Tuesday, 31 January 2012

What's next -opposition to barns?

Ontario Farmer - 
January 31, 2012, Page:A8
Wayne Hopper

Dear editor:
I am in quite a conundrum. I have just received my GFO renewal for $220.35. I usually support the OFA but if they are going to take a stand against windmills I will have to re-think this. Is the next thing they are going to take a stand against pig barns and dairy barns? It still seems to me that the people against windmills are suffering from "no chequeitis". Did the people against windmills ancestors try to stop the big hydro transmission lines? I am not for or against windmills. I am for freedom and am not opposed to change.
Wayne Hopper, Brussels

A complaint about OFA's wind stand

Ontario Farmer
January 31, 2012, Page:A8
Dick Netherway

Dear editor:
I wish to lodge a serious complaint against OFA president Mark Wales who is quoted in the press as opposing windturbines. He is clearly not well-informed on this issue and had absolutely no right to make public statements without first canvassing the membership. I am a longstanding OFA member (2933067) and an advocate for green energy policy including windturbines and I am incensed by what amounts to a serious blunder on the part of President Mark Wales. 
Dick Netherway, St. Catharines

Reader "shocked and disappointed" over OFA stance against turbines

The Kincardine News
January 31, 2012, Page:7
Dennis Threndyle
Dear Editor,

I am shocked and disappointed by the OFA stance against windturbine development on farm land in the province.

Several years ago the farmers and landowners along the Bruce to Milton electrical corridor asked the OFA to undertake action to study the impact of these power lines on farm land values.
We were not against the new corridor but our land was being expropriated so that Bruce Power could get electricity to the market. We simply wanted fair value for hosting one of the world's largest electrical corridors and a fair study as to the economic impact of this new line on our existing land.
The OFA sat on its hands and did nothing, except to tell us what we already knew to hire a lawyer. The only person who offered any help was the lady who runs the Hanover office of the OFA.
Why is the OFA suddenly so concerned about windturbines? Their comments about electrical costs make no sense when they did absolutely nothing about the 180km power line with over 400 towers that cost taxpayers over $700 million.
Everyone wants to point a finger at somebody else, but as long as we all use electricity, we are going to have to figure out how to generate cleaner electricity. Farmers know best the impact of hot weather and low rainfall when we see crops fail and a lack of snow cover dry out the land.
Coal generation has to go because our climate is changing. Hydro electric dams create huge watershed issues including the flooding of farmlands. Nuclear powered electricity reduces carbon emissions but now we have to find a storage place for all that spent fuel and that will cost a lot of money
In an idyllic make believe world, the electricity that runs our homes, businesses and lights would happen without any impact to the air, land or water. We don't live in that world.
We all live on the same planet and to do nothing about global warming or acid rain is just pushing a problem to our children and their children. I propose that we hold a moratorium on windturbine talk for five years and then revisit and measure the economic and environmental benefits.
Why five years?
Well that was about the same amount of time that it took for my parents generation to fight WWII -imagine the world we would live in if that generation had decided that saving the free world wasn't worth their time or sacrifice.
Dennis Threndyle Elmwood

Council's stance on wind project doesn't represent everybody

County Live.ca
January 26, 2012
by Nicole Kleinsteuber

This blog entry concerns Prince Edward County and the County Sustainability Group.  For original article click here.

Local wind supporters addressed council Tuesday night requesting they defeat a motion to submit a series of concerns to the Ministry of Environment and Gilead Power.

“We do not find it to be relevant to the original motion, reflective of sound science or representative of the greater good,” said John Thompson, past president of PEC Federation of Agriculture.

The motion states the municipality believes Ostrander Point is an inappropriate site for the proposed wind farm and should not be approved for a list of reasons. Concerns ranged from unresolved adequacy of the proposed setbacks of turbines from residents homes to infrastructure having negative impact on birds, wildlife and the environment.

Rob Williams, a member of the County Sustainability Group agreed with Thompson when he addressed council. The local group wants the community to adopt green initiatives, including windmills.

“Informing the ministry of the municipality’s belief is one thing,” said Williams. “Requesting that the belief that Ostrander Point is an unsuitable site must be addressed to the satisfaction of the County of Prince Edward is quite another. It blocks any opportunity for the ministry to grant approval.”

Williams said most of the reasons in the motion have not been critically evaluated by council or staff and are rife with subjective complaints.

“Exaggerated localized threats to humans and wildlife are given prominence yet the far greater threats from climate change, against which clean sources of renewable energy like wind are our primary defence, are completely ignored,” said Williams.

Williams said the concerns are a thinly disguised attempt to circumvent the approval process and impose a municipal veto on any approval decision by the ministry.

“It is a direct challenge to the ministry’s authority,” said Williams. “It will severely compromise the credibility of council as a reasonable partner and hence diminish council’s stature and influence in future ministry decisions.”

“I’m quite intrigued by the information that we received saying that this is a disguised attempt to circumvent the approval process and impose a municipal veto,” said councillor Robert Quaiff. “Absolutely, that was the complete intent. It was for this municipal council to take a line and draw it in the sand and all declare once and for all whether or not we support the industrial wind turbine location at Ostrander Point.”

Councillor Jamie Forrester wanted to know how councillor Quaiff came to the conclusion that the entire municipality is against the Ostrander Point location.

“I’m not quite sure how we can make that assumption one way or another,” said Forrester. “There hasn’t been any surveys with results backing up the statement.”

Councillor Bev Campbell agreed that the introductory paragraph should be rephrased.

“That paragraph doesn’t belong with matters to be addressed,” said Campbell. “We want Gilead and the province to provide us with mitigation measures to the items we’ve listed.”

Campbell said she wasn’t in favour of deleting the environmental concerns pertaining to the Important Bird Area, wildlife and endangered species. Campbell said the portion pertaining to negative human health impacts, reduced quality of life and noise emissions should be omitted from the list.
Councillor Brian Marisett said the sections about health studies should be left out.

“I don’t think it’s possible for a study to come out with conclusive proof that’s going to satisfy all of the residents regardless of what position they’re taking,” said Marisett. “I’ve heard this debate since 2002. Experts from this side and experts from that side on and on. Everyone is claiming that they’re the authority on the issue and I don’t think we’re ever going to get there.”

But councillor Terry Shortt disagreed, stating these are concerns from a portion of the community.

“They should be included,” said Shortt. “We have a divided community. Part of that community is in support of wind energy and part of the community is not.”

Council decided to amend the original motion to read the province and Gilead to provide mitigation measures for the following concerns.

“It’s some improvement,” said Thompson in an interview. “They’ve taken out the most offensive part. You can’t say the county doesn’t think that it’s an inappropriate site. It’s not possible to say it in all honesty. That information isn’t available.”

Thompson also requested council to bring in the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s decision to suspend new feed in tariff contracts for wind until their issues are resolved into the debate. Thompson said there are inconsistencies in last week’s press release that said the OFA wants to suspend all wind developments across the province.

The concerns the OFA wants addressed surround the price to be paid for wind power, the inefficiency of wind energy, setbacks and induced currents, health and nuisance issues and the removal of municipal input for projects.

OFA President Mark Wales agreed the call for a suspension should be clarified.

“A lot of people understand what we’re saying and for those who don’t we need to clarify that point,” said Wales in an interview. “The OFA isn’t against wind energy. It’s time to put a pause on the process, don’t issue any new projects until concerns are dealt with. The projects that are in the works are going to go ahead.”

Wales said these issues have to be resolved to ensure the success of all projects.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Truthiness isn't good enough

Enterprise Bulletin
Letter to the Editor
Robert Knox
January 24, 2012


Things were a little tense in the Knox household when my wife read Kevin Elwood’s letter published in Friday’s (January 20) Enterprise Bulletin. Kate wanted to leave immediately for St Lucia so we could start spending the money that Mr. Elwood says I am earning from wind turbines.
Unfortunately, I had to tell her that Mr. Elwood just made that up.
I have no financial interest in any wind project. Never have. Other than receiving some remuneration for work done on wind turbine development in the last 10 years, I haven’t received a dollar from wind turbines.
Too bad. Investing in new, clean, renewable energy and helping farmers use their land for this purpose is sensible and commendable. I just don’t have the financial resources to do it.
But I contribute in other ways such as writing letters - pro bono by the way - debunking what wind opponents say about wind turbines.
Wind opponents say lots of things that are inaccurate, not true or sound true but aren’t. In other words, they indulge in “truthiness”.
Most of what Mr. Elwood says in his letter is in this category.
Mr. Elwood says that two colleagues and I established Chinodin Wind Power in 2002 to do the initial development work for what eventually became Canadian Hydro Developers’ Melancthon/Amaranth project. This is true and we are proud of it.
We sold the Melancthon and the Plateau projects because we didn’t have the financial resources, experience, and expertise to complete large projects.
Mr. Elwood says wind projects are subsidized. They aren’t. They are financed through 20 year power purchase agreements. People pay for the power they consume.
Wind turbines aren’t a disaster. They produced 2.6% of Ontario’s electricity in 2011. Ontario’s Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) says that wind generators are playing an increasingly important role in meeting demand for electricity.
Wind turbines will provide 5% of Ontario’s electricity needs in the next few years. How and why would this create an “economic catastrophe” as Mr. Elwood says? This statement is beyond “truthy”. It is unbelievable.
As long as wind opponents keep saying things like this, I will keep correcting the record.
Mind you, the editor may decide that EB readers have had enough of this dialogue and cut us off.
Not a bad idea.

Robert Knox,

And here's the letter that kicked this off:


I have read the recent letter exchanges between Robert Knox and local residents raising their concerns over wind turbine developments proposed in their communities with interest. I began to wonder, why is Mr Knox so quick to refute any opposition to wind turbines? What's in it for him?
So, just as I did when I learned of wind turbines being proposed on land adjoining to mine, I did some research. Well it is very obvious why Mr Knox is pro wind turbine. Turns out he is the forefather of wind turbines in the province of Ontario.
Robert Knox was a principal in Chinodin Wind Power. This is the company that initially signed up landowners for the Shel­burne wind turbines now owned by Transalta. Chinodin sold the leases to Canadian Hydro Devel­opers in 2004 for profit. Mr Knox then went on to sign land owners and initiate the Maxwell Wind Farm under Chinodin's name. This project, too, was sold to IPC for money.
Anyone can quickly see why Mr Knox is quick to defend tur­bines.
This just once again proves what I have learned to be the sole interest of all persons par­ticipating in wind turbine devel­opments: making money and lots of it. Not protecting our environment or contributing to our economy they all go on about.
Everyone is now learning that this grossly over-subsidised industry is not sustainable or a reliable replacement for present power generation and then to top it all off it is very invasive to the communities it is developed in.
Ontario's Green Energy Act and wind turbines are a disaster without a disaster and leading us to an economic catastrophe in Ontario.
So Mr Knox... drop your attack on great people like Lorrie Gillis, the board of the Collingwood Regional Airport, and others who are standing up and pro­tecting the communities they live in and the economies they support.
It takes a healthy sustainable economy to support the protec­tion of the environment. We are spending our hard earned after tax dollars to do so with no hope of earning profit.
Looks to me like that's what's in turbines for you!
Commercial Pilot and Nursery
Clearview Township

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

CCO Calls for Moratorium on Car Sales

It doesn't get much better than this.

Car Concerns Ontario (CCO) today called for a moratorium on sale of new cars, citing their danger to the health of citizens.

According to CCO, cars result in the deaths of over 2000 Canadians per year in traffic fatalities, killing more Canadians than are killed by homicides. “The impact of the use of automobiles on the health of our population is simply unacceptable,” said William Bouche, spokesman for CCO. “In addition to deaths, there are thousands of injuries.”

The CCO web site lists other concerns. Collisions with birds are estimated at over 5 million per year in Ontario. The negative impact of automobile exhaust was cited as a major source of air pollution. The use of food growing land to build roads to is a major concern. The impact on insect populations, the base of the food chain birds and bats in particular was mentioned as an area that desperately needs more study. Vibrations caused by passing cars are suspected to harm earthworm populations.

A main objection to cars was the sound they make. “Cars driving by can wake people up,” said Bouche. “They make a sound that carries for miles, and they are louder than the refrigerator inside a home.” Sleep deprivation has been associated with poor health.

Car Vigilance Ontario (CVO), a splinter group, goes further. “We all know that a certain percentage of the population gets car sickness. This is because the human body was not made to travel faster than 25 miles per hour, the speed of a thoroughbred racehorse. The long term health impact of the travel in cars has not been studied adequately. The precautionary principal dictates that we ban cars until these impacts are known,” said Carmen Corbeau, spokesperson for CVO. “We need to think about the children.”

The Mayor of Sanguine Shores, Joe Bruce, agreed. “A substantial portion of municipal land is used for roads, yet cars pay no property tax at all. It is difficult to find funds to run a municipality when this subsidy for cars is funded entirely by towns and cities.”

Buzz Hargrove, former head of the Canadian Union of Auto Workers disagreed. “Cars have been in use on Ontario roads for over a century. And Ontario workers produce more cars than any other jurisdiction in North America. Someone has to speak for the workers, and the drivers. We can’t let government policy be beholden to the views of fringe groups.”

Tim Hudak, leader of the PC party blames cars on the government. “It is time to hold the McGuinty government accountable for cars, and the damage they cause. The subsidies have to stop. Ontarion’s can’t afford the cost to drive cars any more.”

Dalton McGuinty’s office issued this statement. “The car industry is the backbone of Ontario’s manufacturing sector, and creates thousands of jobs.”

Nobody addressed the issue of how people will get around without cars.

Ontario polls show support for wind

Our last post highlighted a peer-reviewed poll conducted by CSIRO in Australia that showed strong support by the silent majority in spite of active anti-wind activities by a few.

Two polls conducted in Ontario say the same thing.

The first, conducted by Ipsos Reid covered all of Ontario in the summer of 2010.  The key findings were:

Most Ontarians –in every region of the province –support the production of wind energy in their region of the province.

In fact, support for wind energy production remains high, even when the geographic location mentioned is “in your community”. Just three in ten say they wouldn’t want wind turbines in their community. 

While a minority of Ontarians are aware of wind energy developments in their area, a majority of those living in the southwest corner of the province claim to be aware of these developments. 

The main benefits of wind energy, unaided, are that it is cheap, good on the environment, clean and renewable.

The main drawbacks of wind energy, unaided, are that it is loud, ugly, needs wind and concerns over health issues.

Most Ontarians believe that cleaner and alternative forms of energy should be produced in Ontario, particularly since the BP oil spill. Ontarians want governments to support these kinds of initiatives, perhaps because most think wind energy would provide economic benefits and most believe it has less impact on human health. 

Here's the data when people are asked if they support wind in their community.  Click on the image to magnify it.

The second poll was also conducted by Ipsos Reid, but conducted in Grey Highlands, also in the summer of 2010.  Seventy percent support wind in their community.

Admittedly, these polls aren't current but they still demonstrate a strong level of support for wind everywhere in Ontario, including at least one rural area.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Strong support for wind farms obscured, says CSIRO report

Dr. Jim Smithman Photo: Stefan Moore

Sydney Morning Herald
January 18, 2012
Kelsey Munro, Ben Cubby

Article is here.

THERE is much stronger public support for wind farms than media coverage of the issue would suggest, because a ''vocal minority'' who oppose wind farms secure the majority of media and political attention, according to new CSIRO research.

A peer-reviewed study by Brisbane researchers investigated attitudes to nine wind farms in various stages of development in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, concluding there was a strong level of support ''from rural residents who do not seek media attention or political engagement to express their views''.

By contrast, more than half of all wind farm proposals had been opposed by members of the Landscape Guardian group, the report noted.

The CSIRO's deputy director, energy technology, Jim Smitham, one of the reviewers of the report, said it showed a disconnect between negative and conflict-oriented media coverage about wind farms and the attitude of a majority in the communities where wind farms were proposed or already operating.

''You find more media stories supporting the case against wind farms than those for it,'' he said. ''Whereas, going into the field and doing interviews at community level, they have different reasons but many of them support the wind farm; it just isn't as apparent as the people who are able to find a short sharp reason to reject it.''

Dr Smitham said wind farm developers that proactively consulted with communities and responded to their concerns had achieved far higher local acceptance of their projects.

The report, Acceptance of rural wind farms in Australia: A snapshot, by CSIRO's social research team, comes as the draft guidelines on wind farm development in this state are open for public comment.

The researchers conducted interviews with wind farm developers, councils, turbine hosts, community opponents and supporters of the projects in each of the nine locations.

Wind farm opponents cited negatives including poor consultation, visual amenity and noise, while supporters cited benefits including improved infrastructure such as roads and firebreaks, clean energy and better local job prospects, the report found.

The debate over noise and health impacts has been a key issue raised by opponents. A series of peer-reviewed studies have found no evidence that low-level sound from wind farms has made people sick, but some international studies included self-selected surveys in which people living near wind farms reported annoyance and interrupted sleep as a result of vibrations from the turbine blades.

The CSIRO report noted wind farms can create stress which affects wellbeing.

The Landscape Guardians could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Is MPP Bill Walker playing the role of judge and jury?

This is a guest blog by Roger Short:

In an article published by the Meaford Independent on January 19th, recently elected MPP, Bill Walker has waded into the matter of wind power and who should have the control over review and permitting decisions.

In his role as MPP, he is required to represent all people in his riding, not, as this article suggests, just those who make the most noise.

If he dug a little more deeply, he would find independent surveys showing that there is solid support for renewable energy in the area and beyond.

Not only that, but there are lengthy and thorough processes which proponents must follow to get final approval for any potential project.

Opponents of wind power in organisations like Wind Concerns Ontario and others have, as their stated objective, the elimination of all wind turbines in Ontario.  They have demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to achieve this goal, and their style and tactics have frequently silenced any and everyone who dares to challenge them. 

Opponents never even recognise or engage such matters as the deaths and health bills from fossil fuels in general and coal in particular, nor on the Ontario nuclear record of never coming in on time or on budget for any project to date. Recent experience shows that on large refurbishing projects, expenses have exceeded estimates by $ billions as well. 

Coming from the nuclear industry, Mr. Walker is probably fully aware of these facts, yet outcomes like these aren't addressed - and yet they affect all Ontarians.

The renewables business, with its clearly demonstrated job creating ability, new technology and potential to improve both local economics and local farmers, should be reviewed in an objective fashion by those who represent us.  

No evidence of health problems from wind turbines

Hull, MA


JANUARY 18, 2012, 7:40 AM
Wind Turbines and Health Hazards

There is no conclusive evidence so far that wind turbines are responsible for health problems ranging from balance problems to diabetes, an independent panel of health experts reports.
Associated Press
With turbine farms on the rise, complaints and lawsuits brought by communities where they have been placed have mushroomed. Apart from more serious ailments, residents have cited the swooshing of the blades as a factor in problems like disturbances in the vestibular system that affect the inner ear and balance.
So in Massachusetts, a state with its own share of wind farms, the state Department of Environmental Protection convened a panel of independent health experts to review the existing medical literature — still limited — on health effects related to wind turbines. The panel did not do its own research or focus on repercussions at a particular site. But a comprehensive review of epidemiological studies conducted near turbines in the United States and Europe, released on Tuesday, yielded these insights:
There is no evidence for a set of health effects characterized as “wind turbine syndrome.” The evidence collected so far indicates that the sounds beyond the range of human hearing range cannot affect the human balance system.
The weight of the evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and psychological distress or other mental health problems.
None of the epidemiological evidence reviewed points directly to an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, other hearing impairments, cardiovascular disease or headache/migraine.
Scientific evidence suggests that the flickering shadows of the turbines do not pose a risk of causing seizures.
Kenneth L. Kimmell, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, said the study seemed to present a clean bill of health for wind turbines — except on the issue of whether the noise causes “annoyance or sleep disruption.” The report suggested that the evidence for either was limited but that more study is needed, he said.
That finding is similar to one from the Oregon Public Health Authority, which released its own assessment of the health impact of wind turbines this month. That report indicated that the perception of the turbines’ noise was subjective yet could have an impact.
“There is some evidence that wind turbine sound is more noticeable, annoying and disturbing than other community or industrial sounds at the same level of loudness,” that study said. Wind turbines produce sounds that fluctuate in loudness and in type, which is generally considered more annoying than steady or constant sounds, the report said.
“Wind turbine sound levels may not decrease predictably at night, and could be perceived as louder and more noticeable at night than during the day,” the report said.
Mr. Kimmell said that the Massachusetts state government would await the results of a 60-day public comment period before proposing recommendations for regulating wind farms in the future.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Design of Health Study for Wind Turbines

This is a cross-post from Glen Estill's Wind Blog

The opponents of wind energy claim that wind turbines make people sick. There are a few signs around that say “Health studies before wind turbines.” And of course this sounds very reasonable – it sounds “reasonableish”. This word is patterned on “truthiness”, which wikipedia defines as “a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”
But lets suppose we were to design a health study about wind turbines? What would it have to look like, in order to have meaningful results?
There would of course be a number of scientific standards that would need to be applied. Ideally you would use blind researchers, who ask questions and gather data without knowing what they are studying. This reduces bias in the answers. You of course need a control group. If 10% of the subjects in a test wind area have tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and this is the same as outside of the wind area, then it would seem unlikely that wind turbines are the cause. All of the medical conditions – tinnitus, insomnia, headaches, nosebleeds etc. – claimed by people living near wind turbines are conditions found elsewhere in the general population. It is only if the condition is significantly more prevalent near wind turbines that it would be significant. It is important that the study’s control group be similar to the study group in age, sex, rural location, ethnicity etc., to make the control group more comparable.
The symptoms of wind turbine syndrome claimed by the opponents of wind are all self reported. This poses a problem, since it means the attitude toward wind affects the person’s viewpoint, and the survey’s outcome. A self reported problem is something like insomnia, or a headache. A doctor can’t prove or disprove either of these – he has to rely on the the patient’s statements. It would be desirable to gather some objective health data, such as blood work, urine analysis, blood pressure etc. These are well known tools in diagnosing health issues.
The most important information that the study needs to gather is information on whether or not the subject’s family receives compensation from having wind turbines nearby. The anecdotal evidence from those in the industry, who have landowners who live among turbines, is that those who earn income from wind turbines don’t get sick. The antidote for wind turbine syndrome is money – which of course calls into question the medical validity of the syndrome. The anecdotal evidence is at least as strong as the anecdotal evidence presented by the opponents of wind. After all, there are hundreds of people who lease their land to wind projects in Ontario who don’t get sick, and hundreds of thousands around the world. A study that does not account for the money issue would lack credibility to the point of irrelevancy.
A study should of course refer to the health impact studies of other sources of generation. Many studies have demonstrated the negative health impact of burning coal, for example, and we still have uncertain consequences from fracking for natural gas, and 3 out of just over 100 nuclear plants operating in the world have had meltdowns. No source of power is without health issues. It is not wind or nothing. It is wind or something else.
Wind Concerns Ontario, the umbrella group for the anti winders, has asked their members not to participate in a health study. Yet they have asked for a health study to be done before any more wind is built. This of course reveals both their fears, and their true agenda. They fear the result of a health study, because they know that the health issue is tenuous at best, exaggerated in the extreme, if not made up altogether. And their true agenda is not to have a health study, but to stop wind turbines from being built at all.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ontario anti-wind-power group accused of breaking election financing rules

Who put up this sign and when did they do it?

January 17, 2012 00:01:00
Tanya Talaga
A prominent anti-wind-power group is under fire amid accusations it broke election financing by running a negative advertising campaign against Liberal candidates last fall.
Toronto resident Jude MacDonald and her lawyer Clayton Ruby have made a formal complaint to Elections Ontario, the non-partisan agency that runs and polices provincial elections.
They say Wind Concerns Ontario failed to comply with the Election Finance Act by allegedly spending over the $500 threshold on political advertising during the provincial campaign without registering as a third party.
MacDonald points to billboards that said, “Hudak In Turbines Out,” and a pro-Progressive Conservative speaking tour of 24 ridings carried out by the grassroots anti-wind group.
But John Laforet, former president of WCO, said the spending allegations are completely false and the complaint is “baseless.”
“The fact is, we did no advertising during the campaign,” he said.
WCO had “no budget” for advertising. “It’d be interesting to see what their concern is,” said Laforet, who also denied WCO put up the billboards. He left the organization late last year. Jane Wilson is the new president.
MacDonald is an activist, former journalist and a supporter of the NDP. She said she lodged the complaint because she is troubled by the influence groups such as Wind Concerns and the Working Families coalition of anti-Tory unions seem to have in Ontario politics.
“I believe in democracy,” MacDonald said. “How much money they (WCO) are spending, I don’t know. All I do know is they did have billboards, lawn signs, they had a number of events where they had what looks like professionally printed signs and that adds up.”
MacDonald, who helped launch the news web site Rabble.ca in 2001, said she first became aware of the on Facebook.
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party believes the rise of third party advertising, in general, was a big problem during the election, said Alan Sakach, the PC party director of communications.
“We believe the biggest violation of election laws was the $9 million that Working Families, a front group for the Ontario Liberal Party, spent attacking our leader Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party,” Sakach said.


Monday, 16 January 2012

We were wrong on turbine noise, admit protesters

Farmer David Dewes
This story comes to us from our friends at Yes to Renewable Energy in Australia.
Leicester Mercury
October 31, 2011

When they first heard there were going to be four giant wind turbines on their doorsteps, villagers feared the worst.
But now even some of the most hardened protesters have admitted fears over the noise have come to nothing.
The county's first commercial wind farm has towered over the countryside between the villages of Gilmorton, Ashby Magna and Dunton Bassett, near Lutterworth, since its construction in March.
Concerns over noise from the 410ft turbines prompted swift action from residents who campaigned against the project. However, after being in operation for almost a month homeowners have said they are getting used to the gentle "swoosh" of the giant blades.
John Phillips, 70, lives in Ashby Road, less than a mile from the wind farm. He said he was against the construction at first.
He said: "I went to all the protest meetings and I was against them from the start.
"But now, I must say they don't really bother me. I can't hear them and I can barely see them.
"It's like the industrial revolution all over again – people don't like change until it actually happens and they get used to it."
Kelly Gamage, 33, moved into her home in Gilmorton in July, and said she had no idea about the plans to build a wind farm there. She said: "It was a shock when we found out, we certainly didn't expect anything like this when we moved in.
"At first we didn't want them on our doorstep, but now they're up they're not doing any harm and there's no noise coming from them."
The turbines, which cost £1.8million each, stand between the three villages.
David Dewes, who owns Low Spinney Farm, after which the wind farm is named, said: "I think now the ice has been broken people are warming to them. Our home is very close to one of the turbines and the most we hear is a slight swooshing sound – some people have said it's quite calming actually."
The wind farm, which is connected to the National Grid, is expected to provide enough power for 5,000 homes.
It is estimated that it has produced 2.5 gigawatts of electricity since the blades began turning at the start of October.
Parish councils at Gilmorton, Ashby Magna and Dunton Bassett will receive £5,333 a year as part of the agreement with the developer, Broadview Energy.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Germany's community owned wind power leads the way

This is a great example of how wind has become truly international. We, in Ontario, found this post on an Australian blog about an article written by an American about Community Wind Power in Germany, Canada and Minnesota.

International Community Power Conference Set for 3-5 July in Bonn, Germany; 51% of German Renewables Now Owned by Citizens
By Paul Gipe January 5, 2012 (reprinted from wind-works.org)
Germany, a country where 51% of the renewable energy generation is owned by its own citizens, will be hosting an international conference on community power 3-5 July, 2012 in Bonn, the former capital.
The conference will be held in the historic chamber where the world's first feed-in law was enacted, the former home of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament. TheStromeinspeisungsgesetz, literally the "law on feeding in electricity" (to the grid) was introduced by conservative Bavarian farmers frustrated with their utility's intransigence to connecting their small hydro plants with the grid.
The "feed-in" law was passed overwhelmingly by the conservative government of Helmut Kohl, and quickly ushered in a revolution in the way electricity was generated in Germany, spreading rapidly from Bavaria in the south all the way to the Danish border in the north.
Farmers, individuals and community groups could, for the first time, emulate their Danish neighbors by installing their own wind turbines and selling the resulting electricity at a hoped-for profit. These electricity rebels, Stromrebellen as they're called in German, began appearing all across the country, even in the former communist East Germany.
The Bonn conference is timely. Interest in community ownership of renewable energy generation is increasing not only in Europe but also in North America, following the launch of Ontario's groundbreaking feed-in tariff program of 2009. Ontario's policy specifically encourages community and aboriginal ownership of renewables. Currently 800 MW of projects, a full 20% of all projects in the Ontario program, are under contract, though not yet built.
Nevertheless, potential community ownership in Ontario and the existing 300 MW of community wind in Minnesota pale in comparison to community-owned renewables in Germany.
In 2010, 51% of the more than 50,000 MW of renewable energy capacity in Germany was owned by farmers or individual citizens. This represents a staggering $100 billion in private investment.
German farmers alone have installed 1,600 MW of biogas plants and 3,600 MW of solar photovoltaics (solar PV). For comparison, in 2010 there was only 60 MW of biogas plants and 2,200 MW of solar PV in the entire USA.
Citizen-ownership is a direct translation of the German term Bürgerbeteiligung. Though there is a long history of cooperative ownership in the English-speaking world, the concept of local ownership of energy generation is so novel today that the term "citizen" appears awkward on the tongue. Even in the land of Thomas Jefferson, the word "citizen" has fallen out of favor in preference to "individual".
It is ironic that it is non-native speakers of English who have begun to revive both the word "citizen" and its meaning. Travelers to Germany marvel at how "Jeffersonian" theBürgerbeteiligung movement has become in democratizing electricity generation, by literally placing power generation in the hands of the people.
German farmers, community leaders and entrepreneurs are not only democratizing electricity generation and renewable heat, but are also setting their sights on an equally ambitious prize, the transmission system itself.
German Ownership of Wind 2010.jpg
The conference is being organized by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and the German Wind Turbine Owners Association (BWE). Both organizations are longtime supporters of community ownership of renewable energy. Because it represents the thousands of individual owners of wind turbines in Germany, BWE has become the world's largest wind energy association.
With backing by federal, state and local government, the community power conference is expected to attract attendees from around the globe.
"If we want to reach 100% renewable energy supply," says Stefan Gsänger, WWEA's managing director. "We have to ensure that local communities benefit from renewable energy development and support projects in their vicinity. Community- and citizen-ownership models have a proven track record in achieving this objective."
Gsänger recently won the International Community Power Award from the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association for his work fostering "citizen" ownership of renewable energy.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wind opponents preparing to become sick

In the last few months, a flyer appeared in the mailboxes of residents near the Plateau wind projects in Grey Highlands.  Click on the image to view it full size.

The flyer is not signed but it does reference windvigilence.com, a website where there are pages and pages suggesting what symptoms you are expected to begin suffering.

Strangely enough, those types of suggestions have been proven to influence people to the point where they start to exhibit the symptoms.  It's called the nocebo effect and has been observed with radio frequency sensitivity, chemical sensitivity, fluoridation, vaccination, etc.

Here's another article that shows how prevalent the effect is, even regarding the expectations of the food we eat.  It also highlights a few historical examples:

In a study in the early 1980s, 34 college students were told an electric current would be passed through their heads, and the researchers warned that the experience could cause a headache. Though not a single volt of current was used, more than two-thirds of the students reported headaches.

Drinking water fluoridation was first introduced in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. Calls began coming in to city offices from people complaining of sore gums and peeling tooth enamel. One woman even claimed that all her teeth had fallen out. These calls arrived in early January, when some press reports had stated that fluoridation would begin, but some weeks before the actual advent of fluoridation on January 25.
Call it fear of spraying. In one study researchers spewed distilled water from planes over residential neighborhoods without telling anyone what the spray contained. The intent was to gauge public phobia of chemicals. Sure enough, the experimenters were soon deluged with complaints from frightened folks who claimed the spray was causing cows to abort, dogs to shed and children to get sick…
A Paris household blamed three installed cell phone antennas in their area for causing headaches, nosebleeds and a metallic taste in the mouths of some residents. The one problem with this complaint—the antennas were never activated.

So, you'd think that the wind opponents would want to find a solid scientific basis on which to make their claims.  The University of Waterloo has assembled a team of health professionals under the direction of Dr. Bigelow and Dr. McColl, professors at the School of Public Health and Health Systems:

“We’ve assembled a multidisciplinary team in order to carry out one of the first in-depth
clinical and epidemiological assessments on the human health effects of both audible and low
frequency sound from wind turbines,” explains Bigelow. “By including nursing professionals
and other specialized health expertise on the team, we’re hoping to use clinical and biological
markers of stress to examine the association of exposure to wind turbine noise with sleep
disturbances, fatigue, headache, depression, and other psychophysiological problems.”

This would appear to be exactly what wind opponents were looking for.  However, in an email dated November 10, 2011 Ian Hanna, Chair Wind Concerns Ontario, stated:

Wind Concerns Ontario has become aware that Siva Sivoththaman PhD, the Research Chair tasked with the assignment of researching the potential adverse health effects of renewable energy mainly wind turbines, and members of his team have begun trying to survey rural Ontario residents and conduct noise measurement studies.
WCO strongly recommends that you do not participate in these activities. 
Does that mean that this flyer and its results is intended to replace the University of Waterloo study?  What data would you trust?