A decision rendered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently determined that a natural gas power plant would better serve the public interest than a simultaneously proposed wind and solar power project.
In her decision, Judge Louise Dovre Borkman relied on information from the state’s public utilities analyst coordinator, who said that “wind and solar capacity does not always translate into available energy because those resources are unpredictable and uncontrollable—the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining.”
A critical factor in the decision was a statement in Minnesota Statute §216B.2422, subsection 4(3) saying that due to the “intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities” there could be an impact on the cost of energy.
“In fact,” the Judge wrote, “as Minnesota Power illustrated in its EnergyForward , the output from those resources can ebb significantly even over the course of a single day.
“When that happens, or customer demand increases, Minnesota Power must increase output from more reliable resources, like coal or natural gas generators, or purchase power on the regional market.”
The Judge noted testimony from a consulting expert on energy who said that adding more wind instead of natural gas would leave the power company “doubly vulnerable to market pricing, both to sell surplus energy into the market when prices are low and to buy energy when prices are high.”
The final conclusion was that a “wind or solar alternative is not in the public interest” because the costs are higher.
The reasoning didn’t mention Ontario’s disastrous experience with wind power but it might have: two Auditors General said Ontario’s electricity customers had lost billions. And unlike Minnesota which appears to have approached this with care and consideration, there was never any cost-benefit analysis.
The City of Ottawa is about to make the same mistake, with its Energy Evolution plan, putting forward wind, solar and battery storage as the sole solutions to producing energy for the future.
[Reprinted with permission from Windconcernsontario.ca ]
Meanwhile, Ottawa plans to allow industrial-scale turbines in rural areas as early as 2025
September 2, 2021
The failure of a wind turbine at the Bow Lake wind power facility near Sault Ste. Marie is raising questions about safety around the giant industrial structures and current Ontario regulations.
The collapse of the Bow Lake turbine is being investigated by the power facility operator, BluEarth Renewables, and there were no injuries associated with the event. However, as can be seen from the photo of the debris field, it is worth questioning what might have happened if the collapse had occurred on a farm property in southern Ontario.
Interviewed for the story in Sault Online , engineer Bill Palmer said “this incident is the 10th wind turbine failure in Ontario that has put the blades (and in this case all three of the 50 metre long blades for the failed turbine) onto the ground… this is the second collapse of a very similar GE wind turbine and the 6th case in Ontario in which GE turbines have put blades on the ground”.
Palmer has published numerous academic papers and appeared at international conferences on wind turbines and health and safety. He was also a witness in the citizen appeal of the Nation Rise project south of Ottawa. He noted that his personal experience with a turbine failure showed debris was flung more than 500 metres.
The Ontario regulation for setback between a wind turbine and a roadway or right of way is currently blade length plus 10 metres. In the case of the Nation Rise power project for example, that would be 79 metres or just 259 feet.
Just two months ago, a turbine failed in Southgate, just west of Toronto. The roadway nearby was closed for a week. No conclusions of the investigation into the event have been published to date.
The City of Ottawa plans to allow wind turbines in rural areas, according to its “Energy Evolution” document. The City states that one of its projects is changes to the electricity sector, which includes a plan “to develop local or regional renewable electricity supplies”. The “project metric” to “be undertaken 2020-2025” is for 20 megawatts of wind, or possibly six to seven industrial-scale wind turbines.
In a Tweet to Ottawa Wind Concerns today, Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt, chair of the environment committee and co-chair of planning, said the City plans to regulate the turbines “within Ottawa.” He added that Ottawa does not “have any ability to say no to wind turbines in perpetuity.”
(In fact, other municipalities have made large-scale turbines a “not permitted” use [Dutton Dunwich] and others have strict rules about the size of turbines allowed [Prince Edward County]. The difference? Those communities are near active wind turbine projects and know what the issues are.)
“People who have never seen an actual modern wind turbine and who are familiar only with images from the wind power developers’ lobby group may not understand that these are industrial structures,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “We are calling for an update to Ontario’s regulations for these power generators, for both safety and health. The current regulations are unchanged from 2009 and the McGuinty government, despite the fact turbines are growing more massive every year.
With the City of Ottawa calling for the installation of wind turbines as part of a Net Zero emissions strategy, more turbines could be on the way for Ontario.
The founder of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative (OREC) has written a letter to the Globe and Mail calling for an entire grid of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to replace the current system. An excerpt from the letter by Dick Bakker follows.
The traditional, unidirectional electricity system from big central generation sites, with top-down control, hopefully will be replaced with a new grid of distributed renewable generation, decarbonised and locally controlled. New entrants will bring the advanced technology that the traditional utilities resist and introduce local capital to address community level opportunities.
The regulators, pension funds and unions that have benefited from the past century or more of centralised planning must adapt, as their traditional solutions are simply too expensive and unreliable. Distributed renewables, with battery storage, optimized for the distribution network, and integrated with demand response are simply cheaper and more resilient.
Massive changes are coming to our electricity system; hopefully Canada can leap ahead of where we are today, by localizing most of the benefits.
The problem is, wind power for one is not cheap* and it is certainly not “reliable” as our experiences during the recent heat wave indicate. Ontario went more than eight days with barely a whisper of wind, yet we experienced peak demand periods. And that’s typical of wind power in Ontario: it comes during low demand periods of spring and fall.
As to “local” benefits, Mr. Bakker told participants in an online regional update meeting held by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) last January, that anyone objecting to large-scale wind turbines was a “NIMBY”. They have some valid objections he said but in the main, opposition is “a knee-jerk reaction to industrialization.”
He doesn’t plan to take into account any environmental or financial concerns Ottawa’s rural residents might have. His knee-jerk NIMBY response was in fact an answer to our question about the need for cost-benefit and impact analysis. He doesn’t want that. He won’t care if the people living in Kars, Osgoode, Carp, Dunrobin, KInburn or North Gower have concerns about noise, harm to wildlife, and impacts on our aquifer.
But the prime problem with this letter is that Mr. Bakker’s views ignore the reality of the electricity grid. Baseload power is needed, and wind and solar cannot do that, not can they replace anything. Wind did not replace coal in Ontario; nuclear and natural gas did.
The one word Mr. Bakker will not say is “nuclear” despite the fact that clean, efficient, reliable nuclear is a real answer to the Net Zero goal. Ontario’s power workers recently said, you can’t get to Net Zero without it.
Facts are simply beside the point for those pushing large-scale renewables.
*While wind power developers’ trade association the Canadian Renewable Energy Association or CanREA claims wind power is now inexpensive, they do not present truly levelized costing. Moreover, Eastern ONtario is a low wind resource area. Ottawa’s Pathway Study of Wind Power in Ottawa (2017) acknowledges that there will have to be financial incentives to lure wind power developers to the area.
The City of Ottawa has announced new dates for the revised Official Plan process.
Many citizens have provided comments on the new Plan. In a presentation by planning Staff on June 22nd, the City announced that plans for large-scale renewable energy power projects would be “directed” to Ottawa’s rural areas.
The revised draft Official Plan states that:
Renewable Energy Generation (in Section 4.11)
3) Renewable energy generation facilities that are subject to Provincial approvals will be permitted as a principal use within the following designations:
a) Rural Countryside;
b) Greenbelt Rural and Greenbelt Facility; and
c) Natural Environment Area sub-designation, subject to the policies of Subsection 7 .3.
4) Renewable energy generation facilities that are subject to provincial approvals and are subordinate to a principal use will be permitted within the following designations:
a) Agricultural Resource Area, only as an on-farm diversified use; and
b) Rural Industrial and Logistics.
5) The following considerations will be used to establish zoning by-law provisions for such renewable energy generation facilities:
a) Limiting nuisance impacts. such as through siting and screening requirements;
b) Limiting impacts on significant natural heritage features and agricultural resource area lands; and
c) The ability to access the electricity transmission network and arterial roadways.
In order to provide additional time for public review of the draft sections of the New Official Planin advance of Committee and Council consideration of the final staff report, the Planning Committee co-Chairs and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Chair have agreed to move the joint statutory meeting of the Planning Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee to October 14, 2021.
Please be advised of the following revised dates in respect of the consideration of the comprehensive final draft of the New Official Plan:
Wednesday, September 29th – Public Open House. The location and format of this meeting is to be determined. Details will be communicated at a later date.
Thursday, October 14th – Joint statutory meeting of the Planning Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, under the Planning Act, convened in accordance with Subsection 88 of the Procedure By-law pursuant to the delegated authority granted by City Council at its meeting on February 10, 2021. The location and format of this meeting is to be determined. Details will be communicated at a later date.
Wednesday, October 27th – City Council Consideration of the report on the final draft of New Official Plan.
It is our view that industrial-scale wind turbines are an industrial use of the land and should not be a permitted use.
In a recent edition of Ontario Farmer, editor Paul Mahon mused about what it would be like if one or more Ontario communities could demonstrate local power generation. It would be a community effort, he said and worth a try.
Wind Concerns Ontario president and Ottawa resident Jane Wilson wrote this letter to the Ontario Farmer on the topic, which appears in the August 24th edition.
“Thank you for your comments in your most recent editorial, Ghost towns of Ontario.
You said it would be interesting if “one village or small town [could be] a showcase for how community energy could work…a far better visual than all those wind turbines sitting idle in a steady breeze”.
That would be interesting; some municipalities have already tried it. Bancroft for example developed a hydro-electric facility that would have powered the town. It got no support from the McGuinty government and was dismantled, at a loss to the citizens.
Near Ottawa, the hamlet of Burritt’s Rapids proposed a run of river hydro facility that would provide reliable, clean power to its residents. What happened? Nothing. The Wynne and McGuinty governments were more interested in awarding huge above-market FIT and LRP contracts to large multinational wind power developers, for intermittent, unreliable power.
The City of Ottawa has embarked on a demonstration of clean power too, though it plans to encourage more intermittent wind and solar power with development being ‘directed’ to the rural areas in the city’s large rural area, and in nearby regions, the Planning department said in a bombshell announcement in June. No cost-benefit analysis, no impact analysis, and no review of how well wind turbines served Ontario in the years after the Green Energy Act in 2009. (A failure.) Most Ottawa rural residents are completely unaware of the City’s $57B energy transition plan, and of the fact that it includes 20 megawatts of turbines to be built within the next four years.
Somehow the meaning of the word “community” has been lost. Instead, more valuable farmland will be lost, and Ontario’s rural villages are threatened with industrialization and becoming energy resource plantations.”
With the release of the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) yesterday, which forecast more dire consequences from climate change, there may be more calls for wind power as a source of electricity.
The City of Ottawa’s “Energy Evolution” document calls for as much electrification as possible by 2050, and proposes the installation of as much as 3,200 megawatts of wind power (more than 700 wind turbines) to do that.
It won’t work.
Ontario has already gone through the experience of incorporating wind power into its power generation mix with disastrous results. Two Auditors General noted the lack of any cost-benefit analysis for the rush to wind power (Ottawa hasn’t proposed any such study either) and the enormous cost of wind power. To date, wind makes up less than 10 percent of Ontario’s power supply and its intermittency due to being dependent on weather means it often shows up when not needed.
Ontario has lost billions selling off surplus wind power we don’t need, and we regularly pay generators not to produce.
While people may call for the “clean” “green” expansion of wind power there are facts that must be acknowledged:
Wind power generation is intermittent and produced out of phase with demand
Wind power has a huge impact on the environment in terms of the harm to wildlife, the altered landscapes and the danger to wildlife as well as the introduction of harmful noise pollution to the environment
Wind turbines require a massive amount of land and represent “energy sprawl” in comparison with other forms of generation
Wind power projects are socially divisive as they must be forced on quiet rural communities, in effect industrializing them
Wind can’t “replace” anything. Coal was replaced in Ontario by nuclear and natural gas.
Wind power development cannot exist without subsidy and is very costly to electricity customers (i.e., everybody)
In short, wind doesn’t work.
So, while we are looking for ways to adapt to and perhaps mitigate climate change, or to take a more holistic approach, do everything we can to protect the environment, there are other alternatives.
Wind power is not the future: it is the product of a vigorous marketing program to which well-meaning people have fallen prey.
Too big, too close, too noisy: Ontario wind turbine regulations have failed rural communities. Will Ottawa be a leader in protecting health and safety?
July 28, 2021
In a letter to Ottawa Wind Concerns from Alain Miguelez, Ottawa’s Manager of Planning Policy and Resiliency, the timeline for the new Official Plan and public consultation is laid out. And, we have a better idea of when the zoning that will apply to wind power projects will be developed.
Here’s what he said:
The revised version of Ottawa’s new Official Plan will be posted on the Official Plan webpage very shortly. The new Official Plan will include policies that will:
· Generally direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects are to be located in the rural area;
· Be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement for renewable energy generation in prime agricultural areas; and
· Provide direction to establish zoning by-law provisions for renewable energy generation facilities to address impacts such as noise and shadowing.*
Although other municipalities have more detailed policies about wind for their Official Plans, Ottawa will address this level of detail through the subsequent zoning bylaw as noted in the third bullet above.
When the new Official Plan is released, additional detail will be provided about how to make public delegations at the statutory public meeting expected later this summer and at the Joint Planning and Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee meeting, currently scheduled September 13-15.
Following Council adoption of the Official Plan, work will begin on the zoning bylaw. Public and stakeholder consultation will be undertaken on any new proposed zoning provisions, including those related to wind. The new Official is not subject to appeal but the new zoning regulations will be.**
(*With respect to Mr. Miguelez, this statement is not correct: it is possible, we believe, to appeal sections of and amendments to the Official Plan though not, as he says, the entire Plan itself. ** There are many other impacts from wind power generators and the associated infrastructure.)
We have already written to Mr. Miguelez offering to provide information that we and Wind Concerns Ontario have about setbacks and noise regulations employed in other jurisdictions, including the European Union. We also recommend that the City talk to officials in other municipalities where people are already living with wind turbines, to find out what the issues are.
Again, the Ontario regulations for noise limits and setbacks are not adequate; they were established in 2009 (with more than a little input from the wind power industry) and have not changed in 12 years, despite province-wide problems with turbines.
The approvals process needs change, too, as does the process to appeal a wind power project approval—the current one is restrictive and unjust. We sent a letter to Ontario’s new environment minister yesterday, requesting change.
Ottawa has an opportunity to be a leader in developing zoning bylaws that will truly protect health and safety, and the environment.
OTTAWA WIND CONCERNS
Follow us on Twitter @northgowerwind and email us to join our email list
Industrializing rural areas and causing division among neighbours doesn’t make for a healthy, happy place [Photo Dorothea Larsen]
July 22, 2021
The City of Ottawa’s public health department has spent time putting together ideas for a healthy “built environment” which broadly includes where people live, work, and go to school, as well as areas in which “food systems” operate. The City has laid out characteristics that are important to a “healthy” built environment:
Promote being active, eating healthy and other healthy habits;
Encourage social connectedness;
Prevent injuries and promote safety;
Improve air, water and soil quality;
Provide access to natural and green spaces;
Ensure all members of the community have good opportunities to be healthy regardless of their age, income level, gender, ethnic background, or any other social or economic reasons.
However, there is a glitch.
The City’s Energy Evolution document, which calls for 20 megawatts of wind turbines (five or six 60-storey towers that are power generators) by 2025, 200 megawatts sometime thereafter, and a massive 3,200 megawatts (more than 700 industrial wind turbines) by 2050.
In a presentation on June 22nd, City planning staff confirmed that these renewable energy projects would be “directed” to Ottawa’s rural communities. Of course: these structures are so huge and problematic, it is impossible to locate them in the urban area, so rural citizens will get them.
Here’s the problem:
Wind turbine siting depends mostly on finding willing landowners (Eastern Ontario is a poor wind resource, so siting is not dependent on where there is more wind) which means the landowners who choose to allow them on their land are sacrificing their neighbours’ quiet enjoyment of their property—that doe not aid “social connectedness.”
There are safety concerns due to turbine blade failures, ice throw and fires; plus, the noise emissions are linked to stress or distress and can indirectly result in adverse health effects.
Next, turbines do not improve the quality of the air, water and soil: in North Kent Ontario, wind turbine construction and operation has been linked to water well failures. This is currently under a formal public health investigation. And, noise is a form of pollution.
Green spaces? Forget it: wind turbines are an industrial use of the land.
Last, wind turbines do not ensure health and equality; there will be dramatic stress as a result of the urban-rural divide, as quite rural communities will suddenly have huge industrial power generators forced on them.
So, out of six points needed for a healthy environment, the City’s plan to “direct” wind turbines to the rural communities (“That energy has to come from somewhere,” planning manager Alain Miguelez said in the June 22 presentation) violates five of them.
This plan should not even start without a cost-benefit analysis, impact analysis, public consultation and the finalization of protective zoning bylaws to regulate noise and setbacks between wind turbines and houses.
Ottawa City staff have responded to queries about whether the City is planning wind turbines in the rural areas. Here is the response from a manager in the Climate Change and Resiliency Section.
Key point: the City of Ottawa is not directly procuring wind turbines BUT they are looking at where the turbines could go when developers come forward with proposals. That is a YES.
The City of Ottawa is not planning and does not have any intention of developing or installing large scale wind or solar renewable energy generation projects.
My team is responsible for developing and coordinating strategic policies, programs and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resiliency to climate change in Ottawa. As part of this work, my team leads the Climate Change Master Plan and is supporting the development of the new Official Plan. Below is background information about both relate to wind projects.
Climate Change Master Plan
The City’s Climate Change Master Plan provides Ottawa’s overarching framework to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and respond to the current and future effects of climate change. As part of the plan, City Council aims to reduce GHG emission 100% by 2050. Energy Evolution is the action plan for how Ottawa will meet those targets. It modelled 39 actions and their relative GHG emissions reductions to achieve the targets and identifies 20 priority projects* to accelerate action and investment over the next five years (2020 – 2025). Both the Climate Change Master Plan and Energy Evolution identify embedding climate considerations in the new Official Plan as a priority project.
On January 1, 2019, the Green Energy Act was repealed which restored municipal authority over the siting of new renewable energy generation projects through amendments to the Planning Act. Residential and agricultural concerns about the siting of projects are now expected to be addressed through local municipal approvals. The current Official Plan and Zoning By-law are silent on renewable energy generation (REG).
The Draft Official Plan was released in November 2020 included REG as a Generally Permitted Use, but it did not specify where REG was permitted. Through public consultation, staff received feedback that renewable energy generation policies in the Official Plan should align with Energy Evolution.
Since the Draft Official Plan was released in November 2020, staff has worked to add policies to direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects can be located in the rural area. The following describes the revisions:
The proposed policies direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects as well as bio-energy projects are to be located in the rural area. It should be noted that such projects would also require a Renewable Energy Approval from the province.
The proposed policies are consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement for renewable energy generation in prime agricultural areas.
The proposed policies provide direction to establish zoning by-law provisions for renewable energy generation facilities to address nuisance impacts such as noise and shadowing. Public and stakeholder consultation will be undertaken on any new proposed zoning provisions following Council adoption of the Official Plan.
The revisions to the new Official Plan will be posted on the Official Plan webpage later this month. When it is released, additional detail will be provided about how to make public delegations at the statutory public meeting expected later this summer.
Upon approval of the new Official Plan, large scale projects that are initiated by energy developers would still require approval by the Province (i.e. under the Renewable Energy Approval or Environmental Activity Site Registry process). However, there is currently no provincial policy or procurement mechanism that allows renewable electricity to be sold to the grid (i.e., there is no immediate opportunity for large scale wind or solar development in Ottawa). Staff are currently undertaking a preliminary assessment of renewable energy generation potential within the rural areas identified in the new Official Plan to better understand how the potential compares to the Energy Evolution model requirements. This study is expected to be complete this summer.
So City staff are trying to deflect interest in and concern about high-impact wind power generation in our rural communities with a lot of words about the Official Plan.
The people of Ottawa generally and especially rural residents need to be able to discuss these proposals NOW. We also need the protective zoning bylaws NOW—if the City waits until proposals are made, they will be unable to enact anything, or the power developers can take legal action.
*One of the 20 projects is 20 megawatts of wind by 2025
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Go to the City’s website and read the Official Plan draft Section 4.11 HERE.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has sent a letter by email to the members of the city’s climate team, as well as Mayor Jim Watson and environment committee chair Councillor Scott Moffatt warning them of the consequences of choosing wind power for the city’s rural areas.
The plan to encourage development of wind power in Ottawa was published in the document Energy Evolution, which was accepted by City Council last fall, and revealed on June 22 in a presentation by City planning staff on the new Official Plan.
“We’re saying that everyone is concerned about the environment,” says Ottawa Wind Concerns chair Jane Wilson, “but when it comes to selecting a renewable energy technology, a thorough analysis is needed. The authors of the report and Official Plan do not seem to have any awareness of what has happened in Ontario since 2006, and especially after the Green Energy Act passed in 2009.”
The community group listed their concerns as impact on the environment in the form of noise pollution and harm to wildlife, cost to consumers via higher electricity bills, the lack of analysis on cost-effectiveness of wind as a step to counter climate change, and the fact that wind power is unreliable and intermittent, and won’t meet Ottawa’s power needs.
“The City also needs to work on protective measures such as new zoning restrictions for grid-scale wind turbines, Wilson said. “Ontario’s regulations have not changed since 2009 but in the meantime, turbines have gone from just over one megawatt to 3.4 megawatts, as we now have south of us in the Nation Rise project.