Monthly Archives: June 2011
NextEra weighs in
A meeting of more than 100 people gathered at Bosanquet school last week to hear why they should not sign contracts for proposed windfarms.
On a ‘truth about turbines tour,’ John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario told the group this is an election year and these people have to let their elected official or local candidate know how they feel about the proposed wind farms.
Laforet says while wind turbine companies have no problems selling residents on the benefits of wind-generated electricity, they fail to mention the negative aspects. President of Wind Concerns Ontario, John Laforet, was one of the guest speakers at last night’s Lambton Shores Concerned Citizens Group community meeting, and noted that frequently wind generated electricity is wasted.
Four speakers, including Laforet explained the health, economic, ecological and environmental dangers of the wind turbines.
First up was David Colling. He is a Ripley retired dairy farmer who has is an expert in electrical pollution. He gave examples of five home owners became increasingly ill once the turbines were installed and have since sold their homes to wind farm companies. He said he is not permitted by litigation to state names or addresses or use photos of those displaced people through gag orders. He did have photos of their homes, which he snapped from the road. He has been helping people for the past six years in relation to stray voltage and health issues. “Farmers have to analyze what they are signing,” he told the gallery. He said they are not getting the proper advice and he has not seen a contract yet that is good. Those displaced or living the effects of the windfarms, Colling says he is told their lives have changed forever. “It might take awhile before it effects you-but it will.” He said for “these people” meaning the wind companies,” it is all about the money.” He warned those in attendance to go to a corporate lawyer before they sign anything. “You would not go to a dentist for heart surgery,” he said in his warning.
Stepahana Johnston from Port Rowan says she comes to these meetings to escape her own home. She says she built it for her aging years and since the 18 industrial turbines went up three kilometers from her home. She is a University of Toronto graduate of physical health education. She used the analogy that not everyone gets sick when they are on the water, but she does and not everyone feels the effects of wind turbines, but she does. She said she speaks to group like the one at Bosanquet school -“because they need to know.” She said she has reported her ill effects to the Ministry of Environment without response. She said she called these Ministry two or three times a day. When that did not work she wrote letters. She explained she received a response that they did not have the instruments to help her. Out of frustration she now goes to speaking engagements like last week’s.
David Libby of Ridgetown spoke briefly about his health problems. “Community leaders are supposed to help us and that is not happening.” Read the rest of this entry
David Libby lives in the once quiet area near Ridgetown, Ontario. 50 wind turbines have since started up, and the noise from these machines is now affecting his health. No form of government will help him, nor protect him. This is the very real, and upsetting reality that is hitting rural Ontario residents over and over again, with politicians turning a blind eye so that they can continue their very destructive energy program.
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Some necessary upgrades to inadequate power grid are four years away
There was a time Russell Elliott thought becoming involved in Ontario’s micro feed-in tariff program was a great opportunity to invest some savings.
That was before the cash crop farmer, who lives between Strathroy and Parkhill, learned it could take years to obtain a connection to the power grid.
Elliott had done everything by the book.
In April 2010, he applied to the program that offers small-scale power developers an opportunity to sell green power to Ontario’s power grid. By December, he had received a conditional offer to buy power from the Ontario Power Authority, which administers the program, installed a ground-mounted solar tracking unit and obtained — as the OPA required —Electrical Safety Authority approval.
Then he discovered his distribution company, Hydro One Network Inc., didn’t have the capacity to hook up his project.
“There’s a lot of frustration in this whole thing,” he says. “We’ve done exactly as we were supposed to; the government presented us with a program; we went ahead and did it.”
About five per cent of all microFIT program projects are stalled because the local infrastructure capacity can’t accommodate them. In February, Brad Dugout, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, responded by fast tracking three Hydro One transmission projects in southwestern Ontario and upgrading the distribution company’s transmission stations.
Elliott asked Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Maria Van Bommel to look into the issue. In early June, he received an email response from Helen Kwan, a senior project advisor with the ministry. That’s when he discovered it would take Hydro One 48 months to do the upgrades it had begun in March.
Elliott has obtained a year extension for his conditional offer, which otherwise would have expired in August. “But nobody has said they would go beyond that,” he says. “What’s going to happen the other three years?”
Mary Bernard, a spokesperson with the OPA, says there’s no policy decision yet for those in Elliott’s situation. “We don’t want to put additional hardship on folks who have followed all the rules and not been able to connect immediately.”
On Thursday, Elliott was among eight microFIT participants and solar contractors who met with members of Warwick Township council in Lambton County to discuss options and share their plight to local media.
Not knowing where Hydro One’s upgrades were taking place or when they would be complete was one of the group’s main concerns. How to obtain relief for project owners stuck in limbo during the interim was another.
“A timetable we can deal with,” says Dean Kulich, who represents Fritz Renewable Energy Services in Chepstow. “That way you can talk to your lenders.”
He says his company had to tear down 95 units because of delays and concerns they would not meet the province’s new domestic content requirement. (In January, the province raised its domestic content requirement in solar units to 60 per cent from 40 per cent). Kulich says he has another 317 potential customers dealing with constraints on their lines. His company is making interest payments for affected customers to compensate for the delay.
“The word class action has been mentioned everywhere,” he says. “We’re staying neutral.”
Frank Hogervorst, a sales representative with Penner Farm Services in Granton, says some people used retirement money to pay for the projects, thinking it would generate income, and now can’t connect. “It’s like a mutual fund gone bad.”
His company is giving customers an interest credit to help them cover their costs. He suggests the province should allow those who are affected to transfer their approvals to areas where there are no problems with capacity.
Todd Case, Warwick’s mayor, says representatives from the ministry, the OPA and Hydro One declined invitations to join the meeting.
Case has requested a meeting with Agriculture Carol Mitchell to discuss the issue. “As a municipality we are going to continue asking the questions,” he says.
With an election looming, Elliott expressed a desire to act quickly to find a solution. “The only bargaining chip we have now is the Liberal government,” he says.
On Thursday, the OPA announced that those who submitted their application before October 8, 2010 would be allowed to use the lower domestic content requirements of 40 per cent.
As of the end of May, the OPA had received 30,168 applications for the program. It had terminated 3,049, issued 21,255 conditional offers and had 5,093 projects executed.
Applications are terminated if they are incomplete, don’t meet eligibility requirements or are withdrawn by the applicant, says Bernard. “We know from our conversations with Hydro One and other LDCs (local distribution companies) that there’s a large number of people who are sitting on conditional offers who have not yet applied for a connection.”
A spokesperson for Hydro One could not be immediately reached for comment. BF
In response to this article in the Toronto Sun
Big stack of $$$$, little stack of honest health studies. Hey Wilkinson, let’s plump up that little pile: DO A HEALTH STUDY!
Wind Concerns Ontario bringing their Truth About Turbines Tour to Lambton Shores..at Bosanquet Central School. While wind turbine companies have no problems selling residents on the benefits of wind generated electricity, they fail to mention the negative aspects.
President of Wind Concerns Ontario, John Laforet, was one of the guest speakers at last night’s Lambton Shores Concerned Citizens Group community meeting, and noted that frequently wind generated electricity is wasted.
Residents who had been effected by wind turbines were present, noting symptoms like the insomnia, and nausea.
By Paul Morden, The Sarnia Observer 06-10-2011
The president of Wind Concerns Ontario says Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal Party are setting themselves up for an election defeat if they don’t start listening to wind farm opponents.
John Laforet brought his “Truth About Turbines” tour to Lambton Shores this week for a meeting at Bosanquet Central School, hosted by a group called Lambton Shores Concerned Citizens.
Laforet estimated the turnout at about 150 people who, he said, have the same concerns he’s hearing at other stops on the 36-community tour.
“They don’t like the process by which the decisions are being made and they don’t like how their concerns are being addressed by the government.”
Laforet said he told the audience in Lambton Shores about how to oppose industrial wind development, and he encouraged them to get involved in the Oct. 6 provincial election campaign.
“I think what we’re going to see is a lot of Liberal MPPs will be losing their seats . . . because communities can’t afford another four years of this government refusing to listen.”
Laforet is a former federal Liberal riding association president in Scarborough and once even worked for current Liberal Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
Laforet said he left the party when it passed its Green Energy Act and Premier Dalton McGuinty called opponents of wind farms in Scarborough “NIMBY’s.”
“I had to choose between my community and my political party,” Laforet said, “and I choose my community.”
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of about 60 local organizations opposed to the province’s push to back industrial wind farms as part of its green energy plan.
They want the government to halt the building of any more wind farms and arrange for an independent study of their impact on human health.
The groups include one opposing a wind farm project in Dawn-Euphemia, as well as the recently formed group in Lambton Shores.
That community is home to the only 10 wind turbines currently operating in Lambton County, but hundreds more are on the drawing board.
“If Lambton Shores gets 273 structures that are 500 feet tall, this area would have more 50-storey structures than the City of Toronto,” Laforet said.
Industrial wind turbines don’t fit the lifestyle or existing land uses in rural areas, Laforet said. He added that noise from turbines cause health problems — a point disputed by the government and environmental groups who back its energy plan.
But, Laforet said he thinks the Liberals made a big mistake when it decided to get behind large wind farms, instead of concentrating on smaller individual home-sized green energy projects.
“We’re just one of the many jurisdictions that decided big and stupid was the way to go.”
Laforet said Wind Concerns Ontario is waiting to review all of the parties’ platforms before formally endorsing any of them, but he added, “We are pleased with what Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives are calling for.”
Laforet said that includes its support for a moratorium and health study, restoration of local control over the approving wind projects, and the ending of Ontario’s feed-in tariff program and its deal with Samsung.
Maria Van Bommel, the Liberal MPP in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, said it’s too early to say what issue will be at the top of voter’s minds in the fall, but added she feels good about the outlook for her reelection.
“Right now I wouldn’t want to put bets on what the issues are or aren’t.”
Van Bommel she has been talking with farmers in her riding interested in forming a co-op to develop wind projects, “and I also have constituents who have concerns.”
Van Bommel said she sees wind turbines as part of a renewable energy program that includes other approaches like solar projects and bio-gas.
“I see it, for a number of farmers, as another source of income for them,” she said.
The Sierra Club now finds it necessary to target our rural communities and lobby our local government officials. Below is a letter that Adelaide-Metcalfe council received.
**The council agreed to have the Sierra Club at their next council meeting on June 20th,2011. Meet them at the township office and let them know we don’t appreciate cities dictating to us that WE should WANT industrial wind turbines by our homes, schools and farms. The Sierra Club is presenting a ‘review’ by a couple interns (basically you or I or our grade schooled child could write one of these). What they would like to do is convince our council that it really isn’t necessary to have health studies done on wind turbines, and that we should have the request for a moratorium repealed. BS! Get out of our township, Sierra Club!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
To Whom it May Concern:
It is our understanding that, as in many other regions of Ontario, your council has encountered discussion regarding wind turbine development. In some areas this debate has included calls for a moratorium on wind turbine development in Ontario, until such time as there is sufficient scientific evidence on the potential health impacts.
Sierra Club Canada requests the opportunity to attend the next council meeting and present the results of our exhaustive review of the medical studies from Ontario and around the world. The review was conducted to determine the validity of public concerns over the potential health impacts.
Sierra Club Canada has a long history of assisting communities adversely impacted by industrial development. Our participation has always been based on the best available scientific information.
Our members expect us to put public health and environmental protection in forefront.
Given the controversy surrounding wind turbines in Ontario, the significant role renewable energy can play in revitalizing Ontario’s economy and the emotionally charged accusatory tone of the present public discourse; Sierra Club Canada believes it is important the debate be based on objective scientific observation.
A copy of our report is available at http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/climate-change/real-truth-about-wind-energy
We look forward to meeting with council at its earliest convenience.
Sierra Club Canada
412-1 Nicholas Street, Ottawa ON KIN 7B7
Tel: (613) 241 -461 1 Fax: (613) 241 -2292 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.sierraclub.ca
Tom Adams is an independent energy and environmental advisor. He has held a variety of senior responsibilities including Executive Director of Energy Probe, membership on the Ontario Independent Electricity Market Board of Directors and membership on the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy Board of Management. As well he lectures on energy studies at University of Toronto and his guest columns appear in many major newspapers.
Tom provides insights into the profound changes the Green Energy Act is imparting on Ontario’s electrical system. He explains how our now “politicized” electrical system with lucrative Feed In Tariffs for wind development and “take it or pay” generator contracts is encouraging inefficiencies and increased cost to rate-payers.
Based on years of experience handling rural properties as well as information provided by other realtors, Grey County realtor Mike McMurray offers insights into the effect proximity to Industrial Wind Development can have on property values. Various studies have suggested a range of impacts, from negligible to very significant. In some cases even the threat of wind development in close proximity may depress land values.
Dr. Scott Petrie gives a powerful, key-word-dense presentation to a large crowd in Goderich, Ontario. Dr. Petrie is both the Executive Director of Long Point Waterfowl and Adjunct Professor at University of Western Ontario. Scott and his graduate students are presently studying various ecological aspects of waterfowl that stage and winter on the lower Great Lakes, including the implications of industrial wind turbine development. The threats associated with improperly placed industrial wind turbines and research being conducted by Long Point Waterfowl staff and students is discussed in this presentation.
By Vanessa Brown
June 2, 2011
About 200 people gathered in Seaforth last week to protest the St. Columban Wind Project as part of a larger message to the McGuinty government to stop pursuing industrial wind projects across rural Ontario without further investigation.
The opposition rally was held outside the community centre as representatives from St. Columban Energy LP hosted an open house inside the building regarding the 15-turbine project.
Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) president Gerry Ryan told the crowd – which included members of Central Huron Against Turbines, Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines, Huron East council, residents from St. Columban, Bluewater, Lambton Shores and Dufferin County, among others – that wind turbine development is destroying communities.
“Rural Ontario is under threat from the provincial government led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson and our MPP, Minister of Agriculture Carol Mitchell,” Ryan said. “I say we are under threat because the government is in the process of turning our rural communities into industrial wind power generating plants. There will be a massive visual impact; there is potential for negative health impacts; and our quality of place will be diminished as long as the wind turbines are standing.”
Jose Menendez, St. Columban Energy LP’s vice-president of business development, said the public’s main concerns continue to be property devaluation, turbine decommissioning and possible negative health affects. The company provided information that addressed those concerns at the open house, he added.
“There is no connection between wind turbines and poor human health. There is no third-party independent study that says that,” he said. “There is no correlation and that’s the bottom line.”
HEAT would like to see a study commissioned that proves there are no negative health impacts.
Two years ago, Barbara Ashbee and her husband moved from their home that was located within the 133-turbine Melancthon-Amaranth wind farm in Dufferin County. While they lived near the turbines, Ashbee said she suffered from sleep deprivation, headaches, heart palpitations and cognitive problems that included trouble concentrating. Ashbee said the way the Ministry of Environment handled her family’s claims upset her most. While visiting the home, a ministry official told them they were the only ones within the community who had filed a health complaint regarding low frequency noise. Ashbee later attended a Dufferin County council meeting where she heard an Environment Ministry representative inform councillors that actually over 300 complaints had been filed.
“That’s what they do: they isolate you; they tell you that you’re the only one with a problem and that you have to get used to it,” Ashbee said at the rally. “The whole thing is so dirty and it’s not a good way of doing business.”
Others speakers included HEAT members Rob Tetu and Tom Melady, Dean Trentowsky of West and East Perth Against Turbines and Arran-Elderslie deputy mayor Mark Davis.
In a heated speech, Davis said it was “a sad state of affairs” that residents opposed to wind turbines had to gather for a rally.
“It makes my blood boil to think that our government wants to fill our night skies with red flashing lights like we’re in some kind of a war zone,” Davis said.
St. Columban Energy LP representatives were at the open house fielding questions related to human health, concerns about low frequency noise, the environment and property values. Menendez said all questions and concerns will be recorded and taken into consideration. The company will present its next set of documents related to the project to the Ontario Power Authority before the next open house, slated to be held sometime this fall.
“We’re following all the rules, we’re following all the regulations,” Menendez said. “It’s a project that’s encouraged by the province and that’s what we’re doing.”
But Tetu dismissed the format of the open house, arguing that “consultation should be a presentation of ideas, discussion and accommodation.”
“They’re going to get a rubber stamp after this meeting unless eventually something stops this. We want meaningful consultation, not a room full of placards,” Tetu said.
Asked to list some of the potential negative aspects of the project, Menendez admitted turbines will take “some” agricultural land out of production and residents will have to be patient during the construction period.
Asked how he felt about the project dividing rural communities, Menendez said it’s out of his company’s hands.
“I’m not saying that it’s not our problem, but I’m not sure there’s anything that we can do to mitigate that,” he said.