November 27, 2010

Do the health studies:Ontario MP

Ontario Conservative MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Larry Miller has written a letter to the Editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times, that is worth reading. It gives a good idea of how the rural communities who have already been populated by industrial wind turbines are feeling, having been targeted as a resource plantation by the Ontario government.

Here is his letter:

Listen to the people and do health studies on turbines

Letters to the Editor

Posted 4 hours ago


Just a couple short weeks ago, as I stood at a Remembrance Day ceremony, I watched as a surprisingly large number of elderly veterans marched to the front of the cenotaph. I thought to myself -what is going through their minds today? Do they still think it was worth it? Many of them went through a hell we will never truly know or understand, just so we can enjoy the rights and freedoms we have today.


One of those rights is the ability to own our own land. Those of us who are fortunate enough to own land take great pride in our property, but with the ownership of that land also comes responsibility. As a landowner myself, I am a strong proponent of property rights. However, when I do something on my property that affects the enjoyment of another property owner, that is unacceptable. It makes all the hardships that our veterans went through many years ago, all for naught.

Here in Ontario, (and of course that includes Grey and Bruce counties) the Green Energy Act brought in by Premier Dalton McGuinty has taken away all decision-making by local authorities and in effect a lot of the rights of property owners. You can hardly pick up a local paper anymore without the front page being covered with an article about opposition to wind farms. Nobody can argue that producing green or renewable energy is not a good thing for the environment. However, the public pushback on wind-farm proposals cannot be ignored.

While wind farms do not come under federal jurisdiction, I am more and more frequently being asked about windfarms and to take a stand on them. Bill Murdoch has called for a moratorium on wind farms until the proper studies have been done on the health effects windmills have on those living close to the turbines. I fully support our MPP’s call for this. McGuinty cannot ignore the fact that what Mark Davis started in Arran- Elderslie has now spread across the province to where we now have 67 municipalities who have endorsed the call for a moratorium on wind farms. I’m sure there will be more.

We all know that at least 75% of the power produced by wind farms in rural Ontario will be used in the GTA and other large cities to the south of us. If McGuinty is so hell-bent on providing Toronto with wind-generated power, I urge him to build a couple hundred wind turbines on the waterfront in plain view of those million-dollar condos that look out onto Lake Ontario. He could save hundreds of millions of dollars in transmission line costs, but more importantly, he would definitely hear the squeals of indignation from our urban cousins over the placement of turbines in “their” backyard. Maybe then he would listen to the people of rural Ontario.

In closing, I am going to use part of the slogan of the Ontario Landowners Association to send a message to Dalton McGuinty and his use of the Green Energy Act.

Back off government, take a deep breath and listen to the people. Do the health studies on wind turbines called for by MPP Bill Murdoch

Larry Miller, MP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

Chair of Agriculture & Agri-Food Chair of Rural Caucus

November 25, 2010

Opinions, opinions

Ever since the Ontario government announced its 10 percent “discount” on electricity bills (which within minutes was denounced as trying to buy taxpayers’ confidence back with their own money, while putting the province deeper into debt) and then the announcement of the Long-Term Energy Plan (they claim it’s new, but really, the former Plan was highjacked by former Energy Minister George Smitherman and so we haven’t even had a plan for quite some time), opinions have been overflowing in the media.

Here are a few that grabbed our attention.

“The Ontario government’s clever Clean Energy Benefit–a 10% rebate on the rapidly escalating power bills of Ontario voters–is a win-win-win proposition. A win for the Liberal government, which needs to blunt a consumer revolt before next year’s election. A wind for the power companies it ownes, which now have a go-ahead to continue to escalate their rates. And a win for renewable energy supplers and their environmental group allies, who had feared the Ontario government would curb the lavish solar and wind contracts that have been clobbering consumers.

… [it’s] also a lose-lose-lose proposition. Two losers are the opposition NDP ad Conservatives, who had called for the Liberals to reverse their position ad exempt power sales from the HST. Had the Liberals reversed the HST explicitly, they would have seemed weak and desperate, giving their political opponents a club to beat them with while forever losing a large source of tax revenue. Instead, the Liberals bested their opponents by calling their HST bid, which was worth 8%, and raising it to 10% under a different name. The political opponents cam across as pikers and the Liberals are heroes for the day.

..under the Ontario scheme, all consumers become losers. Rates, by the government’s own accounting, will be climbing another 46% over the next five years, and then rates will jolt up another 10% as the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit expires. By then, the new power system may also have expired. It took Ontario Hydro, running as a government-owned non-profit 90 years to go bankrupt. Hydro’s government-owned for-profit successors will be far quicker at reaching bankruptcy.”

–Lawrence Solomon, executive director, Energy Probe, in The Financial Post

“Dwight Duncan, now Ontario’s Finance Minister. told the legislature in 2004″ ‘It would be irresponsible for the province and taxpayers to contine to subsidize electricity consumption, because it jeopardizes our ability to invest in health care and education. This is simply not sustainable, nor is it acceptable. The people of this province deserve better.’ He committed to ‘take politics out’ of electricity pricing.

Where is the Dwight Duncan of 2004?… Today, with the deficit at $18.7 billion, he engineers techniques to split the bill for the McGuinty government’s careless, profiligate electricity policies between the staggering power rate increases today and the enuring pain for tomorrow’s taxpayers. … On glimmer of truthfulness in the Economic Statement is the admission that renewable power generation is the main driver for rate increases. ”

–Tom Adams, The Financial Post, November 23, 2010

And so we don’t think this is all new, here is a repeat of what Professor Michael Trebilcock of the University of Toronto wrote in The Financial Post March 6, 2010:

“The potential contributions of renewable energy to the creation of jobs in the province require a heavy dose of skepticism. While the government has claimed that it plans to create 50,000 new green jobs in the province over the coming years, the additional burdens on industrial, commercial, and household consumers from higher electricity costs associated with renewable energy will kill existing jobs. Recent studies in Denmark and Germany find that very few net new jobs have been created as a result of renewable energy policies. In the case of Denmark, they have cost between US$90,000 to US$140,000 per job per year in public subsidies, and in the case of Germany, up to US$240,000 per job per year. According to a column by Randall Denley in the Ottawa Citizen of Jan. 24, 2010, the new manufacturing jobs entailed in the massive Samsung renewable project recently announced by the Ontario government will cost $300,000 each in public subsidies.

“In an SNL Financial news wire report of Oct. 23, 2009, the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources was reported as stating that the agency had temporarily stopped accepting applications for proposed wind energy projects because it had already received 500 such applications and needed to make sure that it had appropriate processes in place before taking any more. Obviously, the massive public subsidies being offered have provoked a corporate feeding frenzy.

“But corporate enthusiasm for subsidized wind power should not be confused with the longer-term public interest.

” In terms of cost, CO2 and jobs, wind power attracts a failing grade. It gets worse, with poor marks for localized impacts on flora and fauna, for potentially adverse health effects on local residents from persistent exposure to low intensity turbine noise, for potentially adverse impacts on local property values and for an environmental review process which the Ontario Environmental Commissioner describes as ‘broken.’ All render renewable energy policy, at least as currently conceived by the Ontario government, one of the least compelling options in the challenging economic environment in which the province finds itself now. ”

And these commentators are just talking about the power supply and its politicization; there is no mention of the effects of the Ontario government’s drive toward wind and solar on property values, the environment, or, in the case of industrial wind turbine projects, the effect of the noise and infrasound on human health.

With the Green Energy Act in place, all people can do is gather and protest, which is what they are doing throughout Ontario, with increasing frequency.

November 12, 2010

Landowners leasing land for turbines: take care

One of the features we check regularly is the list of search terms people use to get to our site; it’s a good indication of what people are interested in. This past week, there have been a number of people looking into how much money they can get for leasing land for an industrial wind turbine.

How much? That answer varies with the wind developer, and whether or not there are payments based on the power produced.

But there is more to leasing land than a cheque: a LOT more. Please see the Wind Concerns Ontario website at and click on Leases. Especially helpful is Colette MacLean’s video presentation on what to look for, and also her advice to consult a lawyer before signing anything. We have heard stories of the corporate wind developers’ salespeople telling landowners that “You might as well sign, all your neighbours already have” and then the landowners find out that wasn’t true.

So, be very very careful. And consider your community and your neighbours, too. They didn’t ask for this and if there are problems down the road due to noise/vibration and other impacts, you might feel the brunt of the reaction. We’ve already heard of communities being changed forever because of the wind turbines on a few properties that affected everyone’s lives.

Let’s look at one corporate wind developer’s information sheet for landowners and see what else you might need to know.

How much land is used for the wind farm?

First of all, stop using the word “farm”: these are huge industrial structures that have nothing whatever to do with agriculture. The developers will tell you that the completed wind project will only use 1-2% of your land, but you need to ask about access roads and other uses of your land. They also tell you that the rights to land use are yours: that’s not exactly true—the developer can stipulate that they have to approve anything you might want to construct on the land such as a new barn or other building, in case it interferes with the operation of the wind turbine. Again, check the sample contracts on the WCO website.

How noisy are the turbines?

The corporate wind developers will tell you that a turbine is no louder than a refrigerator. That’s not exactly true: on a particularly windy day, the turbine noise can be quite loud, but the regulations in Ontario for example only call for an AVERAGE of 40 dB. (And the Ministry of the Environment admitted earlier this year that they didn’t have the capacity to do any measuring of wind turbine noise, anyway.) The big issue however is infrasound, the vibration or undetectable sound, that the human body senses. Infrasound has been documented for traffic noise all over the world. If your corporate wind developer tells you it doesn’t exist, you need to do more reading and discuss.

Are there hazards in living in close proximity to wind farms?

Yes. The corporate wind developers insist that there is “no scientifically proven and peer-reviewed evidence” that industrial wind turbine projects produce negative health effects. Ah, but there is. Dr Michael Nissenbaum of the United States is about to release the results of his study of people living within 3 km of turbines, and Dr Carl Phillips has said there is plenty of evidence to show without doubt that there are health effects.

How much power will be generated?

Trick question and an even trickier answer. The wind developers always claim that they will be able to power X number of homes, but they are talking CAPACITY, not actuality. In other words, a 2.5 MW turbine will never produce 2.5 MW of power; the best the existing wind turbines in Ontario can do is just over 20% of capacity. Worse, the turbines produce power mainly at night which is not when people in Ontario NEED the power.

How frequently are turbines maintained?

One developer says they need maintenance every 3-4 months. We know that means one person for every 10 turbines, someone who has to be specially trained in turbine maintenance. So, after the construction phase and all the gravel truck drivers and construction workers are gone, that means a job for ONE person.

Again, if you are considering this, you need to consider every aspect of it: 20 years is a very long time to have part of your land turned over for an industrial use. Consult a lawyer, talk to your neighbours, talk to people who already have turbines on their land (if they can talk to you–many contracts stipulate that landowners are not allowed to discuss the details), and above all, go visit a turbine installation and experience it for yourself. Remember, standing right under a turbine is not going to tell you anything, that’s the quietest place to be.

(Note: this graphic shows a 400-foot turbine; the proposal for North Gower is for 626-foot or 190-meter turbines. They will be visible for a long distance, and they will have flashing red lights at night.)

Here, courtesy of the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy or CCSAGE is a chart of positives and negatives: you be the judge.

November 9, 2010

Economist: Ontario is in sad shape

You can see this article at the Wind Concerns Ontario website, or here in its entirety:

Ontario economy adrift

By: Livio Di Matteo

Ontario economy adrift

Those whose television memories stretch back to the 1960s may well remember the robot from Lost in Space who whenever faced with a threat to his unaware young charge would immediately intone “Danger, Will Robinson.” Ontario’s premier, who has been seemingly unaware of the impact of his energy and economic policies on the province’s economy, would do well to take heed from the danger signs provided by the recent update to provincial GDP numbers. The new numbers from Statistics Canada show that as a result of the recession, real gross domestic product in 2009 fell in every province except Manitoba. Moreover, the declines were steepest in Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario.Being in the company of so many poor performers will not be a suitable defence for Ontario’s economic record for two main reasons. First, while Ontario’s decline was smaller than Newfoundland, Alberta and Saskatchewan — those provinces can blame their drop primarily on the fall in natural resource commodity prices — namely oil. Ontario’s key natural resource sector — forestry — while hit hard over the last decade, is not as important a sector to Ontario as oil and gas is in these other provinces and their economies will see growth as oil and gas prices recover.Second, Ontario’s dismal performance is on top of a decade of dismal performance when it comes to per capita output growth. Ontario has become a laggard in per capita GDP, which was highlighted when it entered the ranks of the “have-not” provinces and began to collect equalization. A survey of statistics for the last two decades show that Ontario’s share of total provincial GDP has declined from 42 per cent in 1990 to 37 per cent in 2010. More ominous, the bulk of that decline has occurred since 2000 — largely coinciding with Dalton McGuinty’s decade of political power. Whereas in 1990, productive Ontario’s share of national output exceeded its population share, we now are witnessing the sorry spectacle of the reverse.When Ontario’s economic productivity performance is examined in terms of real per capita GDP, it emerges that Ontario’s output has stagnated for an entire decade. Between 2000 and 2010, real per capita GDP in Ontario actually declined by eight per cent. While one may wish to ascribe this to the impact of the recession and the global financial crisis since 2008, the fact remains that Ontario’s performance was the worst of all 10 provinces. Indeed, over the first decade of the 21st century, eight out of 10 provinces experienced an increase in their real per capita output while only Ontario and New Brunswick saw declines. Even Quebec, which has been the historical poor economic sibling to Ontario, saw its real per capita GDP grow six per cent during the decade. Since 2000, Ontario’s real per capita has gone from being 25 per cent above the provincial average to barely at the provincial average. From having the second highest real per capita GDP in the country (second only to oil rich Alberta) it is now the fourth highest. It is no wonder that Ontario is now receiving equalization payments.Ontario’s economy appears to be adrift in economic space with its government oblivious to the real state of its economy and seemingly unable to get a grip on economic and fiscal policy. While global economic circumstances have played a part in Ontario’s predicament, Ontario’s regulatory and interventionist government policy culture has not helped much. Witness the initiatives of recent years: the messianic closing of cost-effective coal plants and implementing higher cost wind and solar energy initiatives in the name of the environment, raising minimum wages, implementing and then rescinding eco-taxes, timing the arrival of the HST with a recession, sequestering large land areas of the province’s north from economic development.In the midst of all the economic carnage, the Ontario government is presiding over a massive hike in electricity costs — an energy source that used to be the foundation of Ontario’s economic advantage. Add to this the fiscal deficit and a net debt that is expected to reach $240 billion by 2011, and one has an economy that is on the verge of being unable to deliver the standard of living that its citizens have come to expect. That Ontario’s future economic welfare is in a clear and present danger is a sad understatement.Livio Di Matteo is professor of economics at Lakehead University. 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2010 A13

November 3, 2010

Chernushenko on community politics: he’s got it right

Newly elected councillor for Capital ward in Ottawa wrote an opinion piece for the Ottawa Citizen, which appeared November 2. We support his idea of community consultation and input whenever large projects are concerned, and we really like his idea of not NIMBY, but, Yes In My Backyard or YIMBY.

Of course, the Green Energy Act has removed any possibility for discourse where “renewable” energy projects are involved, and it went so far as to supercede 21 pieces of democratically created legislation (such as The Heritage Act, the Planning Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Conservation Land Act), and also to remove all local land use planning powers from every municipality in Ontario.

Democracy? Not in Ontario.

Here’s what Mr Chernushenko wrote.

From NIMBY to YIMBY: Embracing community-driven politics in Ottawa

By David Chernushenko, Citizen Special November 2, 2010

NIMBY. Not In My Backyard. It’s a potent label, convenient for dismissing local residents’ concerns and marginalizing people who want what’s best for their communities. But it’s a label that Ottawa’s new city council would do well to avoid tossing around if we want to create a less divisive, more productive way of operating for the good of the city as a whole.

Over and over in municipal politics, opponents to new projects are portrayed as obstructionists who hate change and certainly don’t want any in their neighbourhood. They form annoying groups with names like Friends of the Pond, or Citizens for the Way It’s Always Been. They raise “concerns,” object to “the process,” cite studies, and even propose alternatives. But all this takes time and slows progress. Decisions need to be made, and quickly, because time is money and we don’t want to miss this opportunity. So stop complaining, you NIMBYs, and let’s get on with it!

This cynical, divisive approach is useful for forcing through changes. But playing the NIMBY card is ultimately counterproductive, because it escalates disputes and entrenches a lack of trust. It contributes to polarized politics and a rancorous, dysfunctional civic atmosphere. Just look at the anger surrounding the Lansdowne Park development.

If we, instead, encourage and respect neighbourhood involvement in the ongoing evolution of communities, we might be pleasantly surprised by a very different, positive reaction: YIMBY, or Yes In My Backyard.

To avoid fighting over what people don’t want in their back yards, I suggest we start finding out what they do want in their backyards.

Residents’ concerns are typically based on personal knowledge and legitimate worries. They know their neighbourhood better than anyone, and they have a vested interest in keeping their community vibrant. They intend to stay there. It does nobody justice to dismiss them as mere NIMBYs.

Instead, we need to focus on the things we can agree on. We need to develop mechanisms for local residents to declare and constructively contribute to what they would like to see in their backyards, and move forward from there.

By defining what people want and need, and why, and by using this information throughout the planning process, we are more likely to get everyone on the same page and willing to endorse the final results. By reducing conflict, we can save time, effort and money.

Here are some specific suggestions to shift from NIMBY to YIMBY:

-Respect the City’s Official Plan. This document exists for a reason, and we can avoid conflict by actually applying its guiding principles.

-Encourage and apply community development plans (CDPs) and neighbourhood plans to flesh out the official plan in ways that respect unique community characteristics, as determined by the residents.

-Give planners and developers advance information so they can understand what’s important to the community. For example, create a map-based tool that lets individuals and community groups identify favourite features and places, and share their insight into transportation issues, business and social dynamics, cultural and ecological attributes and other local factors.

-Seek creative input on land-use options for neighbourhoods and specific properties. Create an open-source registry of unique ideas, and provide copyright-type protection for sufficiently detailed proposals.

-Require a public meeting before site plan applications are submitted. This will help move us away from after-the-fact “public consultations” that devolve into shouting matches and only reinforce NIMBY attitudes.

-Hold smaller meetings between councillors, developers, community associations, concerned residents and local experts who have both a stake and a credible reputation to help bring sides together.

-Develop community councils empowered to make decisions on local issues, for example minor zoning variances. This decentralization would free the committee of adjustment and council to focus on issues of larger relevance.

One advantage of this YIMBY approach is its versatility. These principles can be applied to large-scale developments like Lansdowne Park, the Soeurs de la Visitation site in Westboro, or the Oblate lands in Old Ottawa East. They apply equally well to transit and transportation, landfills, small-scale urban in-fill developments, women’s shelters and halfway houses, wind turbines, or energy-from-waste projects.

It’s time to move away from endless and divisive debate over what should not happen, and to start exploring what should happen. It won’t come easily. We have generations of habits to shift. But we can get there, especially if we drop that nasty NIMBY label.

David Chernushenko was elected to Ottawa city council on Oct. 25 representing Capital ward.

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