March 8, 2011

Wolfe Island: not a turbine paradise

Recently, the corporate wind development lobby paid for an ad in Farmers’ Forum in which it was claimed by a restaurant owner on Wolfe Island, that life was great, profits were flowing, and tourists were flocking to Wolfe Island to see the turbines. The truth, of course, was that the restaurant mentioned is in fact closed and for sale, as is the hotel on the island, and two bed-and-breakfast establishments.

Nor, Farmers’ Forum has done a survey of Wolfe Island residents. We’re not entirely happy with the methodology and in fact the authors recognize and document their limitations, but the results are enough to show that Wolfe Island is no paradise of happiness with the 86 industrial wind turbines that now inhabit the island, near Kingston. Note especially the concerns about property values, and the 11 percent of people who say their health has been affected by the turbines.

It would have been better to survey people who spend ALL DAY and all night on the island, but…next time?

The story is here. Thank you, Farmers’ Forum.

February 22, 2011

Backlash:the industry mobilizes against community groups, citizens

We predicted this, and now it’s happening: the wind business is mobilizing its troops to fight against community groups throughout Ontario, who are protesting the industrialization of their communities, and who are concerned about the environmental impact of putting industrial wind turbines in our lakes.

Today, a representative of Trillium Power was on CFRA, claiming that Wind Concerns Ontario and other groups are funded by the fossil-fuel industry. He said, They can’t be getting by on $5 and $10 donations, they have “sophisticated communication strategies.”

Well, thanks for the compliments but we know from our own work here that we DO survive on the donations, no matter how big, from members of the community, and we certainly have never even heard from any corporate sponsors. Why? Because nobody thinks building huge industrial structures that DO make noise and produce vibration so close to homes, farms and our school is the right thing to do.

And also today, in The Ottawa Citizen, Picton-area community activist Don Chisholm graces Ottawa with his words of wisdom in a letter to the Editor. 

Green means wind

By Don Chisholm, Ottawa Citizen February 22, 2011 8:02 AM

Ontario’s Green Energy Act showed visionary leadership in the struggle to end society’s dependency on fossil fuels. The act has been enormously successful at creating jobs and investment in Ontario. But human nature threatens its viability.

The past century of fossil-fuel driven growth was a one-time historical anomaly. But after growth comes the down slope. Cheap energy made jobs plentiful. Many retired baby boomers with fat savings look forward to a comfortable retirement, ignoring the problem.

Advanced smart hydro grids and distributed energy generation are essential cornerstones for our next generation’s energy supply. Distributed sources mean energy must be collected from natural flows in many backyards. But boomers are sometimes NIMBYs. Many otherwise responsible citizens have voted to prevent wind energy development in our rural farming communities, or even in our lakes. Extensive wind energy is essentially to future energy supply. Many civilizations in the past have grown rapidly and then collapsed because shortterm comfort too often trumps long-term need.

Don Chisholm,

Picton, Ont.

Mr Chisholm is with a citizens’ group himself, the County Sustainability Group or CSG, which is fighting all kinds of development in Prince Edward County but somehow—we don’t understand this at all—they seem to feel industrial scale wind development is OK.
Sorry Mr Chisholm, but all your insults about NIMBYism aside, the fact is this:
-wind doesn’t work
-it has no place being sited next to homes
-wind will never replace fossil fuel or nuclear as a fuel source, it is too inefficient and unreliable

It’s only Tuesday: more industry plants will be surfacing soon.

December 7, 2010

Dalton McGuinty and the book of spin

Dalton McGuinty’s spinmeisters have wangled an opinion piece authored by him in today’s Toronto Star. Not to put too fine a point on it, the article is replete with manipulative statements that are not entirely based on fact.

Here is the piece, and our commentary follows.

Dalton McGuinty Premier of Ontario

In 2003, Ontario’s electricity system was dangerously close to

How did this happen?

Very simply, for years supply was going down while demand for
electricity kept going up. During the previous eight years, as old
equipment was shut down, Ontario lost 1,800 megawatts in generation.
That’s the equivalent of Niagara Falls running dry.

Also troubling, we doubled our use of coal to generate our
electricity. That meant polluting our air and harming our health every
time we turned on the lights. Back then, there was no plan for
conservation. And we had become net importers of electricity — relying
on even more dirty coal from the United States.

Whose fault was it?

There’s lots of blame to go around. Governments of every political
stripe knew the system was deteriorating and did nothing. By 2003,
brownouts were a constant threat. The previous government’s plan was
to use emergency diesel generators — again, a stopgap, dirty air

The uncertainty of supply, and the absence of a long-term plan to
rebuild, made our businesses nervous. International investors were
also raising concerns.

That’s why our government acted. We developed a plan to build a
modern, clean, reliable electricity system that creates jobs and
powers a stronger economy. And, today, our electricity system is

Already, we’ve built enough new, cleaner generation to power 2 million
Ontario homes. About a fifth of that comes from renewable sources like
wind and solar. Today, 5,000 kilometres of transmission and
distribution lines have been upgraded. And today, conservation
programs are back and saving families money.

Together, we’re on track to close Ontario’s dirty coal plants. We’ve
shut down eight units so far and two more will close in 2011. By 2014,
coal will be completely eliminated in Ontario. That’s like taking 7
million cars off the road — or almost every car in Ontario.

We’re doing this because coal pollution is responsible for $3 billion
in annual health-care costs, hospitalizations and respiratory
illnesses, especially in our children. We’re avoiding those costs and
protecting the health of Ontarians.

Our plan has led to a new, clean-energy industry that is creating
thousands of jobs for Ontario families. Those are good jobs — making
the wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass energy that Ontario needs.
And they are high-tech manufacturing jobs — building solar panels,
wind turbines and other components for sale here at home and to the
United States and around the world, where the demand for green energy
keeps growing.

Today, Ontario is Canada’s leader in wind power with more than 700
turbines supplying enough electricity to power 350,000 homes. The
Sarnia Solar Project, one of four solar farms in Ontario, is the
largest operating solar farm in the world, creating 800 jobs during

In partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation, we’ve also begun the
Lower Mattagami project, the largest northern hydro project in 40
years. It will mean jobs for 800 people during its construction. And
many more clean energy manufacturing plants are opening in communities
like Toronto, Guelph, Windsor, Hamilton and Peterborough.

We’re also partnering with thousands of farmers, like John Sauve in
Essex County. He grows corn, soybeans and wheat. And he recently
installed a ground-mounted 10-kilowatt solar generator.

John is one of many thousands of farmers with solar panels or wind
turbines in their fields. Our plan is providing these Ontario farmers
with a new source of income, and they are providing Ontario with good
food and clean energy. It’s a win-win.

Thanks to the hard work of skilled Ontarians, we became Number 1 in
North America for building cars. Now, our goal is to become a
powerhouse in clean energy technologies, too.

We know investing in this new plan isn’t cheap. Over the next 20
years, we will rebuild 70 per cent of our electricity system.

Our new system will give us reliable, clean power and thousands of
jobs in an exciting new industry. And anyone who pretends they can do
this without prices going up isn’t being honest with Ontarians.

On average, electricity prices for families and small businesses will
go up 3.5 per cent a year during the next 20 years. For comparison,
they went up 3.6 per cent a year during the past 20 years.

To help Ontarians manage these increases, we are proposing a Clean
Energy Benefit which would take 10 per cent off electricity bills
every month for families, farmers and small businesses.

Our energy plan is about more than the peace of mind that comes from
knowing the lights will come on. It’s about a strong economy where
businesses have the confidence to invest and create jobs for our
families. And it’s about clean air for our children and grandchildren
to breathe.

We can all take confidence in the fact that, together, we’re doing the
right thing for right now — and for a stronger future.


First of all, closing down all of Ontario’s coal plants is NOT the “equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.” Only actually taking seven million cars off the road is the equivalent of taking seven million—you get the idea. The pollution that comes from cars is different. Yes, something has to be done about the pollution from vehicle exhaust, especially in the Toronto area and the Highway 401, but closing coal plants entirely isn’t it.

And here we go with the deaths again, especially dying children: “$3 billion in health care costs from respiratory illness”? This is not true at all. Ontario had a plan to clean up its coal-fired generating plants, which this government halted. Again, the type of air pollution that Ontario has currently comes from south of the border and from cars/trucks. (See Finkelstein, Jerrett and Sears, 2004, North American Journal of Epidemiology: “Subjects living close to a major road had an increased risk of mortality.”)

The Ontario government’s own report on air quality specifically says, “Overall, air quality in Ontario has improved significantly over the past 37 years, especially for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide. However, ozone and fine particulate matter both major components of smog, continue to exceed the ambient air quality criteria and thus remain the pollutants of most concern … analysis of smog and weather data strongly indicates that the U.S. Midwest and Ohio Valley region of the U.S. continue to be significant contributors…” (Air Quality in Ontario, annual report 2007, page 19.)

At least he was honest about pairing the auto industry and the building of solar/turbine components: that’s his answer to the people of Hamilton, Windsor and Oakville…we’ll get those jobs back, people, and your children will stop dying of asthma, too.

In the meantime, rural Ontario is being changed forever through the industrialization of its communities, people are being made ill by turbine noise and infrasound, scenic vistas ruined, property values decimated, birds killed—all for wind power which is intermittent, unreliable and expensive. And doesn’t do–in fact, cannot EVER do—what it is intended to do, replace fossil-fueled power generation. What Mr McGuinty failed to mention is that wind power generation requires fossil-fuel backup because it is intermittent.

It’s time for the truth about wind. Mr McGuinty didn’t give it to you.

September 18, 2010

“Are you frying your eggs at 4 am yet?”

Lawrence Solomon, executive director at Energy Probe asks that question and a few more in his column today in The Financial Post. Noting that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is under fire for the smart meter program (which is supposed to cost $2 billion but is more like $ 10 billion) which, critics say, makes no economic sense for consumers. We can’t win in other words.

“Mr McGuinty isn’t in this for the money–if he was, he wouldn’t be closing economical coal plants while sinking cash into money-losing nuclear plants and money-losing long-distance transmission lines to carry power from money-losing industrial wind farms. These and his other money-losing initiatives will causeOntario’s power prices to double or triple should he get his way.”

Unfortunately, as Mr Solomon points out, the technologies are going against Mr McGuinty’s grand plans: “…power from wind turbines can’t be dispatched to customers when customers need it–the wind has a mind of its own. To make matters worse, the wind tends to blow best overnight when it’s least needed [Ed.: and when the turbines’ involuntary neighbours are trying to SLEEP].”

So, what he’s doing instead is using time-related power rates to “punish people and businesses,” says Solomon. But the punishment isn’t enough. “Too few people are frying their eggs before 7 a.m.–the time at which the punishment starts–and too many are cooking their dinners at 7 pm, smack dab during peak punishment period.”

Remember what ENRON stands for: Electricity Nightmare Ripoff Ontario Next.

Not added into this scenario at all is what the cost of declining property values will mean for communities throughout Ontario.

See the entire article here.

September 9, 2010

So much more to learn

Those of us who have been reading and listening and learning about the state of power supply in Ontario and specifically the role of large-scale, industrial wind power generation, know there is much to learn. And it is truly amazing how little so many people understand.

The mythology: wind power is “clean” “green” and good; it will bring jobs, and free power, and people love the look of the “wind mills” as they sit and turn peacefully in the wind “farms” or “parks.”

As other commentators posted here have said, the truth is quite different. Ontario’s rush to wind can most charitably be attributed to the McGuinty government’s belief that wind power generation will bring jobs to the province, especially in the wake of the collapse of the auto industry, which for years was the foundation of Ontario’s prosperity.

If you wish to be uncharitable, you could say that the McGuinty government has to live up to an election promise to shut down coal plants, regardless of the fact that Ontario’s air pollution is caused by industry south of the border and its citizens’ own cars and trucks.

The truth is: if the wind business does produce any jobs they will be so few and far between that they will each be the result of hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies. If Ontario goes the way of Spain, Germany and Denmark, there will be NO net increase in jobs.

The other truth is, and people looking at their electricity bills are just beginning to see this, trying to substitute wind and solar for coal, natural gas and nuclear is enormously expensive.

Anyway, Lowell Green on his radio show on CFRA today revealed another chink in the public’s awareness. Mr Green is no supporter of wind because it is is expensive and unreliable (he doesn’t know how underperforming it is, at less than 25% capacity), but he learned today from PC Leader Tim Hudak that communities have had their planning powers completely stripped where renewable energy projects are concerned, by the Green Energy Act. It was a complete surprise that communities are completely unable to protect their own citizens against developments that will change their landscape forever, bring noisy polluting machines (sound is a form of pollution) into areas where people live, and which themselves have a negative impact on the environment.

Mayoral candidate Jim Watson told the people of North Gower a few weeks ago that the Green Energy Act was necessary because “otherwise, we would have a patchwork of rules and regulations.”

Ah. So we must all blend together in Ontario and accept.

Another truth: countries where there was success with wind turbine developments were those in which communities got to say where the machines went. That’s not true here.

July 15, 2010

The cost of Ontario’s high electricity prices

Yesterday’s Financial Post carried several letters on the topic of power generation in Ontario, including a self-serving letter from Energy Minister Brad Duguid who was scrambling to explain the shift in price from 80 cents per kW to 58.8 cents, for power generated from solar. He repeats his mantra of Ontario moving from “dirty coal generation to clean energy renewables like wind turbines and solar panels.”  Still selling the dream to urban residents, who don’t get it: wind doesn’t work.

Anyway, one letter writer has some sense: Simon Schotsman of Mount Hope writes:

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s new Energy Plan extends 20-year contracts to “Green Energy Suppliers.” Long before the 20 years are over, manufacturers–and their workforces–will have left Ontario to affordable electricity locations. That is going to hurt us all. Therefore, municipalities that have and operate their own electrical infrastructures have an option to prevent this from happening.

The solution is very simple: Build your own power plants, singly or jointly with other municipalities. Do not copy Ontario’s example. Build flexible, reliable, 24/7 plants, able to operate as a basic as well as supply-on-demand electrical power.

When I write “reliable,” that excludes solar and wind. It can be done with “clean” coal, gas, biomass, conveting waste into fuel–a double saving– and by means of hyrdoelectric power, a source that is most economical in running and environmentally friendly.

If your rate structure is in the 5 cents to 7 cents per kWh, you are running a profitable operation and since you are no longer supplied by the grid, you have also eliminated the grid’s delivery charges, plus, on a much lower electricity rate, the HST charges will also be lower for your consumers.

A win-win situation.

So crazy simple it might work. Oh wait, in fact, it DID WORK for many years. Municipalities in Ontario, especially rural communities, have to turn back the clock and start taking care of themselves…the current Ontario government sees you as a resource plantation (thanks, Thomas Pawlick).

To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group, email

May 14, 2010

The rural revolt

From today’s Toronto Sun:

Wind revolt won’t die

Rural opposition to massive turbine farms in the countryside won’t blow over


Last Updated: May 14, 2010 12:00am

Employees of the wind industry and Ontario Liberal politicians are scratching their heads. Why the fuss about wind turbines?

Some of them still think the furor will blow over. It’s just the griping of a few malcontents and health quacks — people who wear tinfoil helmets in their living rooms to ward off spy beams. The march of progress can’t be stopped. The Green Energy Act is law, turbines are coming to the countryside and that’s it.

Here’s a tip, from the hinterland. This is incorrect. The furor is building, not waning. Premier Dalton McGuinty was already a long shot for a third term. With wind in the mix and barring a radical re-do of the Green Energy Act, he is positioned to lose every rural and small-town seat.

People who live in the country do so by choice. Some stay because we wish to raise our children close to family. Others leave to pursue a career and then eventually come home. And others still, mainly boomers, retire to a small town or a farm because they’re tired of city life.

People who live in small towns or on farms are connected to the countryside in a way that most city people are not. We hunt, fish, cycle, hike, walk or drive through it all the time. Many residents of small towns are linked through family to a farm or plot of land.

For 30 years now, people who live on or near the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Preserve, have lived within the strictures of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. This appointed body tells rural people what they can or cannot build on their property.

There are many rules. They do not account for family circumstances or in many cases for common sense. For example, the NEC won’t permit a landowner to build a second home on a 100-acre plot of land to house an ailing parent. Yet it does permit the Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwood, Ont.

Despite these seeming contradictions, farmers and landowners have grudgingly learned to live with the NEC. But now along comes Big Wind, propelled by the vision of former Ontario deputy premier George Smitherman.

The vision is one in which the Ontario landscape, including land directly proximate to the Escarpment, is festooned with massive industrial turbines. Suddenly, preserving our agricultural and geographic heritage is less important. Indeed, such values don’t even seem to figure in the debate. Nor has there yet been a serious effort to expand nuclear — still the only way to produce huge quantities of energy without emitting carbon.

An irony about current-day Ontario: We have a government that says it is deeply committed to environmental protection. If a rare species of dung beetle is unearthed in a marsh, chances are no building will be allowed there. But disrupting the ecosystem of thousands of rural people? Not a problem. Disrupt away.

There was a good way to bring in wind energy.

The good way would have respected the wishes of communities that chose not to allow industrial-scale projects. It would have induced industry to offer small, farm-sized wind turbines at a reasonable price. It would have made it much easier for people to use wind (or solar) to satisfy their own energy needs, and sell any excess back to the grid. It would have been a local-first movement.

Instead McGuinty chose big industry, backed by big government. In doing so he trampled on the most important political idea to hit rural Canada in modern times: Greater local control of the food supply and stewardship of the land.

No, this revolt will not go away.

February 8, 2010

People are asking: What can I do about wind turbines?

It’s amazing to us that, here in North Gower, Ontario, there are still people who are unaware of the proposed industrial turbine development for farmland that is very close to homes and other farms in the village, and to homes in part of Richmond. But there are people who haven’t paid attention or who thought the turbines would be all on one farm, and affecting very few, if any, “involuntary neighbours.”

Not so: if you consider that new setback regulations in Europe are for 2 km between turbine installations and homes (in Germany [Saarland] in fact it is 2 km from the boundary of a residential zone), and the fact that the Mars Hill,NY health study (not yet released) indicates in its preliminary results that 82% of people within 1.5 km of the industrial wind turbines are experiencing health effects, there are a lot of people in North Gower and Richmond who should be concerned.

So now, more people are asking what they can do.

First, join your local wind action group, wherever you are. (In North Gower, contact them at )

Sign a petition asking for a moratorium on these developments until third-party, objective health studies are done—health studies that involve interviews and examinations of real people, not literature reviews.

Read more on the issue. In Ontario, go to 


DONATE to the efforts: legal fees, mailings, advertising, sign purchase etc all costs money, currently being borne by volunteers.

CONTACT your City Councillor and your MPP. Don’t accept the “it’s out of our hands” response. True, the Green Energy Act essentially removed the ability of municipalities to plan their own communities and protect their citizens (how they let that happen is a mystery, but probably due to the green brainwashing that took place), but that doesn’t mean it’s right. If every affected municipality rose up and protested, something would have to be done.

Get lawn/window signs, talk to your neighbours, and above all learn as much as you can about this issue. When you start reading about it, you’ll learn that all is not what it seems. This is not about the environment, it’s about money and votes.

January 15, 2010

Tom van Dusen’s angels

There’s something in his well water or maybe his propane tanks are leaking, but Tom van Dusen, gypsy journalist who works for The Ottawa Sun but also freelances for Ontario Farmer and Eastern Ontario AgriNews is still holding up that egregious industry-sponsored paper as proof that there are no health effects from industrial wind turbines.

Mr van Dusen says: 

The main complaint from the dissenters is that the turbines cause stressful and even hazardous noise pollution. We prefer to see it as a soothing hum akin to the voices of angels.

A recent study – yes, it was industry-generated – found absolutely no scientific evidence of negative auditory side effects created by industrial turbines. Not content, opponents are demanding that a government-funded study revisit all of the same ground. Let’s lay this to rest in 2010. The fact is that there is no proven downside to windmills!

A “soothing hum”. Let’s remember that Mr van Dusen visited one wind turbine installation once, and who knows what kind of day it was.

Contrast that with what the new organization, The Society for Wind Vigilance says about the industry-funded document (which is NOT a health study). (Vist them at

It is apparent from this analysis that the A/CanWEA Panel Review is neither authoritative nor convincing. The work is characterized by commission of unsupportable statements and the confirmation bias in the use of references. Many important references have been omitted and not considered in the discussion. Furthermore the authors have taken the position that the World Health Organization standards regarding community noise are irrelevant to their deliberation – a remarkable presumption.

There is no medical doubt that audible noise such as emitted by modern upwind industrial wind turbines sited close to human residences causes significant adverse health effects. These effects are mediated through sleep disturbance, physiological stress and psychological distress. This is settled medical science.

There are many peer-reviewed studies showing that infra and low frequency sound can cause adverse health effects, especially when dynamically modulated. Modern upwind industrial scale turbines of the types now being located in rural areas of North America require study. The extent to which infra and low frequency noise from wind turbines inside or outside homes causes direct adverse effects upon the human body remains an open question – there is no settled medical science on this issue as of yet.

Perhaps the most egregious conclusion is that no more research is required. That statement implies that the science is settled which quite simply is false. It also demonstrates a disdain for the scientific method itself.

There is but one conclusion: independent third party studies must be undertaken to establish the incidence and prevalence of adverse health effects relating to wind


turbines. Beyond that a deeper understanding of the potential mechanisms for the impacts must be elucidated in order to define the mechanisms by which the sleep disturbance, stress and psychological distress occur.

In contrast to the statement of the A/CanWEA Panel Review, our view is that a great deal of research is required for the protection of people’s health.

January 12, 2010

More on the noise and vibration from wind turbines

We have been advised that it is utterly useless to point people to YouTube and other videos with sound recordings of industrial wind turbines because no sound recording can accurately replicate the experience of being within meters of a turbine.

In our own experience, it is not the swoosh-swoosh that you hear, it is the kind of movement of the air or vibration that makes the difference. The turbines can produce the soft swishing noise or, as some have said visiting Melancthon, Amaranth or New York State, they can sound like running shoes in a dryer.

Here again, technology is improving but siting turbines is an absolutel priority. Putting them near homes and families is just asking for problems. So don’t.

Here is an interesting graphic from a U.S. newspaper that attempts to review some of the issues.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at