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.
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.
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
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.
Despite a full appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project by community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, which raised serious issues of concern about human health and the environment, and despite a final appeal and request for a Stay of construction, the 100-megawatt wind power project is under construction in the Finch, Berwick, and Crysler areas.
Construction updates are to be provided by the developer EDPR on its website here
There have already been citizen complaints about dust and noise during construction, as well as a couple of mishaps with trucks and trailers delivering turbine components, and citizens have reported concerns about road safety.
EDPR at its construction update meeting in Finch last week said anyone concerned about safety, or who notices a worksite where there are no flagmen, should contact the company at: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (613) 240-0348
The Ottawa Citizen recently ran an article by Kelly Egan which outlined community concerns. Ontario does not need more intermittent or variable wind power, which is produced out of phase with demand (source Auditor General Ontario). The Nation Rise project will cost Ontario electricity customers $450 million over its 20-year contract.
Power that could be produced “like a fly on the flank of an elephant” says energy watcher Parker Gallant
February 4, 2019
Last week, a news article appeared in the Nation Valley News reporting the local Conservative MPP, Jim McDonell’s response to a question asking on why the government hasn’t cancelled the 100-MW Nation Rise wind power project. Mr. McDonell said, “We’ve always been clear: We would cancel any project we could cancel economically,” and he added “… we just can’t spend a billion dollars to cancel a project and get nothing from it.”
The same day, a press release from the Ford government noted that Premier Doug Ford told people attending the annual Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference, that “We’re lowering electricity costs”.
I am at a loss to explain Mr. McDonell’s suggestion that cancellation of the Nation Rise IWT project would cost the same as the McGuinty/Wynne gas plant moves, but that’s what he said. It’s worth a look back at how this power project came into being, as it illustrates the disaster that has been Ontario energy policy for the last 15 years.
The Nation Rise wind project was one of five awarded contracts in March 2016; after that, its history gets really interesting … and very political.
Cost of the project
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) at that time noted the average price for all the projects proposed was $85.90/MWh (or 8.5 cents per kWh). Over 20 years that would produce revenue of about $450 million, or less if their bid was lower than the average.
If the project were cancelled, no court would award them the full contract amount; it is more likely the government would be on the hook for perhaps 5 to10 % of that amount (on the high side).
There is no doubt that cancelling this project would save Ontario citizens hundreds of millions.
Timing of the approval
According to the Environmental Registry the Nation Rise entry for the Renewable Energy Approval or REA is dated May 7, 2018 and indicates it was loaded to the registry May 4, 2018. That is just four days before the writ was drawn up by former Premier Kathleen Wynne, formally announcing the upcoming Ontario election. It was known* the voting date would occur on June 7, yet the REA — a major decision — was given by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). At that time, not only were polls forecasting a defeat for the Liberal government, “electricity prices” and hydro bills were a major election issue. The MOECC issued the decision anyway.
Is the power needed?
In 2015 (before the IESO called for more wind power proposals) Ontario had a huge surplus of generation. Our net exports (exports less imports) were 16.8 TWh (terawatt hours) or enough to supply almost 1.9 million average households (over 40% of all Ontario households) with their electricity needs for a full year. It cost ratepayers an average of 10.14 cents/kWh to generate that power which was sold for an average 2.36 cents/kWh, representing a cost of $1.3 billion to Ontario’s ratepayers.
Due to the highly intermittent nature of output from wind turbines, the IESO’s projections of long-term capacity use only 12% of the nameplate capacity for wind power installations when calculating their contribution to overall capacity. So for Nation Rise, the IESO is projecting that the useable contribution of the project will be 105,120 MWh — just .0765% of the IESO’s forecast power consumption of 137.4 TWh. That is a fly on the flank of an elephant, in my estimation.
Cancellation of Nation Rise would not affect the long-term supply of electricity for the people of Ontario.
Worse, adding more capacity, particularly from an intermittent source, could result in more spilling of hydro, more curtailment of wind power generation, additional nuclear shutdowns or steam-off, all of which would drive Ontario’s electricity bills rates higher.
Property value loss
The property losses in value caused by the presence of 33, 650-foot industrial wind power generators throughout the countryside in the Nation Rise project will be in the tens of millions of dollars according to a study which notes: “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.”
A loss of either magnitude would impact North Stormont’s realty tax base leading to either significant drops in revenue for the township or realty tax increases as a multiple of the COL (cost of living).
And then there’s the water
One condition among many in the REA given to EDP/Nation Rise was related to identifying and mapping all water wells in the project area within a set range of any proposed equipment, meteorological tower or wind turbines. This was due to concerns about construction activities on the local aquifer. While EDP identified 444 wells, the community group says there are more than 800 homes within the immediate project. Water wells in other areas of Ontario and elsewhere have become contaminated allegedly due to drilling and vibrations from wind turbines. There is significant concern about contamination of the wells, and the assessment taking place.
North Stormont is dairy farm country, and each farm operation uses thousands of litres of water every day — what would be the effect on these businesses, and Ontario’s food supply, if suddenly, the water wells were not functioning?
Who is EDP?
EDP (parent of EDPR) is a Portuguese utility company partially owned by two of the Chinese government’s companies; China Three Gorges (23.27%) and CNIC Co., Ltd., (4.98%) and the former has been trying for several years to acquire the balance of the shares. That attempt is speculated to be off; however, a recent NY Times article suggested otherwise, based on discussions with Portugal securities regulator CMVM.
Where is democracy?
North Stormont, where the Nation Rise wind project is planned, declared itself an “unwilling host” in 2015, well before the award of the contract or the issuance of the REA. The people perhaps relied on promises made by former energy minister and Ottawa Liberal MPP, Bob Chiarelli, when in 2013 he declared: “It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement”. Despite their council passing the unwilling host motion, and also joining the 117 Ontario municipalities demanding a return of local land-use planning for energy projects, the IESO still granted Nation Rise the contract.
There are many questions about this project and many reasons why it simply isn’t needed. Cancelling this contentious project is a perfect way to lower future electricity costs, directly.
*The Toronto Star reported in an article dated October 19, 2016 the next Ontario election would be on June 7th, 2018
What it looks like: Tree clearing for turbines in Prince Edward County [Photo: Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County]
At its first mandatory Community Liaison meeting held this past week in Crysler, Portugal based power developer EDP announced that construction will begin soon on the 33-turbine, 100-megawatt wind power project that will cover the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick.
In a story published by the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder EDP spokesperson, Toronto-based Ken Little, said that the first step will be clearing of trees, and construction of access roads for the turbines.
While the turbine type and size was not specified in documents filed with government at the time of application for the Renewable Energy Approval, Little said they will be German-built machines, built to a maximum height of 200 metres or 656 feet.
The Peace Tower in Ottawa in 321 feet.
Little was also asked if the company will be employing local workers during construction, but he said he could not guarantee that.
He did say that there will be a $300,000 benefit to the municipality.
Wind Concerns Ontario, however, estimates the property value loss for properties exposed to the noise and visual effects from the huge turbines could be in the millions, which could in turn have the effect of forcing the municipality to raiser taxes.
The power project could be operating by December of this year. It is estimated to cost the people of Ontario more than $380 million over 20 years; the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) said in its power supply forecast last fall that Ontario does not need any new power generation at this time.
Community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont launched an appeal of the power project based on concerns about the impact of turbine construction and operation on the aquifer in North Stormont, which is designated as “highly vulnerable” and on safety and health concerns. The appeal was dismissed but the group said recently it is considering all other option, including a further appeal.
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.
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.
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.