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.
“Costing us a fortune to fight these multinational mobs” says local farmer
October 11, 2021
Recent testimony from the ongoing Bald Hills court case in Australia revealed the stunning news that while the wind power operator denied there were problems with its turbines, in fact it collected millions in compensation for the defective power generators…but then did nothing to fix them!
Mr Arthur also conceded during cross-examination that his company had not told Mr Zakula and Mr Uren they were receiving compensation payments at the same time as operating the wind farm.
Speaking to The Sunday Age, Mr Zakula describes the sound of the turbines just over a kilometre from his home as “like a roaring train”.
The 64-year-old bought his property in Tarwin Lower in 2011, building his off-grid home from scratch with an organic farm and solar panels.
“I still hear the turbines over everything. Whenever there’s been a few really bad nights in a row, I drive my car down to the beach and sleep in it. Your body feels tight, your head feels in a compressive state. You just have to get out of the place.”
For Mr Uren, who moved to a different property three years ago, it was the unpredictability of the turbine noise that most triggered him.
“It was worse in cold weather and when the wind came from a certain direction. Some days I’d look at the forecast, see cold days and dread the roaring I knew was on the way.”
The duo’s grievances have culminated in a challenge in the state’s highest court that will hear both sides’ final arguments on Tuesday.
The case typifies an increasingly common dispute in Victoria: residents protesting against the installation of noisy wind farms in what is a rapidly expanding sector.
“It’s costing us a fortune against these big multinational mobs. I’d like the entire compliance regime to be investigated and reconsidered after this,” he says.
A key word in this story is “tonality,” as it was apparently acknowledged the turbines were faulty, and produced harmful tonal emissions. In Ontario, the environment ministry Provincial Officers were directed not to treat the noise from wind turbines as “tonal or cyclic in nature.” (Page 14, WTG Complaint Response and Management, Ministry of the Environment Noise Measurement Training, West Central Region, June, 2010).
At the K2 Wind power facility, the ministry issued letters to citizens following measurement indicating that tonal emissions had been detected, but the turbines underwent an audit conducted by the operator, and are still operating today.
For the Bald Hills operator to knowingly inflict tonal emissions on nearby property owners—for YEARS—is the height of duplicity and callous disregard for the health of others.
The wind industry needs to address this problem immediately.
In Ontario, the government should conduct a complete revision of all wind power related processes from approval to measurement, compliance and enforcement. It needs to do that now.
Just move—or maybe get tubes in your ears, family told by government officers
April 23, 2021
Among the desperate complaint documents provided to us following a request for Ontario wind turbine noise complaint records under Freedom of Information legislation is correspondence from one family that lives inside the Brookfield Comber project.
On the advice of their lawyer, they now file reports of excessive noise and adverse effects once a month, and they keep a daily log.
For the month of April 2018, this was their record:
24 days the noise level was high pitched to unbearable high pitched
4 days were medium pitched
2 days were low and bearable
They concluded their report that month with “[redacted] noise inside your head 24/7 whenever the turbines are running … trying to live a normal life in your own home is not possible.” The described the noise on one complaint as being like “a dentist’s drill.”
TWO DAYS of the month were “bearable.” Just two.
May that year was a slightly better month for the family. Slightly.
25 days the noise levels inside our home were high pitched to unbearable high pitched sound
2 days were medium pitched
4 were low bearable days.
Did they get any help from the power operator or the environment ministry? Here’s what the record says, in an email dated June, 2018:
“Following a letter we wrote to Mr Glenn Murray [then Minister of environment], we have been dealing with them [the then MOECC] concerning the Wind Turbine Infrasound we have been experiencing inside our home since 2012. …. After lengthy conversations, with two members of that office [Windsor] we were told our symptoms were that of infrasound but because the Ministry of Health does not consider that a health problems their hands were tied. Since then and after an Officer attended our home on January 19, 2018 and suggested perhaps we just just move, or get tubes in our ears to ease the pressure, they have now refused to acknowledge our monthly reports on the noise levels we are experiencing.”
FACT: the Renewable Energy Approvals granted to wind power projects in Ontario require that the project operators identify and resolve the cause for each complaint about emissions from their project.
FACT: It is beyond the scope of Ontario Environmental Officers to be telling people what surgical procedures to have.
FACT: It is the job of the Environmental Officers to receive and record complaints received from Ontario citizens about wind turbines.
Wind turbine noise reports missing
The family has since told Wind Concerns Ontario that in 2018, they filed a total of 26 reports of excessive noise/vibration/pressure; in answer to our Freedom of Information request, we received NINE.
This system is beyond broken, it was badly set up and a sham to begin with.
Ontario is dealing with the worst of the pandemic right now to be sure, but steps must be taken to fix this, and Ontario’s environment officers must do their jobs.
Don’t stop calling: to report wind turbine noise, effects on water wells, harm to wildlife, adverse health effects, call
1-866-MOE-TIPS. And be sure to get an Incident Report number.
Complaint process for wind turbine noise inherited by the Ford government not effective
April 12, 2021
Wind Concerns Ontario has just released its latest report on how the Ontario government has responded to citizen complaints about excessive wind turbine noise from grid-scale wind power projects.
Warning: the contents of this report can make for difficult reading.
The excerpts of comments from people calling into the 24/7 Spills Action Centre telephone line, or sending emails to their local District Office of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks are an alarming demonstration of the desperation felt by families forced with the wind turbine noise—some of them, for many years.
“We ache all over and can hardly function we are so tired. Please tell us what to do. Please respond.”
“Noise described as a ‘whooing’ sound, both heard and felt.”
“This continues to be horrendous.”
“Caller reports a pulsing roar.”
“This is the 65th time they have called.”
“We can’t go on like this.”
Polluted acoustic environment
One complaint documented was from a technician hired to do monitoring of bat populations near Bow Lake, who questioned whether he/she could continue the work due to the “acoustic pollution” from the wind turbines. The wind turbines were “generating unacceptably intrusive and potentially dangerous noise emissions into the natural environment,” the person reported. This is a “polluted acoustic environment.”
This report is based on Incident Reports created in 2018, received as the result of a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. The request was filed in January 2019; we received almost 4,000 pages of documents this past March. The report is fourth in a series, examining ministry response back to 2006.
It’s not working
The overarching conclusion from examining the complaint records as a whole is that Ontario’s complaint monitoring process, which the current government inherited from previous administrations, is not working. Key findings:
Complaints about wind power projects are part of the process government promised would ensure protection of health and safety. Robust enforcement of the regulations in response to these complaints will fulfill that responsibility.
In total, almost 6,000 files of complaints about wind turbine noise, vibration and sound pressure have been released to Wind Concerns by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
39 percent of complaints in 2018 noted adverse health effects.
The records show that complaints do not result in real action by the project operators, despite requirements of approvals for the project.
The process to accept and record citizen complaints is inconsistent, and information gathered is incomplete.
There appears to be no ministry-wide evaluation and review process for citizen complaints about environmental noise produced by wind turbines.
The report concludes with recommendations on how the complaint handling process could be improved as an enforcement tool, and could provide opportunities to act on other issues such as electricity costs.
Are wind power operators profiling people who call them to complain about noise or other effects from wind turbine operations?
In response to a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, Wind Concerns Ontario received what appears to be internal documents used by Suncor in 2016, related to the company’s Adelaide wind power project.
On the forms is the guide to staff to “indicate if the individual is a member of a larger stakeholder group”.
Wind Concerns Ontario is a community group coalition with dozens of community groups throughout the province, most of which actively criticized the imposition of grid-scale wind power facilities on their communities. Many also launched legal appeals before various tribunals and in court.
Was this question meant to intimidate people exercising their rights to complain under the government compliance process?
We sent an email to Suncor, in specific Jason Weir, the staff member who is named on the reports we received, but have had no response. Mr Weir has been listed as Site Supervisor and “Owners’ Representative” in the past, according to a search on his name.
Again these were internal forms for use by staff to guide information gathering. Other questions include asking about details of the complaint, wind direction, etc.
A number of papers were published in 2020 that help to move knowledge about the environmental impact of wind turbine noise emissions forward, and point to the need for regulatory review and change in Ontario, and enforcement of all regulations. While staff at the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks insist they keep up and move with current research, the conclusions reached in the new work show that clearly isn’t true.
As well, important work is being done by independent researchers—people who know there is a serious problem with wind turbine noise emissions, and who are doing what they can to learn why … and what should be done.
Resident complaints proven by data
Early in the year, independent researcher William Palmer P. Eng published “Confirming Tonality at Residences Influenced by Wind Turbines” in the Journal of Energy Conservation. The article is based on the author’s research into resident complaints about a tonal quality to the noise perceived from the turbines in a 140-turbine Ontario wind power facility. The research is based on more than 200 data samples from two families. Here’s the thing: Palmer’s data confirmed a correlation between tonality measurements of 5 dB to more than 20 dB in more than 84 percent of the time. In other words, the resident complaints about a tonal quality to the noise were borne out by actual measurement.
That correlation, Palmer wrote, “gives a high degree of confidence that when residents identified the existence of tonality (which they had done since the turbines came into operation in 2015) was indeed an accurate description.” Add to that, the residents were able to identify times when the wind turbine noise emissions were NOT tonal–that was borne out by the measurements, too.
Palmer discussed a number of problems with the current compliance protocol and noise measurement procedures prescribed by Ontario regulations, including the use of A-weighted noise levels, which has been criticized in other work including reports by the World Health Organization and the Council of Canadian Academies. In Ontario, Palmer says, “the principal criteria for acceptability of the sound received by residents from wind turbines has been based on A-weighted noise level, with tonal presence only requires a small adjustment.” However, Palmer adds, he can find no examples of it being applied.
Another specific flaw, he notes, is that the compliance protocol for wind turbine noise is to monitor conditions for winds within about 45 degrees of the turbine which has the greatest predicted noise impact. In the case of the homes used in his research, that meant that for one house there was presumed to be “little or noise noise impact” when the wind was westerly or no impact when the wind was from the east. In fact, occasions when winds were from those directions actually accounted for 74 of 111 records of irritating or disturbing noise—about 67 percent of the time.
The people were not wrong
Another article, also by independent researchers, elaborated on this theme of citizen concerns about problems with wind turbines. (See also a 2019 paper, Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada.) In this case, the authors of Deja Vu: a review of lived experiences afterAppeals of Ontario Industrial-scale wind Power Facilities, looked at the appeal process for wind power facility approvals and what grounds had been used for citizens to file appeals of those approvals, despite what lawyers call an “uphill battle” to undertake that process. The authors found that the grounds for appeal were: environmental noise, adverse health effects, and other environmental effects such as disturbances to water wells and aquifers.
In the early days of these appeals, the appellants relied on the testimony of “post-turbine witnesses,” people who had experience living within wind power facilities, and who were experiencing health problems. One chair of the Environmental Review Tribunal decided that although the Tribunal “does not question the sincerity” of these witnesses, the quasi-judicial panel concluded that the health problems were self-diagnosed and the lack of evidence from medical professionals was a serious shortcoming.
Today, there are enough complaints throughout Ontario about wind turbine noise emissions that the reports should be seen as significant, the authors said. They cited other authors who called for “diligent enforcement” of regulations by government, and legal authors who observed that wind turbine concerns had been “trivialised” while the concerns for the environment and health were in fact “genuine.”
“The Government of Ontario holds thousands of records of citizen complaints in the form of Incident Reports, many of which are reports of excessive noise and vibration; a significant number includes accounts of the occurrence of adverse health effects,” the authors wrote. Complaints continue to be filed; “there is evidence to suggest that current regulations [in Ontario] are not adequate to protect health.”
“It appears that the people who were concerned about the risks to the environment and human health were not wrong. Those concerns—which led them to spend substantial amounts of money while participating in an unfamiliar, stressful quasi-judicial process—are now the reason for a significant number of complaints to government.”
In other words, what the people feared might happen with the advent of the wind turbines, has now actually come to pass.
Excerpts from interviews with the participants told the story. People had learned that the only thing they could do to relieve the discomfort and problems of the wind turbine noise was to leave.
“When I left my home in the morning, or quite often in the middle of the night and then slept on my vehicle away from the turbines, I would recover from all these symptoms,” said one.
“We left home many times for the day just because of the noise here…we couldn’t stand it,” said another.
Of the 67 study participants, 28 had already abandoned their homes, another 31 were thinking about doing that, and four had decided to stay. The reasons were, the authors concluded, “to obtain temporary and/or partial relief from the occurrence of adverse health effects.”
The authors noted that in some cases, pre-existing health conditions were made worse by living near wind turbines; they called for more study to be done immediately.
At the end of the day…
The people of Ontario were promised a process that included regulation of noise, a protocol to assess compliance, and enforcement of the regulations.
Clearly, after more than 10 years, this promise, made under previous governments, has not been fulfilled. There are serious technical issues with the protocols in place and with the assumptions that underlie the regulatory process.
The Ontario government must:
establish an independent research panel to review current research on wind turbine noise emissions in six months, or less
remove the outdated and inadequate 2010 report of the Chief Medical Officer of Health from the public record
enforce existing regulations
resolve current complaints from citizens
revise and update the compliance protocol
develop new noise regulations, and
ENFORCE those regulations
We look forward to more research in 2021 to move us forward to change.
“It was basically like a death when we had to move from our home”
New research catalogues the reasons behind families in Ontario who decided to abandon their homes after wind turbines started up.
June 29, 2020
“I couldn’t sleep anymore”
“Nowhere to go, no hiding from it [the noise]”
“We had beautiful water–you couldn’t drink it afterwards [turbines began operation]”
“I asked my doctor [if my health problems could be” about [wind] turbines. She said, ‘Yes’.”
Those are just a few of the comments made by Ontario residents who participated in a special study done by a team of health care professionals, acoustics specialists and investigators. A new paper by Dr. Robert McMurtry, Carmen Krogh, acoustics specialists Robert Rand, Jerry Punch, Stephen Ambrose and others*, reviews the reasons behind the desperate choice made by dozens of Ontario families to leave their homes, to preserve their health–both mental and physical.
The new paper, published last week, is based on a study carried out over three years involving 67 Ontario residents and additional family members for a total of 165 people. They all lived within 10 km of industrial-scale wind turbines or wind power generators.
More than half reported adverse health effects after being exposed to noise emissions and vibration from operating wind turbines; stray voltage and disturbed water wells were also cited as key factors in decisions to leave the houses. The people participating in the study had lived in their houses for a mean period of 20 years, or a range of three to 66 years.
The aim of the paper is to present policy-makers with information on the “potential outcomes of placing wind turbines near family homes,” the authors state in their conclusion.
“The comments made by the people in this study are just heart-breaking,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “We’ve seen them over and over in the Incident Reports we received from Freedom of Information requests, together with statements from people indicating they can’t put up with the turbines and the adverse effects anymore. It is well past time the government enforced the rules, changed the rules, and developed rules that truly protect the people of Ontario.
“Bravo to this study team, and all the work they’ve done to expose the terrible things that have happened to innocent citizens.”
Read the full paper here: https://m.scirp.org/papers/101098?fbclid=IwAR3XcUKEebiBR-sLAyIEbNpGHnP3-EQU3_hwtOx4_ovfW6f-cI6JQj7Igfc
*Other authors include community group leaders such as Anne Dumbrille (CCSAGE), Linda Rogers (Mothers Against Wind Turbines) and Debra Hughes.
Cruel joke: Ontario’s 550 metre setback and government/industry notion that it is impossible to hear turbines past 1500 metres
March 3, 2020
New research from Australia has been published in the Journal of Sound and Vibration which shows that wind turbine noise goes a lot farther than the wind power lobby and turbine manufacturers would have you believe.
A lot farther.
Ontario’s setback, supposed to protect people from sleep disturbance and other effects of environmental noise pollution, is just 550 metres. This was suggested to the McGuinty government by the wind power lobby, after the Ontario government proposed a setback of 1 km.
The Australian research demonstrates that indoor low-frequency tone was detected 20 percent of the time at distances up to 2.4 km; the noise dissipated somewhat but was still perceived 16% of the time at a distance of 3.5 km. The authors note that complaints made to the South Australian Environmental Protection Agency came from people living as far away as 8 km!
Here is an excerpt from “Prevalence of wind farm amplitude modulation at long-range residential locations”:
Overall, it is important to determine how often AM is present at residential locations near a wind farm. In this view, Australian researchers from the Flinders University: Dr. Kristy Hansen, Phuc Nguyen, Dr. Branko Zajamšek, Prof. Peter Catcheside, in collaboration with Prof. Colin Hansen at The University of Adelaide studied the prevalence and characteristics of wind farm AM of a certain windfarm in Australia. Their goal was to determine how often AM occurred at various distances from the wind farm and to assess the suitability of the IOA ‘reference method’ for detecting low-frequency AM of a tone that is generated by wind turbines. Their research work is currently published in Journal of Sound and Vibration.
Their approach involved outdoor measurements for a total of 64 days at 9 different residences located between 1 and 9 km from the nearest wind turbine of a South Australian wind farm, which at the time of measurements was made up of 37 operational turbines, each with a rated power of 3 MW. The motivation for their analysis was to investigate the prevalence of a low-frequency ‘thumping’ or ‘rumbling’ noise that had been mentioned in complaints from residents.
… In summary, the study investigated the prevalence and characteristics of wind farm AM at 9 different residences located near a South Australian wind farm. Their work showed that, despite the number of AM events being recorded to reduce with distance, audible indoor AM still occurred for 16% of the time at a distance of 3.5 km. At night-time, audible AM occurred indoors at residences located as far as 3.5 km from the wind farm for up to 22% of the time. In a statement to Advances in Engineering, Dr. Kristy Hansen pointed out that the adopted approach was successful, although more research was needed to quantify the annoyance and sleep disturbance potential of the recorded type of tonal AM.
In Ontario, wind turbines are approved using a noise assessment protocol (developed by acoustics consultants often contracted to do work for wind power developers), using a computer-generated predictive model of the noise. As well, Renewable Energy Approvals require post-operational audits, many of which are incomplete, or have not been submitted at all.
The environment ministry has held the belief that it is impossible to hear turbine noise at 1500 metres and callers to the ministry District Offices or Spills Line are told their complaint is not accepted, and their files are closed, Wind Concerns Ontario has discovered in reviews of Incident Reports provided under Freedom of Information requests. Wind Concerns ONtario has so far tracked 5,200 formal records of complaints held by the government. How many would there be if people had not been told their complaint was impossible?
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:
Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
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.
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.
IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“a particular focus on larger gas, wind and solar…”
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:
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.
The review referred to in paragraph 1 shall:
identify measures or adjustments that could result in reduced costs for Ontario consumers;
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
take into consideration system reliability and potential impacts to Indigenous, municipal, and local partnerships.
The review shall not consider the Bruce Power Refurbishment Agreement or contracts related to conservation and demand-management initiatives.
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.”