CLEAR CREEK, Ont. (20/11/14) -Stephana Johnston looks out her window at the wind turbines surrounding her home in Clear Creek, a hamlet on the shores of Lake Erie. Johnston has been a fierce opponent of wind farms and believes they have plagued her with an array of heath problems. When asked why many of her neighbours did not suffer from the symptoms she described, Johnston replied, “When a ship hits rough waters there’s always a few passengers that get sick, but no one doubts or ridicules them…All I’m asking for is that same respect.” Photo by Zachary Prong.
Impacts of new noise from industrial wind turbines in our environment have created “habitat degradation” and have been an overriding issue in the fight to protect our families and environment. The response to the sound emitted from wind turbines is much more complex than how loud it is. There are reports globally of negative impacts due to exposure to wind turbines causing some families to abandon their homes for respite and relief. The following article highlights the impact of industrial noise on birds resulting in measurable stress markers. Some birds become so stressed by noise pollution their response is similar to what is found in PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
“The body is just starting to break down,” Lowry said.
To Lowry, the fact that humans respond to stress in the same manner as animals as distantly related as birds suggests that this response is ancient and deeply ingrained. And it raises questions about how humans handle exposure to unrelenting noise. The mother bluebird that nested near a compressor and was unable to leave when the sound became unbearable may not be so different from a low-income human family forced to rent an apartment near a flight path or loud industrial site.
Some birds are so stressed by noise pollution it looks like they have PTSD
The bluebird didn’t realize what she was getting herself into when she chose her new home, about 75 yards from a natural gas compressor. It was only as the days and weeks wore on that the low whine of machinery started to take a toll. It was harder to hear the sounds of approaching predators, or even the normal noises of the surrounding world, so she had to maintain constant vigilance. Her stress hormone levels became skewed; her health deteriorated. She couldn’t resettle elsewhere, because she had a nest full of hatchlings to tend. Yet her chicks suffered too, growing up small and scantily feathered — if they survived at all.
Scientists couldn’t ask the bluebird what she was feeling. But when they sampled the bird’s blood, as part of a study of 240 nesting sites surrounding natural gas treatment facilities in northern New Mexico, they found she showed the same physiological symptoms as a human suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Noise is causing birds to be in a situation where they’re chronically stressed . . . and that has really huge health consequences for birds and their offspring,” said Rob Guralnick, associate curator of biodiversity informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
The new year isn’t bringing any hope for a better situation for 12 families issued water tanks in the North Kent 1 Wind Farm project (NKW1) area north of Chatham.
The recent unseasonably cold weather resulted in water in the tanks and lines being frozen solid, according to Water Wells First (WWF) spokesperson Kevin Jakubec.
At a press conference last week at the home of Jessica and Paul Brooks on Brook Line, the family shared their continued frustration with the lack of action by the wind farm company and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to fix their well, which was contaminated with black sediment back in the summer.
“This morning (Jan. 5) the Brooks family at 9597 Brook Line woke once again without water,” Jakubec said. “It was July 29 when they filed their complaint with the MOECC and the report showed their well had 30 times the turbidity of their baseline testing results before NKW1 started pile driving. They met the burden of proof of contamination.”
“Earlier in the week, the water was frozen solid inside the water tank supplied by Samsung & Pattern. The water tank was part of a requirement on the developers in the North Kent Wind REA Permit issued by the MOECC requiring that water tanks be installed when any impacts occurred to a water well.”
Jakubec said his group, Water Wells First, advocated for months and incurred substantial legal costs to see that measure was put in place to protect families in case their wells experienced the same sediment and flow reduction that happened in the former Dover township.
While the bitter cold hasn’t helped, Jakubec asked why Samsung and Pattern Energy aren’t providing a practical water source for the affected families in this extreme cold, and why are 12 families still on water tanks six months later?
Also, a big question Jakubec said is what has the MOECC been doing to find practical solutions to the loss of so many wells in such a short amount of time in Chatham township and where are the reports they have been promising for months that look at conflicting results from well testing AECOM has done on the affected wells and MOECC testing on the same well?
Spokespersons for the MOECC have said previously they are still working on the report but give no firm timeline and when it will be released.
The lack of action by the province to find out how and why the groundwater is contaminated is also a source of frustration for WWF members.
“This is highly unusual. Brownfields and industrial sites that have contaminated the groundwater beneath them have to go through extensive clean up measures or face severe court fines by the MOECC,” Jakubec noted. “Why does the MOECC not impose those requirements on Samsung and Pattern, the developers of the North Kent Wind farm?”….
Due to the bitter cold temperatures, residents near the North Kent Wind project found themselves without their temporary water source over the holidays.
Several water wells in the project area, currently under construction by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy, have been clogged with sediments shortly after pile-driving took place for constructing the turbines.
Jessica Brooks, who lives on Brook Line with her husband Paul, had been dealing with a frozen exterior tank, which had been installed as an interim solution in the summer.
“New Year’s Eve, we had friends who were watching the house call us and say the water stopped running,” she said while her metal tank was being serviced on Tuesday.
Brooks said she was under the impression the tank wasn’t going to be needed for so long. She said there were problems with freezing at the outtake in the beginning of December.
“When I contacted both the Ministry of the Environment and Pattern Energy, nobody got back to me. We got it moving ourselves,” she said.
She had a bucket of well water with sediment in it that the family uses to flush the toilet.
“It’s just been frustrating,” she said. “We’ve been saying this (freezing) was going to happen.”
Kevin Jakubec, spokesman for the grassroots organization Water Wells First, said he’s aware of five households dealing with frozen tanks.
He said the problem could have been far worse if there was more snow.
“Imagine if we had a foot of snow,” he said. “If we have a blizzard, you are not going to get these trucks down these roads.”
In an e-mail to The Daily News, Pattern Energy stated it “received one report of a frozen tank this morning and the issue has been resolved.”
The company has maintained that the evidence doesn’t support the idea that pile-driving vibration has an impact on well water.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change stated that North Kent 1 proactively supplied an alternative water supply to any complainant that had requested one, including bottled water for consumption and a water tank for all other domestic use.
“The company is responsible for addressing any concerns with the water supplies that have been provided, including addressing any issues related to freezing or access during snow events,” the ministry said.
“The ministry is continuing its review of well water assessment reports submitted by the company related to complaints over impacts during wind turbine construction. The ministry anticipates communicating the results of the ministry’s review directly with the well owners over the next few weeks.”…..
Reading an article recently about Greenpeace trying (apparently unsuccessfully) to create a solar-powered town in India several years ago reminded me of a project in the GTA proposing to use “zoo poo” to create a 500-kW biogas plant.
The project is a co-op known as Zoo Share Biogas Co-operative and plans to use methane from animal waste to produce electricity in a biogas plant. The chatter about this project goes back to June 3, 2011 and those behind the project applied for a contract with the OPA (since merged with IESO).
So where is it now? A visit to the website shows the OPA advised them early July 2013 they were granted the contract. A PDF file titled “Construction Plan Report” on the site reveals “Construction of the facility is scheduled for summer 2014 with completion and grid connection expected in the fall of 2014.”
Needless to say, the plant is still not functioning but nevertheless has taxpayer support and some $4 million raised from individuals and others who purchased bonds that carry a 7% coupon on a project estimated originally to cost $4.8 million.
Curiosity further led me to look at the members of the Co-op’s Board of Directors and I noted Chris Benedetti was a Board member. Benedetti is a principal with the Sussex Strategy Group and the head of its Energy and Environment Practice. Some will recall Mr. Benedetti was involved in a major fundraising event for the Ontario Liberal Party as reported in an article in the Globe and Mail in March 2016 headlined: “For $6,000, donors get face time with Kathleen Wynne and Bob Chiarelli”.
That article contained the following attributed to Mr Benedetti: “The evening is being promoted by Sussex Strategy Group, one of the country’s top lobbying firms. In an e-mail encouraging energy industry insiders to attend, Sussex principal Chris Benedetti wrote that the soirée will be a ‘small event with a limited number of tickets,’ giving all attendees face time with Ms. Wynne and Mr. Chiarelli.”
Previously, the Sussex Strategy Group’s name was connected with what the Toronto Star noted in a November 2010 headline as: “Group plans to ‘dupe’ public about green energy costs: Tories”. The article also noted: “The Oct. 18 document, drafted by consulting firm Sussex Strategy Group, lays out a plan — complete with a $300,000 initial budget — to change the channel on the current green energy debate, which is largely focused on cost.”
The Benedetti/Sussex connection led me to visit the Sussex website; the page titled “Our People” shows Kim Warren’s name and picture of Kim Warren under Sussex’s “Affiliates.”. Mr. Warren was, until January 1, 2017, the COO of IESO; if you check the “Sunshine List” for the 2015 year you will note he was paid $577,000.04 — not too shabby for a public servant! When he was employed at IESO he spoke about integrating renewable energy. Due to his positive tone the short video of his speech was posted on the CanWEA website; he was clearly supportive and claimed wind energy “was a big part” of shutting down coal. (Many grid operators around the world would dispute his claim.)
Searching on Google again using Mr. Warren’s name and his IESO affiliation turns up other relationships. One that pops up is NRStor: a press release dated June 20, 2017 announces he is the newest addition to NRStor’s Board as a Director and states: “The insights and experience Kim Warren brings to our board as previous COO of the IESO is significant,” said Annette Verschuren, NRStor’s Chair and CEO. “He is a world expert on power systems and his extensive understanding of the electricity market will help NRStor grow and develop our energy storage business.”
Coincidentially, NRStor has been awarded contracts by IESO with the first one on July 22, 2014 announced by then Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli: “Today, the Minister of Energy, the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, announced the commencement of commercial operations for NRStor Incorporated’s (NRStor) 2 megawatt (MW) Temporal Power Limited (Temporal Power) flywheel energy storage facility in Harriston, Ontario.” Now assuming the 2MW of storage was called on to replace Ontario’s generated power it would be capable of supplying demand for half a second, or less.
The second contract awarded to NRStor by IESO noted: “NRStor will build a fuel-free compressed air energy storage facility that will provide 7 MWh of storage capacity to the IESO.”
For those who wonder who is NRStor, the following comes from their website: “NRStor is a market leader in understanding energy storage technologies, their costs, and the benefits they can provide customers across the energy supply chain. As a project developer, we develop, own and operate industry-leading energy storage projects in partnership with progressive stakeholders and leading technology providers.”
NRStor was founded by Ms. Annette Verschuren, former CEO of Home Depot. Ms. Verschuren spoke to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs May 19, 2015 in respect to Bill 91, Building Ontario Up Act. One of the notable comments she made was,“We are a developer of energy storage technology, so we build projects. We are working on about 20 projects at the moment and we see the introduction of energy storage really making a big difference in terms of how we get electricity to market in a cheaper way. NRStor recently announced a partnership with the Tesla Powerwall, which is very exciting, to be introduced. We want to start in Ontario. We see that movement towards, again, using excess energy to improve costs and make it easier for customers.”
Ms. Verschuren also offered her “Congratulations to the Ontario government for its announcement on cap-and-trade policy.” and: “The privatization of Hydro One is also something that I’m very supportive of.”
While Ms. Verchuren is very accomplished and informed, from my perspective, she has missed the effects on hundreds of thousands of Ontario ratepayers/taxpayers from the Green Energy Act, and the “cap and trade” tax. Ontario’s “excess energy,” as she puts it, represent a huge cost to ratepayers, which seems to have escaped her thinking.
The conflict in Ms Verchuren’s testimony is exacerbated by adding Kim Warren as a Director of NRStor. The fact that NRStor has benefited from IESO’s contract awards should have triggered the question of how the media and public would view his appointment. As a director he would be required to be a shareholder in NRStor which seems to fly in the face of IESO’s “Post-Service Restrictions” contained in their Code of Conductwhich states: “It is expected that the restriction against purchasing or holding any Prohibited Financial Interests continues until 6 months following the end of your employment or association with the IESO.”
Worth noting is Ms. Verchuren is registered as a lobbyist with the Office of the Integrity Commissioner as is Chris Benedetti (lobbyist for NRStor and 55 other companies), but Kim Warren is not.
The Ontario Ministry of Energy seems to have created a tangled web that benefits select companies and individuals.
Rex Murphy: Cherish your suffering, Ontario; Premier Wynne’s green gods know of your sacrifice
Those outside the faith, and mere loitering agnostics, see nothing here but a catalogue of burdens. Shackles of an alien god. But to those within the covenant, they are the way stations on the hard and stony path to delicious rewards reserved for the elect.
It cannot have escaped the attention of many that Ontario is most unsettled these days. That its industries are anxious, its debt colossal, its citizens not in a pleasant mood. Ontario is in a lot of pain. But let me assure readers outside Ontario that it has not all been for nothing. There are rewards. They are subtle, intangible, but they are real. Let me explain.
Those who share the faith and endorse the morality of global warming derive very much the same satisfactions that attended fidelity to the less demanding dogmas of earlier and less ambitious creeds. The carbon regime, tax hikes on gasoline, failed or failing long-term contracts, fear and trembling in the manufacturing sector, the gnashing of teeth in poorer (and now colder) households, Ontario Hydro’s ever-swelling levies, the despoliation of rural vistas by towers of whirling, bird-bashing windmills: These, each in itself, and all in combination are the acknowledged costs of the Great Greening.
Those outside the faith, and mere loitering agnostics, see nothing here but a catalogue of burdens. Shackles of an alien god. But to those within the covenant, they are the way stations on the hard and stony path to delicious rewards reserved for the elect. This is the true chemistry of belief. What appear as obstacles to heretics, appear to believers as smooth escalators to a higher state. Accepting, embracing what must be done supplies them with a sense of inner sanction, endows them with that peace of mind which a lesser scripture records, rather churlishly, as passing all understanding……
Issues with wind turbine projects continue to impact municipalities and residents in unexpected ways. In the early summer I attended a drainage meeting in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh council chambers. This meeting concerned a drain extension for the Glenn municipal drain. The drain crosses road allowances that have underground electrical lines for the K2 Wind project. At this meeting the drainage engineer stated that a larger culvert would be required because the presence of these underground lines meant that work could not be done as deeply.
As a landowner affected by the proposed work, I asked the engineer how many crossings were involved and how much more this larger sized culvert would cost. No answer was provided. I then questioned why anyone else other than K2 Wind should be paying for this extra cost. Again, no answer was received.
At a second meeting on this project in December 2017, the engineer reviewed the final plans and stated that for the crossing of power lines on Tower Line, a larger culvert would be installed due to the depth problem. In the question period, I again asked how much extra cost this would add to the project. The engineer explained that the crossing was on road allowance so the township would be picking up the cost, not the individual landowners. But who does he think the landowners are, if not taxpayers who will all have to pick up the extra cost? So, yes, I am paying for this extra cost and so is every landowner in the township.
Our council brags about how they got community benefit money from the K2 Wind project. Yet, when they accept extra cost on projects like this, the township is essentially subsidizing the wind company from the general coffers. This undermines the benefit of any money received. Once again, the taxpayer gets shafted.
When a municipal council allows extra costs for such things as drainage works to be loaded onto the ratepayers, you have to wonder who they are really working for. So ratepayers in municipalities with wind turbines need to be on the alert for the hidden costs with these projects. Taxpayers already subsidize the wind turbines through inflated hydro rates. They shouldn’t be shafted twice with more hidden subsidies.
To date, my questions about additional costs and who is footing the bill for the extra work on this drainage project remain unanswered.
It’s interesting — and frustrating at the same time — to see the anger and uproar from environmentalists in recent news stories surrounding the blue picture frame at Garden of the Gods and the power plants in Colorado Springs.
With regard to the “Blue Frame,” people act like it was in a wilderness area instead of being in an urban area. The big picture, though, is this supposed environmental concern for the region with regard to the power plants. These plants were installed in the area of high-density power consumption, which at least makes this large population center responsible for their consumption.
The recent ideas are to put the undesirable power-generating alternatives out in the country disguised as “green technology” — wind turbines and solar panels euphemistically referred to as “wind farms” and “solar gardens.” That sounds so nice and harmless and makes people feel good about themselves as they look around their urban areas, and as long as they don’t have to see these behemoth eyesores with the required transmission lines it’s all good.
I understand that the image of Colorado (at least among Front Range urbanites) doesn’t include the plains, but that shouldn’t give them the right to trash out this area of relatively undisturbed land to feel good about themselves.
I just hope that real environmental groups will step up and see these things for what they are — a huge increase in the destruction of the environment. If people in urban areas really cared for the environment they would want power generation to be confined to the area of consumption instead of increasing their footprint out in the countryside.