NAFTA wind farm decision shows need for onshore wind power research too

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October 26, 2016

The events of the past few months have been difficult for new Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault as he continues to try to defend his predecessors’ decisions. He has tried to justify: increased energy poverty, the fastest growing electricity rates in North America, the slow demise of energy intensive enterprises (manufacturing, mining, refining, pulp and paper production, etc.), gas plant cancellations and the privatization of Hydro One, to name a few.

Not to be ignored are the many challenges lodged by rural ratepayers against contract awards allowing construction of industrial-scale wind power projects in their communities. Thousands of those ratepayers have challenged the contracts and spent millions of personal after-tax dollars sitting in front of Environmental Review Tribunals, valiantly doing their best to protect the environment and wildlife from the highly invasive power projects. Only a very small percentage of the challenges have proven successful.

Just days ago another ruling was issued and once again it was in favour of an industrial wind developer. This time however, it came from a tribunal sanctioned under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and it was against the Government of Canada because of actions by the Ontario government.

The challenge by Windstream Energy LLC resulted in an award of $25 million and an additional $3 million in legal fees against the decision by the provincial governing party to place a moratorium on a contract granted to Windstream for an offshore 300-MW wind development.

The ruling by the tribunal “found that the Government of Ontario treated Windstream Energy LLC’s (Windstream) investments in Canada unfairly and inequitably” and also ruled “on the whole did relatively little to address the scientific uncertainty” surrounding offshore wind that it relied upon as the main publicly cited reason for the moratorium.

If one were to discuss the contracts awarded by the Ontario Power Authority or IESO with the people who have challenged wind power projects at Environmental Review Tribunals I suspect the words: unfairly and inequitably would be frequently heard.  Many rural Ontarians living in proximity to operating turbine installations and suffering the effects of audible and inaudible (infrasound) noise would raise the issue of the lack of research on the effects of the noise on humans.

“Relatively little” has been done to address the scientific uncertainty surrounding onshore wind turbines, as well.

Parker Gallant

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6 thoughts on “NAFTA wind farm decision shows need for onshore wind power research too”

  1. Glenn Thibeault is in over his head. I wonder how it would be today if all the mis-spent billions had been used for research, health and education.

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  2. The NAFTA decision should be repealed. It is an odious arrangement, one that should never have seen the light of day. Is it not illegal to destruct nature and people? Is it not illegal to create monsters that have no merit whatsoever, create net zero power, and play to the weaknesses and natural tendencies of folks to wish for a cleaner planet, while destroying it, ironically? Time to call these things for what they are: kill any debt owing to any wind developer. This is the largest crime of the modern age.

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  3. Thanks to both Parker and Sherri. It takes a person who possesses empathy and compassion to be an advocate. People who are being harmed do not “get used to” the effects of industrial wind turbines near their homes, as Premier Wynne said they do. They get exhausted by the effort it takes to get through to the government ministries and the ministers who are paid to protect them. The lack of protection, after exerting so much effort, makes one feel powerless. This sense of powerlessness leads to depression.
    These people need those who are not being directly harmed, to make sure that Minister Thibeault and all who are responsible for this nightmare, work together and make the necessary changes as quickly as possible.

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  4. In case people aren’t aware, here’s a recent update on the story of an innocent, sweet family whose lives have been turned upside down because turbines now surround their newly built home, on their fourth generation farm in Huron County. In addition to the turbines in close proximity to their house and barn, they have a 100 acre substation adjoining their land and a switching yard nearby.
    http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2016/10/25/drennans-bring-notice-of-constitutional-question-before-superior-court-tomorrow/

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    1. What is needed among the scientific community, local, provincial and national government agencies, political leaders, judicial representatives at all levels and universities involved in this crisis is honest discourse about the ethics of turning rural communities into ‘sacrifice zones’. Serious question needs to be asked and people need to be protected.

      Liked by 1 person

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