You’d think NextEra, which operates more than 100 wind projects in 19 states and Canada, could afford to tolerate a critic
National Review, Robert Bryce
Two years ago, I wrote a piece for NRO about a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) that NextEra Energy, America’s biggest wind-energy producer, had filed against Esther Wrightman, an anti-wind-project activist from the tiny village (pop.: 120) of Kerwood, Ontario. It’s now time for an update. NextEra overcame Wrightman’s opposition to the Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, a 60-megawatt project that began producing electricity last year. The 38-turbine wind project was erected right next to Wrightman’s home. In June 2014, she left not only Kerwood but Ontario and, along with her two children, her husband (who is disabled), and her parents, moved to the larger village (pop.: 1,889) of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. The Wrightmans also relocated their family business, Wrightman Alpines, a nursery that specializes in alpine plants.
Esther Wrightman couldn’t stop the wind project that turned her into an activist. But here’s the reason for this update: NextEra is still SLAPPing her. For reasons the company won’t explain, it hasn’t dropped its litigation. This is more than a story about Goliath beating up on David (or Esther). It’s also fundamentally about freedom of speech and the ability of citizens to speak out against (or, in Wrightman’s case, to make fun of) big corporations. Read article
Colin Perkel, Globe and Mail
Families opposed to the erection of large-scale wind farms near their homes failed to prove the projects would cause any serious harm to their health, an Ontario government lawyer said Tuesday. In his opening comments, Matthew Horner told a Divisional Court panel that a review tribunal was correct to reject objections to the turbines based on health concerns.
“There’s no indication that the tribunal made a palpable and overriding error,” Horner said late on Day 2 of the hearing. He also said the tribunal was right to reject the residents’ “novel argument” that the approvals process violates the constitution.
Four families are asking the appellate court to throw out decisions by the Environment Review Tribunal that upheld approvals of three large-scale wind-energy projects. They also want the approvals process declared unconstitutional on the grounds that the law precludes them from arguing turbines might cause them harm. Read article
By Kate Dubinski, The London Free Press
Lawyers representing four families battling wind turbine projects in Southwestern Ontario continued their legal arguments Tuesday in a London courtroom, arguing that the government is asking rural residents to bear the psychological and physical brunt of green energy projects.
“The legislative scheme is so skewed to fast-track green energy projects that it gives no meaningful way to appeal the projects,” said laywer Asha James, who represents the four families at the divisional court hearing. “(We) submit that given the state of current scientific knowledge, if an appellant is able to prove that there’s a reasonable expectation of harm, that is enough to stop a project.” The lawyers are asking the three Superior Court trial judges hearing an appeal of a decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal to rewrite the law because it’s unfair.
Tuesday was the second day of what was supposed to be a three-day hearing, but the lawyers for the defendants — starting with lawyers for the government — didn’t start their arguments until late in the day, so the hearing will likely go into Thursday. The government lawyers, who will be followed by lawyers representing three wind turbine projects, will argue that the original tribunal found that there wasn’t any serious harm to people living near wind turbines and that the Renewable Energy Act doesn’t deprive anyone of their fundamental rights, said Matthew Horner, one of the government lawyers. Read article
By Denis Langlois, Sun Times, Owen Sound
MPP Bill Walker says he is deeply concerned about the skyrocketing number of people who are appealing to the local United Way for help after having their electricity or heating services cut off by utility companies or because they are at risk of a disconnection.
The Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative politician said increasing hydro rates, which he blames on Ontario Liberal government mismanagement, and a lack of jobs in the province are behind the troublesome trend. “Sadly, I think we’re going to have more and more disconnections,” he said Thursday in an interview. “It’s unacceptable.”
Francesca Dobbyn, executive director of the United Way of Bruce Grey, told The Sun Times Wednesday that the agency has received more calls this fall — the bulk of which have come in within the last few weeks — about service disconnections than in any other year of its eight-year-old utility assistance program. Read article
The Brown County Board of Health voted tonight to declare the Shirley Wind Turbine Development a Human Health Hazard. The decision was based on a report of a year-long study conducted by the Enz family with assistance from Mr Rick James to document acoustic emissions from the wind turbines including infrasound and low frequency noise, inside homes within a radius of 6 miles of the Shirley Wind turbines.
The wording of the motion was as follows:
“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County. WI. a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.”
The context is in reference to Brown County Code 38.01 in the Brown County Ordinances, in Chapter 38, relating to Public Health Nuisance (section (b) Human Health Hazard). “Human Health Hazard” means a substance, activity or condition that is known to have the potential to cause acute or chronic illness or death if exposure to the substance, activity or condition is not abated.
The vote to declare it a Human Health Hazard now puts Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind Development on the defensive to prove to the Board they are not the cause of the health complaints documented in the study, and could result in a shut down order.
Read the Brown County Ordinances
Read more at Waubra Foundation
John Miner, London Free Press
After studying two Lake Erie communities, Western University researchers are calling on governments and wind farm developers to avoid feeding the war of words that has broken out between supporters and opponents of wind turbines.
In a study published in the journal Environment and Planning, the Western geography department researchers found people who have raised health concerns and other objections to wind turbines are denigrated, dismissed and ostracized by supporters of the developments in their communities. They also endure shots by senior politicians, such as former premier Dalton McGuinty, who dismissed health concerns as “unreal.”
The treatment only makes the situation worse for individuals with concerns, said associate geography professor Jamie Baxter, one of the study’s authors. “If you get right down to the micro level of the community, life is not good for these people,” Baxter said Wednesday. Read article
A TALE OF TWO COMMUNITIES
Support for wind farms
Port Burwell: 80%
Clear Creek: 66%
Average number of turbines within 2 km of homes
Port Burwell: 3.7 turbines
Clear Creek: 6.8 turbines
Percentage claiming health impacts
Port Burwell: 3%
Clear Creek: 22%
Wind Turbines proposed around Sarah Hornlower’s home: 92 NextEra turbines (Jericho Project), 44 Suncor turbines(Cedar Point Project).
Commentary & Photo Essay by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
Three Turbines: The Bornish Wind Energy Centre, a project of Florida-based NextEra Energy, will see the construction of 45 industrial wind turbines in North Middlesex over the next several months. Eventually, Bornish will be joined with the company’s Adelaide and Jericho projects to create a network of about 175 turbines. Several other projects are also in the works by NextEra, Suncor Energy and other companies in Lambton and Middlesex Counties. Photos by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
Wide Shot Blade Assembly: The industrial wind turbines being erected by NextEra are GE Energy 1.6-100 models. The installed cost is estimated at between $3-4 million apiece. When operating, each turbine can generate 1.62MW of power. The blade assembly being installed on this 80-metre (260 foot) tower weighs more than 33 tonnes and each blade is almost 50 metres (160 feet) in length. It is estimated that 800 tonnes of concrete is used for the base of each turbine.
Kerwood & Elginfield: Kerwood Road was restricted to one lane for several days last week as crews from Blue-Con Inc. of London drilled a hole for the installation of a massive hydro tower at the corner of Elginfield Road. The augur (centre) uses a giant eight-foot bit to dig the holes where a huge steel rebar cage (seen below the augur) is buried to support the steel hydro towers, which reach heights of 56 feet and will be installed throughout the project area. Continue reading
You have a legal right to access certain municipal records. Simply submit your request in writing (some municipal websites have a form for this), along with a cheque for $5.00. Be sure to ask for exactly what you want to see: specify the period of time you are interested in, the topic, and the type of documentation you want. The municipality will round up the documentation and provide you with a quote as to how much it will cost you to obtain the information. You can usually take all or just some of it. If you request it electronically it may cost you less than if they have to photocopy documents.
I request access to all documentation, including but not limited to e-mail correspondence between all municipal representatives and NextEra Energy Canada from January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014.
I request access to all documentation, including but not limited to e-mail correspondence concerning the NextEra Jericho Wind project from January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014.
Some information may be withheld for reasons such as ‘private or personal information’ would be revealed. The wind companies like this one. If this occurs there are avenues of appeal that are laid out in the legislation.
Be relentless. Demand to see what your municipality is up to. Continue reading
…and “the list” gets longer. Like a spoiled child who is not content with being given the sugar bowl, Nextera’s Kerwood Wind is threatening legal action. Adelaide-Metcalfe township has joined the list of targets which stands now at 4 (or maybe more):
- West Grey
- Esther Wrightman
Note that the targets are 3 small municipalities and one resident – all having to face off against high-powered ($800/hour) legal teams from the likes of Torys and McCarthy/Tetrault. Nextera plays hardball only.
But there was a surprise for NextEra, the solicitor for Adelaide-Metcalfe chose to present a 9 page document outlining the oddities of the complaint on the January 20, 2014 Agenda.
Summary: “Kerwood [NextEra Energy] has elected to bypass the Council and is proceeding under Section 41 of the Electricity Act. Kerwood cites a “constructive” refusal of it(s) plans for the electrical infrastructure as its reason for proceeding via Section 41. It is implicit from that statement that no refusal has actually taken place.”
Never liking this kind of exposure and open discussion, Nextera quickly filed a letter of “abeyance” for NextEra to the OEB – returning to the table, but reserving its threat of action.
What is ironic in all this, is that a motion to declare the township an “unwilling host” was defeated at the May 6, 2013 Adelaide-Metcalfe council meeting:
“Resolved that Council support the resolution of the Township of Wainfleet advising the Township is not a willing host for Industrial Wind Turbines. MOTION LOST. “
So even though Adelaide-Metcalfe Council (not the residents) claims they are a “Willing Host” for wind turbines, we can see that they can never give the cry-baby bully enough. It’s always wants MORE. And if one thinks they will be saved from a bully by doing whatever they tell you to do, they’ll still shoot you for walking too slow. And Nextera says these legal actions and threats do not cause ‘terror’??
My Huron Info
OPP officers were required to calm the pandemonium that ensued when four wind turbine bylaws were scheduled to be read at Huron East Council’s Dec. 3 meeting. After repeated interruptions by the dozens of members of Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) in attendance, Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan engaged two police officers to ensure the meeting would run smoothly, and without further interruption.
At the meeting, council was set to authorize bylaws that would approve road user agreements and community vibrancy funds with both Varna Wind Inc. and the St. Columban Energy Limited Partnership. Only one of the four motions would eventually pass. Before the bylaws were introduced, HEAT member and Councillor Allison Dekroon made a motion that would defer the four bylaws, calling the documents “hefty”. She said since council only received the documents the Friday before the meeting, members of the public had not been given time to review them and did not have enough time, legally, to request a formal appearance before council that night.
She suggested the bylaws be deferred until the Jan. 7 meeting so council, and members of the public, could do their due diligence. “We’re not giving the people a voice,” she said. Councillor Les Falconer, however, disagreed with Dekroon, saying that council had been working on the road user agreements for almost a year, long before Dekroon was even a councillor. “This has gone back and forth for nine months in closed session,” Falconer said. Dekroon said she felt the province’s ombudsman would have a problem with council rushing the documents through. MacLellan disagreed. Read article
by Bob Lewis
Another exciting day of the ERT trying to deal with MLWAG and Esther trying to deal with idiots, obstructionist gov’t and Nextera lawyers and the latest in a string of people who take turns on our appeal but don’t seem to have really good communication between them. I don’t know what other ERTs are like these days, but ours seems to get assigned whichever adjudicator is free that day.
Mr. Vanderbent seems to be in the strange position of not knowing what to do with people like us, so he just adjourns the hearing or retires to the ‘chambers’. Sometimes he takes Esther, Harvey and the lawyers, sometimes it is only the woman who sits beside him. The talks with the lawyers don’t seem to take long – I think maybe because Esther just won’t back down on anything.
It started out about the video. After a couple of visits to the back room he said the opening statements could be videotaped. (or so we thought) Big smile on his face as he read to the CTV reporter and her camera. Then he said, “No more.” – only HIS opening statement. Didn’t want the public hearing Esther’s or Harvey’s. Continue reading
By Galen Eagle, Peterborough Examiner
MILLBROOK – Mothers Against Wind Turbines added their voice to the opposition against a proposed wind farm in the Bethany-Cavan area. The group, formed by two mothers who have been waging fights against wind farm proposals in their own communities, spoke to a group of 25 people at the Cavan Monaghan Township municipal office Tuesday night.
Focused on the impact of wind turbines on children, the talk was part of a series of recent town hall meetings hosted by Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden and Coun. Tim Belch. Shellie Correia, who lives in the town of Wellandport in Niagara Region, has been fighting the construction of a mega wind turbine project in her backyard.
Despite an opposition campaign that included meetings with the leaders of all three provincial political parties, Correia is faced with the real possibility that a 600-foot turbine will be built 550 metres from her home, where she lives with her 12-year-old son Joey, a boy with sensory processing issues. Joey’s condition means he is sensitive to certain sounds that wouldn’t negatively affect other people. For example, Joey is extremely irritated by the sound of ripping Velcro. Read article
This is the letter NextEra sent the ERT’s accessibility coordinator explaining why they felt video recording should be prohibited from a public hearing.
Full Letter From Tory’s (NextEra) to ERT Accessibility Coordinator
Early on in the Adelaide ERT process I had asked that the ERT allow for video recording of the public hearing. My reasons were laid out in a letter to the Accessibility Coordinator. The recommendation from the ERT chair was that I write a request to the ERT for the person with the disability, and then NextEra and the MOE could file their ‘response/attack’ in return, and I could respond again.
What struck as wrong about this is that if a person was asking for accommodation for a wheelchair to get into the hearing….would they have to argue it out publicly with Nexterror? No. So I refused to send a request to Nexterror and the MOE. And I wrote the Accessibility Coordinator again, including a doctors note for the individual with the disability, and asked again that the person be accommodated. I also repeatedly asked that the person be treated with dignity and respect and that this information should not be hashed out in public hearings/teleconferences. This was all for naught.
In a telconfrence this past Wednesday the issue was brought up by the Chair, as it hadn’t been clearly dealt with.
Here’s how it went:
Dirk Vanderbent (ERT Chair) – Ms. Wrightman I understand that you have made a request to video-tape the hearing. Continue reading
Denise Chong, Officer of the Order of Canada and International Best-selling Author, reading from her new book “Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance” an Association to Protect Amherst Island Fundraiser
Date: October 20
Time: 3:00 pm
Place: The Lodge on Amherst Island MAP Continue reading
Ben Lansink will be a witness at the Adelaide ERT Appeal (Nexterror & MOE v Wrightman & MLWAG Inc), along with fellow Chicago real estate appraiser Mike McCann f (tentatively on Oct 16 in London at the Middlesex County council office).
See McCann-Lansink Human Species Habitat Sep 30-13
Yes, we did. OWR is now hosted in Iceland! Out of NextEra Energy’s SLAPP suit-happy grasp…
From the new host 1984’s website:
“1984 will always do everything within its legal power to inform our customers of any inquiries from any authorities, lawyers or courts into the customer’s affairs that we may become aware of. It is essential that the jurisdiction that the company operates in is Iceland, where the IMMI legislation is forthcoming, making Iceland a haven for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in general. “
Welcome back, Freedom of Speech and Expression!! (and thank God for places like Iceland!). I’ve missed these pictures too much…
A WINDFARM has been ordered to demolish ten turbines and pay compensation and fines after it was successfully sued by a couple. Speaking to Le Figaro newspaper, the couple’s lawyer, Philippe Bodereau, said: “This decision is very important because it demonstrates to all those who put up with windfarms with a feeling of powerlessness that the battle is not in vain, even against big groups, or authorities who deliver building permits, that legal options are available to everyone, that we have a right to live in peace and that people can do other things than suffer.”
The couple bought their 18th century listed property, the Château de Flers, in 1993. A tribunal in Montpellier ruled that the couple had suffered due to the “degradation of the environment, resulting from a rupture of a bucolic landscape and countryside”. It also agreed the couple had suffered from the noise of the turbines and from the flashing lights.
“The situation, instantly out of place, permanent and quickly unbearable, created a problem that went beyond the typical inconveniences of neighbours and constituted a violation of property rights,” ruled the judgement.
The value of the property had no bearing on the ruling. Read article
I’ll take it from here and continue on from the last post “Ontario government lawyers join the SLAPP suit game”
You may wonder why this motion by the Ministry of Environment (demanding costs) was thrown at us in Adelaide in the first place. The MOE was demanding that I disclose the following information about the one witness on my list who has had the horrid experience of living with wind turbines.
Ask yourself, would you freely give this information, make it PUBLIC, for the sole benefit of your own government, and a foreign corporation like NextEra, to try and tell you , “it’s all in your head”? Notice that they really want specialist documents and notes from your… shrink. Like really, go to hell.
But that’s not it. You better hand all of this over too:
Feeling a little exposed? Well, if you don’t do it, a) we’ll hit the appellant with costs, and b) prohibit you from testifying! Continue reading
Wind Resistance of Melancthon
On July 19, 2013, the Appellant Mr. Sanford, ( served and filed a Notice of Constitutional Question (“Notice”). In a letter dated August 8, 2013, David Crocker, counsel for the Appellants other than Mr. Sanford (the “Other Appellants”), served and filed a notice that Ms. Kurtin (case 13-073) and Ms. Bovaird (case 13-070) have joined Mr. Sanford in advancing the constitutional issues set out in his Notice.
On August 1, 2013, the Director brought a motion for an order striking the Appellant’s claim for constitutional relief.
 The Tribunal dismisses the Director’s motion to strike the claim for constitutional relief.
What does this document mean?
The appellant, Dennis Sanford (case 13-075, who represents Wind Resistance of Melancthon) filed a constitutional challenge. Simply put, it means that the Renewable Energy Project,( in particular, Dufferin Wind Power’s Project,) violates constitutional rights of citizens. Ms. Bovaird and Ms. Kurtin also filed for the same constitutional appeal. Read more
New York Times
Slamming doors, banging walls, bellowing strangers and whistling neighbors were the bane of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s existence. But it was only in later middle age, after he had moved with his beloved poodle to the commercial hub of Frankfurt, that his sense of being tortured by loud, often superfluous blasts of sound ripened into a philosophical diatribe. Then, around 1850, Schopenhauer pronounced noise to be the supreme archenemy of any serious thinker.
His argument against noise was simple: A great mind can have great thoughts only if all its powers of concentration are brought to bear on one subject, in the same way that a concave mirror focuses light on one point. Just as a mighty army becomes useless if its soldiers are scattered helter-skelter, a great mind becomes ordinary the moment its energies are dispersed.
And nothing disrupts thought the way noise does, Schopenhauer declared, adding that even people who are not philosophers lose whatever ideas their brains can carry in consequence of brutish jolts of sound.
From the vantage point of our own auditory world, with its jets, jackhammers, HVAC systems, truck traffic, cellphones, horns, decibel-bloated restaurants and gyms on acoustical steroids, Schopenhauer’s mid-19th century complaints sound almost quaint. His biggest gripe of all was the “infernal cracking” of coachmen’s whips. (If you think a snapping line of rawhide’s a problem, buddy, try the Rumbler Siren.) But if noise did shatter thought in the past, has more noise in more places further diffused our cognitive activity? Read article
A most interesting letter of legal opinion written on Nov. 20, 2012, by former Supreme Court Justice, Ian Binnie, popped up with the latest regurgitation of Gas Plant e-mails. Justice Binnie replies to David Livingston, McGuinty’s former chief of staff asked about the possibility of suing opposition members citing outrageous allegations made by PC leader Tim Hudak and MPP Todd Smith in Question Period in October of 2012.
Hmmm this sounds familiar – like The Nexterror SLAPP lawsuit against Esther Wrightman where she is accused of unfairly competing with NextEra by referring to the company as Nexterror. McGuinty got good advice and, unlike Nexterror, he followed that advice. The letter of opinion is a reality lecture wherein Justice Binnie, with rather dry humour, paints out the possible scenarios and why for Dalton, this notion of suing his enemies is not a good notion at all.
Justice Binnie begins, “Many of the allegations…are in our view clearly defamatory…the law provides a low threshold. It is protective of reputations.” That sounds promising. He further states, “Mr. Hudak’s statement is also defamatory”
Hudak had said: “Not only did Dalton McGuinty misuse a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money, he tried to paper over it, cover it up (and) keep the details from the public.” Remember, this was written on Nov.29, 2012. As it turns out, what Hudak said isn’t too far off the mark. Continue reading
Preliminary Hearing for the Appeal of the St. Columban Renewable Energy Approval
Date: August 14th
Time: 10:00 am
Place: Brussels Community Centre. Continue reading
by Peter Epp, Chatham Daily News
Byelections are to be held on Aug. 1, in which the votes of residents in five different ridings will be tabulated, but it’s not likely their outcome will have a great bearing on the next government, which right now is being propped up by the New Democrats. Yet if Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals do poorly, it will be a stunning slap against her government and its policies.
Oddly enough, votes have also been taken across rural Ontario over the past six months and, as with the Aug. 1 byelection, their outcome has had little impact on the governing Liberals.
Dozens of municipalities have been declaring themselves to be non-willing hosts to wind turbine development, in a desperate bid to become heard in Queen’s Park. Read article
Robert Bryce, The National Review
The Goliath of the wind-energy business is suing David. The defendant is Esther Wrightman, an activist and mother of two from the tiny town of Kerwood, Ontario, which sits roughly halfway between Detroit and Toronto.
Wrightman, 32, has angered the Florida-based NextEra Energy (market capitalization: $32 billion) by starting a couple of bare-bones websites, ontariowindresistance.org and mlwindaction.org, as well as a YouTube channel, which she uses to lampoon the company. In its lawsuit, filed on May 1, NextEra claims that Wrightman has misused its logo and libeled the company by calling it “NexTerror” and “NextError.” And while the company doesn’t specify the amount of damages it seeks from Wrightman, it says that it will donate any proceeds from the litigation to United Way.
NextEra owns some 10,000 megawatts of wind-generation capacity, or about one-sixth of all U.S. capacity. And the company is aggressively developing six new wind projects in Canada, one of which, the Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, aims to put 38 turbines just north of Wrightman’s home. (You can see her property and the surrounding land by going here.)
NextEra’s filing against Wrightman is a textbook case of a SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation. And it’s a particularly loathsome one as NextEra filed it in Ontario, the epicenter of the backlash against the encroaching sprawl of the 150-meter-high, noise-producing, bird-and-bat-killing, subsidy-dependent wind-energy sector. Read article