Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ontario Farmer covers FoWO meeting in Chatham

Ontario Farmer
September 13, 2011
Jeff Carter

Society should turn to wind and other renewables to affordably meet more of its electricity needs, the head of a company looking to erect turbines on the Great Lakes says.

"Anyone who opposes renewables is on the wrong side of history... We will be the losers here by not developing the industry," John Kourtoff, president and CEO of Trillium PowerWind Corporation, says.
"Many of the anti- wind people are really professional lobbyists who want to maintain the status quo."

Kourtoff, a Toronto-based businessman, spoke in Chatham on August 18 at a meeting sponsored by Friends of WindOntario. Also featured were Rudy Zubler who has a windturbine on his farm near Ridgetown, Dr. David Colby who is cited as an expert in the field of turbine health-related issues and Jutta Splettstoesser, Friends of Wind president and Kincardine-area farmer.

Kourtoff says the energy status quo doesn't make sense from a costing standpoint. In the case of coal and nuclear, for instance, the full cost of the electricity generated isn't accounted for.
Coal and nuclear electricity generators currently get their water for free, Kourtoff says. If they were to pay the Toronto industrial rate, it would add another 10 cents per kilowatt hour for the power generated.
Three quarters of the water used in Ontario is used to make steam to turn turbines, he says. That competes with farm requirements and other uses.

Kourtoff says another unaccounted cost is the health-related implications of burning coal.
The study, written by health researchers from across the US and published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, shows that if health impacts were to be included in the price of burning coal, electricity pricing would rise anywhere from nine cents to almost 27 cents per kilowatt hour.

With nuclear, the picture may even be bleaker.
Hidden costs such as unpaid debt should be considered along with the cost of the water used and the amount of money it would take fix the kind of disasters that occurred at Chernobyl and the Fukashina reactors in Japan.
Citing the California Environmental Commission and the German Insurance Institute reports, Kourtoff says the true cost of electricity derived from nuclear plants is close to $3 per kilowatt hourr.
Insurance aside, according to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Ontario taxpayers and electricity users have paid more than $19 billion for Ontario's stranded nuclear debt -more than the original investment -and still have more than $14 billion to pay.
In comparison to nuclear and coal, Kourtoff says the rates paid for wind electricity cover the full cost of generation and there's enough incentive to move the industry forward. In Ontario, that's 13.5 cents per kilowatt for onshore generation and 19.5 for offshore.
Kourtoff also talked about the opponents of windenergy.

While he admits many have no direct connection to the energy industry, he feels loud voices should not dictate what happens in Ontario.
"Those that complain pick up anything in the barnyard and throw it at the barn and see what sticks," Kourtoff says
"The truth is that the public... 83 per cent... backs the government's renewable energy plans."
Colby agrees.

The Acting Medical Officer of Health in Chatham-Kent says his involvement about turbine health concerns began when he was asked by the municipality's council to gather information. Since then, he's become known as an expert in the area.
Colby says those critical of turbines often cite the 2009 book WindTurbine Syndrome written by pediatrician Dr. Nina.
It talks about the experience of 10 families but Colby says Pierport's assessment relies upon "uncontrolled, unverified accounts of non-specific symptoms." These involved no physical examinations or blind testing and did not follow accepted scientific methodology, he says.

Colby doesn't question the symptoms of people who link them to windturbines but feels they may often be linked to what's referred to as the Nocebo Effect -a negative health impact linked to a person's pessimistic beliefs and expectations.
"Our mind is a very powerful thing and sometimes it works against us . . . People who have already concluded that windturbines are bad for them cannot be dissuaded," Colby says.
"No one is saying these people are not ill. But the question is, what's making them ill . . . There is no such thing as windturbine syndrome."
Colby feels people should be more concerned about air pollution, including the pollution from coal-fired generation facilities.
According to the Canadian Medical Association, more than 20,000 Canadian die from the effects of air pollution, including several hundred as a result of acute short term exposure. Hundreds of thousands are made ill and it's estimated the annual cost is approaching $10 billion.

In comparison, Colby says there are now at least 10 "comprehensive reviews" from reputable groups that conclude there are no direct health impacts from turbines -barring the few turbines where the noise exceeds regulated levels.
Likewise, in a July 18 decision in Chatham, the Ministry of Environment's Environmental Review Tribunal concluded there are no direct health impacts demonstrated. The tribunal heard a case concerning eight windturbines currently operating near Thamesville in Chatham-Kent.
In the area of indirect health effects, it concluded there was insufficient evidence and noted that the science is evolving and that future studies may reveal more on the matter.
Zubler, a dairy farmer, also weighed in on health concerns issue.

"I've got a turbine in my backyard. I'm living with the monster and I'm also being paid by the monster... It does make noise and I wouldn't want to downplay it. It's not as silent as it used to be out here but that's a price I'm willing to pay."
So far, Zubler hasn't noticed any ill effects for himself, his family or animals. He's never heard the turbine inside his home and the noise in his barn is generally masked by the sounds his cattle make.
Over time, Zubler feels he'll no longer notice the noise, much like he doesn't notice the noise of traffic from Highway 401 -a ten-minute drive away.
Splettstoesser says her family has signed a lease agreement in the event sufficient grid access is built to accommodate a turbine on their farm.
She urges rural Ontarian's to keep an open mind and consider the positive implications of windenergy.

"We are all visitors to this earth and we should act like it... windenergy is safe, clean and cheap... set aside emotions and listen to all sides."
Splettstoesser says Friends of Winds does receive a small amount of funding from industry to operate its website and this year there was $4,000 budgeted for to sponsor information meetings.
Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a coalition representing regional citizen groups, provides another perspective on turbines.
On the health question, a recent review discounts the "comprehensive reviews" cited by Colby and calls for research to establish "science-based" regulations to protect human health.

For more about Friends of Wind, visit www.friendsofwind.ca.


Ontario Farmer - Sep 20, 2011, Page:B9

There was an error in the story 'Wind advocates say it's is better than other alternatives' in the Sept. 21 edition.

Friends of Wind Ontario does not receive industry monetary support. The Canadian Wind Energy Association does support the Friends of Wind web site. The $4,000 used to support information meetings was donated by four members of Friends of Wind Ontario.

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