International group calls for three-year wind farm moratorium

“It shouldn’t have been placed there,” ~ Ted Cheskey, Manager of Nature Canada Bird Conservation Program

Posted By Nick Gardner, QMI Agency   Kingston Whig Standard

Alarming bird and bat mortality rates at the Wolfe Island wind farm have an international group calling for a three-year moratorium on wind energy projects on the Upper St. Lawrence River and east end of Lake Ontario.

Save The River vice-president Stephanie Weiss said the 86-windmill farm has caused the death of 688 birds and bats, equalling eight per windmill (over 6 months).

That’s far higher than the estimated two to four deaths for each windmill projected over a 12-month period and sends up a “red flag” to the organization, said Weiss. “This is much higher than the average, but nobody is ready to draw conclusions.”

She said Save The River supports renewable energy development, including wind power, but it wants to see a comprehensive study about the cumulative effects on birds and bats from proposed wind farms on both sides of the border.

“It is a cause for concern, not as much for the existing 86 windmills but for the additional windmills proposed for the area,” Weiss said.

“The wind farm projects are assessed individually, but nobody is looking at what would happen if you have 400 to 1,000 more windmills all over the lake and St. Lawrence River.”

Weiss said several projects proposed on the U.S. and Canadian sides of the border should be studied for their collective threat to birds and bats.

In the U.S., projects are proposed “from Cape Vincent to Hammond,” while Canadian proposals have been lined up at Amherst Island, Prince Edward County and Middle Duck Island, she said.

“Our petition (for a moratorium) is largely based on the initial indications coming out of the (Wolfe Island) data and also on the increase in scale (of the new projects),” she said. “Just because (pursuing renewable energy) is the right thing to do, it still needs to be done right.”

Weiss said cross-border issues need special scrutiny. For instance, the Indiana Bat is considered an endangered species in the United States but not in Canada, she said, yet the bat flies on both sides of the border and is common both near the proposed Cape Vincent wind farm as well as on Wolfe Island, where it is offered no protection as a threatened species, she said.

The group’s call for a moratorium finds support from Nature Canada bird conservation program manager Ted Cheskey.

“We’re supportive of wind energy, but we don’t believe it should be done at the risk of biodiversity,” Cheskey said, adding appropriate planning is needed to ensure wind farms are established where there is adequate wind but outside of traditional bird and bat migration areas.

Wolfe Island, with its barren features and scrub growth, is particularly attractive for migrating birds, said Cheskey, who laments the decision to establish a wind farm there.

“It shouldn’t have been placed there,” he said.

Cheskey said he was most alarmed about data from Wolfe Island indicating 28 tree swallows were among the casualties during the first six months of the wind farm’s operation.

“The population is already in decline,” he said, noting further reductions will likely affect populations downriver through the Thousand Islands and toward Brockville, where the bird’s food sources are common.

Other bird species killed by the windmills include turkey vultures (six), purple martins (seven) and bobolinks (eight) as well as several unidentified birds, he said.

Meanwhile, fledgling windmill technician and technologist programs at St. Lawrence College aren’t likely to be affected even if a moratorium is initiated, said Gord MacDougall, vice-president of student services and external affairs.

The programs, introduced two years ago as part of a focus on renewable energy trades, are needed to meet the requirements of a growing industry in Ontario, said MacDougall.

“I think the interest in the programs will remain high because the sustainability focus will remain high in Canada and through out the world, for that matter,” he said.

19 thoughts on “International group calls for three-year wind farm moratorium

  1. Amherst Island Wind’s homepage illustrates Save the River’s concern that the hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines proposed for the east end of Lake Ontario could greatly multiply the number and species of winged critters–local, migrating, and overwintering–that would be knocked out of the sky or displaced:

  2. Why do people persist in pursuing wind energy as a viable solution to our energy needs?? In the meantime because of this perception, hundreds of birds each year get removed from the ecosystem and taxpayers pockets get emptied.

  3. Why?
    Don’t forget this little tidbit from the CanWEA Windvision 2025 report:

    “In 2008, Canada was the world’s 4th largest exporter of
    electricity. We sit next door to the world’s largest electricity
    consumer which has a strong and growing appetite for green
    power. In fact, 25 American states now require a certain
    portion of their electricity to come from renewable sources.
    These initial efforts will lead to the installation of 61,000 MW
    of new renewable energy generating capacity.
    Canada enjoys a long history of energy and electricity trade
    with the Americans and there are great opportunities to build
    on this through wind exports. For example, Canada’s Atlantic
    provinces have tremendous wind resources but a relatively
    small demand for electricity. Across the border, however, in
    the north eastern United States, there is a huge demand for
    electricity that will be difficult to meet from local renewable
    sources. Wind power from Atlantic Canada can fill this gap
    and there are similar opportunities in other parts of Canada
    as well.

  4. So, at what cost do we pay to serve America’s growing appetite for Green energy?

    Slaughter of raptors, bats, and other flying friends
    Decimated landscape
    Industrialization of our great lakes
    Division in our communities
    Skyrocketting electricity costs
    Abandoned homes
    Sick residents
    Slashed property values
    Damaged economy
    Further loss of small business
    Massive government debt
    Corporate ownership of prime Ontario land
    More taxes

    Did I miss anything?

    Makes it all worth while doesn’t it?

  5. These NGO’s that are “supportive of wind energy” have to say that because they depend on money from the Ontario Government (Trillium Foundation) for their very existence so in essence they can’t say “NO Wind Turbines Anywhere!” even though that should be the message……….

    They call them “Wind Mills” because they are actually part of the “Greenies” cabal that has started this destruction of Rural Ontario.

    I’m sorry but your either “in for a penny…. in for a pound”

    Can’t have it both ways River people.

    Nice to scream about the murder of wildlife but what about the destruction of Human Beings?

    Silence eh?

  6. I honestly believe that most of the “workers” inside these NGO groups are totally unaware of how their groups are “connected” with the BIG GREEN MACHINE that runs their agendas.

    It’s called manipulation of the masses. Take a few really “concerned intelligent individuals” who are empathetic to the problems in our World and then “brainwash” them and offer them an opportunity to “help” in fighting the destruction of the environment! Label the “evildoers” of this destruction and give it a face. Let’s sat “humans”.

    Then unleash these willing initiates onto the World with “Green Rhetoric” and absolutely unintelligible unrealistic answers that in the end actually promote the Green Scam!

    I hate to keep using the old analogy of the “Hitler Youth” as these people aren’t even in the same hateful league as those sad souls but the strategy is exactly the same.

    Take the young impressionable youth, pump them full of disastrous scenarios like Suzuki does week after week, re-tool the school system to drum “Green Green Green ideas into the young and when they are supposed to be old enough to think for themselves then old guard of Industrial Greed Merchants have an army of misguided “soldiers”willing and ready to go into the World and promote a fake Green Agenda which is nothing more than Investors Casino where huge amounts of money can be made off an Energy Plan which is not only destructive but “righteous!”

    Now it’s up to us here in the “real world” to “de-program” our youth and get them back on track where fair and honest treatment of our fellow citizens must be the PRIORITY!

  7. That just kills me, I mourn the loss of those birds, and how can the Save the River state
    “It is a cause for concern, not as much for the existing 86 windmills but for the additional windmills proposed for the area,” Weiss said.
    Why not demand the existing ones down? What kind of preservation organization is O.K with the slaughter of some of its wildlife? The data was inaccurate, make them accountable.
    The Save the River isn’t the only one, Pelee Island Bird Observatory is the same.
    Quixote is right, the Trillium foundation is as corrupt an organization as the Eco Fee collectors are.

  8. So true about selling power to the U.S. However, in the States it’s being sold as the states with lots of wind can sell power to the states that don’t have lots of wind to make power.

    Same game with a different name!!! Don’t fall for this .

    Both countries economies will suffer and we along with them.

  9. It’s ok to ban turbines on Pigeon Bay,Lake Erie but ok to have them on land in Essex Co. Can’t kill migratory birds flying over the lake but ok to kill them over the land.

    Makes a lot of sense dosen’t it.

  10. How about your drinking water? Or our fisheries? Is that important enough for you?

    No one is saying “put them near people”, but rural land opponents sure are quick to call “fowl” when water opponents ask for any help in protecting “their” areas at risk.

    Is it US against YOU against THEM now?
    Geez… tlk about righteous.

  11. “It shouldn’t have been placed there” says Cheskey of Nature Canada.

    Well, it was due to the inaction and waffling by groups like Nature Canada and Ontario Nature!


  12. Industrial wind turbines have few areas where they can be justified. All sites should have an independent cost benefit analysis and only use the real benefits taken from real situations. Limiting the scope of the costs and maximizes the benefits with theoretical figures overestimates the benefits. A 30% estimate of capacity is a theoretical, most likely best situation. Even 30% capacity should not be acceptable in any production situation. Not all power produced provides benefits to the consumer because any unpredictable and erratic consumption or generation of power, such as that produced by wind most likely results in more power produced than needed by consumers. Power wastage from curtailment processes of reliable production sources anywhere will increase due to unexpected wind produced power. Power is also wasted when more power is unexpectedly produced than can be consumed by consumers. Higher costs result in allowing wind power on the system, not only with the higher MW charge but also to other generating sources that have to make way for wind power. Industrial wind turbines and necessary infrastructure are also a power drain on the system. This drain is not insignificant with higher power costs. The true economic costs is not just with the higher cost paid for a MW of wind power, but with the support and process used to allow wind into the grid system.

  13. From Lake Ontario Waterkeeper website:
    ( )

    A response to the Wolfe Island Wind Project’s bird and bat mortality study–William R. Evans and Gerald A. Smith, Submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S Department of Environmental Conservation, and Environment Canada August 16th, 2010

    William R. Evans and Gerald A. Smith have written to the Minister of the Environment, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental Assessment Section of Environment Canada to express their concerns regarding the Wolfe Island Wind Project. ( moratorium letter – 12Aug.pdf )

    Evans is Director of the nonprofit Old Bird Inc. based in Ithaca, NY. He has been a consultant to the wind power industry for over 10 years carrying out pre-and post-construction wildlife monitoring studies.

    Smith is currently President of the Onondaga Audubon Society based in central New York. He is co-founder of the Derby Hill Bird Observatory where he managed the spring raptor count for 15 years.

  14. Don’t know where you get the hostility(???) from.

    There was none offered or intended. Now I am baffled.

    I did not go into reasons as I simply don’t/didn’t know them. Often WordPress simply “disappears” posts. This is an issue at many sites.

  15. I apologize if I got my back up. After 12 posts and answering 60 emails this morning, I felt abit stressed out.

    I don’t know which posts you had disappear but keep in mind anything with a link in it is perceived as possible spam by WordPress and placed in a holding queue until approved by the Moderator.

  16. MA:

    I can guess how you feel. Moderators tend to be a testy lot — but for good reasons. I do work where the reason I am there is that there are serious problems — without exception — so everyone is stressed till things are resolved. It gets to you after a while.

    Maybe it’s time you considered some help with the moderating. Assuming that anyone would be crazy enough…

    Apology not accepted — as it is not required. Moderators are ALLOWED to blow up from time to time. 🙂

    Have a nice glass of wine and think pleasant thoughts for a while…

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