by Keith Stelling – The amendments hidden in the government’s budget bill will allow the Minister to grant exemptions from the provincial legislation protecting endangered species which presently prohibits anyone from harming, killing, or destroying the habitat of a threatened species.
The Minister will now be able to excuse from prosecution under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, corporations engaged in infrastructure projects including renewable energy (wind turbines), communications systems, electric power systems, oil or gas pipelines, transportation corridors or facilities, waste management systems or water works. Continue reading →
OPPONENTS OF ONTARIO’S burgeoning wind-power industry ought not be too concerned about a ruling by the province’s Assessment Review Board that rejected a Wolfe Island couple’s argument that nearby wind turbines had significantly decreased their home’s value.
The board found a lack of evidence to support the contention of Ed and Gail Kenney that presence of three turbines within a kilometre of their home, and 27 of the island wind farm’s 86 turbines within three kilometres, had reduced the value of their waterfront home. Continue reading →
Tibbetts Point observer says;
On Friday morning September 30 at 9:30 am it was surprising to personally witness the destruction of a flight of Canadian Geese by one of the Wolfe Island turbines. Here is what happened; from a clear view second floor window at our home on Tibbetts Point Rd. I watched geese lift off and form up along the shore of Wolfe Island. At about a hundred feet of altitude they wheeled into the wind, headed in a west/southwesterly direction. As their climb into a headwind slowly took them over Wolfe the wind speed gauge at our house continued to read a strong and steady 22-25 mph. It was overcast. The river was rolling. Continue reading →
A Wolfe Island couple experienced a setback Wednesday in a hearing to have their property assessment lowered because of nearby wind turbines. Ed and Gail Kenney had hoped to call John Harrison, a retired Queen’s University physics teacher, as an expert witness to back their case. The Kenneys claim that they are bothered by the constant noise produced by several of the turbines at the 86-turbine wind facility and that they may be suffering ill health because of them. Continue reading →
A major conservation group is calling on TransAlta Corp. to periodically turn off turbines at its Wolfe Island wind farm in Ontario to cut down on the number of birds and bats killed by the machines. Nature Canada says the project’s 86 turbines are among the most destructive of wildlife in North America. The organization argues TransAlta should shut down parts of the wind farm – one of the biggest in the country – during high-risk periods in the late summer and early fall, when swallows congregate in the region and bats migrate. Read article
Stantec has just released report #4, covering the 2nd half of 2010 on Wolfe Island. To read the executive summary you’d think the birds and bats were doing just fine. But, similar to reports #2 and #3, when you start digging into the numbers you find the slaughter continues, and in the case of bats, even accelerates. Stantec, being on the payroll of the project developer, is doing its best to put the best face it can on the numbers, but unfortunately that seems to include gaming them when necessary. I’ll get into specifics later, of course, but for now here’s my summary.
Birds: 54 carcasses found, adjusted to 703, an all-time high.
Raptors: 8 carcasses found, adjusted to 8.
Bats: 111 carcasses found, adjusted to 1878, an all-time high.
Winter raptor density: improved from a very poor 2009′s rate of 0.2/km to 0.7/km.
Notifications: 8, mostly for bats, none for raptors. Read more
The pro-wind power stance of the Sierra Club Canada environmental group caught its executive director in a political crosswind in Kingston this week.
John Bennett had a good day going on Tuesday. In the morning, he announced a joint application to the Federal Court of Canada to fight a shipment of decommissioned nuclear generators through the Great Lakes.
By Tuesday afternoon, during a workshop at the Little Catara -qui Creek Conservation Area to discuss the effects of wind turbines on migratory birds, Bennett was under siege from many of the 50 or so people in attendance. Continue reading →
Last May, I blogged about a report that described how birds and bats have been affected by the TransAlta wind plant on Wolfe Island, a globally significant Important Bird Area in southern Ontario known for its waterfowl, raptors and swallows. I called the numbers of birds and bats being killed by TransAlta’s turbines “shockingly high,” indeed the highest recorded in Canada and one of the highest in North America.
However, since the report only studied a six month period, TransAlta’s spokespeople argued that it was premature to reach conclusions so soon, especially when comparing the Wolfe Island deaths to yearly casualty rates for other wind plants. Besides, TransAlta reasoned, the results appeared to be within the thresholds of acceptable limits set by provincial and federal government regulators. Continue reading →
Opponents and supporters of the $1.35-billion wind turbine project in Lake Ontario off Kingston agree its cancellation last week by the provincial government was a purely political decision.
“It has nothing to do with science and it has everything to do with an election year and they’re afraid of losing votes,” said Jeff Garrah, CAO of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation.
Late Friday afternoon, a press release from the office of Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the application for Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. would be “suspended” while “further scientific research is conducted.” Continue reading →
There were fewer birds and bats killed by wind turbines on Wolfe Island in the first half of 2010 than during the previous six months, but the number of dead raptors is cause for concern, says a bird expert.
During the period between Jan. 1 and June 30 of last year, 10 raptor carcasses were recovered, compared to 12 between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. Seven red-tailed hawks, one osprey, one northern harrier and one turkey vulture comprised the group of 10 raptors killed by the giant blades. Continue reading →
Mark Mattson has been paying close attention to the wind project on Wolfe Island. He is the President and Waterkeeper with the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, which was an intervenor in provincial consultations around the approval of the project on Wolfe Island.
The Wolfe Island wind facility has killed many more birdsthan 1600 ducks. It is just one of the dozens of projects rubberstamped by this government. Why is the wind industry immune to prosecution? Why is the McGuinty Liberals immune as they approved this project knowing full well the impact to the bird population in this extremely sensitive area?
A Wolfe Island couple’s upcoming property assessment hearing could jeopardize the future of wind turbine projects across Ontario.
Gail and Ed Kenney have been granted a potentially precedent-setting date with the Ontario Assessment Review Board in November to argue that their property has been devalued by nearby wind turbines. Continue reading →
An environmental group is calling for a three-year moratorium on building more wind turbines in the St Lawrence Valley. Save The River points to recently released data indicating the 86-turbine wind farm on Wolfe Island caused more than a 1800 bird and bat deaths in six months. The group’s assistant director Stephanie Weiss says that’s more than double the national average. “When we’re comparing these numbers, we’re talking about how many birds are dying in a 12-month period. The national average might be 2 or 3 or even as high as 4. But the numbers we’re seeing out of Wolfe Island are 8 birds per turbine, in a six-month period,” Weiss said. Continue reading →
A recent study of bird and bat mortality at Wolfe Island’s 82-turbine wind farm is raising concerns among environmentalists. Wolfe Island is where Lake Ontario empties into the St. Lawrence River. The report found 600 birds and more than a thousand bats were killed by the windmill blades in just one six-month period. Nature Canada called the numbers “shockingly high.”
Ornithologist Bill Evans says the real question is which species of birds died. Evans directs Old Bird, Inc. in Ithaca and has consulted for both wind power companies and environmental groups. He told David Sommerstein Wolfe Island is a designated important bird area, so ornithologists predicted high fatalities. Evans says the number of hawks, owls, and other raptors was the most alarming.
An American bird specialist says no one should be surprised by the numbers of bats and birds being killed by wind turbines on Wolfe Island.
“Environment Canada ranked the site as their highest level of concern for raptors. It’s an internationally recognized site for waterfowl,” said Bill Evans, an ornithologist with Old Bird Inc. in Ithaca, N.Y.
“This was probably not a good place to build and that was said before it was even started.”
Evans was invited by Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment to sit in on a meeting with various government officials as well as representatives from TransAlta, the company that runs the 86-turbine wind farm. Continue reading →
The Globe and Mail recently reported turbine strikes on Wolfe Island (“Windfarm Turbines Deadly for Birds, Bats”). This follows a recent announcement of another, even larger installation — 100 turbines proposed for Lake Ontario immediately adjacent to Main Duck Island, part of Parks Canada’s Thousand Island National Park.
It’s pretty clear that big green energy sees eastern Lake Ontario, including Wolfe, Simcoe, Howe, Amherst and Point Edward as a sacrifice zone for inefficient, bird-chopping, subsidized industrial turbine plants. That is, “plants” as in aluminum, nylon, locomotive plants for those of you who, like me, were raised in the Kingston area in the ’40s and ’50s, not market garden, organic or vineyard plants that are better suited to these rural areas. Continue reading →
Instead of considering our evidence, each level of government pointed at the other and said someone else would protect the environment. Instead, the province rejected calls for a proper environmental assessment and Environment Canada back-pedalled on its original concerns about impacts on birds and bats. The result is an industrial wind project operating in one of the world’s most precious coastal bird areas without meaningful terms and conditions to protect wildlife. And they call this “green energy.”
“Shockingly high” numbers of bird and bat deaths caused by one of Canada’s biggest wind farms should serve as a warning to planners of other projects that may be built in crucial wildlife zones, one of the country’s key conservation groups says.
The 86 huge turbines on Wolfe Island, just outside Kingston, Ont., began to produce power about a year ago, and an on-going count of bird and bats that have been killed by the blades has been conducted since then. Continue reading →
Victoria Stewart lives 400 meters from a wind turbine on Wolfe Island just south of Kingston in the St. Lawrence Seaway. Stewart says she has trouble sleeping at night because pulsating noise from the turbines' blades. (DARREN BROWN/Ottawa Sun)
Kingston Life As everyone in Kingston surely knows by now, there are 86 wind turbines on Wolfe Island. All are on the island’s west side, which is exposed to the prevailing winds blowing off Lake Ontario. According to Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc., the company that erected them, the turbines will crank out enough electricity to power 75,000 homes per year. The rotors began spinning last June after more than decade of dreaming, negotiating, public and private meetings, planning and building. At a total cost of approximately $450 million, the wind farm is the Kingston area’s largest-ever construction project. Continue reading →
Correcting seasonally for searcher efficiency, scavenger and other removal rates, and the percent area searched, the 12 raptor/vulture and 88 other bird carcasses recovered represent approximately 602 bird fatalities over the course of this [six month] Reporting Period.
This is from the post construction monitoring report by TransAlta which owns and operates the Wolfe Island industrial wind facility through its wholly owned subsidiary Canadian Hydro Developers.
WOLFE ISLAND ECOPOWER® CENTRE, POST-CONSTRUCTION FOLLOW-UP PLAN – BIRD AND BAT RESOURCES, MONITORING REPORT NO. 2, JULY-DECEMBER 2009 Continue reading →
For the past week people around the world have been drawn to their TV sets, stunned by the environmental disaster that is currently unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Industry and government had sent assurances that an event such as this could not or would not happen. They were at the ready. There was a plan.
Canadians have heard similar assurances from governments and industry. Those same types of assurances didn’t prevent the looming disaster in Louisiana. Continue reading →
The ex-Kingstonians planning to erect 60 to 90 wind turbines west of Wolfe Island in the waters of Lake Ontario have pegged the price of the project at $1.5 billion.
Ian and Nancy Baines were in town this week to meet with Kingston Economic Development Corporation officials to begin preparing for what they describe as the largest energy renewable project in Canada. Continue reading →
Kingston was approved for Ontario’s first offshore wind power project last week, yet no regulations exist governing where turbines can be installed or how far they must be from shorelines.
“The government is now working on establishing those standards. It’s a very new field,” said Ben Chin of the Ontario Power Authority, which granted the 300-megawatt project to Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. last week. Continue reading →
Some Wolfe Island residents are challenging their tax assessments, claiming that 86 wind turbines installed in the community have hurt property values but a spokesman for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation says the agency has seen no evidence to support the homeowners’ requests.
“It’s difficult for us to determine the effects of a wind turbine until they go to sell,” said Mike Contant, account manager for eastern Ontario.
[Note: After the release of this disturbing video, wind developers are simply dismissing it at meetings, saying the vulture was “shot” down by the cameramen. You be the judge.]
Raptors such as vultures, eagles and hawks are the most vulnerable bird to turbine accidents. The big birds typically soar at about the same height as the turbine blades – roughly 300 to 400 feet. In one year, the entire population of White Tailed Eagles was wiped out at Smola, Norway. In Ontario, it has been reported coyotes are numerous around turbine facilities. Why? To swoop in and pick up the dead and injured. Continue reading →
….Part way there, I stopped dead in my path, taken aback by what I saw. There were lots of them and they were huge and industrial looking. I blinked and rubbed my eyes, not believing what they were telling me. I think I even shook my head in disbelief. There on the horizon, dominating it, standing like a bunch of aliens out of War of the Worlds were dozens of wind turbines. Continue reading →
A retired Queen’s University physics professor says wind farms don’t live up to the hype generated by energy companies and governments.
John Harrison says that for the final six months of 2009, the Wolfe Island wind farm operated at about one-quarter efficiency.
It’s misleading, Harrison said, for Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen and Trans -Alta, the company that recently bought the wind farm, to claim that the 86 turbines power 75,000 homes. Continue reading →