Earth Day in North Stormont: industrialized turbine landscape

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Transformer substation and turbines near Crysler (Resident supplied photo)

“Restore Our Earth” is Earth Day theme—tough to see in an industrialized landscape.

April 21, 2021

Earth Day looks a little different this year for the communities of Berwick, Finch and Crysler as 600-foot wind turbines, as tall as 60-storey office buildings, rise up over farmland and rural homes.

The Nation Rise wind power project with 29 huge power generating turbines is located throughout North Stormont on farmland that was excellent food producing land.

The Earth Day theme globally this year is to focus on “natural processes” and to repair and maintain ecosystems. “Restore Our Earth” is the mantra for 2021—but it takes on a different meaning when one views the large turbines.

Nation Rise is supposed to start commercial operation June 17; the capacity will be 100 megawatts of power, but in Ontario, wind power is generated out of phase with demand, and only intermittently. At the time of writing, wind is producing 1,900 megawatts to meet the 15,000 megawatt Ontario system demand.

Residents have lived through many months of construction including the access roads built to build the turbines and service them. A transformer substation was also built as part of the project infrastructure (pictured above). As far as one can see, the required acoustic barrier around the substation has not been completed.

Anyone experiencing excessive noise/vibration/sound pressure, or who is noticing problems with their water well function, should call the Ontario environment ministry Spills LIne at 1-866-MOE-TIPS.

#RestoreOurEarth #EarthDay

Nation Rise wind turbines change rural communities

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April 6, 2021

Huge grid-scale wind turbines are changing the landscape in North Stormont as the Nation Rise wind power project approaches commercial operation in June.

The photo above shows a view of the village of Crysler with two of the wind turbines visible. The Nation Rise turbines are 131 metres to the hub height, or 429 feet. The height to the blade tip is more than 600 feet.

There are 29 turbines in total in the industrial power project.

Wind Concerns Ontario reports that some residents have already experienced excessive noise and vibration from the turbines; they have been advised to call the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Cornwall Office at 1-800-860-2760. If the call is outside of business hours, residents should call the 24/7 Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS.

In both cases, caller should be given an Incident Report number, and should also keep a record of their call.

You may also email nationrise@edpr.com to report problems; the company is required to pass along your complaint to the environment ministry.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Construction active at Nation Rise

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The construction schedule for this week on the Nation Rise wind power project is:

THIS WEEK: CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES MARCH 8TH – MARCH 14TH
  • Turbine commissioning ongoing.
  • Installation of components at Turbines 56 & 46.
  • Conducting install activities within Turbines 16, 32, 35, 44 & 57.

If anyone is experiencing excessive noise, vibration or disturbance to well water, the contact information for power developer EDPR is available here: https://updates.nationrisewindfarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/NRWF-Contact-Sheet-FINAL-07042019-002.pdf

You may also call the environment ministry’s tips line at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of your call.

How wind turbines scarred a landscape and harmed a community

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March 4, 2021 

An editorial in the Eastern Ontario edition of Farmers Forum says “Toronto” should never have imposed the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power facility on the communities of North Stormont. 

In his editorial titled “How wind turbines scarred a landscape and a community,” editor Patrick Meagher notes that the township conducted a survey of residents and found most didn’t want the wind turbine development, and then unanimously voted to declare North Stormont an “Unwilling Host”. 

“But things didn’t go that way,” Meagher writes.  

Weeks before the provincial election in 2018, the Liberal government “greenlighted the project. This was in spite of a longstanding agreement not to approve major projects when another government could take over. Wynne got a two-for-one deal, sticking it to the next government and the locals at Crysler, Berwick and Finch.” (The riding went Conservative.) 

The wind power project caused strong feelings, Meagher says. “The project was so acrimonious that in this small community friendships broke up, family members stopped talking to each other, and more than 10 property owners sold their houses and moved away.” 

Now the community is “stuck” with 29 huge turbines that are “large, inefficient, taxpayer-subsidized generators of intermittent power…not even a good business decision.”

“This ugly event is testimony to why governments should listen to the people they work for…Toronto should never have decided what should happen in this small farming community 400 kilometres away.” 

The editorial also quoted former mayor Dennis Fife who said the community now has to try to move on. 

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Community concerns persist as Nation Rise project nears completion

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March 1, 2021

The 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, being constructed in North Stormont in the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick, will be finished and operating by June, the developer EDPR told a community liaison meeting last week.

The project will provide power to more than 25,000 homes —sometimes. Wind power is weather-dependent, intermittent, and produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, at night, and in the warmer seasons of spring and fall.

A news story with more details was published in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder. Read it here. Note the concerns the community still has about this project, and questions asked (without satisfactory answers) by Councillor Steve Densham.

The community filed multiple appeals of the approval of this project, which was done in the dying days of the Wynne Liberal government. Concerns were about environmental noise pollution, harm to wildlife including migratory birds and endangered species of bats, and the risk of harm to the local aquifer, which is designated as “highly vulnerable” by the provincial government.

Testing of the wind turbine operations should begin soon, and full operation is planned for June.

Anyone experiencing problems with noise, vibration or sound pressure, and/or problems with their water wells, should call the Ontario Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. The call centre is available 24 hours a day.

Be sure to get an Incident Report number if you call, and keep a record of your call for yourself.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Pro-wind court decision shocks North Stormont communities

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Tremendous step backwards for environmental protection, citizens group says

Water supply, wildlife and noise pollution were concerns in the community fight against an unwanted wind power project [Photo: Pexels]

May 15, 2020

The decision released Wednesday by the Ontario Superior Court which overturned the Ontario environment minister’s move to revoke approval of a large wind power project has shocked the communities that have been fighting for five years to stop the wind “farm” due to concerns about the environment and wildlife.

While the urban media, at the urging of the wind power lobby, power developer, the NDP and Green political parties and so-called environmental organizations are happy about the court decision, those familiar with the power project and the evidence presented against it are not.

The court decision does not merely overturn the minister’s revocation of the project approval, it declares the minister had no authority to act and in essence, writes new public policy over development decisions and the environment. Referencing the “Ford government” with obvious distaste and a transparently one-dimensional view of the government’s approach to environmental issues, columnists failed to recognize what the court has really done.

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont chair Margaret Benke said the decision leaves the “entire Province highly vulnerable. The Minister and Ministry of the Environment with all their resources can’t protect our natural resources and species at risk. The only protection against these kinds of mistakes by the ERT [the quasi-judicial body that hears appeals of approvals] is now in the hands of private citizens,” Benke said.

“We will be asking the Court of Appeal to reconsider what seems to be a tremendous step backwards for environmental protection in Ontario.”

The community group appealed the approval for the project on the grounds of risk of harm to wildlife, the environment specifically the aquifer which is noted as “highly vulnerable” by the Ontario government, and the risk to human health from the wind turbines. The appeal was dismissed; the group then filed a direct appeal with the minister, noting errors in the Environmental Review Tribunal decision. The minister revoked the approval last December saying the risk to endangered bats was significant, he wanted to “exercise precaution” and in any event, Ontario does not need the electrical power from the wind project.

While media reports claim the Ford government dislikes renewable energy projects, the truth is, the Wynne government halted all procurement in 2016 saying the province had enough electricity, and 90 percent of the power suppl was emissions-free. The Wynne government actually cancelled several wind power projects, but gave contracts to five that year, including Nation Rise.

The power developer insists the community did not bring forward bats in their appeal, which is not correct: written submissions were presented to the Tribunal but then, the wind power developer filed a last-minute report which gave the community group’s expert witness no time to review it, so little of his evidence was presented.

The Concerned Citizens group has spent over $100,000 on legal fees; in Wednesday’s decision they were punished for their work to protect the community and environment by having to pay the power developer $60,000 in costs.

The office of the Attorney General or the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks have not made a comment on whether they will appeal the decision, which clearly has an impact on ministerial authority.

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

 

North Stormont families await wind turbine court decision

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One of eight Nation Rise turbines built, now idle: 800m from nearest house. At least three bat colonies at risk in the power project [photo: CCNS]

May 13, 2020

It has been almost a month now since (virtual) hearings concluded in the matter of the cancellation of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the contentious “Nation Rise” wind power project, south of Ottawa.

The 100-megawatt power project was developed by EDPR, a power developer and utility based in Portugal, Spain and Texas. It was granted approval in the last days of the Wynne government in Ontario (arguably during the period when governments do not take major decisions) and was given a Notice To Proceed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in early days of the new government, despite campaign promises to end large wind power contracts.

Current Ontario environment minister Jeff Yurek issued a decision last December saying that he had reviewed the situation and decided that it would be in the “public interest” to revoke the REA, due to significant risks to wildlife and the environment, even though the power project was already under construction.

The power developer argued against the cancellation, and took legal action asserting that the minister did not have the authority to act.

The outcome of this case, which is now before a panel of three judges for deliberation, affects all Ontario. Nothing less than the minister’s authority to act in the public interest is at stake. Although the minister’s authority is clearly described in the Environmental Protection Act, the power developer and the wind power lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association, claimed the decision was political and that the current government hates “green energy.”

The project was to have 29 turbines encompassing the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick. Citizens’ group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont appealed the approval originally on the basis of the risk to human heath from noise and vibration, danger to the environment due to turbine vibrations in a highly vulnerable aquifer, and dangers to wildlife such as migratory birds and bats. The appeal was dismissed but the group then filed a direct appeal to the minister, as allowed under law, based on “public interest”—it was this appeal to which the minister responded.

Legal costs for this action to protect the community and wildlife have been substantial. The community group has had to suspend fundraising efforts due to COVID-19.

Anyone wishing to donate can go to the website here or send a cheque to CCNS c/o 14950 County Rd 9 BERWICK ON K0C 1G0

For more information on the harm caused to bat species by Canada’s wind turbines, read this 2016 paper prepared by Natural Resources scientists here: https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jwmg.21128

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

The visible and invisible costs of wind power

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Turbines on Wolfe Island: hidden costs to wind power affect electricity customers

March 2, 2020

Ontario’s fleet of wind turbines cost electricity ratepayers more than $24 million last weekend, says retired bank executive now energy commentator Parker Gallant.

That was mostly due to the fact that wind — as usual–produces power out of phase with demand, but there is a lot more to the costliness of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines, as he details in a recent article here.

Some added costs of wind power or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs):

 

  • 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.

 

The property value loss from the North Gower project that was proposed in 2008, got a contract to generate electricity from the IESO in 2010, but ultimately failed in a reorganization of the The Feed-In Tariff program, would have been in the millions.

At the time, Ottawa Wind Concerns estimated the property value loss for homes within 3 km of the multiple turbines would have been $134 million.

The current Ontario government has pledged to reduce electricity bills by 12%, but the many expensive wind power contracts signed by the previous government will go on for more than a decade.

OTTAWA WIND CONCERNS

Wind turbine noise complaints continue

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March 2,2020

Wind Concerns Ontario recently released its latest review of wind turbine noise complaints received by the Ontario government; the new review document is based on complaints filed with the then Ministry of Environment and Climate Change for the 2017 calendar year.

The total number of complaint files 2006-2017 is now more than 5,000 Wind Concerns says, though it also has evidence that the reports provided to them via Freedom of Information request is a fraction of the real number.

Highlights for data in the report, which may found here are:

  • almost 700 reports were filed in 2017–but there are likely many more
  • there was “NO” ministry response noted in 54% of the Incident Reports
  • ministry action was confirmed in just 1.3% of the reports
  • 42% contain government staff notes about adverse health impacts
  • 16% of the complaints have details of physical symptoms that suggest exposure to harmful low-frequency noise or infrasound

The wind power project that was proposed for the North Gower-Richmond area in Ottawa would have exposed dozens of families to wind turbine noise emissions. In a special information presentation to the community, Queens University Professor Emeritus John Harrison said that the proposed turbine layout in the North Gower project would have created additional noise problems due to wake turbulence.

The Ontario government halted procurement of large-scale renewable power projects; however a recent survey of leadership candidates for the Ontario Liberal Party showed that every single one supported more wind power, especially front-runner, Steven Del Duca.

 

Nation Rise wind power project in court next month

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January 15, 2020

EDPR, the Portugal-based power developer for the Nation Rise wind power facility planned for, and partially constructed, in North Stormont, south of Ottawa, will appear in court in Toronto February 14th, with an application to “render without legal effect” or quash the recent revocation of the Renewable Energy Approval by environment minister Jeff Yurek.

Minister Yurek issued his decision in response to a direct application to his office by the local community group, filed early in 2019.

Minister Yurek revoked the Renewable Energy Approval on the grounds that there was a significant risk to endangered bat species, which are critical to the eco-system, citing the fact that Ontario also does not need the power from the proposed 100-megawatt project.

The wind power lobbyist Can WEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is seeking status in the legal proceedings as an intervenor, which would mean their lawyers could cross-examine witnesses.

Community group the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS), which filed the direct application, may also participate. CCNS had appealed the original approval before the Environmental Review Tribunal but the appeal was dismissed.

While statements have been made that the cancellation is unprecedented, the fact is, several power projects have been cancelled in Ontario historically. The Ostrander Point project in Prince Edward County was also revoked due to danger to the Blandings Turtle, and the White Pines power project, also in Prince Edward County, was reduced from 29 to 27 and eventually 9 turbines over multiple environmental concerns. That project was ultimately cancelled by the Ford government.

Statements have been made that the Nation Rise project was mostly constructed when the approval was revoked. In fact, of 29 turbines, only eight were approaching completion. The company’s target date for completion and providing power to the grid in Ontario was near the end of March or this year. That deadline has now been extended because of legal actions.

The power developer has also claimed that the community will suffer because of the cancellation, because the project would have brought jobs to the area. The usual case, however, is that there is one technical job per 10 turbines in operation; other jobs are short-term, construction-related positions that end with the construction phase.

North Stormont was one of the original unwilling host communities in Ontario, and was also one of 116 municipalities that demanded a return of local land-use planning powers removed by the Green Energy Act.

The Wynne government did not respond.

The Ford government returned planning powers to municipalities last year.

Almost every wind power project has been appealed on the basis of environmental concerns in Ontario since 2009; prior to that date, communities appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.