Saturday, 24 March 2012

If a Bill falls in the House and nobody reports it ...

.... did it really happen?

That was the case with Bill 42.  Bill 42 was a private members bill proposed by Tim Hudak, the leader of the Ontario PC's. The Bill would have killed the Feed-in Tariff program for renewable energy that has so successfully made Ontario the green energy capital of North America.  This was the PC's second run at the Green Energy Act.  The first was by Lisa Thompson and it was also defeated.

This Bill had first reading earlier in the month and second reading on March 22.  However, with little fanfair, it was decisively  defeated 49-36.  The only media coverage of the defeat was in a backwater publication called netnewsledger.  The netnewsledger is a Thunder Bay publication that offers the following opportunity:

"Our Leader’s Ledgers feature columns from our federal, provincial and municipal elected leaders. They are their opportunity to share their ideas and vision with you directly without editing."

The article appears to have been written by Vic Fedeli, the Nipissing MPP and PC Energy Critic.  

And that's it.  No other media coverage. 

And, this time, both the anti-wind websites (Ontario Wind Resistance and Wind Concerns Ontario) didn't even cover the Bill or its defeat.  Maybe they didn't want to set false expectations when they knew that there wasn't a hope that the Bill would pass.   For the Lisa Thompson bill, they filled the gallery.  This time, the Bill died quietly.

As stated earlier, this is the second private members bill regarding renewable energy in the current session.  The first was raised by Lisa Thompson about a month ago ago.  It was also trounced.  Makes you wonder why the PC's would try again.  Apparently, the anti-winders were wondering as well, otherwise they would have covered the event.

As reference, here's the background to Bill 42, as seen by CanWEA:

Ottawa, March 8, 2012 – The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) strongly opposes the
private Members Bill introduced in the Legislative Assembly yesterday by Ontario Progressive
Conservative leader and MPP Tim Hudak (Niagara West-Glanbrook). The Affordable Energy and
Restoration of Local Decision Making Act proposes to end Ontario's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program
which would create significant policy uncertainty and put local jobs, investments, and new
manufacturing at risk.

The proposed Act further ignores the sanctity of signed contracts by opening the door to the
possibility that such contracts can be revoked. Such actions would create significant uncertainty
among investors looking to new opportunities in Ontario and expose Ontario to the risk of paying
damages to investors who have already made good faith investments in the province.

"The FIT Program has successfully attracted investors to Ontario from around the world, facilitating
investment and job creation that has made Ontario a North American leader in renewable energy
development," said Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA. "Hundreds of much-needed jobs are
being created in places like Windsor, Tillsonburg and Niagara, and thousands more are being
created in construction and local services. A stable policy framework is critical to our ability to
continue to attract investors, create new jobs and build a world-class manufacturing capability."

Despite its successes to date, the FIT program can be strengthened and improved, according to
CanWEA. The FIT Review currently underway has received input from many stakeholders including
CanWEA on changes that would serve to make the program even more effective and we await the
results of the review.

It must be noted the FIT Program has not played any significant role in increasing electricity prices
in Ontario to date. In fact, "the cost of conservation and all the renewable subsidies in 2010
amounted to 0.4 cents of the 13 cents we paid for a kWh in our homes," states the Environmental
Commissioner of Ontario in The True Cost of Renewable Energy and Conservation.

Ontario is, however, in the midst of modernizing an aging electricity system that requires
investments to renew and build new transmission and distribution infrastructure for system reliability
and load servicing and to phase-out conventional and polluting coal-fired generation. In that
context, wind energy is cost-competitive today with most other forms of new generation, particularly
when life-cycle costs and future environmental regulations are considered.

A July 2011 Pembina study, Behind the switch: pricing Ontario electricity options, found that Ontario
consumers would see virtually no relief from high electricity prices if the province cancelled its
support for renewable energy under the Green Energy Act. In fact, the study indicates that investing
in renewable energy today is likely to save Ontario ratepayers money within the next 15 years, as
natural gas prices are forecast to start to rise. The addition of any new generation (all more
expensive than existing generation) and badly needed investments in electricity infrastructure
guarantee increased rates for consumers going forward.

"Wind energy is playing a growing role in helping Ontario build a cleaner, stronger and affordable
electricity system that will ensure Ontarians continue to enjoy the lifestyle they are accustomed to,"
said Hornung. "At the same time, investments are required to ensure the province's aging electricity
system is ready to meet the needs of a prosperous future."

Ontario's stable policy for wind energy has attracted millions of dollars in new investments and jobs
in manufacturing in areas of the province hit hard by economic challenges. According to a report by
ClearSky Advisors, Ontario is expected to install more than 5,600 MW of new, clean wind energy
capacity by 2018, creating 80,000 person-years of employment, attracting $16.4 billion of private
investments (with more than half of that invested in the province), and contributing more than $1.1
billion of revenue to municipalities and landowners in the form of taxes and lease payments over
the 20-year lifespan of the projects.

The proposed Affordable Energy and Restoration of Local Decision Making Act would give Ontario's
municipal governments authority for issuing Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs) and for applying
significant conditions on projects that go beyond environmental protection. It is unclear how this
would operate in practice as REAs are associated with many significant areas of provincial
jurisdiction and municipal governments will likely be challenged to find the resources and expertise
required to take on these responsibilities.

CanWEA believes municipalities have a vital role to play in any new local development, and has
always encouraged municipal governments to take full advantage of all opportunities for
engagement under the GEA. Municipal engagement and consultation is an important part of the
renewable energy development process. The Renewable Energy Approval (REA) requires
municipal consultation, including public consultations and CanWEA has always advocated that its
members go beyond minimum regulatory requirements. Our mandate to support the responsible
and sustainable development of wind energy is backed with the development of Best Practices for
Community Engagement and Public Consultation – which were informed through discussions with
dozens of municipal leaders.


It sounds like the PC's are pandering to the anti-wind movement.  However, they seem to have misread the mood of Ontario.  Ontario recognizes the value of green energy - especially wind energy - the lowest cost source of replacement electricity in Ontario.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

This just in - better FIT prices

The Ontario Ministry just released its review of the Feed-in Tariff Program.  You can find it here

Wind power will have a new price of 11.5 ¢/kWh, making it even more affordable than any other form of new electricity generation and, of course, the greenest.

Buy now - wind power is on sale

The cost of wind power is falling and Ontario should be buying even more at these bargain prices.

Ontario has been buying renewable energy from rural landowners and their wind developers for the last six years or so.  The price per kWh has varied from the 8-9 ¢/kWh range six years ago to 13.5 ¢/kWh for current contracts.  That price range is definitely below that of new nuclear plants and most - if not all - new hydro-electric facilities.  It's competitive with new natural gas plants and beats them when gas is required to guarantee prices over the next 20 years.  

Wind opponents like to compare wind with old plants that are going to be shut in a few years from now.  These plants have written off their capital costs but are facing major re-investment when they have to replace or refurbish their obsolete equipment.

The price of wind energy is essentially driven by two factors:

1. The strength of the wind resource, and
2. The capital cost of the turbine

Many of the windier parts of Ontario have already been developed but there is still a huge potential for more development.   Most of the development so far has occurred where transmission capacity already exists but there is a least ten times as much capacity available north of existing locations or offshore.  

So, Ontario has no shortage of wind power and it's relatively cheap.   Ontario should be adding wind capacity whenever turbine capital costs are in it's favour.   Fortunately, the capital cost for turbines is trending down in response to under-utilized manufacturing capacity and also to technological advances in the industry.  

About eight years ago, when negotiations were underway between Ontario developers and turbine manufacturers, the wind industry was less active and turbine prices were relatively low (see figure below), although so was the Canadian dollar.

Click on the image for larger view

Then,  as demand picked up around the world, the global supply chain had to operate at capacity and prices for turbines rose accordingly.   Predictably, the prices bid in Ontario rose as well.  When Ontario moved to a Feed-in Tariff program, the prices for turbines were at a peak and Ontario was required to offer 13.5 ¢/kWh.  Those prices have been reviewed and are expected to be revised downward this month.

And so they should be.  It appears that the wind turbine global supply chain has now expanded sufficiently that prices are coming down.  The trend has continued for the last two or three years and is approaching levels not seen since 2007.  In addition, the US market is in limbo as wind pricing policy has been stalled awaiting the 2012 election, and the Canadian dollar is stronger.  All in all, the perfect confluence of factors for Ontario.

What other source of electrical energy is so affordable and getting cheaper every year?  None.  Time to buy and keep on buying.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Here's a great post from neil blanchard.

You know what I hate about wind turbines?

The smokestacks.
The smoke.
The smog.
The mercury pollution.
The cooling towers. 
The explosions.
The spills.
The limited fuel supply.
The other countries that control the wind.
The military cost to defend the wind.
The radiation.
The death of miners.
The fly ash.
The tailing ponds. 
The methane gas releases.
The huge carbon footprint.
The increasing cost over time.
The inefficiency.
The pipelines.
The contaminated water.
The damage to our lungs and overall health done by wind turbines is horrendous.
The acid rain is nasty.
The mountaintop removal. 
The waste.

I also hate the fact that they look like graceful wind sculptures, that let us see the wind.  I hate the fact that they are much quieter than a highway.


Not really...


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Scientific and medical information worldwide says industrial wind turbines are safe

Here's a letter to the editor of the Simcoe Reformer.  It's responding to a previous letter to the editor calling for a health study, not literature reviews.  Local health studies are useful, of course, but reviewing health studies performed in other jurisdictions are also very valuable.  As we've shown in another post, over 15 reviews have been conducted of studies published in peer reviewed, respected journals; as well as the "gray" literature.  They all say the same thing - turbines are safe although some individuals' attitudes toward turbines may cause them annoyance.

Simcoe Reformer
February 21, 2012
Chris Forrest, Letter to the Editor

Re: Do real health study, not review – Feb. 14, Simcoe Reformer
Wind is playing a growing role in helping Ontario build a stronger, cleaner, and more sustainable energy system. Ontario, as Canada’s leader in developing wind energy, has seen dozens of communities realize significant new economic benefits in the process. While polling indicates that wind energy enjoys the support of a strong majority of Ontarians, the industry will not take that support for granted.
The balance of scientific and medical information from around the world has concluded that sounds or vibrations emitted from wind turbines have no adverse effect on human health. This was backed in Ontario by the findings of Chief Medical Officer of Health in a May 2010 report. A recent Environmental Review Tribunal also found no evidence of direct health impacts from wind turbines. The ERT ruling did address the need for ongoing research into this subject, and CanWEA has committed to monitoring all new information on this subject as it is made available.
A January 2012 comprehensive review of public health studies conducted near wind turbines in the United States and Europe, recently released in Massachusetts, demonstrates wind turbines are safe and the health-related claims are unsubstantiated. That study involved a panel of independent academic experts with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering. The report can be found at:
Today, around the world, more than 100,000 wind turbines operate and the vast majority of people living in and around wind turbines have a positive and productive experience. The industry continues to actively engage international experts in medicine and acoustics to ensure that all new and credible information on this subject continues to be reviewed.
For more information on wind energy development in Canada, please see:
Vice-President of Communications

Friday, 16 March 2012

How many times do I have to tell you?

How many times do I have to tell you ....?  Apparently, it's over 17.

Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health and Teresa Simonetti, Sydney University Medical School have been accumulating reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health.

As of early this year, they have 17 reviews from around the world.  This list will be updated regularly.
Here's the list:

  • 2012:  Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Independent Expert Science Panel Releases Report on Potential Health Effects of Wind Turbines
  • 2012: Oregon Wind Energy Health Impact Assessment. 
  • 2011: Fiumicelli D. Windfarm noise dose-response: a literature review. Acoustics Bulletin 2011; Nov/Dec:26-34 
  • 2011: Bolin K et al. Infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines: exposure and health effects. Environmental Res Let 2011
  • 2010: Knopper LD, Ollsen CA. Health effects and wind turbines: a review of  the literature. Environmental Health 2010; 10:78
  • 2010: UK Health Protection Agency Report on the health effects of infrasound
  • 2010: NHMRC Rapid Review of the evidence 
  • 2010: Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario
  • 2010: UK Health Protection Agency. Environmental noise and health in the UK. A report by the Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health. (this report is about all environmental noise)
  • 2009:  Minnesota Department of Health. Environmental Health Division. Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines.
  • 2009: Canadian Wind Energy Association.  Addressing Concerns with Wind Turbines and Human Health. CanWEA, Ottawa.
  • 2009: Colby et al. Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects: An Expert Panel Review.
  • 2008: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit 
  • 2007: National Research Council (USA): Impact of wind energy development on humans (Chapter 4: pp97-120) of: Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects. 
  • 2005: Jakobsen J. Infrasound emission from wind turbines. Jf Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control 2005; 24(3):145-155
  • 2004: Leventhall G. Low frequency noise and annoyance. Noise & Health 2004;.6(23):59-72 
  • 2003: Eja Pedersen’s Review for the Swedish EPA 
And below is what all these reviews say about the bulk of the issues raised by wind opponents.  It's a long list but it's definitely worth a read to understand the unanimity of the reviewers.

Direct health effects from noise and WTS

  • “There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines.” Source: NHMRC 2010 
  • “There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.” Source: Colby 2009 review  
  • “... surveys of peer-reviewed scientific literature have consistently found no evidence linking wind turbines to human health concerns.” Source: CanWEA 
  • “There is insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly... causing health problems or disease.” Source: Massachusetts review  
  • “There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and... sound exposures in occupational settings, that the sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.” Source: Colby 2009 review  
  • “... while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects...” Source: Ontario CMOH Report 
  • “... the audible noise created by a wind turbine, constructed at the approved setback distance does not pose a health impact concern.”Source: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit
  • There is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a "Wind Turbine Syndrome." Source: Massachusetts review  
  • “... there is not an association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.” Source: Massachusetts review
  • “Evidence that environmental noise damages mental health is… inconclusive.” Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health 
  • “…no association was found between road traffic noise and overall psychological distress…”Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health 
  • “To date, no peer reviewed scientific journal articles demonstrate a causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise (audible, low frequency noise, or infrasound) they emit and resulting physiological health effects.” Source: Knopper&Ollson review
  • “... there is no scientific evidence that noise at levels created by wind turbines could cause health problems other than annoyance...” Source: Eja Pedersen 2003 Review
  • “None of the... evidence reviewed suggests an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headache/migraine.” Source: Massachusetts review 
  • “...there are no evidences that noise from wind turbines could cause cardiovascular and psycho-physiological effects.” Source: Eja Pedersen 2003 Review
  • “…there was no evidence that environmental noise was related to raised blood pressure…”Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health 
  • “The health impact of the noise created by wind turbines has been studied and debated for decades with no definitive evidence supporting harm to the human ear.” Source: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit
  • “The electromagnetic fields produced by the generation and export of electricity from a wind farm do not pose a threat to public health...”Source: NHMRC 2010
  • “... no consistent associations were found between wind turbine noise exposure and symptom reporting, e.g. chronic disease, headaches, tinnitus and undue tiredness.” Source: Bolin et al 2011 Review
  • “... low level frequency noise or infrasound emitted by wind turbines is minimal and of no consequence... Further, numerous reports have concluded that there is no evidence of health effects arising from infrasound or low frequency noise generated by wind turbines.” Source: NHMRC 2010
  • “... renewable energy generation is associated with few adverse health effects compared with the well documented health burdens of polluting forms of electricity generation...” Source: NHMRC 2010
  • “Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence.” Source: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit
  • “What is apparent is that numerous websites have been constructed by individuals or groups to support or oppose the development of wind turbine projects, or media sites reporting on the debate. Often these websites state the perceived impacts on, or benefits to, human health to support the position of the individual or group hosting the website. The majority of information posted on these websites cannot be traced back to a scientific, peer-reviewed source and is typically anecdotal in nature. In some cases, the information contained on and propagated by internet websites and the media is not supported, or is even refuted, by scientific research. This serves to spread misconceptions about the potential impacts of wind energy on human health...” Source: Knopper&Ollson review 


  • “... wind turbine noise is comparatively lower than road traffic, trains, construction activities, and industrial noise.”Source: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit 
  • “The perception of noise depends in part on the individual - on a person’s hearing acuity and upon his or her subjective tolerance for or dislike of a particular type of noise.  For example, a persistent “whoosh” might be a soothing sound to some people even as it annoys others.”Source: NRC 2007
  • “... some people might find [wind turbine noise annoying. It has been suggested that annoyance may be a reaction to the characteristic “swishing” or fluctuating nature of wind turbine sound rather than to the intensity of sound.” Source: Ontario CMOH Report 
  • “… being annoyed can lead to increasing feelings of powerlessness and frustration, which is widely believed to be at least potentially associated with adverse health effects over the longer term.”Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health
  • “Wind turbine annoyance has been statistically associated with wind turbine noise, but found to be more strongly related to visual impact, attitude to wind turbines and sensitivity to noise.” Source: Knopper&Ollson review
  • “... self reported health effects like feeling tense, stressed, and irritable, were associated with noise annoyance and not to noise itself...” Source: Knopper&Ollson review 
  • “... many of the self reported health effects are associated with numerous issues, many of which can be attributed to anxiety and annoyance.” Source: Knopper&Ollson review
  • “To date, no peer reviewed articles demonstrate a direct causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise they emit and resulting physiological health effects. If anything, reported health effects are likely attributed to a number of environmental stressors that result in an annoyed/stressed state in a segment of the population.” Source: Knopper&Ollson review
  • “… some community studies are biased towards over-reporting of symptoms because of an explicit link between…noise and symptoms in the questions inviting people to remember and report more symptoms because of concern about noise.” Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health 
  • “... it is probable that some persons will inevitably exhibit negative responses to turbine noise wherever and whenever it is audible, no matter what the noise level.” Source: Fiumicelli review  Fiumicelli article abstract
  • “The major source of uncertainty in our assessment is related to the subjective nature of response to sound, and variability in how people perceive, respond to, and cope with sound.” Source: Oregon review
  • “... sleep difficulties, as well as feelings of uneasiness, associated with noise annoyance could be an effect of the exposure to noise, although it could just as well be that respondents with sleeping difficulties more easily appraised the noise as annoying.” Source: NHMRC 2010 
  • “Even noise that falls within known safety limits is subjective to the recipient and will be received and subsequently perceived positively or negatively.”Source: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit
  • “... annoyance was strongly correlated with a negative attitude toward the visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape...” Source: NHMRC 2010
  • “Respondents tended to report more annoyance when they also noted a negative effect on landscape, and ability to see the turbines was strongly related to the probability of annoyance.”Source: Minnesota Health Dept 2009
  • “[It is proposed that annoyance is not a direct health effect but an indication that a person’s capacity to cope is under threat. The person has to resolve the threat or their coping capacity is undermined, leading to stress related health effects... Some people are very annoyed at quite low levels of noise, whilst other are not annoyed by high levels.” Source: NHMRC 2010
  • “Further, sounds, such as repetitive but low intensity noise, can evoke different responses from individuals… Some people can dismiss and ignore the signal, while for others, the signal will grow and become more apparent and unpleasant over time… These reactions may have little relationship to will or intent, and more to do with previous exposure history and personality.” Source: Minnesota Health Dept 2009
  • “Stress and annoyance from noise often do not correlate with loudness. This may suggest [that other factors impact an individual’s reaction to noise… individuals with an interest in a project and individuals who have some control over an environmental noise are less likely to find a noise annoying or stressful.” Source: Minnesota Health Dept 2009
  • “There is a possibility of learned aversion to low frequency noise, leading to annoyance and stress...” Source: Leventhall 2005 review
  • “Noise produced by wind turbines generally is not a major concern for humans beyond a half mile or so because various measures to reduce noise have been implemented in the design of modern turbines.”Source: NRC 2007
  • “Noise… levels from an onshore wind project are typically in the 35-45 dB(A) range at a distance of about 300 meters...  These are relatively low noise or sound-pressure levels compared with other common sources such as a busy office (~60 dB(A)), and with nighttime ambient noise levels in the countryside ( ~20-40 dB(A)).” Source: NRC 2007
  • “Complaints about low frequency noise come from a small number of people but the degree of distress can be quite high. There is no firm evidence that exposure to this type of sound causes damage to health, in the physical sense, but some people are certainly very sensitive to it.” Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health
  • “… there is the theoretical possibility that annoyance may lead to stress responses and then to illness. If there is no annoyance then there can be no mechanism for any increase in stress hormones by this pathway… if stress-related adverse health effects are mediated solely through annoyance then any mitigation plan which reduces annoyance would be equally effective in reducing any consequent adverse health effects. It would make no difference whether annoyance reduction was achieved through actual reductions in sound levels, or by changes in attitude brought about by some other means.” Source: Ad Hoc Expert Group on Noise and Health 

  • "Claims that infrasound from wind turbines directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically... evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system." Source: Massachusetts review 
  • “There is no evidence that infrasound ... [from wind turbines ... contributes to perceived annoyance or other health effects.” Source: Bolin et al 2011 Review 
  • “There is no consistent evidence of any physiological or behavioural effect of acute exposure to infrasound in humans.” Source: UK HPA Report
  • “... self reported health effects of people living near wind turbines are more likely attributed to physical manifestation from an annoyed state than from infrasound.” Source: Knopper&Ollson review
  • “... infrasound from current generation upwind model turbines [is well below the pressure sound levels at which known health effects occur. Further, there is no scientific evidence to date that vibration from low frequency wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects.” Source: Ontario CMOH Report
  • “It would appear... that infrasound alone is hardly responsible for the complaints... from people living up to two km from the large downwind turbines.” Source: Jakobsen 2005 review 
  • “From a critical survey of all known published measurement results of infrasoundfrom wind turbines it is found that wind turbines of contemporary design with therotor placed upwind produce very low levels of infrasound. Even quite close to theseturbines the infrasound level is far below relevant assessment criteria, including thelimit of perception.”Source: Jakobsen 2005 review 
  • “With older downwind turbines, some infrasound also is emitted each time a rotor blade interacts with the disturbed wind behind the tower, but it is believed that the energy at these low frequencies is insufficient to pose a health hazard.” Source: NRC 2007 

Shadow flicker

  • “Scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker [from the rotating blades of wind turbines does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation.” Source: Massachusetts review
  • Shadow flicker from wind turbines… is unlikely to cause adverse health impacts in the general population.  The low flicker rate from wind turbines is unlikely to trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy.  Further, the available scientific evidence suggests that very few individuals will be annoyed by the low flicker frequencies expected from most modern wind turbines.” Source: Oregon review
  • “Flicker frequency due to a turbine is on the order of the rotor frequency (i.e., 0.6-1.0 Hz), which is harmless to humans.  According to the Epilepsy Foundation, only frequencies above 10 Hz are likely to cause epileptic seizures.” Source: NRC 2007

Community & social response to wind turbines

  • The perception of sound as noise is a subjective response that is influenced by factors related to the sound, the person, and the social/environmental setting.  These factors result in considerable variability in how people perceive and respond to sound... Factors that are consistently associated with negative community response are fear of a noise source... [and noise sensitivity...” Source: Oregon review
  • “Wind energy developments could indirectly result in positive health impacts... if they increase local employment, personal income, and community-wide income and revenue.  However, these positive effects may be diminished if there are real or perceived increases in income inequality within a community.” Source: Oregon review  
  • “Effective public participation in and direct benefits from wind energy projects (such as receiving electricity from the neighboring wind turbines) have been shown to result in less annoyance in general and better public acceptance overall.” Source: Massachusetts review
  • “... people who benefit economically from wind turbines [are less likely to report noise annoyance, despite exposure to similar sound levels as those people who [are not economically benefiting.” Source: NHMRC 2010 
  • “Landowners... may perceive and respond differently (potentially more favorably) to increased sound levels from a wind turbine facility, particularly if they benefit from the facility or have good relations with the developer...” Source: Oregon review
  • “The level of annoyance or disturbance experienced by those hearing wind turbine sound is influenced by individuals' perceptions of other aspects of wind energy facilities, such as turbine visibility, visual impacts, trust, fairness and equity, and the level of community engagement during the planning process.” Source: Oregon review  
  • “Wind energy facilities... can indirectly result in positive health impacts by reducing emissions of [green house gases and harmful air pollutants, and... Communities near fossil-fuel based power plants that are displaced by wind energy could experience reduced risks for respiratory illness, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and premature death.” Source: Oregon review
  • “The environmental and human-health risk reduction benefits of wind-powered electricity generation accrue through its displacement of electricity generation using other energy sources (e.g., fossil fuels), thus displacing the adverse effects of those other generators.” Source: NRC 2007
  • “Community engagement at the outset of planning for wind turbines is important and may alleviate health concerns about wind farms. Concerns about fairness and equity may also influence attitudes towards wind farms and allegationsabout effects on health. These factors deserve greater attention in future developments.” Source: Ontario CMOH Report 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Wind turbine health study starting up

The long awaited wind turbine health study is starting up in Bruce County.  The story repeated below can be found here.  

Strangely, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) has advised its members not to participate in the study.  Ian Hanna, Chairman of WCO (as of last year), had this to say:

"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." 
The post was removed from the Ontario Wind Resistance (OWR) website but can still be found at the Haldimand Wind Concerns website, unless they decide to remove it as well.
It makes you wonder what WCO are afraid of.

Owen Sound Sun Times
March 5, 2012
Tracey Richardson

Bruce County residents living near wind turbines can expect to hear soon from a team studying the health effects of the massive wind-powered generators.
University students will be fanning out across the area over the next month putting surveys in hundreds of mailboxes. It’s one of the first steps in a five-year, $1.5-million study being conducted by the Ontario Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technology and Health, which is based out of the University of Waterloo.
Along with the surveys, the study team will also target people living near the turbines for more extensive testing, said Waterloo professor Philip Bigelow, who is one of the study’s investigators.
The team wants to measure noise levels, both audible and low frequency, at the houses near turbines. As well, the team wants a few dozen participants who will agree to have their sleep habits monitored. That entails the participant wearing a device on their wrist that detects movement while they’re sleeping to show if their sleep is being disturbed, Bigelow said.
While the study of wind turbines is new, the protocol and technology are not, said Bigelow. Noise studies have been done for years around airports and highways. But the turbines are different because they emit a continuous noise, Bigelow said.
“This one is actually a little different because you have this continuous noise and you have the wind changing, of course, but you have this continuous thumping and swishing, and that’s really irritating to people.”
Bigelow said noise is more annoying at certain continuous sound pressure levels, and “when you average it all out, wind turbines are going to be worse than traffic noise for annoyance, and that’s already been well established because of the character of it.”
To balance the study, a group of people who don’t live anywhere near turbines will be included. Bigelow said the team ideally hopes to study people in areas where turbines are planned, then follow up with them after the turbines are up and running. “Those people we really want to follow up with.”
A couple of dozen researchers in total are working on the study. One of the study’s components uses geographic information systems, which involves exact locations and distances of homes in relation to turbines. Another area involves connecting microphones to detect low frequency noise in various places and linking them to the speed of the turbines, Bigelow said. “It’s very fancy stuff.”
Another researcher is working on a model that tracks and predicts noise exposure using a software program called Wind Pro.
“You can actually do this modeling of what a bedroom would be like given if the turbine was this far away and it’s got this sound power level,” Bigelow said.

Bigelow said the study is considering “whole body effects” from the turbines and not just specific health issues, like vestibular effects such as dizziness. “We’re really looking at the broader implications of these things.”
The study is looking at other types of renewable energy as well, but most of the resources are going into wind turbines, Bigelow said, “because it’s an issue more than the other ones are.”
Hundreds of wind turbines have popped up across the province over the last half dozen years, and opposition has been steadily growing. Several anti-wind lobby groups have sprouted, the biggest being Wind Concerns Ontario. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which represents about 37,000 farm families, has lent its political weight to the anti-turbine movement as well.
Dozens of municipalities have called on the government to halt further turbine development until more is known about their health effects. Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson has a bill before the legislature calling on a moratorium on wind turbines; it’s to be voted on this week.
Bigelow said he’s aware it’s a political hot button issue. “I’m aware of the political landscape, that’s for sure. We get out there and talk to people and get lots of calls . . . so yeah, we’re very aware of it.”
He wants participants who don’t have an agenda, he said. As well, he said the researchers are objective and have no personal interest in whether the study shows any negative health effects or not.
“For us it doesn’t matter one way or the other. We want to enough statistical power to be able to see some health differences in people with exposure to these wind turbines versus not exposed to turbines,” he said. “And that is our issue we need to deal with, and to do that we need enough people to participate, we need the right measurement tools that we use in the field, and also we need people to fill out the surveys as properly as the can.”
Bigelow said once the study is completed, he expects it to be a tool policy makers will use in making future decisions about turbines. “I’m sure it will go into the mix of how they’re going to make decisions in the future.”
In 2009, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) issued a call for proposals to all universities in the province for the establishment of the research chair on renewable energy, with funding provided by the Ministry of Environment. The chair was awarded to the University of Waterloo, with Dr. Siva Sivoththaman as the chair holder.
The study began in late 2010 but the first year was spent assembling the research team.