dutton Dunwich.
This is very disappointing news. It can never be good news to see the people you represent have no say and no power as it relates to the land they live on and decisions about what happens in their community.
I realize a small number of landowners did sign options to lease with the wind company, but this pales in comparison to the number of citizens who voiced opposition to this project.
I appreciate the work Geordi Kakepetum, chief executive of NCC Development, identified in his April 30 column, Northern natives have wind energy expertise, with regard to seeking solutions to challenges faced by his communities, such as replacing diesel fuel use with more sustainable sources of electricity like solar. In fact, I applaud his ingenuity, intelligence and business acumen, as well as that of NCC Development and the First Nations communities involved.
I also celebrate the fact he and the other decision-makers in these communities will be able to choose where to spend revenue and savings from these investments on important community priorities. This is a good example of communities having voice and autonomy. Any community looking after its vital needs is to be commended. It is no wonder he is proud.
On the other hand, I do not accept the gain in power Kakepetum speaks of should be at the expense of the citizens of Dutton Dunwich.
There are a number of communities that stated they were willing to host IWT projects, yet their applications were not successful. Given the provincial government’s statements with regard to taking communities’ preferences into account regarding the location of IWT projects, I am left deeply disappointed for my community.
None of the benefits highlighted by Kakepetum make up for the fact the citizens did not want the project.
My community is now divided. The calculations of revenue to be received by this project seem to vary widely, depending on who reports them.
We calculate a tax revenue vastly different. The construction and rezoning of farmland results in an assessed value of approximately $100,000 per IWT. Based on the 2016 industrial tax rate, and assuming annual increases of three per cent over 20 years, the proposed 20 industrial wind turbines would provide about $1 million in property tax from the province through Chicago-based Invenergy to the Municipality of Dutton Dunwich. Annually this would be $50,000 on average to Dutton Dunwich. Over this same period, the County of Elgin would receive about $740,000 in property taxes and the province would collect about $830,000 for education purposes. The aggregate property tax collected by all three levels would be about $2.5 million. This is significantly less than the $4 million estimated for Dutton Dunwich tax revenue alone.
Regardless, no financial incentive will make those opposed to the turbines feel better about their loss of autonomy and concern for their community.
In conclusion, I regret that the voices of the people of Dutton Dunwich were disregarded by the province for this important decision, which has significant implications for the life of our community.
More than one ‘tough guy’ needed to restore democracy in Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario president says. We all need to be in this fight.
Responding to an opinion by farmer Ian Cummings in the April edition of Farmers Forum, Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote:
We know that many citizens of Ontario are working hard to protect their communities, their families and yes, the environment from this government’s unfounded and unnecessary push for wind power projects in rural/small town Ontario.
Many people are spending hundreds of thousands of after-tax dollars to appeal wind power project approvals where there will be harm to the environment and risk to human health.
Mr. Cumming spins a colourful story but to suggest all that’s needed is a local tough-guy character to scare the wind power developers out of town is uninformed, unrealistic and frankly insulting to your readers and the citizens of Ontario.
What we have are huge, multi-national, multi-billion-dollar corporations which feel entitled by the current provincial government to bully their way into our communities.
There are no single heroes to chase them out of town: it takes all of us to insist on a return to democracy in Ontario.