Other jurisdictions choosing greater setbacks between homes and industrial wind turbines; Ontario has not changed since 2009. New setback of 2 km recommended
March 25, 2022
Complaints about wind turbine noise and environmental damage have never wound down in Ontario yet regulations to protect people and the environment have not changed since 2009, according to a story in this week’s Ottawa Business Journal.
While some landowners in the area signed up for “easy cash” by leasing land for wind turbines, they admit that the machines are noisy and may bother some people.
The need for wind power must be balanced with concern for health and safety, which is why greater setbacks have been recommended by Wind Concerns Ontario. The community group coalition recommends setbacks for any new wind turbines should be a minimum of 2 kilometres.
The Ontario setback currently is just 550 metres.
Other jurisdictions around the world and in the U.S. are now moving to greater setback distances.
Another issue of concern noted in the story was brought forward by Ontario’s MUlti-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, a collection of municipalities with operating wind power projects and experience with impacts of the turbines.
The group is worried about the increasing number of wind turbine failures and says that setbacks from public roadways and property lines are inadequate to protect safety. The municipalities also say there is no process for alerting municipalities of a failure event, nor are the results of any engineering investigations shared.
After completion of its Official Plan, the City of Ottawa is now working on developing new zoning bylaws. Ottawa Wind Concerns has been sharing information with city staff, and hopes that new setbacks for wind turbines in the Ottawa area will reflect the trends to greater distances.
Ottawa’s rural politicians claim there are no plans for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines, but city staff say the Energy Evolution calls for wind and solar to provide electricity for Net Zero goals.
Community group files request for review with Municipal Affairs ministry
February 24, 2022
Community group Ottawa Wind Concerns has filed a comment on the city’s Official Plan with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs over concerns about where the document ranks in Ottawa’s planning structure.
“Our worry is that Ottawa’s expressed view that the Energy Evolution document and climate change plan overrides all policies and action means statements in the Official Plan could be subject to amendment at any time,” chairperson Jane Wilson wrote in the group’s submission, filed yesterday.
“What we have is an Official Plan that looks like an Official Plan, but it also appears to have a back door through which the City can make changes and take action by using another plan—one that did not go through any public engagement process.”
The intent of an Official Plan in Ontario is that it is the single document which outlines the direction for the city, Wilson says. In the case of the City of Ottawa, this direction may actually be subordinate to the Climate Change Strategy and the Energy Evolution document.
The community group comment referred to page 23 of Ottawa’s new Official Plan where the city asserts: “The policies of this [Official] Plan should be read as supportive of the Climate Change Master Plan.”
And, on page 26, the City states, “The Climate Change Master Plan and associated Energy Evolution and Climate Resiliency strategies provide the analysis and action plans for City-wide action.”
Ottawa Wind Concerns said the group is worried about how this affects policy on renewable power generation facilities, specifically large or industrial-scale wind turbines.
The Energy Evolution document calls for the possibility of hundreds of wind turbines in the city’s rural areas in a model of how Net Zero might be achieved, while the Official Plan makes statements about industrial-scale wind turbines not being permitted on valuable agricultural land.
“Essentially, it looks like the City is saying, its Energy Evolution document trumps everything. We’re saying, that’s not how a municipality is supposed to use an Official Plan.”
The contents of the Energy Evolution document, approved by Council in 2020 with no public input, are not widely known among Ottawa’s citizens.
There has been criticism from media and analysts who have read it.
Local media branded the strategy document “an expensive pipe dream,” with its $57B (estimated) price tag. Political commentator Randall Denley said the Energy Evolution report was “only the beginning,” and promoted “unachievable goals.”
“How high are they prepared to raise taxes,” he asked, “and what existing services will they cut to fund their quixotic effort to save the planet?”
The City of Ottawa has a history of passing zoning amendments that result in public concern. For example, a zoning amendment was passed without the knowledge of even the local councillor for a large warehouse and truck depot in Barrhaven. That move caused newspaper columnist Kelly Egan to remark, “You know who doesn’t get what they want at city hall anymore? Ordinary people.”
Ordinary people in Ottawa’s rural communities sent emails and made telephone calls to councillors when the wind turbine model in Energy Evolution became known, and STOP THE OTTAWA WIND TURBINES signs went up from Kinburn to Navan, and south to North Gower and Manotick.
City councillors maintained that the Energy Evolution statements were just a “model” but the motion of wind power is present in many City documents and wind turbines are prominent in City banners and graphics. A recent submission to the Ontario Energy Board dated January 17th contained the whole Energy Evolution document, including the wind turbine model, as supporting evidence for the City’s objection to replacement of a natural gas pipeline.
“Everyone wants what’s best for the environment,” says Ottawa Wind Concerns Chair Wilson, “but the fact is, we should be making choices about what is shown to be effective and successful. Ontario is an example of how intermittent weather-dependent wind power doesn’t do anything for the environment, but it does have a huge impact on electricity bills and on communities. Giving the Energy Evolution strategy importance over the Official Plan means decisions can be made on what looks good, not what really is good.”
The community group has asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to look at both the Energy Evolution document and the draft Official Plan together, to make sure provincial directives are being followed.
Ottawa Wind Concerns filed its comment with the Ministry and was advised Thursday that the comments were accepted and reviewed, and will be posted publicly.
More analysis on the Energy Evolution document, coming soon.
An official plan describes your upper, lower or single tier municipal council or planning board’s policies on how land in your community should be used. It is prepared with input from your community and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of your community.
An official plan deals mainly with issues such as:
where new housing, industry, offices and shops will be located
what services like roads, watermains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed
when, and in what order, parts of your community will grow
One of the hottest stocks these days is a company called Generac, which makes whole-home power generators, fueled by natural gas.
After the power failures in Texas and the current crisis in the UK (the latter a desperate situation due to poor energy planning and reliance on wind power), people are worried about the reliability of the power grid.
It’s happening here too and will escalate if cities like Ottawa engage in planning based on intermittent “unreliables” like wind and solar.
Here’s a comment from one of our readers, a long-time experienced power worker:
Breaking news!!!! I just got off the phone with another contractor from Rockland Ontario asking me to help them get caught up with residential generator installs. Most new construction includes a gas fired backup generator along with an 80 amp electric vehicle charging plug legislated by government code. Yup, the same people that are discussing phasing out gas fired generation. Oh, and by the way, for anyone interested, the 3 baseload gas plants that do operate daily are right across the river from Detroit and are privately owned by international consortiums supplying industrial operations that employ thousands. Most of the other gas fired electrical generating stations are on standby as backup to the Ontario windfarms which drop out of production many times a day, except for the Milton station which provides peaking power usually twice a day for the local industries. Get rid of that one, no big deal, BUT, you get rid of more Ontario industries and you get rid of more Ontario jobs. Move in Industrial Wind Turbines and move out industry, hey, it has been proven, the data is everywhere, Ontario windmills don’t work plus they are built using gas fired and coal fired power generation, just not in Ontario. Lucky for us China has gone in the opposite direction. Ok, enough new old news for today, gotta go hook up another generator.
Huge grid-scale wind turbines are changing the landscape in North Stormont as the Nation Rise wind power project approaches commercial operation in June.
The photo above shows a view of the village of Crysler with two of the wind turbines visible. The Nation Rise turbines are 131 metres to the hub height, or 429 feet. The height to the blade tip is more than 600 feet.
There are 29 turbines in total in the industrial power project.
Wind Concerns Ontario reports that some residents have already experienced excessive noise and vibration from the turbines; they have been advised to call the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Cornwall Office at 1-800-860-2760. If the call is outside of business hours, residents should call the 24/7 Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS.
In both cases, caller should be given an Incident Report number, and should also keep a record of their call.
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org to report problems; the company is required to pass along your complaint to the environment ministry.
An editorial in the Eastern Ontario edition of Farmers Forum says “Toronto” should never have imposed the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power facility on the communities of North Stormont.
In his editorial titled “How wind turbines scarred a landscape and a community,” editor Patrick Meagher notes that the township conducted a survey of residents and found most didn’t want the wind turbine development, and then unanimously voted to declare North Stormont an “Unwilling Host”.
“But things didn’t go that way,” Meagher writes.
Weeks before the provincial election in 2018, the Liberal government “greenlighted the project. This was in spite of a longstanding agreement not to approve major projects when another government could take over. Wynne got a two-for-one deal, sticking it to the next government and the locals at Crysler, Berwick and Finch.” (The riding went Conservative.)
The wind power project caused strong feelings, Meagher says. “The project was so acrimonious that in this small community friendships broke up, family members stopped talking to each other, and more than 10 property owners sold their houses and moved away.”
Now the community is “stuck” with 29 huge turbines that are “large, inefficient, taxpayer-subsidized generators of intermittent power…not even a good business decision.”
“This ugly event is testimony to why governments should listen to the people they work for…Toronto should never have decided what should happen in this small farming community 400 kilometres away.”
The editorial also quoted former mayor Dennis Fife who said the community now has to try to move on.
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.
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.
Crane used to dismantle grid-scale wind turbine in Prince Edward County this week. Meanwhile, more going up south of Ottawa [Photo: Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County]
Contrast between North Stormont and Prince Edward County an indication of Ontario’s muddled electricity file
November 19, 2019
While people in Prince Edward County are celebrating the demise of the “White Pines” wind power project as government-ordered decommissioning of the industrial-scale wind turbines is going on this week, the people of North Stormont, south-east of Ottawa, are watching the behemoths go UP.
The White Pines project in Prince Edward County, developed by Germany-based wpd, was a controversial power project appealed several times by residents concerned about the environmental impact of the wind power generators and infrastructure on wildlife and people. The original plan was for 29 turbines; that was reduced to 27 after legal action and finally, to nine.
The new Ontario government passed legislation not long after taking office cancelling the power project — residents say it should never have been approved in the first place.
But now, more than 30 giant grid-scale wind turbines are currently being erected in North Stormont, near the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick by Portugal-based power developer EDPR. EDPR sold the project last year to Axium Infrastructure; that consortium also owns the K2 Wind power project in Huron County, which has been the subject of appeals, and post-operation, hundreds of noise complaints.
K2 Wind is currently under order by the Director of the environment ministry to implement and evaluate a noise assessment plan for more than 80 of its 140 turbines, which were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations for wind turbine noise emissions.
“Nation Rise” as the North Stormont project is called, was also the subject of appeals, and a last appeal was submitted to the Ontario environment minister six months ago. No word on the status of the appeal, nor on the status of a request for a stay of construction, filed in May.
Residents are concerned not only about noise (the project got to use old, pre-2017 noise assessment rules under the Wynne government), and also damage to the environment, especially a fragile or “vulnerable” water table.
The Nation Rise final approval came through days before the provincial election in 2018, despite the “caretaker” government convention which discourages major decisions during the election period. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) also granted a Notice To Proceed days after the election, despite being warned by government leader MPP Todd Smith not to approve any more projects.
Now, the giant towers are rising in the quiet communities of North Stormont, as the power developer races to meet a December operational deadline. The local MPP Jim McDonell claims there’s nothing he can do about it—that Notice To Proceed meant the project had to go ahead.
Pre-construction liability for Nation Rise (i.e., the cost of the government cancelling the contract) was about $400,000. If it goes into operation, the people of Ontario will bear the cost of the project which will add more than $400 million to electricity bills, over the 20-year life of the power contract.
So, while the turbines go up, others — already approved and built — come down. And you’re paying for it all.
OTTAWA WIND CONCERNS
Turbine blades at Johnstown, destined for Nation Rise
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
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.