This past year has been an incredible demonstration of the sense of community people feel in the North Gower-Richmond-Kars area of the City of Ottawa, and the commitment to action to protect that community, and the health, safety and stability of the people who live in it.
A lot of work has been done to protect our community from industrialization by a huge, expensive and unnecessary wind power generation project that would be inappropriately located too close to over 1,000 homes and our school–yet more challenges await.
Thanks to everyone –more than 1250 people–who participated in our amazing petition drive, including the more than 30 volunteers who went door to door for weeks; what an achievement!!!
As we’ve been saying, the new “procurement” process for large-scale power projects (over 500 kW) has not yet been announced, but there are enough clues in the recently released Long-Term Energy Plan that we have an idea of what’s coming.
First of all, the Feed In Tariff program is gone for large projects; in its place is a Request for Proposal or RFP system, in which applicants will have to meet a number of requirements and rack up points. Those of us who respond to government RFPs will be familiar with the process.
The LTEP outlines several principles that will be applied when launching future energy procurement programs:
follow provincial and/or regional electricity system need;
consider municipal electricity generation preferences;
engage early and regularly with local and Aboriginal communities;
provide opportunity for a diverse set of participants;
identify clear procurement needs, goals and expectations; and
encourage innovative technologies and approaches, including consideration of proposals that integrate energy storage with renewable energy generation.
As stated in the 2013 LTEP, the government plans to make available up to 300 MW of wind, 140 MW of solar, 50 MW of bioenergy and 50 MW of hydroelectric capacity in 2014.
Note that the wording is that the government will “consider” municipal generation preferences, but that doesn’t mean that if you don’t ant a wind power project, for example, you get to say “no.” Note the importance of the regional energy plans, and also the need to “engage” with local communities.
Again, Prowind has indicated to us that they will be reviewing the new requirements and then reapplying.
The people of Ottawa, and specifically North Gower and Richmond, are ready to act to protect our community, our health, our local economy, and our property values, from a subsidy-seeking power project that is NOT NEEDED.
Please go to Wind Concerns Ontario’s website to catch up on all the reaction and links to news stories and columns about the new Long Term Energy Plan, announced on Monday. www.windconcernsontario.ca
On Rick Gibbins Lunch Bunch on CFRA today, Carleton business prof Ian Lee said he cannot believe what Ontario is doing to itself. No matter what political stripe the Ontario government was in the past, he said, there was always the understanding that in order to compete with the northeastern States, we had to keep our power prices low. Not now: this is suicide, he said.
What not many commentators are noting however is the disastrous effect this will have on Ontario’s small towns and rural communities, because we are hit harder by the delivery charges, and because we need power for everything including pumps for our wells, electric fencing for livestock, etc. Local stores don’t have the choice of turning off meat freezers or display lights.
Our young families and people on limited incomes will be hit hard–many are already at their limit.
Worse, the government seems determined to push ahead with its wind power agenda, which will mean devastation of our communities environmentally and financially. As the Globe and Mail said in an editorial yesterday (see the Wind Concerns site) “If you know you’re in a hole, stop digging!”
You may write to Minister Chiarelli at firstname.lastname@example.org to express how his price-pushing, wind-agenda plan will affect you and your family.
There is a demonstration being planned for Minister Chiarelli’s office on Saturday December 7th at 1 PM. If we get more details, we will post.
Garth Manning, QC, has written an article for the Sun media network, accusing Ontario and its poorly thought out Green Energy and Green Economy Act of violating the human rights of Ontario citizens. He quotes human rights lawyer Julian Falconer of Toronto, who refers to the growing body of research into the health effects from the noise and vibration produced by the wind power generation projects.
The Ontario government heard from plenty of experts who warned them against the downside of rushing into wind power, Manning says, but they didn’t want to hear it.
Today, citizens are left with the option of using their after-tax dollars to take legal action, which they are doing, both at appeals of wind power project approvals by the government, and in private legal actions. Municipalities remain without local land use planning control, which was removed the by the act.*
*Last week, Ottawa City Council acknowledged a petition signed by North Gower area residents declaring themselves Not A Willing Host to a proposed wind power project, and passed a motion asking the province for a more substantive role in siting wind power plants.
First posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 06:03 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 06:19 PM EDT
For years, Gary Thomas has run a successful 50-acre Christmas tree farm in North Gower.
And he does it right, a family event with horse-drawn sleighs, tractor-drawn wagons and a warm fire with hot chocolate and cookies waiting for you upon your return from the bush.
Don’t forget the sweet smells of fresh Scotch Pine and Balsam fir.
Now picture the same Norman Rockwell scene with a 600-foot high wind turbine less than 1 km away.
Sort of jars the senses, doesn’t it?
And then picture the massive turbine casting a shadow over the scene every few seconds.
Thomas says he can barely believe the possibility.
But indeed, there continues to be a looming threat of a wind turbine project as his next-door-neighbour.
A company called Prowind has applied more than once to the province for permission to build the wind turbine project in North Gower.
And when the province opens up for bids again, there’s every expectation Prowind will submit a proposal again.
“We’re not very pleased with it for a number of reasons. Health, there’s the psychological aspect, and the flicker effect, with every few second have a shadow come in front of our house, this is crazy,
“I’m not sure customers having the old fashioned experience will like the shadow,” he said.
Thomas doesn’t just worry about the immediate effects of the turbines, but he and his wife have counted on the farm for their retirement — and if the giant wind turbines are erected, doesn’t know how that will effect the resale value of their home.
“We’re hopeful Watson and council won’t put them in the municipality,” he says, in an interview with the Sun on Wednesday.
The threat of a giant wind turbine farm in their community has galvanized residents of North Gower in opposition of the project.
“We really don’t need these wind power projects,” said Jane Wilson, the chair of Ottawa Wind Concerns.
The group is circulating a petition — which now has about 400 names on it — advising the province North Gower doesn’t want to be home to a wind turbine project.
“It’s a pretty big power plant, I’m not sure people understand that. It’s huge, these are really large machines, they make noise and the vibrations can be upsetting,” she said.
The group has the support of their ward councillor Scott Moffatt, who’s working with them and city staff to craft a motion asking the province to give municipalities a say in where the wind power projects can and can’t be located.
“The majority are against it,” he added.
Read more at the Ottawa Sun website and take the poll!
Nearly 300 people came to the recreation centre in North Gower Saturday morning to oppose construction of eight to 10 wind turbines north and west of the village.
NORTH GOWER — Nearly 300 people came to the recreation centre in North Gower Saturday morning to oppose construction of eight to 10 wind turbines north and west of the village.
“They’re too noisy. They are really way to close to people for an industrial power plant,” said organizer Jane Wilson, of Ottawa Wind Concerns. “Far too close to too many people.”
She estimates that 1,100 homes would be within 3.5 kilometres of the turbines.
“A number of the homes are within two kilometres, which is … where you see most of the health effects,” she said.
Her group circulated a map of where it says the turbines would be sited, “and when people start looking at the map and see how close it is, it really makes a difference to them.”
Opponents of wind farms say sound waves that are at too low a frequency for the human ear to hear can cause insomnia, dizziness, headaches and other health problems. The industry says there is no health impact.
Construction could begin in the fall of 2014, she believes.
The proposal by Prowind Canada is on hold for now, but residents expect the company to go ahead eventually. The Prowind website estimates the size of what it calls the Marlborough wind farm at eight turbines, producing up to 20 megawatts.
Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, who is also the Conservative energy critic, attended the event to support the protest.
“Rural communities are going to be assaulted by these wind turbine developments,” she said.
She said the Conservatives want a moratorium on new wind developments, and an end to subsidies “so that we can put them put of business.”
She also accused the turbines of being costly and inefficient.
Wind farms are common in many parts of Ontario, especially along the Great Lakes, but are not yet common in Eastern Ontario. In some rural communities they have pitted neighbours against each other, with some welcoming the revenue and some saying their health and property values are at stake.
“There are obviously some health issues that need to be explored and Health Canada is doing that right now,” MacLeod said.
Wilson said the Saturday rally collected 282 signatures declaring that North Gower is “not a willing host” to a wind farm.
Nepean-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre announced on Twitter that the social costs of wind farms are too high and added, “I will continue to stand with you.”
Just announced: Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod has been named the Energy Critic in the Progressive Conservative “shadow” cabinet.
MacLeod has been critical of the proposed 20-megawatt wind power project on farmland in North Gower and Richmond which will be too close to hundreds of people, and which will be financed with subsidies from Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers.
Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece has been named Rural Affairs critic; Pettapiece’s family first came to North Gower in the 1800s from England, and has appeared at several events in the Ottawa area speaking on energy and wind power issues.
Back in May, after the decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the case of Wiggins et al vs wpd, we wrote to the Mayor of the City of Ottawa to inform him of the importance of the Court’s decision: that it was acceptable for property owners who live as neighbours to property being leased for industrial-scale wind turbines to sue for property value loss and nuisance at the time of approval of a wind power project (i.e., they do not have to wait until the power project is built), and that the Court accepted that property value loss had already occurred simply with the announcement of the power project near Clearview Ontario, on the order of 22-50 percent.
The effect of the proposed wind power project in North Gower-Richmond will be significant, we wrote , in terms of the potential danger to health (also acknowledged by the Court) and property value loss, which we estimate to be approximately–and conservatively–$70 million.
We received a reply from the Mayor, in which he repeats that this is a provincial responsibility (that was written in all capital letters so we wouldn’t miss it), and that the “regime” [sic] in place for renewable energy approvals is “quite onerous.”
“Should a wind power developer* seek a renewable energy approval in Ottawa,” he wrote, “the City will review all documentation and information relating to the proposed development and fully participate in any such consultative process. …the City will be in a better position to assess its response…and to address any concerns and needs of the public.” Note he does not say that the City will ensure people are not harmed; he does not say, the City will ensure that its residents are protected.
We wrote back–sorry to take up more of his time–and said that we had recently participated in “dialogue” sessions with the province and found that we, along with other stakeholders, believe the renewable power (they keep saying ‘energy’ because it sounds nicer than power plants, but that’s the truth) planning process is deeply flawed and Ontario needs a completely new process. There was NO ONE from the City of Ottawa at the evening session we attended, and as far as we know, NO ONE from the City of Ottawa at the morning session, hosted by the Ontario Power Authority.
We told the Mayor that we demanded a return of local land-use planning powers to municipalities (removed by the Green Energy Act) and also a cost-benefit analysis including the impacts, financial and health, on local communities.
Many analysts are now describing the province’s “green” energy plan as a monumental policy failure that has already run electricity prices so high it is affecting businesses’ ability to be competitive (let alone survive) and has had an astounding effect on Ontario’s rural and small urban communities.
All we ask is that our City protect us from a power plant that is not needed, which uses an invasive, expensive and unreliable technology, and which will doubtless negatively affect this community.
Not a Willing Host demonstration, Ottawa City Hall, April 2013; MPP Lisa MacLeod and community members.
Ottawa Wind Concerns
*the Marlborough 1 project is on “hold” until the province announces its new procurement process; wind developer Prowind, headquartered in Germany, told the Ottawa Citizen recently that it intends to reapply when the new process is in place.
Donations welcome at PO Box 3, North Gower ON K0A 2T0
An Ottawa-area reader wrote to the Ottawa Citizen, in response to a totally city-centric column by writer Kelly Egan, in which the columnist said he likes the Feed In tariff program because he thinks it helps small, local energy initiatives. So, so wrong.
If only the FIT program had done that, there actually would be jobs, there actually would be energy savings…but that’s not what happened—the subsidy program was created for the giant corporate wind power industry. The rooftop solar panels Mr Egan so likes to see from his “bedroom window” in the city have almost nothing to do with it. On the other hand, the people of rural and small urban communities will have their lives changed for ever by the advent of huge wind power generation projects. Here is the letter. Note how the writer also describes what he has seen in his European travels—what Ontario is doing is not like anything elsewhere.
Reading columnist Kelly Egan’s article on the touchy subject of wind turbines, I just felt sick to my stomach.
Having a residential property adjacent to a farm where an industrial wind turbine project is in the works makes me a stern opponent of this kind of project. It is costly, detrimental to health and a threat to the value of my property.
I invite Egan to switch places with me and watch his lifetime toils evaporate just for the sake of enriching powerful lobbies of already rich people.
It is a shame that our government insists on disturbing and ruining people’s lives by allowing such projects so close to residences. Our beautiful province is so vast and for sure this kind of project can be built in remote areas where people’s lives are not affected and the enrichment of the government’s friends can continue with us footing the bill.
I have visited many countries where wind turbine parks were nowhere close to any residences nor farms. Even in Greece where bribery can seemingly get you anything, such projects are built far away from inhabited areas.
I wonder what it took to convince our politicians that building them close to homes is good for everyone. I feel so powerless in a country like Canada where the person is valued – but it appears that our politicians do not adhere to this notion.