Friday, January 28, 2011

Marion Thompson's Update to Cavan Monaghan Council

Good Afternoon, Mr. Reeve, Members of Council, Staff and Visitors

My presentation today is just to provide you with an update from Community Wind Concerns regarding Industrial Wind Turbines. (as requested in your letter)

The wind companies and our Provincial Government tell us of the importance of Industrial Wind Turbines to our “green” environment. Interesting, then that several environmental groups do not agree and are speaking out or issuing statements of concern.
Groups such as Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Ducks Unlimited, Bayniche Conservancy, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Toronto Region Conservation Authority, Lake Ontario Waterkeepers, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters just to name a few. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is requesting a moratorium on any new Industrial Wind Turbines until independent health studies have been undertaken.
Some of the things we are following very closely right now, as the outcomes will have a major impact on the future of the Industrial Wind Turbines in all of Ontario are:
The Ian Hanna legal challenge of the Green Energy Act relating to the Ontario Government’s failure to follow the “precautionary principle” for the health and safety of its’ citizens. He is calling for independent health studies to be conducted particularly as it relates to” infrasound” These studies would then determine the proper set backs requirements to protect the health of residents. This hearing is taking place January 24th and 25th .
Dr. Hazel Lynn the Medical Officer of Health for Grey Bruce region. She stated she changed her mind about illness associated with living near Industrial Wind Turbines because of a growing body of evidence in medical literature. She stated “it’s very consistent throughout the world when people live closer than a kilometer, then complaints start to rise. At a council meeting January 10th Arran-Elderslie council asked all municipalities in Grey and Bruce counties, along with both county councils, “to show a strong, unified belief ” in supporting Dr. Lynn in her efforts to have a study completed on the health effects associated with industrial wind turbines . Deputy Mayor Davis’s motion, which received unanimous support from council, stated that Arran-Elderslie impose a freeze on issuing any kind of permits related to wind turbines until Lynn is satisfied sufficient studies have been done. Perhaps our council could consider a similar motion.
While the Green Energy Act has taken away Municipal regulatory powers under the Ontario Planning Act, this does not mean that council is completely powerless. Renewable Energy proponents must still CONSULT with Municipalities on matters relating to servicing and infrastructure, which I would expect would have to include participants at the County level as two of the proposed farms front on County Road 21. Perhaps once the long awaited draft documents become available, Council may wish to consider requesting Energy Farming Ontario make a presentation to the Township and the County and include residents in the study area as well.
A wind farm was recently approved by the Ministry of the Environment through the Renewable Energy Assessment (REA) in Chatham Kent. This is the first approval since the Green Energy Act came into being. This project is being appealed by a citizen and the Chatham Kent Wind Action Committee before the Environmental Review Tribunal. The case is about the concern wind noise has on human health. Eric Gillespie the lawyer for Ian Hanna is also handling this case.
Also of note, two lawyers with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) have filed an application for review of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) The EBR has not been reviewed since 1993 and they are recommending amendments to update the legislative purposes of the EBR.-which would “entrench a substantive public right to a clean and healthy environment. Strengthen public participation and enhance the powers of the Environmental Commissioner, as well as improve citizen access to courts in environmental matters.
In view of all of these challenges it would make one wonder if the Government has moved too quickly, before ensuring the alternatives are economically feasible and safe and reliable forms of energy without causing health issues for the citizens.
We at Community Wind Concerns of Cavan Monaghan, like the Township are waiting for all the draft reports from Energy Farming Ontario, particularly the Natural Heritage,(birds and bats, flora and fauna) Cultural Heritage, Archaeology, Noise, Water etc. While waiting for these we are gathering our own information in order to prepare for a response to the REA, should it be required.
Why do we not want to see Industrial Wind Turbines in our Township?
1. Health Concerns-where turbines exist now many people suffer from the effects of noise, particularly infrasound, and the flicker effect resulting in people having to leave their homes-several homes in Ripley near the wind turbine sites have been abandoned.
2 .Our groundwater systems and aquifers could be at risk due to the construction of the bases which require 1000 tons of cement and will go into the ground anywhere from 6 to 40 or 50 ft including the steel rebar. We have canvassed the people that are in the vicinity of the proposed turbines and the majority of them have very shallow wells from about 6 to 50 feet. Therefore the construction of the bases and the access roads could certainly interfere with the the natural water flows. This was brought to the attention of a wind company consultant at a public meeting –his response “ they will just have to drill new wells”
3. Widespread destruction of our natural heritage systems from the construction of the turbines and the construction of access roads through the farms. One of the proposed farms is in the flight path of migrating birds and across from an established bird sanctuary. One of the mandates of the Provincial Policy Statement is to protect natural heritage corridors from fragmentation. The cumulative effect of 1000’s of industrial wind
turbines will do just that. Biodiversity of species of flora and fauna are vital to our existence.
4. Destruction of our roads both Township and County just to transport these monstrous towers and blades.
5.Devaluation of properties. There are some 60 rural homes and farms in the proposed area. We know of one property in the area that had an offer until the buyer found out about the potential turbines and backed out. In Simcoe Ontario some 40 of 140 homes in the area of the turbines have either been abandoned are vacant or up for sale. The only sales on Wolfe Island are those away from wind turbines. Several US reports have concluded that a devaluation of property value in the range of 40% of properties located in the vicinity of a wind farm have been noted and the surrounding area becomes “contaminated” by association with regard to real estate values.
6. These Industrial Wind Turbines have a life span of only 20 years and then have to be decommissioned but the concrete bases are left behind. We wrote to the Energy Minister for an explanation however we can’t seem to get an answer about what happens at the end of the 20 years. Does this green energy source just disappear and we have to look for a different source?
If you look at a map of wind power in the area of the proposed turbines it is in the yellow area which is considered to be just adequate.
We are often criticized for being against green energy however that is not the case.
We are against giant industrial wind turbines being built on prime farmland in close proximity to houses and farm animals. There are many other ways to provide green energy without putting peoples health at risk, not to mention creating a landscape that does not at all fit in with the cultural historic heritage of the Township and the village of Millbrook.
First and foremost should be conservation, and statistics are showing that Ontarians are improving. Demand peaked at 157 terawatts in 2005 and it was assumed that demand would continue to grow. Not so, however,demand has continued to decline to 140 terawatt hours in 2010. Energy efficient appliances use about 25% of electricity of the old ones. Energy efficient light bulbs are being bought at a faster pace than predicted –led’s use about 5% of power of an incandescent bulb. In 2010 the government cancelled plans to build a gas fired plant in Oakville and shut down 4 of the coal burning units at Nanitoke. In fact in 2009 the Province paid the Bruce Power plant some $57.5 million to not produce power.
Further improvements to our demands for power will be through geothermal, biomass and smaller community and home based solar and vertical axis wind turbines (vawt’s) . Wouldn’t it make sense for the Government to provide incentives to individuals and businesses in communities to encourage these alternatives and reduce reliance on the grid rather than paying just a few companies large incentives to produce wind and solar for the grid.
On behalf of Community Wind Concerns I would like to thank you for adding your voice both at the Municipal and County level by passing resolutions to request a moratorium on Industrial Wind Turbine development until proper independent health studies are
completed and by requesting the increased set backs to 750 metres. The setback requirement in Manitoba is 2000 metres.
We would ask that you continue to support us by enacting and adopting resolutions, by- laws and agreements within your power to protect the citizens of our Township.
Some of the possibilities which could/should be investigated, prior to any wind farm approvals.
1. Objections to the MOE regarding the wind companies lack of proper public consultation (now being investigated by staff)
2. By- law regarding building fees specific to IWT’s- I believe the fee established in City of Kawartha Lakes is a $700. application fee and $12 per thousand of costs of construction.
3. Possible noise by-law –I believe Councillor Belch is having discussions with Huron East about this.
4.Possible height by-law-Turbines are manufactured in many different heights. The turbines proposed for Whispering Woods is one of, if not perhaps the tallest available. Why should the wind company determine the height?
5. Cultural by-law-This is a historical Township that is proud of its’ heritage and the surroundings need to comply with our history. I believe the cultural mapping project in the Township is nearing completion, so this will be of help in the REA process.
6.It is my understanding that the anemometer now erected on the land of one of the possible wind turbines sites was put up without the knowledge of the Township and obviously without a permit. I believe Ms. Ellis is looking into that issue to see what can be done if anything.
7. In order to offer protection for the Township, funds required for decommissioning of turbines should be required to be held in escrow by the Municipality. I believe the wind company has to tell the Township how it plans to decommission the turbines and presumably they will have a cost.

At the present time we are playing a waiting game with the wind company until the draft reports come out then we will be very busy putting together our REA response to those reports, as applicable. I believe the Township will be able to participate in this as well.
Community Wind Concerns of Cavan Monaghan is one of 54 grassroots coaltions across 32 counties in Ontario known as Wind Concerns Ontario. Through this organization we obtain information about wind happenings across the Province and through this network we obtain a great deal of advice and initiatives taken by other groups who are going through or have gone through the issues facing us here. We will be happy to continue to provide Council and staff with any information we may receive that could prove to be helpful in dealing with the wind company. Thank you for allowing me the time today to provide this update.

Marion Thompson
Community Wind Concerns of Cavan Monaghan