Amherst Island has been in the news a lot recently. The Heritage Canada listing, the blade disposal headline, and now a TV news story, titled “After years of dismissing rural opposition, the winds of change appear to be blowing in Ontario”. The reporter interviewed 3 members of APAI (Peter Large, John Harrison and Mark Raymond) and none of them indicated they thought enough had changed to prevent the project from going ahead.
CKWS-TV, News Story, June 28, 2013
Wind turbines are indisputably large industrial machines and just because they can produce “green” energy doesn’t mean that they are themselves in any way “green”. Quite the contrary. As just one example, think about the blades. They are large and made of non-recyclable materials. There’s lots of them and they wear out fairly quickly. How does one dispose of them? Other than dumping them alongside a road, that is.
APAI has written a letter to the MOE asking about these issues and so far hasn’t received a reply. No surprise there. The Kingston Whig picked the story up and it made front page headlines.
The article’s byline emphasizes that the protestors on Amherst are “trying a new tack” in their efforts to get Algonquin to abandon the project. This makes it sound like they will try anything and everything to stop it. That is certainly so, and there is a danger that by raising lots of objections none of them are taken seriously. The problem is that wind turbines have a large number of downsides to them, all of which are substantive. So I presume APAI will continue to point them all out, even at the risk of dilution. Certainly the disposal of the blades is something for which no plan currently exists in Ontario.
Kingston Whig Standard, article, June 28, 2013
Rather quickly after Bulletin #1, APAI has released Bulletin #2. This bulletin was mostly concerned with Hertitage Canada’s recent inclusion of Amherst Island in its “top ten” list of endangered places in Canada.
The announcement was noticed by several Ontario-based newspapers and organizations. Whether it will have any effect on the government remains to be seen. As the Heritage Canada spokesperson said, it is an awareness-raising effort on their part, and we thank them for including us.
APAI Bulletin #2
Heritage Canada, Top Ten for 2013
Heritage Canada, AI Listing
Barr Letter in the Toronto Star
Kingston Whig Standard Article
Wind Concerns Ontario posting
Ontario Wind Resistance posting
The Association to Protect Amherst Island has published its bulletin #1, dated June 2013.
It includes articles on endangered species, what you can do and so on. Very good reading material, providing everyone with some idea of just how destructive this project will be.
LINK, APAI Bulletin #1
The Loyalist Township Council has long expressed concerns over its lack of input to renewable energy projects, particularly the wind energy project on Amherst Island. Recently the Council passed a motion as related in the Kingston Whig:
“The motion, passed at Monday evening’s council meeting, requests that Premier Kathleen Wynne and either Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli or Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Linda Jeffrey meet with council members.”
So far Wynne has had several meetings with people and groups opposed to wind energy projects, but no action has resulted. I am not holding my breath waiting for any. Meeting with people and pretending to care about their opinions is easy. It will be a great deal more difficult for Wynne to make the kind of decisions that will provide relief for the rurals.
Kingston Whig-Standard, “Township wants say”, April 10, 2013
The next Loyalist Township Council meeting is this coming Monday, April 8, 2013. It promises to be interesting. There are 6 items, roughly half the council’s agenda, devoted to some aspect of the project on Amherst Island. The agenda can be found here, along with links to all of the following.
- AI Stone Fences. The island was originally settled by Irish families, and of course they built stone walls. Some of these are in very nice condition still, and many of them are threatened by the construction. BIG – lots of pictures.
- Heritage Committee Minutes. Adjunct to the report they submitted.
- Thompson Letter. Virginia lives on the mainland.
- Barr Letter. Elizabeth lives on Amherst, and is urging Council not to accept the bribe Algonquin is offering for their support.
- APAI Letter, March 15. Reminding the P.Eng.’s employed by the developer that their first allegiance is to the public.
- APAI Letter, March 21. Taking issue with Algonquin’s assertion that residents were now more in favor of the project than they were before.
As part of the approval process for any Ontario wind project the local government can fill out a Municipal Consultation Form. This form can contain the areas that are of local concern. Unfortunately, while the Province provides for this consultation it is then up to the Province (and only the Province) to see that these concerns are addressed. To date, the Province has been pretty much rubber-stamping everything the developers are submitting, so these consultations are only for show. The projects continue to be built, regardless of the problems they cause for the locals.
The Loyalist Township Council has produced an 84-page report [backup copy] that includes not only the Municipal Consultation Form but also a number of studies and comments that are indicative of just how much there is to lose on Amherst, plus Algonquin’s plans are so deficient.
Continue reading Council Has Some Concerns
Randy Hillier is the MPP for the riding that includes Amherst Island. He is a member of the PC party, and thus is in Ontario’s opposition. He has been to Amherst on numerous occasions and has always been opposed to the project there, even to accepting civil disobedience. More recently he has started a petition and survey specifically about Amherst Island.
The petition concludes with “That the Liberal government now respect the will of the residents of Amherst Island, and cancel the contract with Algonquin power immediately.” If any of my readers want to sign it, please feel free to do so. I certainly have, along with several hundred (now over 200) others.
Hillier, Petition to Cancel the Amherst Island Contract
The survey consists of 5 questions, all of them phrased to elicit “strongly agree” or “agree” answers. Of the 5 questions maybe 3.5 have little to do specifically with Amherst. This is quite similar to how the wind industry conducts its surveys, albeit reversed. One quibble I have is that one question mentions being subsidized by taxpayers. While no doubt this industry is, the main subsidy is from ratepayers. Of course the two populations (tax payers and rate payers) overlap almost completely, but still…
Hillier, Survey on Wind Turbines
CKWS-TV, out of Kingston, had a short news item about an elderly resident of Amherst Island who has been unsuccessfully trying to sell her house for quite some time. Several houses have been sold on the island, but they seem to all be pretty far from the turbines (or at least as far as you can get – maybe 3 kms).
CKWS – project hurting home sales on Amherst Island
The second and final public meetings that Algonquin is required to have occurred earlier this week. I didn’t bother attending – there’s nothing to learn there, and nothing of importance will be discussed. Algonquin knows that the Province will use its powers to roll over the locals, so there’s no reason to waste any more time with them than is necessary to check off the regulatory steps.
There was an article in the Kingston Whig with not-so-veiled threats to slow down the truck traffic going through the island’s only town, Stella. I’m betting that the OPP will become a constant presence on the island during construction. I’d ask my readers to think through what that potential says about this project, and what it says about how the Ontario government regards its rural residents.
A second article indicated that Randy Hillier, the MPP for the riding that includes Amherst Island, would support this type of civil disobedience.
There was also a report on CKWS-TV.
Roughly 8 months ago John Harrison prepared a letter to the Loyalist Township Council, asking them to enact an ordinance to protect the residents of Amherst Island from excessive flicker. The Council essentially did nothing. In the meantime, Algonquin finally (after much prodding) did their own flicker study and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that their study agreed with what John had done earlier – roughly 50 homes will be subject to flicker that exceeds typical regulatory limits in most of Europe.
So John has re-submitted his request to the Council. We’ll see how they respond this time.
Harrison, Letter to Council, March 6, 2013
My Earlier Postings Regarding Flicker
Kurt Hennige has conducted a study of birds of concern on Amherst Island. A summary and neato-keeno map are now available to convey the results to all of you. In summary, he looked at the numbers of Bobolinks and Meadowlarks on the island and found large numbers of both. The summary and link to the map can be found at:
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is well aware of Amherst Island’s value as bird habitat. Whether MNR cares is an open question. Judging by their decisions at the Summerhill project the indications are not good. NextEra, the developer there, was given a permit to remove an active bald eagle nest. Just as bad as the decision itself was the dishonest way MNR handled the entire affair, as I documented at Windfarmrealities.
Reaction from the public was swift and furious, not that MNR apparently cares. There was also reaction from Amherst Island.
John Harrison, letter to Algonquin
Andrea Cross, letter to everybody
In the December edition of Framers Forum magazine there was a short article about Amherst Island. Bruce Caughey, Dave Willard, Peter Large and Duncan Ashley were all quoted. As it happened, I was in Bruce’s office when the call came in from the reporter, and so I can first-hand verify the his quotes appear to be accurate.
Farmers Forum, The Big Chill, December 2012
The roads on Amherst Island were never designed for the type of traffic that the wind energy project will require. Algonquin has contracted with Hatch Ltd., an engineering consulting firm, to figure out what infrastructure changes are needed. Hatch has sent the Loyalist Council several reports on what some of these changes are as well as a draft agreement for the Council to look at.
The Council put several of them together in one document with 4 sections:
- Township Executive Summary (pages 1 through 9)
- Hatch Construction and Operations Memo (pages 10 through 16)
- Hatch Transportation Memo (pages 17 through 33)
- Windlectric Draft Road Use Agreement (pages 34 through 43)
It makes for depressing reading. 11,000 truck loads! A cement plant on the Island! A 10 by 50m “temporary” dock!
The Township had a number of problems with the reports as detailed in their summary, most importantly involving how the roads will be strengthened and then maintained.
APAI has drafted a response which points out a variety of problems with Hatch’s reports, most importantly involving the impacts on the residents of the island. The APAI response included two appendices, the first one of which related the damage to Wolfe Island’s environment caused by the construction of the project over there. The same promises that we hear for Amherst were made there, to no effect. The second appendix involves threatened species’ nesting sites and will remain confidential for now, mainly so nobody goes out and fixes the problem by destroying the nests.
Loyalist Township, Combined Road Document
Loyalist Township, Combined Road Document Backup
APAI, Road Response, November 2012
APAI, Road Response, Appendix A
Peter Large, on behalf of APAI, wrote a letter to the Ontario Fire Marshall going over the events of November 3. The circumstances surrounding that fire were fairly conducive to bringing it under control with little damage (immediately noticed and reported, small initial start, light winds, leftover moisture from Sandy). But still it took 19 hours and involved several departments from the mainland, and ended up burning 200 acres.
What bothers Peter, and many of us, is that Algonquin surrounds our homes with an industrial complex and then has no requirements to supply any fire protection at all, instead relying on a volunteer department that has one pumper and one tanker. What other industry is allowed, even encouraged, to put the neighbors at this level of risk?
APAI, Letter to Fire Marshall, November 23, 2012
John Harrison has recently published an updated AI Viability Report. His first report was published about a year ago and in it he went through the likely electricity production and the resulting cash flows. Using reasonable assumptions, his calculations show that this project has a high probability of being a financial loser.
The main difference in this report and the earlier one (aside from updated Provincial numbers) is he lowered the annual decline in performance due to wear and tear, from2% to 1%. Trying to determine the size of this decline has proven to be an interesting exercise, with a fairly wide range of answers.
While this improves the project’s prospects, it still makes no economic sense for the developer, Algonquin.
The Whig reported that Peter Large, acting on behalf of APAI, sent a letter to MNR Minister Michael Gravell urging him to not approve the project. Given MNR’s interest in protecting wildlife, the letter emphasized the significant avian population on the Island. It also mentioned that an independent study conducted by a well-known ornithologist has been undertaken.
Kingston Whig-Standard, Anti-wind turbine group sends letter to minister
Saveai/APAI has put out a 2-page flyer that discusses just how close turbine #6 is to the Amherst Island public school. I presume it will be distributed around the area in some manner. The pictures offer a dramatic presentation of just how close this unit is.
Saveai/APAI AIPS Flyer
I had posted on the same issue several weeks ago. To give you another view of the situation, below is a Google Earth 3-D picture of what it looks like (which is clickable to enlarge).
Talk about being prophetic. Back in July I posted a letter from APAI to Algonquin warning them about the difficulty of fighting a fire on the Island, and how it isn’t that uncommon for a wind turbine to start a fire. Well, it wasn’t a wind turbine. It was an ATV whose hot muffler got it started. Compared to a wind turbine starting one, pretty small potatoes. Still, it quickly became rather large and required three fire departments – two from the mainland – to put it out. Story in the Whig.
Continue reading Amherst Island Fire