Launched in the early days of the pandemic in 2020 and with little coverage since, Ottawa’s massive climate plan that calls for as many as 700 wind turbines in the city’s rural areas is still unknown to most. Farmers Forum has the story.
May 4, 2023
Ottawa’s climate action plan, Energy Evolution and its $57B price tag, is largely unknown to most citizens, but this month’s edition of Farmers Forum covers the story.
The Energy Evolution plan passed through the city’s environmental committee and went to City Council in the fall of 2020, when most people in Ottawa were struggling with other issues—like the pandemic that had gripped the world for several months.
In an interview with editor Patrick Meagher, Wind Concerns Ontario president and Ottawa Wind Concerns Chair Jane Wilson said that the plan is “unimaginable” with its proposal for 3,200 megawatts of wind power (equivalent to 32 Nation Rise wind “farms”) which the plan authors translate to more than 700 wind turbines, and dozens of acres of solar panels, some of which would be on rooftops. Battery storage is also proposed, which the plan authors estimate will be the size of 122 shipping containers, also on rural land.
The problem with wind power, Wilson says, “It doesn’t work. It’s intermittent, and will industrialize the rural areas.”
Wilson recalled the municipal election campaign of October last year and said when it came up in several all-candidates meetings in the rural wards, all the candidates said they were not in favour.
Wilson noted that wind turbines change a community, pitting residents against each other. When you erect a wind turbine your neighbours may not be happy, she said, adding that she has heard that some property owners with wind turbines have lamented that it was not worth up to the $15,000 a year in revenue and have found it too difficult to get out of a contract.
“With the degree of public resistance I don’t see 700 wind turbines coming, honestly,” Wilson said. “But that is still the city’s plan and people need to be aware of it and to let the city know what their feelings are.”
Ottawa Wind Concerns has launched a petition asking the City for a 2-km setback between wind turbines and homeowners’ property lines. The current setback is only 550 metres, unchanged since 2009.
Ontario has received thousands of complaints about noise and vibration since wind turbines first started going up in 2006, and many jurisdictions around the world are now moving to longer distances between wind turbines and homes. In Poland, the setback distance is 10 times the blade tip height of a turbine, equivalent to 2 km roughly. The originator of the term “Wind Turbine Syndrome” New York State Dr. Nina Pierpont has also suggested a setback of 1.25 miles.
The page includes Discussion papers including one on “Rural Zoning Issues,” one-page summaries, and a survey (which only allows for a 160-character response) and is prefaced by questions about gender identification and citizen status.
Dozens of people turned out Wednesday at the Kinburn CC to view the Official Plan map, sign a petition for better setbacks from wind turbines, and help butter tarts vanish! [Photo: Ottawa Wind Concerns]
April 28, 2023
Dozens of people from West Carleton-March and beyond turned out to an drop-in information event held in Kinburn by Ottawa Wind Concerns. The goal of the event was to help people understand the new Ottawa Official Plan and its designated areas for renewable energy projects, as the city is now working on zoning bylaws.
Ottawa Wind Concerns is promoting safe setback distances between industrial-scale wind turbines and homes, and has a petition requesting a 2-km setback, minimum, to property lines.
Information kits were available, plus large copies of the Official Plan maps for viewing.
The new Official Plan allows renewable energy projects on “Rural Countryside,” “Greenbelt,” and “environmental lands.”
Both West Carleton and Rideau-Jock wards have significant land areas branded “rural countryside” as well as prime agricultural land.
People attending were concerned about the environmental impacts should wind power projects be built and many recalled a proposal made 14 years ago that was extremely unpopular. It did not proceed but a large solar power project was built near Galetta. Questions were asked about the success and usefulness of that power project today.
“People are very well informed on the issue of environmental impacts of large-scale wind and solar power projects,” says Ottawa Wind Concerns president Jane Wilson, “and they’re asking questions about battery storage systems, too. It’s great to see people come out like this to get more information, and to participate the City’s engagement process on the new zoning bylaws.”
The trend is for greater setback distances now between wind turbines and homes, Wilson says. “Former energy minister Glenn Thibeault in the Wynne government admitted that mistakes were made in siting wind turbines years ago. We’re saying, we know a lot more about wind turbines now—let’s not make those mistakes again.”
Wind turbines are an industrial use of the land, Wilson adds.
Residents attending also spoke of concerns about wind turbines and effectiveness as a power source. “Ontario is just not a windy place,” said one. “Why are we doing this?”
Other organizations with a pro-wind power view sent representatives to the event, including CAFES and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative (OREC), a group that invests in wind and solar power projects.
Free butter tarts were on offer from Sweet & Sassy Bakery in nearby Arnprior.
Wind turbines near Crysler, Ontario, 40 minutes south of Ottawa: protective bylaws needed [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario(C)]
April 22, 2023
A petition asking the City of Ottawa to develop new, protective bylaws that include a setback between industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines was launched at an event held in North Gower Last Thursday.
Dozens of people attended, coming from West Carleton, Carlsbad Springs, Navan, Greely, Richmond and North Gower to learn more about the City’s background documents for the new zoning bylaw process, and to see maps depicting where renewable energy projects—including wind turbines—could be located according to Ottawa’s new RuralMapOttawa.
People attending were concerned about the environmental impacts of large wind turbines including the introduction of noise and vibration (low frequency noise), the impacts on wildlife and aquifers, loss of land used to produce food, and the effect on property values.
Ward 21 Rideau-Jock councillor David Brown dropped in to hear resident concerns.
The petition asks for a 2-km setback which, as community group Ottawa Wind Concerns chair Jane Wilson explains, is in line with many countries in Europe and follows the trend in the United States to longer setback distances. “Just recently, a jurisdiction in Nebraska, which has plenty of experience with wind turbines, installed a setback of two miles,” she says.
The group consulted U.S. acoustics expert Robert Rand who said the setback distance was “a reasonable compromise.”
The City of Ottawa has acknowledged that there could be significant environmental impacts on rural residents should wind turbines be erected, and staff has said in public meetings and correspondence that they want to “do the right thing.”
Many people attending Thursday’s launch event said they were eager to see protective setbacks but they were not persuaded that the City should be open to expensive, intermittent wind power to support widespread electrification. The City’s $57-B Energy Evolution climate action plan proposes 3200 megawatts of wind power, which the report translates as 700 wind turbines.
Environmental impacts are high for little return with grid-scale wind turbines.
Another drop-in information event will be held in Kinburn at the Community Centre on April 26th between 5-7 PM. (Locally made butter tarts will be served again!)
Anyone wishing to sign the petition can download the document here petition-1
Signed copies can be picked up, just email email@example.com , or mailed to:
Wind turbines create environmental noise and pose risks to safety, wildlife, and our water supply. New bylaws must protect people and the environment, says Ottawa Wind Concerns.
The City of Ottawa is in the process of developing new zoning bylaws as a follow-up to approval of the city’s new Official Plan.
As the Official Plan allows for renewable energy (power) projects to be built on
Greenbelt and Greenbelt Facility
it will be important to have appropriate and effective protective zoning bylaws, especially for the residents of rural Ottawa who will likely be living near any sort of power generation or storage project.
The City has posted a series of Discussion Papers and is accepting comments on these documents; there are surveys available for each of the six Discussion Papers but the open-ended comment portion accepts only a limited number of characters as a response.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has filed a comment with the new zoning team at the City. Here are a few of our comments.
On the Equity, Diversion and Inclusion paper, we wrote:
The expressed goal is to discuss “tradeoffs and compromises between competing goals and interests in the hopes of producing a safe, functional and liveable city for everyone.”
The City’s goal of generating power from “renewable” sources includes large-scale wind power projects according to the Energy Evolution document. That will result in industrialization of rural communities, with significant impact on the quality of life including the danger to aquifers, the introduction of noise pollution to the environment, and the reduction of property values which will affect the economic well-being of residents. In short, large-scale wind power development will work against the goal of “environmental health equity”, as described on page 1 of this paper.
Separation distances are mentioned in the paper (page 5) as a way to “prohibit land uses within a certain distance of each other.” The examples mentioned however are “group homes” and shelters. Again, any sort of power generation will be an industrial land use, and in the case of larger scale development will almost certainly be located in the rural areas. For wind turbines in particular, noise emissions and vibration/sound pressure have been demonstrated around the world as a serious impact on people forced to live nearby. Not only do the turbines create noise emissions, but so does power infrastructure such as transformer substations, which can emit harmful low frequency noise or infrasound. Solar power installations have similar infrastructure that can produce noise pollution, as do Battery Energy Storage Systems or BESS, which emit noise, and represent other risks such as fire.
Noted U.S. acoustics expert Robert Rand has said,
“Unlike other power plant technologies which have numerous noise control options, the only reliable noise control for wind turbines is distance.” —Robert Rand, Health Impacts of Industrial Wind Turbines, presentation September 10, 2019.
The setback distances in Ontario in effect today were created prior to widespread wind power development in 2009 and are widely regarded as inadequate. They are not supported by current scientific literature, nor do they align with the trend among many jurisdictions, particularly in the U.S. to establish greater setback distances for health and safety.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has already recommended a setback distance of 2 km between wind turbine zones and residential areas. Acoustician Robert Rand, quoted above, says the 2-km setback is a “reasonable compromise.”
“It isn’t hard to design facilities to be good acoustic neighbours,” Rand says.
Interestingly, the detailed discussion of “pollution” occurs not in the paper on public health but in the Equity paper. We noted:
While this area of the paper focuses on traffic and pollution, the city policy of promoting power generation from “renewable” sources such as wind and solar also represents a risk of pollution, specifically noise pollution. There are many documents supporting this including the Health Canada wind turbine noise study, and the Council of Canadian Academies report, “Understanding the evidence”.
Canadian researchers examined the public health approach to wind turbine noise and concluded:
“Based on our analysis of clinical, biological, and experimental evidence and its concordance with the nine BH criteria, we conclude that there is a high probability that emissions from IWTs, including infrasound and LFN, result in serious harm to health in susceptible individuals living and/or working in their proximity. These effects can be attributed to IWTrelated events such as recurring sleep disturbance, anxiety and stress, and likely others.”
They called upon public health authorities to take a precautionary approach to preventing adverse health effects, and act now:
“With the growing weight of evidence indicating this causation and the rapid proliferation of IWT installations globally, preventative actions should be taken, and policies implemented that are more cautiously protective of public health, safety, and welfare rather than wait for absolute certainty. … Our findings provide compelling evidence that there is a pressing need for risk assessment before deployment of IWT into rural community settings that consider more effective and precautionary setback distances. A margin of safety sufficient to prevent pathogenic LFN from being detected by the human vestibular system is paramount before proceeding with political or economic policies.”
While the introduction of noise to the environment is a serious and likely impact, one that will affect public health, there is another issue: safety. Grid-scale wind turbines operate under enormous stresses; around the world the number of “catastrophic failures” of wind turbines is rising. Some blame poor workmanship, or too speedy installation—whatever the cause, it will be important to have setbacks that ensure safety for people on public lands and roadways. The current setbacks, established in 2009, are not adequate.
Another Discussion Paper is devoted to Land Use Strategy. Our comment:
Our only comment here is that among the land uses listed on page 1, under “Industrial land uses”, power generation is not mentioned. When the city is planning massive power generation development as per Energy Evolution (page 45), such as 36 sq km of solar panels, 3200 megawatts or 700+ wind turbines (each turbine requiring as much as 5 acres of land), and 122 shipping container-sized battery storage systems, that is a significant industrial land use.
The amount of land needed for this adventure appears not to have been considered; it is certainly not discussed. World renowned environmental and energy expert Canadian professor Vaclav Smil noted in his book Power Density that industrial-scale wind is a low-density power source with several negative characteristics including the need for a lot of land: “disfiguration of landscapes is not the only consequence of the limited power densities of wind power. The need to install large numbers of machines tends to reduce the width of noise exclusion corridors, to increase the chances of large-scale bird fatalities, and to affect many terrestrial species as a consequence of the fragmentation of their habitat. In windy and sparsely populated Scotland, the rule is to allow 2 km between wind farms and the edge of cities and villages”.
Smil’s discussion of power density brings up another point: Ottawa’s insistence on wind and solar, both acknowledged intermittent power sources, is not based on any comparative analysis of power generation technologies. Wind power is a low density power source, i.e., it needs a lot of land to produce a small amount of power. Capacity is another concern; wind turbines do not generate power 100 percent of the time. Often we hear wind power developers boast that a wind power project will power X thousands of homes, when the truthful version of that statement would add, “30 percent of the time.”
Similarly, we try to make the point that any kind of power generation is in fact an industrial use of the land. So, in response to the paper on Neighbourhood Character, we made the following comment.
This Discussion Paper deals with building height and type of structures such as low-, mid-rise, and high-rise buildings but nothing approaches what would be happening to Ottawa’s rural villages and homeowners, should grid-scale or industrial-scale wind turbines be installed.
The impact is so severe that property value loss is a significant concern. Some studies have shown that property value loss in other areas of Ontario where wind turbines were built was as much as 50 percent or, in worst cases, house did not sell at all, indicating they had literally no value to prospective buyers in an open market.
When a wind power project was being contemplated nearby, the Town of Henderson NY contracted with Nanos Research and Clarkson University to do a study on the impact on property values. The study states:
“We see that parcels with a view of theturbines sell for a positive premium (approximately 10%) before the turbines are built, butthat this premium is more than eroded by a strong negative impact after turbineconstruction.
The estimated coefficient of -0.164 that describes this effect implies a 15%decrease in property values for homes with a view after the turbines are built. We alsocalculate a 95% confidence interval for this effect, which tells us that, given the observeddata, there is a 95% chance that the true effect is a decrease of between 5.1% and 23.9%.
So, while we can’t be confident that the effect is exactly negative 15%, we arereasonablyconfident that there was a negative impact.”
We must ask, what homeowner can tolerate a drop of more than 20 percent in the value of their home? Particularly for young families already struggling with the cost of home ownership, or people on fixed incomes who are relying on the value of their homes to support them in later years? What kind of zoning bylaw policy proceeds with this type of dramatic economic impact?
In response to the Rural Zoning Issues paper, we again focus on the nature of land use, and also refer to the potential for effects on groundwater.
The paper also refers to the Energy Evolution plan, and states that “Renewable electricity projects will need to contribute an estimated 8.5% of our electricity sources in Ottawa” (page 6). There is no reference provided for this figure, and to the best of our knowledge, the 8.5 percent figure does not appear in the public Energy Evolution document. Where did that come from? What is the basis for this “requirement”? Is there any input from Hydro Ottawa or Hydro One?
Another statement is puzzling: “Local energy production and storage … can help reduce the impact of power outages from the large producers, which are occurring more frequently due to more extreme weather events.” With all due respect, this is preposterous. When there are “weather events” such as freezing rain or tornadoes or whatever, the power from “large producers” such as Ontario’s nuclear power generating stations or hydro facilities is not absent—it simply cannot be transmitted because of problems with the transmission system, usually, broken or downed power lines.
Under Environmental Protection is a brief discussion of the need for protection of natural environment areas and wetlands, and a previous paragraph deals with surface water. The risk to aquifers is not mentioned anywhere yet this is a major concern whenever wind and solar power projects are proposed. The foundations for wind turbines are huge, as you can imagine for 60-storey, vibrating structures. The risk to aquifers has been the subject of appeals of other wind power project approvals, notably the Nation Rise project south of Ottawa, which is located on a provincially designated fragile aquifer. In the North Kent area of Ontario, a wind power project proceeded over citizen concerns and today, dozens of families are without potable water. A provincial health review study found that there was a link to the construction and operation of the wind turbines on the fragile aquifer, and more study is currently underway.
The Ontario Ground Water Association has expressed concern about wind turbines and put out this statement: “Proper environmental analysis is necessary before choosing an appropriate location for wind turbines to ensure there’s no impact on #groundwater resources.”
The comment was filed with the engagement team at firstname.lastname@example.org
While citizens can use the surveys attached to each grouping of Discussion Papers, people might want to create their own, longer comments and file them, using the email referenced above.
Sign the petition
Ottawa Wind Concerns has also launched a petition to formally ask for a 2-km setback for wind turbines and homes. You may download it here: Petition
You can fold it into a mailer and send to: Wind Concerns, PO Box 91047 RPO SIGNATURE CTR KANATA ON K2T 0A3
The City’s “engagement” process can only work if people know about the Discussion Papers, and take advantage of opportunities to comment
April 12, 2023
Are you OK with renewable energy facilities, including wind turbines, solar “farms” and battery storage systems, being built in Ottawa on “Rural Countryside” and greenbelt land?
Are you OK with every interchange on the 416 or 417 in Ottawa being rezoned to accept “industrial” and “logistics” (trucking distribution centres) buildings?
These are just two of the ideas in the City of Ottawa’s background documents or “Discussion Papers” that have been released for public engagement, while City staff write new zoning bylaws.
“People need to know about these discussion papers,” says Jane Wilson, chair of Ottawa Wind Concerns, “and the whole engagement process will be better if everyone, including rural residents, can comment.”
“The fact is, even the so-called ‘Rural’ Issues paper, the content is decidedly urban in focus,” Wilson says. “The paper calls for renewable power projects in the rural areas but says nothing about the risks of industrializing rural communities that way. There is no acknowledgement of the noise that would come from power projects, the loss of woodlands and farmland, the danger to groundwater sources, and the loss of property value when quiet communities literally become power plants.”
For wind turbines, the City will be looking at setback distances and noise limits. The City is allowed to create its own regulations for this, following the repeal of the Green Energy Act in Ontario, which took away municipal land use planning power for renewable energy projects. However, all that exists are the Ontario regulations which are unchanged since 2009—a lot of turbines (and noise complaints) have happened since then!
The goal is to help with the process
Ottawa Wind Concerns is hosting several informal drop-in events where residents can get copies of the Discussion Paper summaries, see a map of the zoning in Ottawa’s new Official Plan (where is the “Rural Countryside” anyway? You might be surprised.), pick up fact sheets, and fill out the City of Ottawa survey in response to the Discussion Papers. The survey only allows 160 characters in the online version, but people are free to add detailed comments by using a paper copy, or attaching a letter.
The goal is to help City staff be aware of resident—rural resident—concerns.
Ottawa Wind Concerns is also sponsoring a petition to ask that the City institute a 2-km setback between industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines. It will be available for signatures at the drop-in events.
Overhead view of 8-megawatt battery storage facility in Tehachapi, USA-Wikipedia image
March 1, 2023
Green energy’s newest fad is Battery Energy Storage Systems or BESS, which is being promoted as an add-on to existing renewable power generation facilities to counteract intermittency and unreliability.
Lobbyist the former Canadian Wind Energy Association, now the Canadian Renewable Energy Association or CanREA is actively pushing BESS, and has even gone so far as to add storage to its corporate banner as in, Wind- Solar- Storage.
CanREA is pushing for TEN TIMES the amount of wind and solar we already have in Canada (won’t that look pretty? And cost us all, too) which they say will work with storage.
However, even the influential lobbyist points to concerns. First, there is a need to develop technical requirements for connecting and operating battery storage facilities CanREA says in its document, Laying the Foundation:
“In many jurisdictions, the technical details may be included in the operating documents of the crownowned utility. However, there are other elements, such as the scope of safety and environmental reviews, that will need legislated descriptions or will need to be included in the regulatory documents of the relevant ministry or government department.” (Page 10)
And, CanREA says, regulating authorities may need to get ready for BESS and develop new competencies:
“In most jurisdictions, the mandate and/or rules of the regulating authority (for example the Alberta Utilities Commission) may need to be enhanced. Regulatory authorities will need sufficient expertise to fairly evaluate proposed energy-storage installations.”
Most people don’t know what they are
In response to inquiries from members and the public, and because BESS is being proposed as an add-on to existing wind power installations, Wind Concerns Ontario undertook a review of experiences with BESS around the world, and reports of citizen concerns, as well as the current regulatory environment.
As one Ontario mayor said, most people don’t even know what they are.
Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a report, with the following conclusions:
Standards needed for emergencies – As BESS technology is relatively new, standards are rapidly changing in response to emergency situations encountered. Even projects developed by companies with extensive battery experience have experienced serious emergency situations.
Not enough information – The requirements for submissions to the IESO and to municipalities when requesting support for the project include few, if any, details on the actual project. The process appears to assume that once a company is awarded an IESO contract based largely on price, it will then proceed to develop the real proposal which will be submitted into an undefined permitting process or processes. Based on information submitted, it is not clear how the IESO will be able to distinguish between proposals with higher prices because they meet high standards for development and those with lower prices because the proposal includes the minimal safety standards.
Renewable energy or not? – BESS systems are neither defined as a Renewable Energy project by Regulation 359/09, nor are they included in the list of excluded projects. The intention may be to omit further provincial review of these projects and to proceed directly to the municipal permitting process but this would be a recipe for substantial delay as the building officials in each host municipality (many of which are small rural municipalities) individually develop the expertise needed to assess and approve these projects.
Safety regulations? – While Ontario Hydro has defined setbacks from BESS installations to protect their infrastructure, there are no setbacks for BESS installations established in Regulation 359/09 to protect other buildings and activities. Similarly, there are no noise standards for these systems which could create a new enforcement challenge for Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks field staff.
Potential for support to be withdrawn – As the submissions to municipalities have included minimal information, there is potential for municipalities to rescind their support resolution once they learn the risks associated with these projects and the municipal resources that will be potentially required to deal with emergency situations.
Clearly, there are significant issues to be addressed.
Ottawa area BESS
Here in Ottawa, a BESS facility was proposed for the recent Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Request for Proposals for new power generation. Located on Upper Dwyer Hill Road in the West Carleton-March ward of the city, the project is unheard of for most people. The company proposing the project held a public meeting in December but no one showed up. The IESO allows proponents to simply post a notice on their project website. If you don’t even know about the project, how do you know to check for announcements?
Here are the minutes for the “public” meeting:
MINUTES OF PUBLIC COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT City of Ottawa Public Meeting Location: Alexander Community Centre, 960 Silver St, Ottawa, ON K1Z 6H5 Time: 6-7 pm, January 12th, 2023
Long-Term Reliability Project Name: 548
Site Address: 650 Upper Dwyer Hill Road, Ottawa, ON K0A 1A0
Facility: Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)
Size: 4.99-megawatt/19.96-megawatt hour
Proponents Name: 1000234763 Ontario Inc.
Attendance: • 0 community members •
Proponent – 1000234763 Ontario Inc., representative: o John Kozak, COO • Proponent’s Contractor, SolarBank Corporation (previously, Abundant Solar Energy Inc.) o Tracy Zheng, CAO o Mila Simon, Project Coordinator 6ii
6:00 PM: meeting called to order. Proponent and SolarBank waited for 45 minutes for attendees. No community members showed.
6:45 PM: Meeting adjourned.
Another BESS proposal is in development in Cumberland, that would be ten times the capacity of the Upper Dwyer Hill Rd facility. In response an email inquiry, developer Evolugen (a division of huge power developer Brookfield) replied:
We are still in the process of assessing potential sites for a battery storage energy system in the Cumberland area to respond to two announced procurements (expedited and long-term RFP).The two public meetings were held to gauge at a high level the type of reaction that this type of project would receive in this area. We don’t record public meetings because they are drop-in format rather than a presentation with a Q and A. But we are always available for one-on-one meetings.The IESO released the final RFP document in early December, but had released a series of documents (including a draft RFP) in preceding months to provide project proponents with a general idea of what public outreach requirements were required.
New zoning bylaws to be fast-tracked for 2023 in light of Ontario government’s current new power procurement plan
February 23, 2023
Ottawa City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a motion put forward by Ward 21 Rideau-Jock councillor David Brown, and seconded by West Carleton-March councillor Clarke Kelly, to hold off granting municipal approval for any new power project proposals that may come forward as a result of provincial government procurement plans. The motion directs staff to tell proponents that municipal support will not be granted until review by a Standing Committee; the Motion further stipulates that developing zoning bylaws for new power generation installation should be done in the Planning department’s 2023 “Workbook” ahead of 2024-2025 for the new suite of bylaws as a whole.
The deadline for the Independent Electricity System Operator’s first phase of new procurement, for 1,500 megawatts of power, was last Thursday, February 16. The IESO plans another RFP to be launched this spring or summer, for an additional 2,500 megawatts of new power.
The motion passed yesterday stipulates that staff be directed to inform proponents of any new power generation projects: “staff will not bring such requests to Council unless such requests are considered through the relevant Standing Committee, it being understood that the Standing Committee will act in accordance with the timelines provided in the LT1 RFP, furthermore, that Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates, shall be entitled to obtain any Municipal Support Resolution required per the LT1 RFP (or other similar processes), via bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa,”
“staff will bring forward an amendment to the City of Ottawa’s Zoning By-law that implements the intent of the policies in the Official Plan with respect to renewable energy generation facilities and storage by Q4 2023 that is in advance of the municipal Comprehensive Zoning By-law update“.
Ottawa saw only one submission in response to the most recent IESO Request for Proposals, a small Battery Energy Storage System proposed for Upper Dwyer Hill Road. Another, larger battery project is in development for the Cumberland area; the proponent is Brookfield’s Evolugen division. Both projects are supposed to have had public meetings to present project details; the Upper Dwyer Hill Road project meeting notice was only on the company’s website, and no members of the public attended the January 12th meeting.
Ottawa Wind Concerns made several presentations to city committees including the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee to warn that the IESO RFP was on the way, and that Ottawa needed to be ready with protective bylaws for large power generation projects such as wind turbines. Ontario’s regulations for noise levels and setbacks for noise and safety have not been changed since 2009, and are generally viewed as inadequate today.
The community group’s advice was rebuffed, however, with one rural councillor claiming in September that no such procurement was on the way. At that time, the IESO RFP process was in the final stages of “engagement.” The first RFP launched December 7, 2022.
Do wind turbines make noise? YES
Rural Ottawa has already experienced a proposal for a large wind power project when a proposal came forward under the Ontario government’s Feed-In Tariff program in 2009. It was for as many as eight 600-foot industrial wind turbines to be located in the North Gower area, to be built by Pro-Wind, a small company based in Germany. Residents rejected the proposal at the time, saying the power generating machines would be too close to homes and the village school. Residents signed a petition and presented it to City Hall; almost every property-owning resident of the North Gower area signed the document.
Interestingly, one of the proponent’s staff was interviewed by then radio host and journalist Mark Sutcliffe who asked, Do the wind turbines make noise?
“Of course they do,” said the project salesperson. “They’re power generators.”
Citizens of rural Ottawa are concerned that new power projects, no matter what the technology, will be located in rural areas. Noise pollution, vibration, loss of valuable farmland, risk to aquifers, and danger to wildlife are all important concerns.
We are trying to respond to community concerns, said Councillor David Brown, “That is really what this is all about.”
The motion, revised prior to Council, is here:
Re / Objet : Clarifying the process of approving new energy projects and infrastructure under the Requests for Proposals from Independent Electricity System Operator
Moved by / Motion de: Councillor D. Brown
Seconded by / Appuyée par: Councillor C. Kelly
WHEREAS the Independent Electricity System Operator has released an Expedited Procurement Process to procure 1.5 gigawatts of electrical capacity by mid-decade and has been engaging with municipalities with respect to Requests for Proposals for a significant number of new projects for energy generation, storage, and infrastructure; and
WHEREAS the Expedited Procurement Process (the E-LT1 RFP) closing February 16, 2023 includes three (3) of thirteen (13) Rated Criteria Points for municipal council support resolutions; and
WHEREAS after February 16, 2023 the Independent Electricity System Operator is planning two more procurement phases totalling 2.8 gigawatts of capacity to be available mid decade; and
WHEREAS the Independent Electricity System Operator requires a Municipal Support Resolution from the municipal council no later than sixty (60) days after the eighteen (18) month anniversary of the Contract Date; and
WHEREAS some Independent Electricity System Operator resources participate in the Ontario electricity market without contracts; and
WHEREAS it is not clear that the inability for a project to receive a “Municipal Support Resolution” will necessarily lead to the revocation of a proponent’s contract; and
WHEREAS Ottawa must decrease its reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting sources of energy, including by increasing local renewable energy generation and battery storage, to achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; and
WHEREAS the City has received a request for a Municipal Support Resolution for a 5-megawatt/20-megawatt hour battery energy storage system using lithium-ion battery technology at 650 Upper Dwyer Hill Road, Ottawa that is expected to occupy approximately 0.3 acres (0.12 ha) of land, including all required setbacks and spacing; and
WHEREAS municipalities, namely through land use policies in the Official Plan and provisions in the Zoning By-law, set their own priorities with respect to where energy generation, storage, and infrastructure may be permitted; and
WHEREAS increased energy generation, storage, and infrastructure can have significant impacts on local residents that are worth due consideration by Council under a framework in the Zoning By-law that reflects the City’s Official Plan; and
WHEREAS staff will bring forward an amendment to the City of Ottawa’s Zoning By-law that implements the intent of the policies in the Official Plan with respect to renewable energy generation facilities and storage by Q4 2023 that is in advance of the municipal Comprehensive Zoning By-law update;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor, on behalf of Council, write a letter to the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Electricity System Operator to formally request confirmation that projects approved through the LT1 RFP and future procurements shall not proceed without a Municipal Support Resolution from municipal council in the form of an approved motion; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff be directed, in consultation with Hydro Ottawa, to come forward with recommendations in advance of the new Zoning By-law to help inform City Council plans for energy generation, storage and infrastructure as a deliverable project in the 2023 Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department Workplan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the appropriate Standing Committees evaluate current and future requests for Municipal Support Resolutions, informed by the recommendations referenced above until amendments have been made to Zoning By-law 2008-250 in Q4 2023; provided, however, that projects proposed by Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates shall be entitled to obtain such Municipal Support Resolution through bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until such time as amendments have been made to Zoning By-law 2008-250 in Q4 2023, staff be directed to advise any proponents seeking a Municipal Support Resolution through the LT1 RFP that staff will not bring such requests to Council unless such requests are considered through the relevant Standing Committee, it being understood that the Standing Committee will act in accordance with the timelines provided in the LT1 RFP, furthermore, that Hydro Ottawa and its affiliates, shall be entitled to obtain any Municipal Support Resolution required per the LT1 RFP (or other similar processes), via bilateral discussions with its sole shareholder, the City of Ottawa.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this motion be sent to the Premier of Ontario, the Ontario Minister of Energy, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Ottawa has no new zoning bylaws to protect rural residents from environmental impacts from new power projects
View of a street in Crysler, south of Ottawa, with wind turbine 2 km away. There have been so many noise complaints that the local board of health is conducting a review. [Photo: D. Larsen for Wind Concerns Ontario]
Two Ottawa city councillors have put forward a motion regarding new power generation facilities, demanding that municipal support be mandatory, and that any power projects be in the best interests of the people who must live near them.
Because Ottawa will not have new zoning bylaws until 2025, what the two rural ward councillors are saying is, rural area residents need up-to-date protection in terms of setback distances and noise limits from power projects, which are an industrial use of the land.
Ontario’s regulations for wind turbines, for example, were created in 2009 and remain unchanged, despite advances in knowledge about such negative environmental impacts as noise pollution, strobe effect, risk to wildlife, and danger from fire, ice throw or catastrophic equipment failures.
Community interests foremost, councillor says
Councillor David Brown submitted a notice of motion on February 1st, seconded by Ward 5 Councillor Clarke Kelly.
Here is what Councillor Brown wrote in the current edition of the Manotick Messenger about the motion.
“At issue is the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO and its ongoing efforts to procure energy projects across the province. Though energy projects generally receive support from municipal councils before proceeding, the authority is unclear; IESO could attempt to work with a project proponent without the approval of Council.
This means that an LNG power plant, a wind turbine, a solar farm, or any other project could arise without the support of the community.
Additionally, Ottawa is in the process of updating its by-laws. Once completed, these updated by-laws will hep future development better conform to the objectives of the city’s Official Plan. This includes energy infrastructure in general and wind turbines in particular. It is essential that new by-laws be finalized and approved before wind turbines are brought to Council’s attention for consideration and approval.
These are the issues that my motion seeks to address. The goals of this motion are to ensure that Council is able to act as the final authority on energy generation in our City and that new generating infrastructure respects our City’s soon-to-be-updated by-laws.
As new energy generation capacity is likely to be placed in the rural areas of Ottawa, it is vital that new facilities be well considered and respect residents’ needs and our communities’ interests.
No project should be advanced without being in the clear interest of those who live close to it.
By advancing this motion I am hoping to better protect our communities against potentially harmful overreach.
As of last December, the IESO process appeared not to allow municipalities final say in power project approvals, and energy minister Todd Smith recently wrote the IESO a letter asking them to be specific. Early in the current RFP process, municipal support could be “evidenced” by a letter from a planner, or by the issuing of building permits. Issuing building permits is an administrative process, and not an indication of Council support.
Ottawa lags in regulations for safety, health
Ottawa Wind Concerns has called for greater transparency on new power projects, and made several presentations in the past to the previous Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. Last year, the then councillor for Ward 21 said there was no need for Ottawa to act because there was no RFP process for new power projects, and sent emails in September to members of both the agricultural/rural and environmental protection committees. The truth was, at that point, the IESO documents were already in the engagement and revision phase, and well known to other jurisdictions.
The RFP commenced December 7, 2022.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has recommended a setback of 2 km from wind turbines to residential areas, based on the recommendation from Wind Concerns Ontario.
The City of Ottawa has expressed interest in promoting wind turbines. Ottawa’s $57B Energy Evolution plan calls for 3,200 megawatts of wind power, or more than 700 industrial scale wind turbines in the rural areas of the city.
The aim of the LT-RFP according to the IESO is to: “seek resources that can be in service between 2026 and 2028 to address global and regional needs.”
Energy Minister Todd Smith issued a directive on October 7th:
11. The Expedited Process, Upgrades Solicitation, and L T1 RFP shall be open to all resource types that meet the mandatory criteria established by the IESO, which may include renewable energy, energy storage, hybrid renewable energy with storage, biofuels and natural gas-fired generation.
The RFP has been in development for many months, despite the continued assertion by former Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt who insisted that there is no procurement process in Ontario.When he wrote to members of Ottawa’s Planning and Agricultural and Rural Affairs committees that there was no plans for new power procurement (to head off a presentation by Ottawa Wind Concerns), the IESO was in the final phases of implementing the RFP.
Now, Ottawa could see proposals for new power projects.
The process will be very quick: announcement of successful bidders will come in March of 2023, according to IESO documents dated mid-November.
But we’re not ready.
Ottawa has no new zoning bylaws in place to deal with new power proposals and in fact, the zoning bylaw process following the new Official Plan is stalled due to concerns about new provincial legislation.
As well, we know from the experience with wind turbines since 2009 and the Green Energy Act, there are lots of problems with these industrial-scale projects. Noise, damage to aquifers, and risk to wildlife including endangered species are impacts seen all over Ontario. But regulations for noise and setbacks have not changed.
When the Green Energy Act was revoked by the Ford government in 2018, planning powers were returned to municipalities, who are now able to set their own regulations for noise limits and setback distances.
But Ottawa hasn’t done that.
The solution? Recommended to us by our planning consultant, and as already done by several other Ontario municipalities, Ottawa could pass a motion that is a simple statement of policy intent, to the effect that until new zoning bylaws are approved, the City of Ottawa will not review or approve any proposals for power generation, including wind power.
City staff have already expressed concern about the speed of the LT-RFP process and the fact that municipal approval doesn’t seem to be mandatory, though the Ford government promised that it would be. Other municipalities are worried about this IESO process which, they say, doesn’t give enough time for proper public consultation, or for a full assessment of new power development proposals such as analysis of the effectiveness of the technology being proposed, and what impacts the project could have on the environment.
We met today with new Ward 21 Councillor David Brown, who shares our concerns about the IESO RFP. He is already taking action on it.
We hope that the new Council will act quickly to ensure that the City is not sandbagged by new power generation proposals that are not appropriate to our area, and specifically that Ottawa’s rural communities will be protected from industrialization by unreliable and noisy grid-scale wind turbines. We hope that any new power generation would be for power that is reliable and affordable, and actually does something for the environment and climate change. That’s not expensive, invasive, out-of-phase with demand wind power.
Planning committee co-chair responds with condescending, hostile messages; continues to deny Ottawa plans for wind turbines
October 11, 2022
While Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) prepares to launch new procurement initiatives for power generation, and wind power developers line up to apply for contracts, at least one councillor with the City of Ottawa denies the need for the city to issue protective bylaws for noise and setbacks for health and safety now.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has been updating the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) as well as city staff charged with developing new zoning bylaws on both the need for protective regulation and the fact that other municipalities have already taken these steps. We made a presentation to ARAC in April, detailing the need for protective regulations, emphasizing that current provincial rules are inadequate.
Recently, we submitted letters to both the Planning Committee and ARAC warning that if the IESO opens the door to new wind power proposals, it will be too late to create bylaws for noise and setbacks. Ottawa needs to take action now, before proposals are made.
Here’s what we told ARAC:
SUBMISSION TO CITY OF OTTAWA AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE Urgent need for protective zoning bylaws for wind power projects/wind turbines September 28, 2022 This is a follow-up to our submission and presentation on April 7th by Ottawa Wind Concerns board member Michael Baggott, requesting protective zoning bylaws and a setback distance of at least 2 km for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines. We have discussed this presentation with the Carleton Landowners and have their support in making this submission. What is new: The Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO is launching several Requests for Proposal, to acquire 3,500 megawatts of new power generation. (Reference: https://www.ieso.ca/en/Sector-Participants/Resource-Acquisition-and-Contracts/Long-TermRFP-and-Expedited-Process ) The IESO has released a list of Qualified Applicants, of which more than a dozen are wind power developers. One new contract has already been awarded (an extension to Melancthon I) and wind power developers have already announced their intention to propose new projects. (Capital Power, September 22, Windsor, Ontario)
The City of Ottawa confirms that it wants “predominately wind and solar” power to achieve climate action goals (reference: climate manager Mike Fletcher), repeated by climate manager Andrea Flowers to the environmental protection committee May 17th: “We have explicitly said [our plans] would include wind and solar.” The IESO has released a set of draft documents related to municipal approval and community engagement. Deadline for stakeholder comment is September 30. Problems: As documented previously, Ontario current setback for noise of 550m is inadequate and not aligned with regulation in other jurisdictions today. Setback from roadways, public pathways etc. not adequate for protection Once proposals are made, and officially submitted, a zoning bylaw cannot apply to those proposals. (Future ones, yes)
Ottawa citizens, particularly those in rural areas who would be forced to have these power generation projects, are very concerned about noise pollution, impacts on property value, effects on the aquifer and private water wells, as well as the risk to wildlife including endangered species. This was acknowledged by Ottawa staff Andrea Flowers on May 17 when she said the City would respond to concerns with appropriate zoning. This cannot wait. Protective zoning bylaws for grid-scale wind turbines are needed urgently, before any proposals for new wind power development come forward. We understand that the City is engaged in developing new bylaws connected to the new Official Plan, but this bylaw or set of bylaws cannot wait until second quarter of next year when the new draft bylaws could be presented. An option would be for a resolution to the effect that the CIty of Ottawa will not review or approve any proposals for new power generation until after the new bylaws come into effect. In a meeting we had with Councillor Eli El-Chantiry and ARAC chair on this subject in 2019, we were told that municipalities can act quite quickly if they have to. The time to “act quickly” is now.
Two days before the ARAC meeting, Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt ( a member of ARAC and also Planning co-chair) sent this message.
I’ll try to be direct so that your Twitter account doesn’t spin my words.
As it stands today, the City does not have an explicit zone that permits wind turbines. All we have is the pending Official Plan which seeks to prohibit their installation in the Agricultural Resource Area. You and I both know that the Province is not required to adhere to municipal policies and by-laws. Nevertheless, the City has committed to reviewing this matter as part of its upcoming Zoning By-Law process.
What you are seeking is a more immediate zoning setback. What you are not considering is that to apply a zoning setback, you need an explicitly permissive zone. I don’t believe the residents of Ottawa would appreciate a quick greenlighting of wind turbines on their properties just so that we can implement a setback that may or may not be respected by the Province.
My position on this has always been that we cannot bury our heads and assume that wind will never come. I’ve also said that there was no current application process for wind, which your Twitter account spun and mocked. Regardless of the recent IESO announcement, I still don’t foresee this current Provincial Government approving wind but they won’t always be in power. While the City will not be an applicant for wind power, we should ensure we prepare for what could come. That led to the OP inclusion and the future zoning discussion. For the sake of the communities you want to represent, I would not recommend rushing that process.
The message was copied to every member of both committees. Not one of them countered the inaccuracies in the message.
The City doesn’t need an “explicit zone” that permits turbines. True, the Official Plan says where they may NOT go, but it is absurd to say that a turbine zone must be described in order for there to be setback or noise regulations, or even a general policy statement. The City already has bylaws about where development may or may not be located, and bylaws governing noise in communities etc. The City has the option to create a resolution, as we suggested, to note its policy intentions, which would help protect in case any proposals come forward now.
“The Province is not required to adhere to municipal policies”—municipalities are free to create their own bylaws, which several have already done with regard to wind turbine noise limits, setback distances, and height restrictions. Yes, the province could enact something like the Green Energy Act which blatantly removed municipal powers, but the current government restored them in 2019. Not going backwards.
Protective bylaws constitute “greenlighting” of wind power projects???
“No current application process for wind”: that was exactly our point. One is coming. And it’s coming fast. We simply asked the City to take steps to protect the residents of rural communities BEFORE it becomes impossible to do so.
The City won’t be an “applicant” for wind power. Maybe not but the $57B Energy Evolution plan and statements by staff make it clear the city’s climate action plan is to increase electricity available which they intend to do by “predominately wind and solar” (City staff quote). So Ottawa may not be an “applicant” but it certainly intends at the moment to encourage wind power development. One of the “catalyst projects” is to have 20 megawatts of wind turbines by 2025. (We learned via documents obtained under Freedom of Information request that the project is “on hold” while the Province reviews requirements for net metering.)
Our Twitter account does not engage in “spin” or “mockery.” Our goal is to inform. The fact is, the City of Ottawa has been woefully unaware of, or wilfully ignoring, Ontario’s disastrous history with expensive, unreliable and ineffective wind power. Why? What’s the agenda?
We showed this response to colleagues who are or who have in the past been municipal councillors and their reaction was that this response was puzzling at a minimum, and disrespectful of community concerns. One commented that the purpose of the response could be taken to be an attempt to “throw you off the scent.”
We also consulted an urban planner who remarked that Mr. Moffatt’s response was “garbled and condescending.” The planner was surprised at the lack of understanding from a co-chair of the city’s planning committee, and additionally that Ottawa is not further ahead on this matter, as are other jurisdictions. “Not forward-thinking” was the planner’s comment.
Again, not one member of the Planning Committee countered the inaccuracies.
We can only hope now that the next Council is committed to a review of the problematic Energy Evolution plan, at least as far as the electricity generation proposals (written for the city by an activist group) are concerned, and that the next Planning Committee is more interested in awareness of current events and potential impacts on rural communities.
Election Day is October 24; next Advance Poll is October 14. Ask questions of candidates NOW and choose wisely.
List of IESO Qualified Applicants for new power contracts. Check the companies that are wind power developers. Conclusion: wind is coming.