Monthly Archives: September 2011

How to Conserve energy the Liberal Way (Use More!)

Lambton Kent Middlesex Liberal MPP Maria VanBommel explains how running appliances non-stop (and completely ignoring conservation) can save you money with Dalton McGuinty’s new “Smart Meter”; tracking your hydro consumption. Uh, somebody tell her she just proved the system isn’t working!!

Electrical issues, wind turbines and insurance

 What Gives?

Q: What two things do Ripley, Ipperwash and Ridgetown all have in common?

A: All have wind turbine developments and local residents have experienced weird electrical problems.

Ripley had, and still has, severe stray voltage that seems to follow a buried municipal drain.

Ipperwash had reports of blown-out electrical equipment (eg. One person reported 11 VCR’s in one year) and an odd case where Hydro insisted that a monthly bill for $7,000 was accurate and threatened to cutoff service if it wasn’t paid.

But the problems in Ridgetown have to take the cake. Nearby is the large Talbot wind project with 43 turbines. It went live last December. On March 5 there was a wide area that was hit with a “ground surge” of electricity, and then a blackout, all the way from Highgate to downtown Ridgetown. The surge lasted three seconds – doesn’t sound very long, but for an uncontrolled electrical event it is eternity. In that three seconds, tens of thousands of dollars of damage was done. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Residents reported:

1) Fax machines, computers, microwave ovens, smoke detectors (!!!) etc. were fried.

2) Fuses on numerous Hydro transformers were “popped” – in one case every one on a concession road.

3) An electrical transformer on a furnace at a local Ridgetown school caught fire and left scorch marks on the panel.

4) A resident reported flames shooting from an electrical receptacle with scorch marks on the metal and melted plastic.

5) Strangest of all was an inverter on a micro-FIT solar panel that was blown out – a $5,000 repair – not an item you would want to replace on a regular basis.

6) There were other, smaller surge events after this one, and then another big one on April 11.

Residents were definitely spooked and highly annoyed with the cost of the repairs. Claims were put into insurance and some went directly to Hydro which turned them over to a contract adjuster, Quelmec Lost Adjusters, which specializes in “claim denied” letters judging from the two copies I have seen.

For the March 5 “event”, Quelmec wrote to one resident, “…The damage to your property is unfortunate … the cause of the incident. … was unexpected equipment failure … records indicate that high winds with gusts up to 57 km/h were reported … caused the switches to open” – and they go on – “… Hydro One had no way to foresee this event. … We do appreciate that there may be expenses. … Hydro One is not liable.”

So, Hydro chooses to employ an Ottawa-based company whose specialty is to “diss” the public. Worse, there is no attempt to investigate what is obviously a major system failure – one of the more significant ones to happen in Ontario in recent years. In light of the other problems that arise as soon as a wind project arrives, an investigation is the least that Hydro should do.

What needs to be done is this:

1) Hydro should have an independent analysis done by an engineering firm that specializes in forensic investigation of electrical systems.

2) Hydro must reimburse all legitimate claims for loss. A57 km/h wind is not a good-enough reason, and Hydro knows it.

3) There is incidental evidence that electrical disturbance is associated with wind turbine installations.

Residents need an explanation why this is happening now, not after projects go up.

It may be coincidental that these surge events occur after a wind project goes online. We have raised the issue of system reliability with wind company rep’s and the need to upgrade the distribution system first – and their response is, “You can’t do that, it would hold up our project.”

Rural residents are supposed to do all the sacrificing for their bottom line.

I think it’s time that our Hydro system looked after its customers first.

Harvey Wrightman

Kerwood, ON

Ontario Needs More Spray Paint

Spotted near Thedford, ON (Lambton Shores) where 276+ industiral wind turbines are proposed for this township.

Energy platforms of the political parties to date

So what are the energy platforms of the political parties to date? Below, some of the key points made by each party.  These are just short notes taken from the various political party handbooks. Please read the handbooks provided in the links to realize a complete picture of the energy vision of each political party.  (Thanks to Jane Z.)

The Liberals

  • According to recent news stories, the Liberals still wish to proceed with the 7 billion dollar deal with Samsung, but have shaved off 134 million dollars from the deal. The Premier recently announced 80 million dollars will be given for the construction of electric car recharging stations.
  • The Liberal party has not released a platform per se…but rather a document entitled: Our Plan.
  • From the energy section: http://www.ontarioliberal.ca/OurPlan/TheIssues.aspx

The Progressive Conservatives

The PC Energy Platform: http://www.ontariopc.com/issues/home-energy/
Summary of some points… please refer to the complete Changebook for all platforms, promises and details:

  • Will close down coal fired plants in Ontario by 2014 – will replace them with natural or biogas generation.
  • Will place a moratorium on industrial wind development until independent peer reviewed health and environmental impact studies have been conducted. http://timhudakmpp.com/news/tim-hudak-renews-call-for-moratorium-on-wind-turbines/
  • Will restore planning authority to the municipalities – planning rights with regard to industrial solar and wind projects were taken away from municipalities under the Green Energy Act.
  • Will rescind the existing large scale industrial FIT contracts.
  • Will cancel the Samsung deal.
  • Will eliminate the HST and Debt Retirement Charge from electricity bills.
  • Will end mandatory compliance with time of use meters.

The NDP

The NDP Energy Platform.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/62088731/Affordable-Green-Choices

Summary of some points.. again, please refer to the entire document in the link for details:

  • Will redirect money being spent on nuclear and invest it in home energy efficiency programmes.
  • Will phase out coal plants by the year 2014… but will keep them on emergency stand-by until it is assessed if the plants can be replaced by biomass.
  • Will not build any new nuclear reactors.
  • Will exceed the Liberal’s target for renewable energy. Will maintain FIT contracts for small and community based projects. New large renewable energy projects will be moved towards public ownership.
  • Will honour all existing renewable energy FIT contracts and deals including the Samsung agreement.
  • Will promote natural gas as a supplier of hydro with a target of 5000MW over the next 10 years.

The Green Party

Energy Platform: http://gpo.ca/sites/gpo.ca/files/attachments/gpo_issues_paper_energy.pdf
Summary of some points.. please read the entire platform to flesh out this party’s vision:

The Green Party position on renewable energy as quoted from the handbook:

  • “The Green Party recognizes that a sensible energy policy prioritizes local ownership of power infrastructure. For example, rather than large-scale wind farms owned by foreign corporations, imposed against the will of the community, we need both the ownership and the profits of power projects under local control. This can take the form of community energy co-ops, private projects with local equity partners, or municipally owned power production. It is clear from other jurisdictions around the world that energy projects are more successful and supported when the community has a direct stake in the success of the project.
  • The Green Party supports policies to ensure that communities hosting energy projects share in the benefits. The direct benefits can be in the form of municipal revenues from energy sales, reduced energy costs from preferential municipal pricing, or direct profits to local owners, all of which recycle into the local economy.”
  • Will reinstate and expand home energy programmes.
  • Will pursue energy conservation through combined heat and power projects.
  • Will create a new hydro infrastructure – a smart grid.
  • End the dumb use of smart meters and support programs to help people use smart meters to save money on their electricity bills. We support using existing technology to help individuals and businesses use smart meters to measure their energy use in order to identify and verify savings.
  • Opposes the construction of new nuclear facilities.
  • Opposes back room deals such as the Samsung deal.
  • Will increase hydro generation and will purchase hydroelectricity from neighbouring provinces.

Wind turbine religion ignores rural people

 By Michael Den Tandt, QMI Agency, London Free Press

The Sierra Club has always had a pleasantly avuncular image — nice folks in L.L. Bean pants, counting birds on the Bruce Peninsula. How things change.

Until recently, Sierra Club of Canada executive director John Bennett was best known for his opposition to the recycling of nuclear generators by Bruce Power. Here’s what Bennett said last winter, after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission signed off on the shipment of used nuclear generators to Sweden: “I think the chances for a major nuclear accident have just increased several-fold.”

Meantime, the medical officer of health for Bruce-Grey, Dr. Hazel Lynn, said she had no worries about the shipment, echoing the nuclear safety commission and every respectable independent scientist or engineer queried about this issue. Hmm.

 Now, activist Bennett has set his sights on the wind debate — specifically, those who oppose industrial wind turbines on grounds they may harm human health. “I think what happens is that people have aesthetic responses to this and then they go looking for arguments,” he told skeptical politicians in Bruce County recently.

He continued: “They are being told they are inefficient. That’s not true. They are being told they have no say where they go. That’s not true. So when you lie to people and get them excited and you do have some people that have health problems you get a reaction like that.” What planet is this man on?

Wind turbines are, in fact, inefficient — because the wind often doesn’t blow. Ontarians in rural areas do not have a say in where they go — because the province unilaterally seized planning authority for turbines under the Green Energy Act. These are facts. Bennett accuses opponents of industrial wind energy of lying. About what part, precisely, are we lying?

Here’s what’s happening now, in Ontario: The taxpayer-subsidized industrial wind industry, midwifed by the McGuinty Liberals, is in a panic at the prospect of its patrons losing power. Its lobby group, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is pulling out all the stops to persuade Ontarians that this naked emperor is, in fact, wearing a tuxedo.

The truth: McGuinty and his ideologues rammed this policy down the throats of rural Ontarians. The Liberals now plan to cover the province’s most pristine areas with 50-storey concrete towers, with no regard to the rights or concerns of the people who live in their shadow.

That is wrong. Calling it right doesn’t change it.

Activist continues call for moratorium on wind generators

By John Phair / Today’s Farmer      Sept 19 2011

One of Middlesex County’s most vocal opponents to large wind turbines says if a comprehensive health study was completed on the affects of wind turbines it would mean the end of the wind industry in Ontario.

Strathroy-area greenhouse operator Harvey Wrightman has long called on the Ontario government to invoke a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines until a health study can be completed.

“We need a health study,” he says. “It’s not a difficult thing to do and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

“But the McGuinty government refuses to do it because they know they will find people out there who are badly affected.”

Wrightman notes that his daughter, Ester Wrightman, heads up a group known as Middlesex Wind Action Group, a loose coalition of citizens concerned with the proliferation of wind turbines in their community and the potential ill health affects those structures may cause.

Harvey Wrightman says and he and his daughter hear from people on an almost daily basis who live near wind farms and who say they’re suffering from maladies such as sleep deprivation, headaches, dizziness, nausea and impairments of cognitive functions.

“People know these complaints are real,” Wrightman says.

“Most people in the rural community don’t disbelieve these claims because you can hardly open a conversation with anyone around here who doesn’t have some direct or indirect contact with somebody who is bothered by the effects of wind generation.”

Wrightman suggests that if the government was to complete a health study on wind turbines it would mark the end of the wind energy business in Ontario.

Wrightman charges that the both the provincial government and the wind energy industry have been remiss in the release of information on wind generation and have maintained a strategy of denial when it comes to suspected health problems.

Because of the technical nature of wind generation the public in general lacks an understanding of the basics that are driving the complaints about the health effects of wind generation, says Wrightman.

“The devil in all this is the technical nature of it, which has worked well for the wind energy industry’s strategy of denial and no release of information,” he says.

He suggests there are two phenomena related to wind generation, particularly in very large generators, that are causing the problems. Neither is well understood by the public. They are wind shear and amplitude modulation.

“These are technical terms but they are fairly simple in nature,” he says.

Winds shear is the difference in wind speeds at the blades nearest the ground level compared with wind speeds at the top of the blade.

During the day when the sun is heating up the earth, the wind speed at the ground level is about the same as the top of the blade, or at about 100 metres, mostly because the heated air rises to upper levels. Consequently, during the day a large wind generator may emit a swishing sound that is barely audible.

But because of the change in temperature at night that changes. At night the winds at the upper levels blow fairly consistently, while at the lower level winds are much more likely to be calm.

“That’s the basis of wind shear,” says Wrightman, adding that wind shear is expressed as a co-efficient and is monitored and recorded by Environment Canada as well as by most airports.

A wind shear factor of 0.4 is about average on summer evenings.

He adds that the blades on a wind turbine are twisted so they’re able to catch the wind to optimize wind power at the upper level.

“But they can’t be suddenly flared or the pitch changed as they come to the lower level, and the blades are therefore pushing wind rather than being driven by it.”

He adds that when the blade passes the tower, the change in air pressure causes a pulsing that can be heard faintly in daylight hours at one to three decibels.

But at night, when the upper pressures are considerably higher — in other words, under wind shear conditions — the pulsing will be in the range of five to 15 decibels.

“At that point it becomes a thump rather than a swish,” Wrightman says, adding that the sound also carries further under wind shear conditions.

“It’s a very distinctive pulsating thump.”

Meanwhile, amplitude modulation refers to the increase in the aerodynamic noise coming from wind turbine blades, and while it’s not well understood, researchers have suggested its severity could be dependent on operating conditions, weather, or even the location of the listener in relation to the turbines and the wind.

Wrightman says there’s no “technical fix” for the wind shear problem and suggests that the only solution is a mandated minimum distance set back for wind turbines of at least 2,000 metres, as opposed to the present requirement of 550 metres.

“They can go ahead and build them, that’s fine, but give me that setback,” says Wrightman, adding that admittedly under those conditions there would be few turbines built within the province.

He says the McGuinty government has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the effects of wind shear and has continued to force his green energy plan on the rural communities of Ontario.