Save The River Position on Industrial Wind Development within the St. Lawrence River Valley

Save The River,
The abundant natural resources and the beauty of the Thousand Islands are among the region’s greatest assets. They are the foundation for a vibrant ecology, clean drinking water, and an economy dependent on tourism and recreation. Save The River’s purpose is to protect the quality of the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education and research, so the waterway continues to sustain a healthy ecology for future generations. Given this purpose, Save The River is keenly aware of the need for effective solutions to climate change, and supports efforts to shift to renewable energy sources in general. However, we are also gravely concerned about the scale and potential impacts of commercial wind development along the St. Lawrence River.

The Upper St. Lawrence River valley has one of the most unique and substantial grassland habitats in eastern North America; a habitat that is home to specialized grassland bird populations, as well as a home and critical seasonal foraging habitat for a variety of winter raptors. The grassland habitat includes Amherst and Wolfe Islands in Canada, Stony and Galloo Islands in the U.S., as well as major portions of the US and Canadian mainland towns bordering the Upper St. Lawrence River. The importance of this habitat is accentuated by the scarcity of such grasslands in this geographical region. In addition, the northeastern portion of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River is an important migratory flyway for a large number of waterfowl and songbird species that pass through our area en route to and from northern breeding grounds.

It also should not be overlooked that the federally listed endangered species, the Indiana Bat, has been identified as a resident of this same grassland community. This species must be protected from impacts associated with wind turbines.

Given the many issues listed above, it becomes extremely important for our communities to learn from the only operational wind farm currently in the flyway – Wolfe Island – before moving forward with wind farm development on the scale currently proposed. While the Wolfe Island wind farm has only 86 turbines, more than 400 turbines in as many as six different projects are currently proposed in every direction around Wolfe Island. Cumulatively, these projects could radically alter these habitats that our communities have long endeavored to protect.

Initial reports of bird and bat fatalities associated with the July – December 2009 operation of the Wolfe Island Wind Project have just recently been released, and several experts have voiced concerns that the bird mortality is on target to be among the highest in North America. During the same 6-month period, 1,270 bat mortalities were estimated from the wind farm operation. In light of these documented high fatality rates, a major concern is the apparent lack of coordination between the US and Canadian governments (Federal, Provincial, and State) in addressing the cumulative impacts on wildlife resources from the numerous industrial-scale wind projects proposed in the upper St. Lawrence valley.

The initial high avian and bat mortality documented at the Wolfe Island Wind Project along with the lack of any cumulative impact assessment for wind projects proposed within the St. Lawrence valley, demand a “wait and see” response from decision makers in the communities that are now involved with examining environmental impact studies from wind developers. With less than a year of avian fatality study completed at Wolfe Island, it will require several more years of data collection to better understand the extent of fatalities associated with the island’s wind turbine operation. Given the grassland habitat and coastal area similarities across the region, the next two years of post-operational studies at Wolfe Island will provide important data for assessing potential cumulative wind turbine impacts on wildlife resources in the upper St. Lawrence River valley.

To address these concerns, Save The River supports the following:

1. A three-year moratorium on wind project development in municipalities bordering the Upper St. Lawrence River, in the US and Canada.

2. A cumulative assessment of bird and bat mortality as well as other environmental impacts, for the upper St. Lawrence River valley, coordinated by agencies in the US and Canada, considering two regional scenarios, one for 500 wind turbines and the other for 1,000 wind turbines.

In summary, the special nature of the place that we inhabit, including the importance of the habitat and flyway, when taken with the scale of the wind energy projects proposed, the lack of a process to assess cumulative review, and the initial indications of substantial impacts to birds and bats, all lead us to conclude that wind projects proposed for our area should not proceed further until the Wolfe Island Wind post-construction wildlife impact study is completed and a cumulative wildlife impact assessment involving the US and Canadian governments has occurred.

  Download a PDF of this statement.

5 thoughts on “Save The River Position on Industrial Wind Development within the St. Lawrence River Valley

  1. Dig down into this group’s involvement in the overall Green Dream………..way down…………..research this group for their “alliances”.

    You will eventually reach “Waterkeeper” alliances and this NGO is sponsored by UNESCO which is also promoting Population Issues and is a branch of the UN which promotes Agenda 21.

    This is not in any way a disparaging reflection of these smaller groups “good intentions” one little bit, but I believe many smaller good organizations may not even realize the “bigger picture” here.
    Small NGO’s being “guided” by much larger organizations that operate under the “cloak” of being “Green and Clean” and caring for our Environment all the while with a much more serious agenda of Global Governance and destructive policies

    When things sound “too good to be true”, sometimes they are!

  2. If the environmental groups were going to speak up they would have done so by now. IWTs are part of their agenda.

    The IWTs on Lakes Erie & St.Clair will have to be stopped by local citizens working together.

  3. If you wish to see offshore wind turbines no closer than three miles to Great Lakes shores, you have until August 24 to submit your comments to the Ontario Government at . (The Ont. Govt. proposes a 3-mile minimum, which the wind companies oppose.)

    This spring, the Kingston Whig Standard interviewed Windstream’s Ian Baines about his Wolfe Island Shoals project: “Even though the area would include part of Kingston Harbour and Big Sandy Bay off Wolfe Island, Baines said they will not put turbines that close to land. “The intention is that we would hold the land, which would prevent anyone else from going (there),” he said. “We just think they’re too high impact for the people on shore.” There are no provincial regulations* to determine where offshore wind turbine installations can or can’t be placed. “We expect other companies may try to come in later and pick up the pieces,” Baines said. “This is doing the right thing for Kingston. It doesn’t make sense to have turbines that close to shore.” He described the project as having Pigeon Island as its geographic centre.” *The Ont Govt proposed the minimum 3-mile setback on June 25, 2010, a couple months after the interview with Baines.

    Windstream has now hired three people to lobby the Ont Govt on “proposed setback requirements for offshore wind power generation”: . They already had hired one lobbyist in June (, so these newest hires make (at least) four lobbyists hired by just one wind company (Windstream).

    The Amherst Island folks’ map of Wolfe Island Shoals shows proposed turbine location relative to Big Sandy Bay and its points: Big Sandy Bay is designated by the province as an area of natural and scientific interest.

    Many folks depend on the Great Lakes for the business that beaches, boating, fishing, birding, and other tourism brings. A minimum three-mile setback for offshore wind turbines–one that follows ACTUAL, not averaged, shorelines will help protect our Great Lakes’ natural riches and people’s livelihoods. I hope everyone will take a few minutes to write a few words of support for the proposed three-mile offshore setback from natural shorelines of the Great Lakes at .

    The comment period closes August 24.

  4. If this battle is to be won we need two things immediately:

    1) No minimum setback of IWT’s.
    2) Installations of IWT’s in Urban centers — like High Park and the Toronto beaches and Wasaga Beach.

    That is the only way that people will understand the noise issue.

    But even if they understand the noise issue — the turbines still not produce any useful amount of power in a reliable fashion.

    The next thing we need is more articles like the one in the Ottawa paper. But, even there we need a much better explanation of the cost and that fact that we are not maintaining the transmission grid for the high value stations (Hydro, cola , nuclear) so that we can install transmission capability for power production of low or little value — solar and Wind.

    I would rather suffer the “waste” of money on Big Becky than suffer the foolishness of one more IWT. At least there is hope of recovery of the investment at Niagara Falls and the new tunnels and turbines — at least it is reliable power generation and will be for the foreseeable future.

    No matter how you dress up the issue — the turbines do not produce effectively or reliably. They are not green or useful.

  5. Margaret, please, refocus, no wind turbines period, that is the only thing that is acceptable. Once you start agreeing to accept anything to do with wind turbines, then means you except the concept of this type of energy source.

    No wind turbines period, the only place wind turbines should be installed is on the moon and even there, the man on the moon would tell you how useless these devices are. Remember fish swim, man walks and birds/bats fly. When bird/bats migrate they fly in a southern and northern direction exactly how east or west and from exactly where they fly is not known because most if not all is done during the night because they fly by the stars.

    The main reason that the wind companies want put turbines out where you can’t see them is, out of sight out of mind. I ask, how would the wind companies or anyone be able to know how much environmental damage is being done by them so therefore except no set-backs, except no wind turbines period.

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