No deadline for wind studies

by John Spears, Toronto Star
Ontario bureaucrats have been given “no firm deadline” for reporting on the possible health effects of offshore wind turbines, says the Ministry of Natural Resources.  But it says one of the studies will take up to three years. The province is facing a $2.25 billion lawsuit from a wind power developer after it slapped an indefinite moratorium on offshore wind power developments in February.

At the time, the province said it was suspending offshore developments in order to conduct further study on the health and environmental impact of the turbines.

The moratorium was widely seen as a way of burying the issue until after the Oct. 6 provincial election. The lawsuit, by Trillium Power Wind Corp., was filed the week before the election.

Trillium had been planning a wind development in eastern Lake Ontario, off Kingston, and says in its statement of claim that it has been severely damaged by the moratorium. It says a financing deal collapsed when the moratorium was imposed.

Assertions made in the statement of claim have not been proven; they may be challenged and amended, or deleted.

Trillium maintains in its statement of claim that the province hasn’t undertaken any scientific studies on health impacts as it said it would.

It says the moratorium was imposed to mollify voters in swing ridings.

Energy Minister Brad Duguid has denounced the court action “one of the most offensive lawsuits I’ve ever seen.”

He said the government must protect the environment.

When the Star asked for specifics about what research is under way, the Ministry of Natural Resources supplied the following list:

“Research on potential impacts and benefits of offshore windpower turbines . . . This was principally a literature review.”

“A review of the potential effects of offshore wind power development on natural coastal processes (e.g. currents and sediment flow). The ministry hired a leading engineering firm experienced in working in freshwater environments to provide advice on issues, impacts and potential mitigation strategies for potential offshore wind power development in the Great Lakes.”

“Weather radar studies of the migratory patterns of birds and bats, to better understand how birds and bats use and cross both lakes Erie and Ontario. We expect the first year of research to be released via science journals in next year.”

“A study in Lake Ontario assessing the potential electromagnetic impacts of underwater high voltage cables on local fisheries. Field work still underway. We hope to publish this within the next three years.”

The ministry says the underwater cable research will take place near Wolfe Island by Kingston and will compare fish populations near an existing cable with those that are not.

Asked what the budget is for the studies, the ministry wouldn’t supply a figure.

10 thoughts on “No deadline for wind studies

  1. “Trillium maintains in its statement of claim that the province hasn’t undertaken any scientific studies on health impacts as it said it would.”
    Don’t make me laugh har har! Scientific studies. Just go visit anyone who lives within 550m
    of the Turbines and see what they tell you. Trillium management crying their losing money? May i suggest some lovely farm land in Shelbrune or Meadford how about Kincardine?
    I also have another idea where you can put your turbines. Tee Hee.
    Proud Resident of the Beautiful Grey Highlands.

    • PLEASE add the house I have for sale surrounded by the 18 Vestas 1.65 MW IWTs of the Clear Creek/Cultus/Frogmore IWT ZONE all jammed in within a 3 km radius of our community of ~ 140 houses from which ~ 70 residents signed a petition in July 2005 asking for mitigation of the effects they feel from the IWTs and which ARE damaging our health, allbeit INDIRECTLY, because the IWTs are NOT DIRECTLY battering us, through sleep deprivation and/or other YET undiscovered processes.

  2. The present government is trying to devise a way out of the $2.25 billion lawsuit it finds itself in.

  3. Maybe if we all wear bird or fish outfits McGuinty would finally do a health study for us.

  4. Back when moratorium was imposed, MNR also said something about working with US partners to study the handful of turbines planned offshore of Cleveland, OH. These aren’t constructed yet, I don’t think.

    Sure hope MNR studies the infrasound that Cleveland wind turbines can be expected to impart to Lake Erie water and sediments, well as the sensitivities of freshwater creatures. Infrasound sensitivities of marine creatures is an exciting new field of study*, but next to nothing is known about how wind-turbine infrasound could affect predator-prey interactions, spawning, navigation & migration in fresh water.

    * For example, in the marine environment, it was just discovered that free-floating coral larvae use natural infrasound produced by reefs, as a signal to drop from the water column and colonize. Freshwater fishes such as lake trout and walleye spawn on reefs.

    • European eels are among the most sensitive fish to infrasound. One would assume likewise of the American eel, the Lake Ontario population of which is of concern, threatened, or endangered under provincial, state, and federal legislation.

      To reproduce, the Lake Ontario eels must pass through eastern L Ontario and the St Lawrence River to reach spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea. MNR and Environment Canada surely want proof that Mr. Baines’s little project would not drive the population to extirpation?

      Every eel in lake Ontario is female, BTW, and thus their extirpation could affect populations far beyond Lake Ontario–e.g., Quebec, maritime provinces, and east coast states–it’s not known for sure. Studies are needed!

  5. Really, this is nothing but politics — and it lands right at the feet of John Gerretsen, the former Minister of Environment and his favoured son, Ian Baines. Mr Baines — the bane of residents living under his unsafe and dangerous Melancthon and Wolfe Island projects — had Mr. Gerretsen backing him to plant turbines in unsafe locations pre-Green Energy Act. Not surprisingly, Mr. Baine’s WINDSTREAM disaster in the making was the only FIT contract awarded for offshore (once again in Mr. Gerretsen’s riding and just 2km offshore a globally and continentally significant IBA. Now that the election is over, suddenly up pops Mr. Baines to say that he plans to begin construction in 2014 ( that sounds just about right — after the prearranged and pre-written :research review of the MNR). Mr. Baines and his international backers — another oilsand’s coal company like Transalta perhaps? — are ready and waiting with the blasting caps to destroy what little is left of Wolfe Island’s natural habitat. Trillium has sour grapes.

    At the beginning and end of this saga, we are talking influence and corruption at the ministerial level — favouring one large company over the other and ensuring that the cititzens and constituents are ignored over “your guy”. Trillium is crying foul over the foul stench of misrepresentation and insider influence.

  6. Could the citizens of Ontario sue the government by way of a class action suit for gross incompetence re: effects of industrial wind turbines on rural populations’ health and property values? A dollar figure based on personal loss of 40% of land value and health concerns experienced by all those who are suffering a lower level of personal health would be appropriate.
    Local councils could also sue for loss of tax base.
    Let’s get thinking seriously about this.

  7. does anyone know the status of the ripley bluewater wind project is it moving forward or on hold where can I find out before I decide if I have to sell my house

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