Ottawa Wind Concerns has submitted several comments related to the apparent acceptance of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind power projects as an “on-farm diversified use.” Wind turbines are an industrial use of the land and not related to agriculture as is required in Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement.
While City staff have denied that there will be wind turbines in Ottawa’s rural areas, the statements in the Official Plan are clear, as were statements made by the Manager of Planning Policy as a presentation in June. In the city’s Energy Evolution document, it is stated that a “project metric” is to have 20 megawatts of wind power installed by 2025. (See the link below for the Energy Evolution strategy.)
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.
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.
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.
The medical report supporting Ontario’s wind turbine noise regulations is now 10 years old–the regulations need to be updated
Ottawa Wind Concerns executive members Jane Wilson and Michael Baggott spoke at the meeting of the Ottawa Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) today, and alerted the Committee that action is needed following new amendments to regulations on wind turbines by the Ford government.
A wind power project was proposed in 2008 for the North Gower-Richmond area, with potential to spread to Osgoode. The project did not proceed when the Germany-based proponent failed to qualify for the last round of proposals under the Wynne government. It would have exposed hundreds of people to wind power generator noise — that fact was acknowledged at the time by the power developer.
“Today, we know a lot more about wind power,” said Ottawa Wind Concerns Chair Jane Wilson. “We know that many wind turbines in Ontario were sited improperly and we know that many mistakes were made — the former Energy Minister said that in 2017. And, we know there are thousands of records of noise complaints in Ontario, that have not been resolved, and are waiting on enforcement of regulations.”
Now, the new Ontario government is making changes but they require action from Ontario municipalities. Four new amendments to regulations are in response to Ontario municipalities demanding a return of local land-use planning powers, which were stripped from municipalities by the McGuinty government and the Green Energy Act.
“The amendments have not been proclaimed yet,” Wilson said, “but we need to be ready in the event a wind power proposal is made in future.”
One of the proposals is that power developers must balance any environmental impacts against the benefit of their proposed power project. “The problem is,” Wilson told the Committee, “Ontario’s rules on wind turbine noise and setbacks for safety are inadequate and out of date. The supporting document the previous government used is now ten years old, and does not reflect practices in other countries around the world.”
She added that the Ontario regulations on noise do not meet new guidelines published last fall by the World Health Organization.
“You have to remember that wind turbines produce a range of noise emissions— it’s not like barking dogs, or traffic.”
The amended regulations also require power developers to prove their project meets all zoning regulations locally. This is a problem, Wilson said, because under the Green Energy Act, municipalities had no say, so there was no reason for them to have any such zoning or bylaws as would apply to the huge wind power projects.
Ottawa Wind Concerns referred to a comment document prepared by Wind Concerns Ontario, which recommended municipalities ask the Ford government for a transition period in which they could begin the work on bylaws, and to develop new, adequate rules for setbacks between homes and turbines, and new noise limits for wind turbines.
Ottawa has already shown leadership Wilson said, in passing a bylaw asking for “substantive” input to wind turbine projects, and now is the time to take action to protect residents from the industrial-scale wind power projects.
Councillor Scott Moffatt thanked the presenters for the information, and also Wind Concerns Ontario for its work to protect rural communities.
Several North Gower residents attended the meeting.
Wind power contracts should be cancelled to control electricity costs: Mike Baggott of Ottawa Wind Concerns
Ottawa Wind Concerns was an invited guest speaker this week at a pre-budget consultation event held by Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, at the Alfred Taylor Centre in North Gower.
Executive member with the group and North Gower resident Mike Baggott told the audience that while Ontario’s electricity bills are among the highest in North America, more costs, specifically expensive wind power contracts awarded to power developers, were yet to come.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment,” Baggott explained, “but has the Ontario government done the right thing?” Two Auditors General said there was never any cost-benefit or impact analysis for the province’s green energy plan, and the Wynne government pays twice as much for renewable energy as other jurisdictions do. The expensive wind contracts are among the factors pushing electricity bills up.
“As high as our bills are now,” Baggott said, “they will get worse if projects in Ontario recently awarded contracts are allowed to proceed.”
He noted the power projects in La Nation, east of Ottawa, and North Stormont –both opposed by the local communities — will cost Ontario ratepayers over $600 million for the 20-year contracts.
In all, Ontario is facing $5 billion in new wind power contracts, at a time when the province has a surplus of power. Wind power also cannot demonstrate any benefits to the environment, Baggott said.
“It’s time to stop digging the hole,” Baggott concluded.
The main speaker at the event was Parker Gallant, a former banker whose energy sector analysis is frequently published in The Financial Post, who explained line by line, “What’s in Your Hydro Bill.”
MPP MacLeod outlined steps that can be taken to control electricity costs, and answered questions from the audience.
“It’s hard not to get depressed when you hear, line by line, how we got here with our electricity bills,” commented Rideau-Goulbourn councilor Scott Moffatt.
Parker Gallant: what’s in your hydro bill? A lot of government mistakes
“Overwhelmingly fraudulent”; “we were ready with a team of lawyers”; “property values are decreased because of forced wind turbine projects” … and more.
Ontario community groups, municipal representatives and individual citizens responded to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) request for feedback on its renewable power bid process.
The IESO published a summary of comments received in its online survey, yesterday.
Ottawa Wind Concerns was among the community groups responding to this survey.
Key issues were the fact that the process was difficult to understand, unfair to individuals and communities, and that so-called “community engagement” was a false promise, given that community support (or lack of it) was just one of the rated criteria in the bid process, not a mandatory requirement.
Municipal governments are forced to determine whether they support a power project with very little information, representatives said. The rated criteria activities to indicate community support were ineffective, said most of the municipal government representative responding: 70 percent said the activities prescribed were “somewhat” or “very” ineffective.
The mandatory meeting was set up in a format that was to leave everyone with the least amount of say as possible. There were large displays set up showing the project. There was no intention for any real interaction with the participants. We had to basically demand a question and answer period. Questions and answers in a public format is the way these mandatory meetings should be set up to ensure that the correct info is actually being presented.
The mandatory community engagement requirements and optional rated criteria community support activities were neither clear nor successful in raising awareness within the Project Community. How can a requirement to consult members of a community (and having owners sign a support form) on an existing line that had already been fully and duly permitted and that represents no new or additional impact for them be considered mandatory and successful in raising awareness or support for the project? The Rated Criteria points associated with obtaining a support resolution from the municipal council gives too much negotiation leverage to the Municipalities. Rated Criteria points should also be allocated following a prorated basis instead of a all or nothing basis, especially the ones associated with abutting landowners support.
Some respondents questioned the municipal support process, saying that councils ignored community wishes and/or had pecuniary interests in the proposed power projects.
I was part of the General Public who attended meetings and proposal meetings. Our elected officials were not responsive to the general public opinion which was 80% plus against the proposal so we had to fight our representatives. The process was very poor and at least 1 of our political persons refused to withdraw from voting and would directly benefit from the projects if approved. I felt like I lived in a 3rd world country.
Other respondents decried the loss of good Ontario farmland for power projects, and the social impact on communities when some landowners took out leases or accepted payments for support of abutting power projects.
Another concern was the communities and neighbours to power projects had no idea the bid was coming until it was put together.
Very simple. Let communities decide whether they want these projects or not. Let neighbors know from the very outset that their communities are being considered. Holding a propaganda session once the project is ready to be submitted is not community involvement.
Ottawa Wind Concerns will present an overview of the new Ontario contracting process for wind power at the Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee today.
The group has prepared a presentation that outlines the process for developers, based on the 100-page document from the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO, and has added recommendations for the City of Ottawa, should a proposal for a wind power project come forward.
“Our rural communities are completely opposed being industrialized for wind power projects, to produce power Ontario doesn’t need,” says chair Jane Wilson. “Almost 1,300 residents of the North Gower area signed a petition in 2013 to say they do not support a wind power project in their community, due to the economic and social costs.”
Ontario is contracting for 300 more megawatts of wind power in 2015, which will cost Ontario $200 million annually.
U.S.-based EDP Renewables has stated it is planning to propose 30-50 turbines just 30 minutes south of Ottawa, in North Dundas.
Ottawa Wind Concerns is a community group and corporate member of Wind Concerns Ontario.
TVOntario’s public affairs program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, dealt with the controversy over the implementation of Ontario’s push for power generation from wind this week, with an edition of the show, followed by the debut of new documentary film Big Wind.
Ottawa Wind Concerns’ chairperson (and Wind Concerns Ontario president) Jane Wilson was a guest for the entire Agenda program, which is available online at http://tvo.org/video/211902/wind-power-wind-problems.