With Ottawa discussing encouraging wind power development in the City’s rural areas, it’s important to know exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to wind turbines.
First, they are not “windmills,” they are Wind Turbine Generators or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).
They are not “wind farms,” they are power generation facilities.
And, they are BIG. Very very big.
Here’s a suggested driving tour of the nearby Nation Rise wind power project
Embrun South to Cannamore via St Marie Street/County Rd 32
County road 13 into Crysler,
County road 12 to Berwick,
west on County road 9 to Goldfield road,
south to County road 43, turn west then south on the Stormont-Dundas Boundary to Concession 1-2.
East toward County road 12 (south of Finch), then back north on County road 12 into Finch, through Berwick, then Crysler north on County road 12 (to the 417) or turn west at (Harvex), concession 10-11 to Cannamore.
This route should give people an idea of the industrialization impact and the number of homes involved. You may not hear any noise, especially in this season when the turbines are not turning, or barely moving. You really have to stay in one of the homes over a period to experience the noise, sound pressure and vibration.
OK, so they’re big and unsightly, what else is wrong with wind power? It doesn’t work. Wind turbines are weather-dependent and thus, intermittent and unreliable. Today, Ontario’s power demand is over 15,000 megawatts while wind has produced 250-300 megawatts of power.
That’s not good enough.
Want a sign? Email us. Contributions to the cost welcome.
The City of Ottawa is strangely devoted to the idea that industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines are just an ordinary on-farm activity.
When the final draft of the new Official Plan was presented at last week’s public meeting, City staff maintained their position that the large wind power generators were an activity just like any other in the countryside, like corn mazes and produce stands.
“We know there are concerns,” said planning staff member Melissa Jort-Conway, adding that the City will be conducting consultations and that the community will have input when the situation gets to the zoning bylaw stage.
That’s not very reassuring when you consider that the process for new bylaws allows for ONE comment period.
Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt said at the recent Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management committee meeting, which he chairs, that decisions aren’t always seen as fair by rural residents who are in the minority. They feel like they don’t get any say, he noted.
That is what happened south of Ottawa when the Ontario government under Kathleen Wynne approved one last wind power project, the 100-megawatt Nation Rise or Crysler project that encompasses hundreds of acres of land in North Stormont including the communities of Finch, Berwick and Crysler
Although the Wynne government had cancelled further wind power procurement in 2016, saying Ontario had enough power and it was more than 90-percent emissions-free, Nation Rise was approved in the Liberals’ last days. The community fought hard through an appeal which pointed out the risk of environmental noise, wildlife deaths and potential harm to the fragile aquifer. The communities remain divided after the bitter conflict.
In the recent heat wave in Ontario, wind power throughout the province failed to provide any significant amount of power during the days when demand was high to power air conditioning.
Now Ottawa is calling for as much as 3,200 megawatts of wind or more than 700 turbines by 2050.
Most Ottawa residents have never seen a modern wind turbine; their experience might be to see the turbines on Wolfe Island near Kingston which are some 18 km from highway 401–those are under 2 megawatts while turbines today are well over 3 megawatts in power rating, and stand 600 feet or more. The ExPlace turbine is downtown Toronto is less than one megawatt but works well as a backdrop for political and industry photos.
The facts: wind turbines do not fulfill any of the promises made for them by their promoters. They do not produce reliable power, they are highly invasive to the environment, the produce environmental noise pollution, and they do not contribute much toward any environmental action. They will use up valuable prime agricultural land, and they are most definitely NOT an on-farm activity, contributing to agriculture.
Yet Ottawa City Council seems to want them as highly visible “climate action” beacons.
Last night the City of Ottawa announced in a meeting to update rural communities on the revised Official Plan that the development of industrial-scale wind power facilities will be encouraged, and that these will be “directed” to Ottawa’s rural communities.
Staff claimed that renewable energy development — wind and solar — are a provincial direction, and the City has no choice but to pursue this.
“That is completely false,” says Jane Wilson, resident of North Gower and chair of community group Ottawa Wind Concerns. “The province is actually committed to affordable and reliable electricity —that’s not weather-dependent intermittent wind power.
“The City seems to ignore the disaster that wind power was for Ontario, and the role it played in creating energy poverty by boosting electricity bills by 270 percent,” Wilson said. “Wind turbines also have high impact on the environment, producing disturbing noise emissions, and killing birds and bats, which are important to the ecosystem.”
In fact, Ottawa’s Energy Evolution report proposes as much as 3,200 megawatts of wind power for the capital area, as many as 700 powerful turbines. The plan calls for 20 megawatts by 2025.
“There is no cost-benefit or impact analysis in that report, and no full, honest accounting to the people of Ottawa as to how much this will cost us all. Funding is supposed to come from the federal government so every Canadian taxpayer as Ottawa repeats the failed Ontario experiment with wind power,” Wilson said.
Huge grid-scale wind turbines are changing the landscape in North Stormont as the Nation Rise wind power project approaches commercial operation in June.
The photo above shows a view of the village of Crysler with two of the wind turbines visible. The Nation Rise turbines are 131 metres to the hub height, or 429 feet. The height to the blade tip is more than 600 feet.
There are 29 turbines in total in the industrial power project.
Wind Concerns Ontario reports that some residents have already experienced excessive noise and vibration from the turbines; they have been advised to call the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Cornwall Office at 1-800-860-2760. If the call is outside of business hours, residents should call the 24/7 Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS.
In both cases, caller should be given an Incident Report number, and should also keep a record of their call.
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org to report problems; the company is required to pass along your complaint to the environment ministry.
An editorial in the Eastern Ontario edition of Farmers Forum says “Toronto” should never have imposed the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power facility on the communities of North Stormont.
In his editorial titled “How wind turbines scarred a landscape and a community,” editor Patrick Meagher notes that the township conducted a survey of residents and found most didn’t want the wind turbine development, and then unanimously voted to declare North Stormont an “Unwilling Host”.
“But things didn’t go that way,” Meagher writes.
Weeks before the provincial election in 2018, the Liberal government “greenlighted the project. This was in spite of a longstanding agreement not to approve major projects when another government could take over. Wynne got a two-for-one deal, sticking it to the next government and the locals at Crysler, Berwick and Finch.” (The riding went Conservative.)
The wind power project caused strong feelings, Meagher says. “The project was so acrimonious that in this small community friendships broke up, family members stopped talking to each other, and more than 10 property owners sold their houses and moved away.”
Now the community is “stuck” with 29 huge turbines that are “large, inefficient, taxpayer-subsidized generators of intermittent power…not even a good business decision.”
“This ugly event is testimony to why governments should listen to the people they work for…Toronto should never have decided what should happen in this small farming community 400 kilometres away.”
The editorial also quoted former mayor Dennis Fife who said the community now has to try to move on.
The 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, being constructed in North Stormont in the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick, will be finished and operating by June, the developer EDPR told a community liaison meeting last week.
The project will provide power to more than 25,000 homes —sometimes. Wind power is weather-dependent, intermittent, and produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, at night, and in the warmer seasons of spring and fall.
A news story with more details was published in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder. Read it here. Note the concerns the community still has about this project, and questions asked (without satisfactory answers) by Councillor Steve Densham.
The community filed multiple appeals of the approval of this project, which was done in the dying days of the Wynne Liberal government. Concerns were about environmental noise pollution, harm to wildlife including migratory birds and endangered species of bats, and the risk of harm to the local aquifer, which is designated as “highly vulnerable” by the provincial government.
Testing of the wind turbine operations should begin soon, and full operation is planned for June.
Anyone experiencing problems with noise, vibration or sound pressure, and/or problems with their water wells, should call the Ontario Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. The call centre is available 24 hours a day.
Be sure to get an Incident Report number if you call, and keep a record of your call for yourself.
Tremendous step backwards for environmental protection, citizens group says
Water supply, wildlife and noise pollution were concerns in the community fight against an unwanted wind power project [Photo: Pexels]
May 15, 2020
The decision released Wednesday by the Ontario Superior Court which overturned the Ontario environment minister’s move to revoke approval of a large wind power project has shocked the communities that have been fighting for five years to stop the wind “farm” due to concerns about the environment and wildlife.
While the urban media, at the urging of the wind power lobby, power developer, the NDP and Green political parties and so-called environmental organizations are happy about the court decision, those familiar with the power project and the evidence presented against it are not.
The court decision does not merely overturn the minister’s revocation of the project approval, it declares the minister had no authority to act and in essence, writes new public policy over development decisions and the environment. Referencing the “Ford government” with obvious distaste and a transparently one-dimensional view of the government’s approach to environmental issues, columnists failed to recognize what the court has really done.
Concerned Citizens of North Stormont chair Margaret Benke said the decision leaves the “entire Province highly vulnerable. The Minister and Ministry of the Environment with all their resources can’t protect our natural resources and species at risk. The only protection against these kinds of mistakes by the ERT [the quasi-judicial body that hears appeals of approvals] is now in the hands of private citizens,” Benke said.
“We will be asking the Court of Appeal to reconsider what seems to be a tremendous step backwards for environmental protection in Ontario.”
The community group appealed the approval for the project on the grounds of risk of harm to wildlife, the environment specifically the aquifer which is noted as “highly vulnerable” by the Ontario government, and the risk to human health from the wind turbines. The appeal was dismissed; the group then filed a direct appeal with the minister, noting errors in the Environmental Review Tribunal decision. The minister revoked the approval last December saying the risk to endangered bats was significant, he wanted to “exercise precaution” and in any event, Ontario does not need the electrical power from the wind project.
While media reports claim the Ford government dislikes renewable energy projects, the truth is, the Wynne government halted all procurement in 2016 saying the province had enough electricity, and 90 percent of the power suppl was emissions-free. The Wynne government actually cancelled several wind power projects, but gave contracts to five that year, including Nation Rise.
The power developer insists the community did not bring forward bats in their appeal, which is not correct: written submissions were presented to the Tribunal but then, the wind power developer filed a last-minute report which gave the community group’s expert witness no time to review it, so little of his evidence was presented.
The Concerned Citizens group has spent over $100,000 on legal fees; in Wednesday’s decision they were punished for their work to protect the community and environment by having to pay the power developer $60,000 in costs.
The office of the Attorney General or the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks have not made a comment on whether they will appeal the decision, which clearly has an impact on ministerial authority.
One of eight Nation Rise turbines built, now idle: 800m from nearest house. At least three bat colonies at risk in the power project [photo: CCNS]
May 13, 2020
It has been almost a month now since (virtual) hearings concluded in the matter of the cancellation of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the contentious “Nation Rise” wind power project, south of Ottawa.
The 100-megawatt power project was developed by EDPR, a power developer and utility based in Portugal, Spain and Texas. It was granted approval in the last days of the Wynne government in Ontario (arguably during the period when governments do not take major decisions) and was given a Notice To Proceed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in early days of the new government, despite campaign promises to end large wind power contracts.
Current Ontario environment minister Jeff Yurek issued a decision last December saying that he had reviewed the situation and decided that it would be in the “public interest” to revoke the REA, due to significant risks to wildlife and the environment, even though the power project was already under construction.
The power developer argued against the cancellation, and took legal action asserting that the minister did not have the authority to act.
The outcome of this case, which is now before a panel of three judges for deliberation, affects all Ontario. Nothing less than the minister’s authority to act in the public interest is at stake. Although the minister’s authority is clearly described in the Environmental Protection Act, the power developer and the wind power lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association, claimed the decision was political and that the current government hates “green energy.”
The project was to have 29 turbines encompassing the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick. Citizens’ group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont appealed the approval originally on the basis of the risk to human heath from noise and vibration, danger to the environment due to turbine vibrations in a highly vulnerable aquifer, and dangers to wildlife such as migratory birds and bats. The appeal was dismissed but the group then filed a direct appeal to the minister, as allowed under law, based on “public interest”—it was this appeal to which the minister responded.
Legal costs for this action to protect the community and wildlife have been substantial. The community group has had to suspend fundraising efforts due to COVID-19.
Anyone wishing to donate can go to the website here or send a cheque to CCNS c/o 14950 County Rd 9 BERWICK ON K0C 1G0
Turbines on Wolfe Island: hidden costs to wind power affect electricity customers
March 2, 2020
Ontario’s fleet of wind turbines cost electricity ratepayers more than $24 million last weekend, says retired bank executive now energy commentator Parker Gallant.
That was mostly due to the fact that wind — as usual–produces power out of phase with demand, but there is a lot more to the costliness of industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines, as he details in a recent article here.
Some added costs of wind power or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs):
Increased electricity costs due to the need for duplicate power sources such as gas plants.
Increased surplus power which must be curtailed or sold for pennies on the dollar.
Increased costs due to IWT inability to generate power when actually needed.
Increased surplus power from IWT often means other clean sources must either spill (hydro) or steam off (nuclear) power which adds costs to our electricity bills.
IWT kill birds and bats, many of whom are “species at risk” meaning insects, damaging to crops, are not eaten and farmers must spray their crops with insecticides adding costs to produce.
IWT may affect tourism areas driving away tourists and thereby affect income to those regions.
IWT cause various health problems requiring our health system to respond to individuals affected, thereby adding to health care costs.
IWT cause property values to fall affecting the realty tax base where they operate and the value of the property should the occupants try to sell after the installation of those IWT has occurred.
IWT lifespan is relatively short (20 years at most) compared to traditional sources of electricity generation and when unable to perform, create costs of remediation and disposal of recyclable and non-recyclable materials they consumed when built and erected.
The property value loss from the North Gower project that was proposed in 2008, got a contract to generate electricity from the IESO in 2010, but ultimately failed in a reorganization of the The Feed-In Tariff program, would have been in the millions.
At the time, Ottawa Wind Concerns estimated the property value loss for homes within 3 km of the multiple turbines would have been $134 million.
The current Ontario government has pledged to reduce electricity bills by 12%, but the many expensive wind power contracts signed by the previous government will go on for more than a decade.
Wind Concerns Ontario recently released its latest review of wind turbine noise complaints received by the Ontario government; the new review document is based on complaints filed with the then Ministry of Environment and Climate Change for the 2017 calendar year.
The total number of complaint files 2006-2017 is now more than 5,000 Wind Concerns says, though it also has evidence that the reports provided to them via Freedom of Information request is a fraction of the real number.
Highlights for data in the report, which may found here are:
almost 700 reports were filed in 2017–but there are likely many more
there was “NO” ministry response noted in 54% of the Incident Reports
ministry action was confirmed in just 1.3% of the reports
42% contain government staff notes about adverse health impacts
16% of the complaints have details of physical symptoms that suggest exposure to harmful low-frequency noise or infrasound
The wind power project that was proposed for the North Gower-Richmond area in Ottawa would have exposed dozens of families to wind turbine noise emissions. In a special information presentation to the community, Queens University Professor Emeritus John Harrison said that the proposed turbine layout in the North Gower project would have created additional noise problems due to wake turbulence.
The Ontario government halted procurement of large-scale renewable power projects; however a recent survey of leadership candidates for the Ontario Liberal Party showed that every single one supported more wind power, especially front-runner, Steven Del Duca.