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From today’s National Post:

Anne Murray, Tim Hortons’ magnate Ron Joyce tee off over wind farm

Sarah Boesveld Feb 21, 2012 – 11:55 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 22, 2012 12:06 AM ET

 

Rickobrienphotographer.com / Files; Paul Darrow / National Post files

Canadian music legend Anne Murray, left, and Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce disagree on the impact a proposed wind farm, similar to the Alberta wind farm pictured at the top of the page, will have on the economy of picturesque Pugwash, N.S.

Almost every year from July to October, Canadian music legend Anne Murray returns to picturesque Pugwash, N.S., where she spent her summers as a child. She practises her swing at the local first-class golf course and marvels at the way the little place she’d visit to attend church on Sundays has blossomed into a tourist destination — a jewel along the Northumberland Strait.

Nearby is Fox Harb’r, the luxury golf course and resort owned by Tim Hortons’ magnate Ron Joyce, another kid from Nova Scotia’s northwestern shore made good.

Now, the area’s two most celebrated icons are publicly disagreeing over wind turbine construction in the area after the Snowbird singer publicly spoke out against a 12-turbine wind farm proposed for two kilometres outside Pugwash.

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“Pugwash is my favourite place in the whole world…. It’s more important to me than any other place,” the celebrated singer said by phone from Jupiter, Fla. “I just think it’s the wrong place [to erect a wind farm]. The government would be shooting themselves in the foot to take a community that’s growing and thriving and put a stop to it.”

Ms. Murray worries the whirring and thumping of wind turbines, which can stand up to 40 storeys high, will repel people from the area, turn tourists away, claw back property values and damage animal habitats.

On Monday, she sent a letter to Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter warning that a wind farm would have a “catastrophic impact” on the economy and environment in the area.

Though the singer and golf enthusiast says she has not spoken with neighbour Mr. Joyce about the project and doubts it would affect his business, she said a wind farm at Pugwash would “just be the beginning, because it will go all the way down the coast. That’s what the fear is.”

Mr. Joyce, who was born in nearby Tatamagouche, N.S., and invested in the first Tim Hortons doughnut shop in 1964 and built it into an international chain, said he’s unfazed by wind farm concerns in a province that already has 26 wind farm projects, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

“I am aware of Anne’s ongoing negative comments on wind farms,” he said in an email to the National Post. “I personally am not a supporter of her argument. [T]he world is moving forward for a better source than fossil fuels…. I see no major negatives in countries that have them.”

Her letter comes just weeks after the province registered an assessment of the Pugwash Wind Farm, to be developed by North Cumberland Wind Farm LP. Ms. Murray and the Gulf Shore Preservation Association, a local citizens’ group, are worried the province accepted an incomplete environmental assessment that failed to carry out archeological, bat and migratory bird studies and first nations consultations. They say five of the turbines will be built in wetlands — a “clear contravention” of the province’s environmental laws, Ms. Murray said.

 

The Gulf Shore Preservation Association has called for Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau to suspend the 30-day public comment period, which opened the day the assessment was registered, Feb. 6, based on 17 “deficiencies” they identified. After 30 days of public input, Mr. Belliveau will decide whether to approve the environmental assessment, deny it or ask for further study, ministry spokesperson Lori Errington said.

“Nothing’s written in stone at this point,” she said. “Certainly we’ll be considering all the aspects the wind farm would involve.”

She confirmed Mr. Dexter received Ms. Murray’s letter and his office will respond. The singer’s letter will also be included in the public consultation dossier, Ms. Errington said.

Richard Gray, treasurer of the Gulf Shore Preservation Association, said he hopes Ms. Murray’s public objections will turn the tide in their favour. She’s been speaking out against the project since 2007 when the proposal was first made — Ms. Murray said that she was at first supportive of the wind farms because she favours alternative sources of power, but soon learned it is important they be placed far from communities.

The last time Ms. Murray spoke out, her comments were “distorted” to read like “‘It’s too bad wealthy Anne Murray won’t be able to play golf anymore,’” Mr. Gray said. “That’s not her position. I know Anne well … this goes back to her childhood. She’s very sensitive to fragile economies being destroyed.”

Ms. Murray grew up in the nearby coal mining town of Springhill, N.S. which suffered three mining disasters before that resource could no longer fuel the local economy.

Even now, the singer isn’t sure her activism will make any difference. But she swears she’ll do anything to protect her community (she rejects accusations of NIMBYism because her home is too far away from the proposed wind farm site to suffer any personal impact).

“If this doesn’t work, I certainly will have done everything I can to help the process along,” she said. “It could be falling on deaf ears everywhere, I don’t know. But I had to do something.”

National Post
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But don’t take our word for it.

We could quote you the research studies that have been done–epidemiologist Dr Carl V. Phillips says there are enough of them that it is beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the World Health Organization has documented serious health effects from “environmental noise”—but let’s go to the Township of Amaranth in Ontario.

Almost six years ago now, the Township welcomed industrial wind turbines, believing the promises of jobs and green energy. They thought they were doing the right thing.

How’s that working for them? Not so well.

Here from a letter to the Minister of the Environment from Mayor Don McIver, the results of living with industrial wind turbines on one community.

“There is no question that the impact of wind turbines and the transformer that connects this power to the grid have negatively affected the health and wealth of neighbouring residents. The Council of the Township of Amaranth is opposed to any further wind turbine projects until the negative impacts of the current wind farm are corrected.”

Families have become ill and have had to leave their homes, the Mayor writes; efforts have been made to alleviate the noise and the low frequency sound, and have failed (we know there is no proper methodology to measure turbine noise–all the setbacks etc are based on “modelling”).

“The setbacks in the Green Energy Act are not sufficient to protect the health and wealth of neighbouring families. The 5 km setback in the lake directly invalidates the setback of 550 metres on land.”

Tha Mayor’s letter has never been answered.

For in-person accounts, go to http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/video-testamonies/

to see videos of Ontario residents who have been living next to industrial wind power generation facilities.

This is no joke.

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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Many people believe that because there is a multi-step approval process for wind power projects in Ontario, there must be plenty of authoritative oversight along the way.

No.

First of all, let’s be clear: we are talking about industrial-scale wind power generation here, not the little iconic wind “mills” you used to see on farms in Ontario and which are still used to create power for limited use, like a water pump. That’s as far from the current industrial wind power projects as you can get.

Under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act  or the GEA in Ontario, wind power developers create a proposal for a project, then apply for a Feed In Tariff contract. If they get that (and that process is a whole other story) then they can proceed to preparing a Renewable Energy Application (REA) for submission to the Ministry of the Environment. Their draft REA is reviewed by certain “stakeholders” and then eventually shown to the public for comment. The company is required to hold two information sessions for the public; these are typically merely Open Houses. There is no formal presentation, no question and answer period, and no sign that comments from the public are recorded in any form.

After that, the company submits the REA, gets a Certificate of Approval (the MoE is currently promising a one-month turnaround in the interest of speedy development) after which time the public has 15 days to appeal. As we saw from the Kent Breeze appeal in which a single citizen spent upwards of $150,000 to appeal the Suncor project in Chatham-Kent, the project proceeded even while under appeal, and by the time the decision was handed down in July 2011, was completed. (That project is now the subject of a $1.5 million lawsuit by a family who rapidly became ill after the project started.)

So the process is this:

-the companies do their own environmental screening according to the list of topics required in the regulations. They use private consultants (many of whom are members of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, a lobby group for the corporate wind industry) and do not seem to be required to provide information on those consultants’ credentials.

-the public has a limited time and frankly, limited ability to review and assess the assessments

-the environmental screening reports done by the corporate developers go to the Ministry of the Environment for review and approval. We have no idea the depth of the review process.

-There is no third-party, independent, professional review. Requests for “elevation” i.e., for a formal, full environmental assessment to be done by the Ministry of the Environment have been refused: not ONE has been granted since this began in 2006.

In short, the Ontario government believes so strongly that wind power is “good” and “green” it doesn’t really require a proper environmental assessment.

Worse: if environmental effects are experienced such as the bird kills at Wolfe Island (the developer TransAlta forecast 2 per year per turbine and has been surprised to find the rate exceeds 13 per turbine), the Ministry of the Environment simply RAISED the acceptable number of birds that could be killed.

Worse still: there is NO accepted methodology to measure environmental noise from industrial wind turbines—the MoE staff admit this! (See http://www.windyleaks.com )

That’s not acceptable to us.

Doesn’t sound very “environmental” either.

Wind power: it’s not what you think.

Want to live here?

Click to view full size image

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News today from Vermont, where the impact of industrial wind turbine projects has been felt, and people are changing their minds about wind power generation, based on their experience to date. It isn’t good. This is from an op-ed piece written by Annette Smith, who is Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. The full post is at

http://vtdigger.org/2011/08/22/smith-whoa-to-wind-energy-development-in-vermont/

Vermonters who live near mountains where wind turbines have been proposed have learned about all the issues associated with the technology. Call them NIMBYs or wackos, yell at them if they use the word “industrial” instead of “utility scale,” call them a vocal minority or a fringe group, they now number in the thousands and have had to become educated by reason of location.

If you live in the “sacrifice zone” of wind energy development (draw a circle with a radius of two miles from the ridgeline — you get the impacts but no compensation), you learn that wind turbines:

a) collapse, catch fire, throw ice, throw blades,
b) kill birds like raptors, and endangered bats
c) require cutting bear-scarred beech trees and fragmenting wildlife habitat
d) destroy songbird habitat
e) require hundreds of thousands of pounds of explosives to blast miles of new roads
f) require impervious road construction on highly erodible soils
g) require filling headwater streams and degrading water quality, resulting in fewer fish
h) make noise extending over a mile that can interrupt sleep and make people sick
i) are being permitted less than 200 feet from property lines
j) have blinking lights and industrialize the landscape
k) divide communities; turn neighbors, family members and towns against each other and more, with issues unique to ridgeline development in Vermont.

With so much at stake for Vermont, the prudent thing to do is stop, look and listen. Wind developers and our political leaders owe it to all Vermonters and our wild creatures to make sure we get this right.

On Friday, former Gov. Jim Douglas was on Vermont Public Radio and was asked about big wind turbines. He said, “…the natural beauty of Vermont is our strong suit, and to put these big machines on our precious ridgelines is not something that’s in the state’s interest…. I think it’s the wrong choice for Vermont.”

We have a lot to lose. Getting it wrong will be a very expensive mistake. For those people living near Vermont’s big wind energy proposals, it already has been.

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

Please donate to the Wind Concerns Ontario “Winds of Change” tour, leading up to the election by going to http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com

And, to donate to local efforts (we are in the “hole” after the postal strike which affected our much-anticipated Windfall event) use the button below. Thank you.

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We have a new name for “environmental” groups who claim that there are no health effects from the noise and infrasound (vibration) produced by industrial wind turbines—environmental noise deniers.

Because here is absolute proof of the problems these machines are causing, in a news story out of the U.K. Seismic noise being produced and wreaking havoc on sensitive equipment more than THIRTY-ONE MILES away?? The subsidy-seeking wind developer says it is confident it can remedy the problem, by hanging weights inside the turbine supports to minimize the vibration. Really.

Here is the story.

U.K. Opposes Wind Farms Over Nuclear Test Detection Concerns

Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

 The British Defense Ministry is objecting to private plans to construct wind farms on a significant swath of land in Scotland and England due to concerns the vibrations created by the rotating turbines would interfere with a nearby nuclear test detection center, the London Guardian reported on Friday (see GSN, June 8).

The ministry said “seismic noise” created by hundreds of proposed new wind turbines would undermine the effectiveness of advanced equipment at the seismological monitoring center at Eskadalemuir, not far from Lockerbie in Scotland. The center is part of an international effort to monitor for any illicit nuclear-weapon testing.

As a signatory of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, London is required to ensure the working order of the detection facility as part of efforts to deter nuclear proliferation, according to the Defense Ministry.

The site is a “unique facility in the U.K,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said. “It detects and accurately interprets seismic signals worldwide to detect nuclear explosions and deter the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Wind turbines can affect the readings.”

“The MoD would not object to a planning application without due reason,” the spokesman continued. “Objections are only raised where such action is considered vital to adequately protect MoD interests”

A government analysis determined that while the Eskadalemuir center could tolerate some seismic disturbance, the cutoff level had already been reached. The Defense Ministry is thus countering each new turbine proposal that is 31 miles or closer to the recording station.

The objection led local leaders in Carlisle this month to vote against a plan to erect six turbines in their community. The ministry in total is obstructing plans to construct wind farms that would cumulatively produce one gigawatt of renewable energy, according to developer REG Windpower.

The company is optimistic a compromise can be reached. One possibility would be to suspend weights inside the turbine poles to minimize the seismic disturbances created by the turbines. The ministry has said it would re-examine its stance on the turbines if a feasible remedy can be found (Rob Edwards, London Guardian, Aug. 19).

In Ontario, Windyleaks this week released another document obtained under Freedom of Information, in which yet another member of the MInistry of the Environment’s field staff reports problems with the noise produced by multiple turbines in one location. And yet, the approvals went on.

Visit http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

 

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Here, from Wind Action, a timely editorial on the promises being made about industrial-scale wind power generation, jobs, the economy, and meeting energy needs in the U.S., and what the results have been. For more articles, go to http://www.windaction.org

WindAction Editorial

Wind energy’s broken promises

(Posted July 13, 2011) <!–
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Energy subsidies have proven fertile ground in the debt-ceiling debate now raging before Congress.

Congressional lawmakers arguing over how best to rein in spending, have set their sights on eliminating ethanol subsidies and oil and gas tax breaks. Renewable energy subsidies are also under pressure. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy’s Section 1705 loan guarantee was cut. The popular Section 1603 cash grant program created under ARRA is expected to expire later this year. And some industry insiders indicate the federal production tax credit, in effect since passage of the Energy Act of 1992, will be allowed to sunset at the end of 2012.

Our recommendation to Congress: Eliminate all of the energy subsidies. Let the economics of a freer market prevail.

Doing so will create winners and losers, for sure, but the public is far better served when industries compete for market share and profits rather than fight for political favoritism and handouts.

If you doubt this economic truism applies to the energy industry, consider the US wind market, which has relied on public funding since its inception over 30 years ago.

Wind — a trail of broken promises

The history of governmental handouts to the wind industry dates back over 30 years to the Carter Administration. Billions in public dollars have poured into the wind industry since that time and more is obligated every year for the next decade. Yet for all the promises made, we have little to show for the money spent. 

Promise #1: Meeting US Electricity Needs. A 1976 study by the Department of Energy estimated that wind power could supply nearly 20% of all U.S. electricity by 1995. By the end of 1995, wind represented only one-tenth of 1% of the US market. Today, wind delivers about 2% of the US electricity market. DOE now claims we will reach 20% wind power by 2030. Moving the goal post does not address the logistical and cost barriers to reaching the 20% goal. These barriers are significant and it’s time DOE considers the realities of what a 20% wind world would look like. It’s unlikely the scenario will ever be realized.

Promise #2: Reducing Cost. In the mid-1980’s wind power sold at around 25 cents per kilowatt hour. By 1995 prices dropped dramatically but were still double the cost of gas-fired generation, even after allowing for the production tax credit (1.5 cents per kwh in 1995). Today, wind pricing is even higher, despite continued federal support (figure 22, 2010 Annual Wind Market Report). Promises of technology improvements that could drive down costs have not translated into energy price improvements. 

Wind’s intermittency still means that high upfront capital costs are spread over fewer hours of operation which places upward pressure on the price of the energy sold. Cost pressures are also tied to policies on renewables. Aggressive renewable policies have placed developers in strong negotiating positions relative to energy buyers. They know full well that state regulators will approve their pricing demands and pass through the higher costs to ratepayers (footnote 50, 2010 Annual Wind Market Report). And with power purchase agreements now a requirement in order to attract investor financing, above-market energy prices are locked in for extended terms ranging between 10-20 years.

Promise #3: Improved Performance. In 1994, ninety percent of the US wind energy capacity was located in the State of California and operated at a 24% annual average capacity factor. In 2010, the capacity-weighted average capacity factor for Californian projects in 2010 was only 27.2%. In most regions of the US, wind operated at under 30% capacity factor. New York State wind performed at 22.7% last year. While newer technology has resulted in modest production improvements, US wind has failed to meet the promised 35% capacity factor

Promise #4: Jobs creation. Over eighty-percent of the nearly $6 billion in Section 1603 grants paid out in 2009 and 2010 went to wind energy projects. Yet by the end of 2010, the American Wind Energy Association reported jobs declined from 85,000 to 75,000. When installations dropped in 2010, it was no surprise that jobs dropped as well. And since growing the manufacturing base is predicated on installing more wind turbines it’s hard to see where job growth is sustainable.

The perpetual ‘infant industry’

Fourteen years ago, energy expert Robert Bradley wrote “Wind power has proven itself to be a perpetual ‘infant industry’ with its competitive viability always somewhere on the horizon.”

This week GE’s ecomagination VP Mark Vachon said this: “Without clean-energy mandates or tax subsidies, wind struggles to compete with cheap natural gas. And there’s uncertainty about those subsidies, particularly in the U.S. where Congress is looking to manage budget deficits.”

The American Wind Energy Association insists wind is now a mainstream energy resource but blames the 50 percent drop in US installations between 2009 and 2010 on a lack of long-term, predictable federal policies. After 30 years of paying the way for this infant industry, apparently the public has still not done enough to create a market for its product.

Has anything changed?

Call Congress. Remind your representatives that wind energy has yet to deliver on any of its promises. And history has shown we have no reason to believe things will change.

Eliminate all wind energy subsidies as part of the debt ceiling compromise. Let’s finally move on to energy solutions that can deliver on their promises. 

The North Gower Wind Action Group is a corporate member of Wind Concerns Ontario, and a signatory with the North American Platform Against Wind. Our view is that industrial-scale wind power generation projects need to be responsibly located…away from people.

Contact us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca  Join our e-mail list for updates and news.

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It was official on Tuesday of this week, June 21–the application to appeal the earlier decision in the Ian Hanna case (the challenge against provisions of the Green Energy Act) was denied.

Mr. Hanna yesterday released a letter of thanks to all his supporters and to all who donated to the cause, almost $300,000.

It is troubling that someone could present so much good evidence about the nature of the setbacks in Ontario between industrial wind turbines and the centre of people’s homes (dubbed “noise receptors”) and that a tribunal would still support the existing 550 metres. In the same week, the Senate in Australia released a report that recommends much greater setbacks. For the project proposed in North Gower, for example, following the Australian recommendations by our calculations, would mean setbacks of 3.8 kilometres. In other words, goodbye.

But Ontario’s rural communities will not give up the fight against the industrialization of our communities, against our will and with no input from us. We will not give up the fight against people who are just in this to make a profit–they care nothing for the environment, for Ontario’s power needs, or for air quality. Jobs? They don’t care about that either: this is a short-term gig. Once the solar panels and turbines are built, those people will be out of here, in search of the next government subsidy.

Next: Kent Breeze. The decision is due in July.

E-mail us at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

 

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