Property value loss from North Stormont wind farm in the millions: Wind Concerns Ontario


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Berwick area farm: 33 huge industrial wind turbines planned could mean a loss of $37 million for nearby property owners [Photo Dorothea Larsen, Kemptville]

Homeowners in North Stormont will have to make a big sacrifice to “green” energy if the proposed “Nation Rise” wind power project is constructed, says Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups and Ontario families.

Using research completed recently by a land economist with the University of Guelph and published in Land Economics, Wind Concerns calculates that overall, the property loss for houses within 5 km of the 33 planned turbines could be $87.8 million. Using other research that is less conservative, however, the property value loss could be more than $140 million.

Research done in 2016 by the partnership of Clarkson University and Nanos Research on U.S properties with a view of Wolfe Island wind turbines showed an overall property value loss of 15 per cent for homes “with a view” of the turbines. Older research done by Ontario real estate appraiser Ben Lansink in 2012 found a more dramatic reduction for properties closest to turbines, an average loss of 37 per cent.

University of Guelph associate professor Richard Vyn found a property value loss in communities opposed to wind power projects of 8.98 percent for houses within 2 km of turbines, and 8.62 per cent for properties within 4 km, post-construction of turbines.

For the Nation Rise power project, there are 828 properties within 1,500 metres of turbines according to the wind power developer, Portugal-based EDP, and approximately 2,500 residences within 2 to 5 km of the turbines, according to community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.

The houses within 1,500 metres of a turbine in the “Nation Rise” project could see a loss of $21.8 million using professor Vyn’s estimate, $37 million according to Clarkson-Nanos, or as much as $91 million in losses using Mr. Lansink’s calculations.

The community group has appealed the project approval on the basis of environmental, safety and health concerns, and is worried about the effect of turbine construction on the water supply, which could be an additional factor in property value loss.

Wind power proponents and Ontario’s municipal assessment agency have maintained that there is no appreciable property value loss, but an energy commentator wrote in Forbes magazine in 2015 that “there’s a heavily funded public relations machine to make Americans think that wind power doesn’t impact property values.”

“Renewable energy and the ‘environment’ are big businesses and they include not just energy producing companies but also various agencies, interest groups, and even university researchers,” Jude Clemente wrote. “Their grant money and careers are at stake.”

Clemente added that “Many members of the Real Estate and Appraisal businesses, however, have been clear that wind power DOES impact property values … it would seem to me that these groups have no vested interest in supporting wind power or not supporting it.”

A decision is expected on the Nation Rise project appeal in the first week of January, 2019.

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) says Ontario has an adequate supply of power until 2035. The 20-year contract for the Nation Rise project will cost Ontario more than $450 million.


#properties Value at $300K each Estimated loss – Vyn 8.8% Estimated loss-Clarkson-Nanos/Lansink 15%
3,328 $998.4 Million $87.8 million $140.7 million


Reposted from Wind Concerns Ontario December 5, 2018


Richard Vyn, “Property Value Impacts of Wind Turbines and the Influence of Attitudes toward Wind Energy”, Land Economics.




Stop Nation Rise wind power project, save $400M, Ford government told


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End unnecessary wind power project and save $400 million: Wind Concerns Ontario tells Premier Doug Ford


A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

October 31, 2018

At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.

He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:

Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?

Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*


Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?

The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.

Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).

And, it’s expensive.

Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.

Nation Rise may cost Ontario  as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**

But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.

Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.

He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.

It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.


We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.


*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.

**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.

Risk of wind turbine construction, operation high: geoscientist


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October 16, 2018

Lawyer Maureen Cartier-Whitney chairs the appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal. A geoscientist testified that the only mitigation is not to locate the wind turbines on the vulnerable areas where landslides and water contamination are possible.

Re-posted from Wind Concerns Ontario, October 15, 2018

Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.

Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.

Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.

She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”

The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded  “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”

A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.

The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.

When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.

The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.

In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.

The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.

Testimony on danger to well water begins Monday in North Stormont


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October 11, 2018


The citizen-funded appeal of the 100-megawatt, 30+ industrial-scale wind turbine power project in North Stormont (between Ottawa and Cornwall) resumes Monday with expert testimony from a hydrogeologist. Testimony will centre on the danger to area water supply as a result of vibration from construction and operation of the turbines.

Residents in the Chatham-Kent area of Ontario have already experienced problems connected to wind turbine construction, with dozens of families and farms now without water when turbines were constructed on a highly vulnerable aquifer.

The aquifer in the “Nation Rise” wind power project is also designated “highly vulnerable” and residents are concerned.

One of the conditions of the Renewable Energy Approval given to the project by the Wynne government in its last days before election defeat requires that wells within a prescribed distance of turbines must be identified and the water tested prior to construction. That hasn’t happened, say residents, who note that as far as they can tell, the Spain-based power developer EDP has identified less than half the wells that could be affected.

Now, residents whose wells have not been noted by the developer are posting signs.

“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Margaret Benke of Concerned Citizens of North Stormont explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area.  As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”

That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.

The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.

“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”

The appeal resumes in Finch at the community centre and arena on Monday morning.

Contact Concerned Citizens of North Stormont here:


NY wind farm problems a sign of what’s ahead for North Stormont?


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September 13, 2018

Residents in Arkwright, NY, are shocked at the noise and environmental disturbance from a wind power project, which just started operation.

The project developer and operator is Spain-based EDP, the same company that runs the South Branch project in Brinston and which is planning the contentious Nation Rise power project in North Stormont.

Residents had hoped the project would be cancelled when the new Ontario government cancelled three other wind power projects, but the IESO claims the project–which is under appeal–has met all its contractual milestones.

Here is the news story with resident complaints of never-ending noise and visual disturbance.

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OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward A large crowd fills the Arkwright Town Hall, as complaints of noise are heard regarding the wind turbines.

ARKWRIGHT– This week saw the powering up of the wind turbines in Arkwright, and the area received its first taste of what a wind farm is like when fully operational.

Despite what many deem as good news, others were not impressed.

“We were up at the lean-tos,” Joni Riggles, a concerned citizen stated. “I am so upset, EDP was asked not to put turbines within viewshot by the county planning board. It is a nightmare, a sonic nightmare, a visual nightmare. It sounded like sneakers in a laundromat. The campground is surrounded, it’s a toxic environment. Who’s going to want to camp here?”

Carrie Babcock, an Arkwright resident said, “It’s like jetliners surrounding my house. It’s a form of noise pollution. It’s awful. How can you help me move away from here? How do I get out of here and still have some property value?”

“I could be sitting on my couch reading and all I have to do is barely crack open a window and it sounds like a jet that’s going by that never goes by. We were told by these people everyday that you’ll never know they’re even there, and if you think that’s not a problem, you’re taking money from the windmill people,” Doug Zeller, another resident added.

“What do you want us to do about it?” Councilman Larry Ball asked. “What do you want us to do about it today?”

“Take them down,” Riggles voiced.

“That’s not going to happen,” Fred Norton, town supervisor, and others on the board responded.

In response to Riggles’ original question, Norton did note that the county gave a release to the developer allowing them to put their windmills there.

Beyond the noise complaints, a letter from Dorothy Fogelman-Holland was read by her husband, citing issues with cell phone interference. Within the letter she claims that there have been times, no matter the day or to who or what type of phone she calls, she’s unable to make a connection. These incidents are sometimes 11 calls being made consecutively and none of them connecting. She states that the issues started in July and are ongoing. Both she and her husband have spoken with their carrier and the carrier has found no issue with their phones or with the towers.

The problem for her is that she undergoes at home dialysis care, and is in need of a constant outside line in case she was to need emergency services. Fogelman-Holland is concerned that others might be in the same predicament with their phones, and that if someone is unable to make a call to 911 that it could be the difference of a life.

Concern was also raised with health issues the turbines might cause. In response Ingalls reminded citizens that, if there’s a complaint or health issue with them, the company has a hot line on the door of the Arkwright Town Hall that has been up throughout construction. If there is an issue they want to hear about it so that they can address it; those messages are checked every day.

There is a fund-raiser/information Brunch event Saturday September 15 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the arena in Finch, hosted by the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.

Fundraiser-information brunch in Finch this weekend


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Berwick area farm: 33 huge industrial wind turbines proposed, with risk to health, safety, environment and wildlife [Photo Dorothea Larsen, Kemptville]

September 12, 2018

The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont are hosting a special Country Breakfast-Brunch event this Saturday, September 15 at the Finch Arena, to offer information on the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, and to help raise funds for the citizen appeal of the power project.

The project is neither necessary nor wanted by the community.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has stated that the project has met all the milestones; this is not possible as the project is under appeal, and is subject to a condition-laden Renewable Energy Approval. That approval was granted just three days before the writ for the recent Ontario election was drawn up.

In response to citizen concerns about damage to the aquifer and water supply and health impacts of exposure to noise emissions from the turbines, the power developer, EDPR of Spain, actually changed material aspect of the project in the middle of the appeal. The company announced in documents filed with the Environmental Review Tribunal that it was changed the method of construction to be used for the foundations, and changing the equipment type for the turbines.

The appeal has been halted for the moment but resumes next week with testimony on hydrogeology and risks to the environment.

The Brunch event is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information contact:



North Stormont appeal delayed until September


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Witnesses for the community opposition present fresh evidence on harm to people and the environment


Berwick area farm: 33 huge industrial wind turbines proposed, with risk to health, safety, environment and wildlife [Photo Dorothea Larsen, Kemptville]

Ontario Farmer, August 14, 2018

By Tom Van Dusen

The Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into North Stormont’s approved Nation Rise wind turbine project has been adjourned until September 10-11.

The adjournment was called by tribunal chair Maureen Carter-Whitney July 31, with three days remaining on the original two-week schedule.

Key issues in deciding whether authorization given to EDP Renewables for the wind farm should be revoked are that it poses serious risk to human health, or that it could create irrevocable damage to the natural environment.

When the hearing resumes, hydrology will be the main topic. Before it broke, opponents presented their case on the threat to bats and birds posed by the installation of 33 turbines in the farming community south-east of Ottawa, the last wind power project to be approved in Ontario before the recent provincial election.

Expert witness Philippe Thomas, a resident of nearby Chesterville, educated the panel on barotrauma, a phenomenon which can cause the lungs of bats to implode when they fly in low-pressure areas close to turbine blades.

He described a study in Western Canada where it was part of his job to retrieve 400 bat carcasses at the base of wind turbines; only a few showed injuries consistent with being struck by blades, while the majority would have succumbed to barotrauma.

..EDP had a chance to rebut bird and bats arguments with its own expert witnesses. Biologist Andrew Ryckman and Dr Paul Kerlinger concluded the danger to bats would be minima and the impact on songbirds and migratory birds would be equally limited because they’re commonly found closer to shorelines. …

[Opposition coordinator Margaret Benke] indicated opposing witnesses brought forward some fresh points on wind turbine noise and on “debris fling” — the fact that pieces sometimes break off wind mills and are hurled long distances, posing a threat to humans in the area.

A major issue now, she emphasized, is paying the $20,000 debt opponents have accumulated in going against the project while raising more money to continue to fight to the end.

To help with fundraising for the North Stormont appeal, go to Go Fund Me here or send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont c/o Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509, 250 Wellington Main Street, Wellington ON  K0K 3L0.

Nation Rise wind power project likely to create noise, health problems: WCO president


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Turbines near Strathroy — 1000s of unresolved noise complaints elsewhere in Ontario mean Nation Rise likely to have problems, too. Especially since the developer got to use outdated rules [Photo London Free Press]


July 31, 2018

Report by Tom van Dusen

Finch, Ontario — Sitting demurely and speaking quietly, on July 24 the volunteer president of Wind Concerns Ontario blasted the provincial government approach to monitoring industrial wind turbines, accusing it of ignoring complaints about noise, health and other issues, or deferring them with no subsequent action.

Jane Wilson made  her comments while presenting as a witness during an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into the Nation Rise wind power project planned for Stormont County. The hearing is scheduled to continue through August 2.

Currently engaged in the approval process, the project is sponsored by EDP Renewables Canada and calls for installation of some 33 turbines in North Stormont farm country delivering a total of 100 megawatts of power that, opponents observe, the province doesn’t need.

Headed by local resident Margaret Benke, opponents were hopeful the new Doug Ford government would cancel Nation Rise just as it did the White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County. But that didn’t happen and opponents’ legal fees and other expenses are up to $20,000. Benke noted that, with Ford in place, Nation Rise isn’t likely to proceed and yet opposing residents are still on the hook for costs.

Government not enforcing the law

A registered nurse, Wilson said Wind Concerns represents a coalition of more than 30 community groups across Ontario.

She emphasized that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change–renamed Environment, Conservation and Parks — has pledged to protect the environment and human health from any turbine side effects.

She cited former Environment Minister Glen Murray congratulating his officials for responding quickly to complaints and enforcing the law. However, Wilson’s review of incident reports obtained through Access to Information indicated the ministry doesn’t respond to all complaints and “does not, therefore, enforce the law.”

No answer to that

Total number of incident reports filed with the ministry between 2006 and 2016 was 4,574, Wilson told Maureen Cartier-Whitney, chair of the one-person panel. Records showed that in more than 50 per cent of formal complaints, there was no ministry response. Another 30 per cent were deferred. “In fact, only one percent received priority response.”

While he asked for some clarification, Paul McCulloch of the ministry’s Legal Services Branch, didn’t dispute Wilson’s basic facts. Representing EDP, lawyer . Grant Worden also offered no challenges to Wilson.

The repetitive nature of various complaints suggests, Wilson continue, that wind power developers are failing to live up to the terms of their approvals by allowing conditions triggering adverse effects including on health, to continue.

“Documented health effects include headache, sleep deprivation, annoyance, and ringing or pressure sensation in the head and ears. Most disturbing was the fact that these health effects were reported many times, and also among children.”

Wilson indicated that 39 per cent of 2006-2016 incident reports referred explicitly to sleep disturbance which is generally blamed for a myriad of diseases and disorders.

“Given the thousands of unresolved noise complaints in Ontario, and given Health Canada results of adverse health effects at distances of 550 metres to 1 km, it is reasonable to question whether the Nation Rise power project will not also engender community reports of excessive noise and adverse effects.”

To help support the appeal, which is bringing forward issues never presented to the ERT before, please send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, c/o Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509, 250 Wellington main Street, Wellington ON  K0K 3L0


Nation Rise project: significant concerns over health, environmental damage


North Stormont community fight for environment begins Monday


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Citizens of North Stormont are preparing for their appeal of the 100-megawatt wind power project, which begins Monday in Finch before the Environmental Review Tribunal

Wind turbine near Brinston, south of Ottawa: citizen reports of noise from industrial wind turbines are unresolved in Ontario [Photo: Ray Pilon]

July 22, 2018

In a bizarre fight which sees ordinary citizens marshalling scarce after-tax dollars to fight the Ontario government’s environment ministry to try to protect the environment (and safety and health), the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont begins its appeal of the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project tomorrow, July 23rd.

The appeal goes before the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal, a panel that is part of the Environment and Lands Tribunals (ELTO) of Ontario.

Almost every single wind power project in Ontario has been appealed, but there have been few victories in a system apparently set up to favour the power developers. Most successful appeals were won on blatant risks to wildlife and the environment, and one on aviation safety (the completely insane Fairview Wind project, planned between two airports near Collingwood).

Despite decisions that note the pain suffered by people forced to live inside wind power projects, the Tribunal has refused to consider any risk to health from the huge industrial-scale wind turbines, that do emit a range of noise.*

The power developer, Portugal-based EDP, is represented by John Terry of international law firm Torys LLP; Mr Terry has also represented the wind industry lobbyist and trade association, CanWEA, in the past. The new environment ministry, now the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks or MECP, will also be represented by a team of lawyers.

The citizens’ group will be represented by lawyers from the environmental law firm of Eric K. Gillespie.

Risks to environment, safety and health

The community concerns filed with the Notice of Appeal include the danger to the area water supply (most of the project is on a “highly vulnerable” aquifer), safety from turbine operations, and health impacts from the noise from the industrial-scale wind power generators/turbines.

Tomorrow’s appearance will consist of Opening Statements, and a series of presenters including mechanical engineer Vern Martin, who will discuss safety concerns posed by the wind turbines and blades.

Tuesday, the themes are noise and health, and public safety, with Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson presenting data on the thousands of noise complaints lodged with the Ontario government which have not been resolved. Engineer William Palmer will present information on turbine events in Ontario related to debris and ice throw from the turbine blades.

Thursday will see appellant presenters discussing the risk to the aquifer and local water wells, posed by the foundation construction and wind turbine vibration.

The proceedings will take place in the Finch Community Centre and Arena, beginning at 9 a.m., and are open to the public.

Fund-raising for the citizen effort to protect the community is ongoing, please see the Go Fund Me link, here.

  • From the report on wind turbine noise by the Council of Canadian Academies, 2015: “Wind turbines are a particularly complex and distinctive source of sound, which can span a wide range of frequencies including low-frequency tones. …The evidence shows a positive relationship between outdoor wind turbine noise levels and the proportion of people who report high levels of annoyance. (“Annoyance” is employed here as a medical term denoting stress or distress. Annoyance is listed by the World Health Organization as an adverse health effect.)

Ottawa area community ramps up wind farm fight


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Last chance for justice


Concerned Citizens of North Stormont leader Margaret Benke : power not needed, plenty of environmental dangers ahead

July 17, 2018

Residents of Berwick, Finch and Crysler, just 40 minutes south of Ottawa, are working day and night to prepare for their appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project, scheduled to begin next Monday in Finch.

The power project, planned to have a capacity of 100 megawatts of power (though wind power is typically less than 30% efficient) and would see more than 30 huge industrial wind turbines throughout the project area.

If it goes ahead, that is.

And that’s something many in the community are determined to fight.

The project was one of five new wind power contracts awarded in 2016 under the Large Renewable Procurement program (LRP). The 20-year cost of the contract, which will be added to Ontario electricity customers’ bills, will be more than $436 million, or almost $22 million a year. The new Ontario government pledged to cancel all five of those contracts and so far, has dispatched three of them, with an announcement last Friday.

Without formal cancellation, however, the community through a citizens group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, is forced to proceed with its expensive appeal of the project’s Renewable Energy Approval. That approval, or REA, was given just three days before the writ period began for the recent Ontario election—an act that runs counter to the accepted idea that governments go into “caretaker” mode immediately prior to the election.

That is costing North Stormont residents thousands, but it’s costing all Ontario taxpayers, too, says Margaret Benke, spokesperson for the community group. “They have to send all those lawyers up here from Toronto, they have to stay somewhere, they have to eat — it all costs money, as they defend a bad decision made by the previous government.”

Why a bad decision? The majority of the power project would be built on land that is designated as a “highly vulnerable aquifer” meaning it is at risk for contamination by pollutants, and that the hydrogeology is such that the aquifer could be disturbed and wells for farms, homes and businesses could fail. That’s already happened near a wind power project in North Kent, and the new government has promised a public health investigation.

There are other environmental concerns about the project, including the risk of injury from blade failures and ice throw from the huge blades.

And then there’s the noise. The industrial-scale wind power generators produce a range of noise emissions which affect a significant portion of the population. The turbine noise can cause disturbance of sleep which results in other health problems; the unique quality of the turbine noise also results in “annoyance,” a medical term for stress or distress.

Almost every wind power project in Ontario has been appealed by Ontario citizens, and a few have been successful, but none on human health. At present, according to Wind Concerns Ontario, there are thousands of official reports of excessive wind turbine noise, almost none of which have ever been resolved.

The power developer, Portugal-based EDP Renewables, operates the South Branch wind power project in nearby Brinston; there have been noise complaints for that project, but they are unavailable under Freedom of Information requests because the Environment ministry’s Cornwall office did not follow procedures and issue tracking numbers for the complaints.

Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says that situation “is an outrage. If it were anything else, like a model of automobile that had a few engine fires, or a food product that was contaminated, it would be recalled. In Ontario, this terrible situation is allowed to go on and on, with the Environmental Review Tribunal and the former Ministry of the Environment just letting it happen.”

“This appeal is the community’s last chance for justice outside of the court system or the Legislature,” says Wilson. “I hope the Tribunal will finally recognize its responsibility to this community, and rescind the approval for this project.”

The appeal begins Monday morning in Finch, at the Finch Community Centre/North Stormont Arena.