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Complaint process for wind turbine noise inherited by the Ford government not effective
April 12, 2021
Wind Concerns Ontario has just released its latest report on how the Ontario government has responded to citizen complaints about excessive wind turbine noise from grid-scale wind power projects.
Warning: the contents of this report can make for difficult reading.
The excerpts of comments from people calling into the 24/7 Spills Action Centre telephone line, or sending emails to their local District Office of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks are an alarming demonstration of the desperation felt by families forced with the wind turbine noise—some of them, for many years.
“We ache all over and can hardly function we are so tired. Please tell us what to do. Please respond.”
“Noise described as a ‘whooing’ sound, both heard and felt.”
“This continues to be horrendous.”
“Caller reports a pulsing roar.”
“This is the 65th time they have called.”
“We can’t go on like this.”
Polluted acoustic environment
One complaint documented was from a technician hired to do monitoring of bat populations near Bow Lake, who questioned whether he/she could continue the work due to the “acoustic pollution” from the wind turbines. The wind turbines were “generating unacceptably intrusive and potentially dangerous noise emissions into the natural environment,” the person reported. This is a “polluted acoustic environment.”
This report is based on Incident Reports created in 2018, received as the result of a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. The request was filed in January 2019; we received almost 4,000 pages of documents this past March. The report is fourth in a series, examining ministry response back to 2006.
It’s not working
The overarching conclusion from examining the complaint records as a whole is that Ontario’s complaint monitoring process, which the current government inherited from previous administrations, is not working. Key findings:
Complaints about wind power projects are part of the process government promised would ensure protection of health and safety. Robust enforcement of the regulations in response to these complaints will fulfill that responsibility.
In total, almost 6,000 files of complaints about wind turbine noise, vibration and sound pressure have been released to Wind Concerns by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
39 percent of complaints in 2018 noted adverse health effects.
The records show that complaints do not result in real action by the project operators, despite requirements of approvals for the project.
The process to accept and record citizen complaints is inconsistent, and information gathered is incomplete.
There appears to be no ministry-wide evaluation and review process for citizen complaints about environmental noise produced by wind turbines.
The report concludes with recommendations on how the complaint handling process could be improved as an enforcement tool, and could provide opportunities to act on other issues such as electricity costs.
Abstract Background: Some people living near wind turbines have reported adverse health effects and taken the step to vacate/abandon their homes, while others contemplate doing so or have decided to remain in their homes. Research on the extent and outcomes of these events is lacking. To date, our preliminary findings and an overview of results have been published in the scientific literature. Methods: This study utilized a qualitative methodology, specifically Grounded Theory, to interview 67 residents of Ontario living within 10 km of an industrial wind turbine project. Objectives: Quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research each has strengths and weaknesses in addressing particular research questions. The purpose of this article is to compare the qualitative and quantitative methodologies and to describe the benefits of having used a qualitative methodology, specifically Grounded Theory, to explore the events that influenced families living within 10 km of wind energy facilities to contemplate vacating their homes and to formulate a substantive theory regarding these housing decisions. Results: It was found that research into the impacts of siting industrial wind turbines in a rural residential population can be challenging for a quantitative methodological approach due to factors such as low population density, obtaining a sufficient sample, and achieving statistical power and statistical significance. We conclude that the Grounded Theory methodology was applicable to this study as it assisted with the development of a coherent theory which explained participants’ housing decisions. Discussion: This paper assesses the appropriateness of a qualitative methodology for conducting the vacated/abandoned home study. Through the utilization of the qualitative Grounded Theory methodology, government authorities, researchers, medical and health practitioners, social scientists and policy makers with an interest in health policy and disease prevention have the opportunity to gain an awareness of the potential risk of placing wind energy projects near family homes.
Share and Cite: Krogh, C.M., McMurtry, R.Y., Johnson, W.B., Dumbrille, A., Alves-Pereira, M., Punch, J.L., Hughes, D., Rogers, L., Rand, R.W., James, R., Am- brose, S.E. and Gillis, L. (2021) Grounded Theory as an Analytical Tool to Explore Housing Decisions Related to Living in the Vicinity of Industrial Wind Turbines. Open Access Library Journal, 8, 1-22. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1107233.
We are in damage control here in Texas – “the oil and gas capital of the world” according to the Texans. It is a major blow to the proud people of this state that they could not keep the power grid working in the epic winter storm of Feb 2021. Having rolling blackouts and loss of power is something that happens in a California heat wave, not something that happens in Texas.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers — representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 680+ generation units. It also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for 8 million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.
The supply in Texas – installed capacity as listed on ERCOT:
Hopefully, you can get this link open because the providers state the portion of their power that is from “green”. As you scroll through you notice that some providers are .12% green, some 6% green, some near 20% green and some 100% green. Would you like to tell me what happened to the households that are 100% dependent on “green” energy in the last ice storm? We are in McAllen, Texas and some of our neighbours 3 kilometers to the north have been without power for five days now and they expect that they might have power as early as Friday!
The people in these communities are struggling – struggling to stay warm, struggling to keep the taps from freezing, struggling to cook food and struggling to prevent the food in the freezers from going bad, struggling to communicate because the internet is down. Some are using their vehicles to provide warmth and recharge batteries and cell phones.
Because we have all been running our taps to prevent them from freezing, the water pressure is down and the city of Edinburg (482,000 people) is under a “boil water” advisory. Fire trucks are having difficulty because without water pressure they are restricted in putting out fires. The city of Donna (16,500 people) has lost water pressure and they will be under a “boil water” advisory as soon as the water supply returns.
Because we operate on a “just in time” delivery system some of the major food stores can not get food delivered. Their delivery tucks can not get fuel because the gas stations can not pump fuel when they have no power. And most people saw the 130 car pile up south of Houston on Feb. 11 – one week ago, so the roads are treacherous. With the delivery system affected stores are running out of milk, bread, eggs and meat. But we do have toilet paper this time!
The distributors are in damage control and everyone is blaming someone or something else. Rule #1 The chain breaks at the weakest link!
Power suppliers that counted on .12% ‘green’ energy kept the lights on, the water running and heat in the households. Power suppliers that counted on 100% ‘green’ failed as soon as the wind turbines iced over and were taken offline. These providers were left scrambling – looking for additional power supply as were most others.
Because they have independent power providers here in Texas, each little company runs their own system. They do not pay for spinning standby like we do in Ontario where we pay power generators to not produce. Here if you need more power for your company you have to find it. For the power producers that could actually increase their supply it was a bonanza! Charge what ever the market will pay and the cost per MW went form $25/MW in normal times to as high as $7,000 per MW. (A 28,000 % increase in cost – I saw one report of $9,000 per MW)
The demand exceeded the supply and simply put they could not keep the lights on. The providers could not find the power they required or could not pay the price – or chose not to pay $7-9,000 per MW for the power they required. This failure certainly has a component in the decision making that is economic.
This is what happens when you install an intermittent power system, eventually you reach a tipping point where you are not able to provide reliable power and the system collapses like a deck of cards. This is what happens in California in a heat wave or Texas in freezing conditions. The lesson to be learned is that if you destabilize the power grid with intermittent, unreliable power generation that fails in a summer heat wave or a winter polar vortex you will eventually have a catastrophic failure.
Texas and neighbors hit hard by a severe winter storm due to polar vortex conditions causing temperatures to plummet dangerously low. The States’ self contained electrical grid faces collapse as generators not properly winterized become frozen. A state of emergency is declared while residents and businesses are plunged into prolonged electricity blackouts. People being left to face the harsh winter conditions for days without electricity and for some it results in deadly consequences.
Wind turbines frozen and back up generation from natural gas hampered. The spot price of gas soars by thousands of percent in cost while the blame game and finger pointing reaches a fevered pitch.
“The problem is Texas’s overreliance on wind power that has left the grid more vulnerable to bad weather. Half of wind turbines froze last week, causing wind’s share of electricity to plunge to 8% from 42%. Power prices in the wholesale market spiked, and grid regulators on Friday warned of rolling blackouts. Natural gas and coal generators ramped up to cover the supply gap but couldn’t meet the surging demand for electricity—which half of households rely on for heating—even as many families powered up their gas furnaces. Then some gas wells and pipelines froze.”
A second peer-reviewed manuscript relating to the CCSAGE legal case has been published and is available on line. Entitled Ontario’s Green Energy Policy vs. Social Justice, the manuscript was largely based on the documents written to support the CCSAGE legal case. It has the stated objective:
To explore the development and implementation of Ontario’s Green Energy Act and the outcomes on social justice and risk of harm to Ontario residents. To provide examples of government actions taken to achieve its goals, and the occurrence of consequences, whether intended or unintended.
“A promise made on the campaign trail by Doug Ford in May 2018 to conduct a health hazard investigation on the possible contamination of private water wells in the North Kent Wind farm area is about to be met…..”