Pigeon Bay Lake Erie WindFarm Problems

Or as Jpg: http://www.edhawco.com/tempo/erie.jpg

This is  a radar image of birds massing on the south shore of Erie and flying over the lake where the islands are and where Point Pelee is. You will not see many flying across the wider part of the lake. The part where the birds are flying is exactly where they want to put 700 windmills. So the birds are one problem.

The others are: What’s on the lake bottom (ie. heavy metals from decades of industrial and domestic pollution) and how much of it would be stirred up by drilling 700 windmills and putting the huge concrete platform for the wind towers into the lake bottom? The sediment would go into the water intake for a dozen communities along the shore. Put another way: Would you want your baby or child eating the bottom of Lake Erie? Leamington is where the big Heinz plant is — and a huge number of greenhouses that use a lot of water.How endangered would they all be?

And: The process itself is deeply suspect. Residents and municipalities have been excluded. This project was cancelled four years ago but the Minister responsible has been dumped. The Ontario Government seems dedicated to ramming this project through at any cost. Why?  Especially since windmills in water have a lower efficiency, and windmills in general are much less efficient than supposed — no way to store the energy.

Every community and township council along the shore are opposed to this. As are the federal and provincial members of parliament from all parties in this area. People fought for centuries to obtain “democracy” — a say in one’s own affairs. The process of jamming through this windfarm has been highly anti-democratic. Who benefits?

If any of this disturbs you, protest by Voting No at www/am800cklw.com or phoning 519-258-2599, or writing your Member of Parliament.

NOTE MARCH 16: Results of Poll:  63.46% NO     36.54% YES


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

49 responses to “Pigeon Bay Lake Erie WindFarm Problems

  1. Hello. I took the liberty of snatching the image and putting it on the web as an image (instead of a Word file), which is quicker and easier for people to look at (and less risk of virus sharing).

    It’s here: http://www.edhawco.com/tempo/erie.jpg

    If for some reason you’d prefer I delete it, just let me know!

    • Davis Mirza

      KUDOS Ms. Atwwod…I have been wary of these wind turbines and its negative affects on the flight patterns of birds and bats…I’ll work tirelessly with you to promote sustainable energy initiatives that include conservation, bio-mass and solar (as a way of reducing the need for more wind power) if you could oblige the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott Initiative (PACBI) and decline the Dan David prize because of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine. We got the On. gov’t to forestall nuke expansion…but can we ensure the rights of all sentient beings on this planet are not oppressed by energy-tyrants, be they on the shores of Point Pelee or Gaza.
      In solidarity & peace~Davis Mirza, Toronto.

  2. linda in chicago

    WHY on earth would anyone want to put wind turbines THERE, of all places?? Cui bono, I wonder…

  3. Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention. I knew nothing about it and got the info via the link you posted on Twitter. The process does seem suspect, and, in all honesty, reminds me very much of the type of projects that seem to get rammed through here in BC, regardless of that the populace says. It’s easy to get jaded, but the outcome gives me hope.

  4. Mike Barnard

    Wikipedia – worth reading the entire entry and looking at the citations, but here are a couple of key quotes:

    “in the UK, where there are several hundred turbines, about one bird is killed per turbine per year; 10 million per year are killed by cars alone.”

    “Danger to birds is often the main complaint against the installation of a wind turbine. However, for each unit of electricity generated, wind power kills around twenty times fewer birds than fossil fuels, and a comparable number to nuclear power.[3]”


    Given that public transit in Pigeon Bay is virtually non-existent, I imagine they alll have snowtires on their bikes.


    • marg09

      Danger to birds is not the only complaint about Pigeon Bay. But: I expect these stats come from places that are not MAJOR migration pathways. Hey — maybe those putting up the UK mills took major migration pathways into consideration! Maybe, with 1,000,000 RSPB members there. (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). My point is: why put the windmill installation right there, when it could be moved east where there isn’t a flyway and the stirred-up drinking water would not go right into communities, greenhouses, and the Heinz plant, which would seriously consider having to close?

  5. Mike Barnard

    “As with the exploration phase, any adverse environmental consequences related to the construction of the turbines, for example, noise, waste, and increased boat movements, should be relatively short lived. Also, most impacts should be ameliorated with good site selection and by avoiding environmentally sensitive times of year, especially spawning periods.”



    • marg09

      Hello: Yes, this sounds lovely. But even if done (which it seldom is, ie, avoiding sensitive times of year), it will not solve the Pigeon Bay drink-the-sediment problem.
      And you do not address the process issue. Why should municipalities and elected representatives not have a say in something that is going to affect them and why should there not be an environmental study of the effects of stirring up the lake bottom in this way and then drinking it?

  6. Adina

    I’ll start with full disclosure: I work in the renewable energy industry, but not for the company wanting to put turbines in Pigeon Bay. The opinions I’m expressing here, however, are my own. (It’s 1:30 in the morning, I sure hope I’m not working now…)

    I absolutely agree that turbines should not be placed there. This is a very important migration corridor for birds and bats which definitely should be kept clear.

    However, “Especially since windmills in water have a lower efficiency” is completely and utterly false. Generally wind turbines do better over water because there are fewer obstacles and therefore more wind and less turbulence. It is certainly more difficult to build them there, but they are generally more efficient on water.

    “windmills in general are much less efficient than supposed — no way to store the energy” is also a rather useless and misleading statement. Nope, wind turbines don’t run 24/7. However, when the wind blows, fossil fuel generation doesn’t have to run. Glen Estill goes over the carbon emission reductions in this very well written and well referenced blog post: http://www.biofuels.coop/windblog/?p=267

    Nope, you won’t be able to replace all other generation without adding significant storage, but saying “it can’t solve all the problems out there, so let’s not try” is defeatism at its worst. I expected better from you.

    • marg09

      Hello. Thanks for agreeing that Pigeon Bay should not have wind turbines in it. Re: water efficiency: yes, these windmills do go round more over water, but I was told by somebody in the wind industry (like you) that the efficiency for transporting the energy thus generated is quite a lot lower. So you make more, but depending how far the electricity has to travel, you get less. The “less efficient than supposed” also comes from those deeply involved in energy. The problem seems to be that because you don’t get energy when the wind doesn’t blow, you have to keep the other generation sources “on” and ready to roll — so you don’t actually get rid of them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but has Germany actually closed any of its coal since putting in so much wind?
      And no, I’m not against wind — in the right places. In fact, I just tweeted a new cylinder-shaped wind generator that is screened against birds & bats,
      The problem for bats is not colission. They are attracted by the insects gathering around the lights at the tops and are killed by a loss of pressure.

      • Adina

        It’s interesting that your friend cited transmission losses as being more important for offshore than on. Maybe there’s something I don’t know about, but I don’t think that the lines from turbines a couple km off shore are any longer than those required for on shore, and I haven’t heard that there are more losses for underwater cables. If anything, I would have thought that underwater cables would be more efficient because they shouldn’t get as hot during the summer. It’s worth looking into though; I might be wrong.

        In any case, most wind generation (and other generation for that matter) in Ontario is located significantly away from consumption. I have heard of on-shore wind farms which had to install over 15 km of cabling to join up with the grid. From the looks of it, this project isn’t going to require cabling that’s as long as that.

        Re: shutting down coal, I don’t know about the situation in Germany. I do know that coal plants are not very responsive. However, in Ontario we’re fortunate to have a fair chunk of hydro generation. Hydro works very well as a storage medium – when the wind blows, you can slow down the hydro plants and build up water in a reservoir. When the wind
        isn’t blowing, you can let this energy out again – generating more from hydro than you would have because the water level is higher.

        How does this help with coal? Well, you’ve basically increased the capacity of your base load from hydro by adding wind to it power. That means that coal electricity production can be decreased – it doesn’t have to ramp up and down with wind energy.

      • marg09

        Hi Adina: Re: Transmission losses: just repeating what the guy said, but worth looking into. The German situation is also worth looking into. If one had a mix of wind (though not in Pigeon Bay!), solar — especially with the new much more efficient kinds of solar now being developed– hydro, and more efficient storage, that would certainly help with the coal. See also the Economist, this issue, natural gas. The best short-term would be a reduction in consumption (see Hydro’s new rate system, which at least spreads the load) (see Zerofootprint’s building re-skinning contest, and the Green Building Council, http://www.usgbc.org) and another quick emissions-cutter would be a simple reduction in the speed limit for cars. There is no one silver bullet, as I guess we all know.

  7. Mike Barnard

    “The National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark developed a Thermal Animal Detection System (TADS), a heat-activated infrared video camera mounted on a wind turbine that records bird collisions. The first results, released in 2007, found “seabirds to be remarkably adept at avoiding offshore installations”.


    Songbirds typically migrate at thousands of feet, although they do island hop across Lake Erie apparently which might make them susceptible but this isn’t clearly stated in any of the literature around this. http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/AltitudeComparisons.html

    Raptors migrate around Lake Erie. http://www.epa.gov/med/grosseile_site/indicators/raptor-migration.html

    What migrating birds are obviously at risk from the 15 windmills in three locations?


    PS: offshore windmills increase fish density and variety due to providing additional fish habitat. http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/63/5/775

  8. Mike Barnard

    “Results of the 1997 and 1998 surveys confirmed the initial conclusion that contaminant concentrations had been significantly reduced. Since the 1970s, average mercury concentrations in surface sediment in the lake as a whole fell by about 70%,”

    “Sediments in some areas of Lake Erie still exceed the strictest Canadian and Province of Ontario Sediment Quality Guidelines as defined by the threshold effect level (TEL) or lowest effect level (LEL), respectively. Exceedences of sediment guidelines are largely restricted to the western basin and the southern portion of the central basin.”


    Per this link and bit of scale mapping, it’s clear that the closest of 15 windmills is a kilometer from shore, and it’s not near either major center. The closest either of the windmill sites comes to shore is 1.5 kilometers.


    In the 15 minutes I’ve had to look into this, I haven’t found the water intake locations and haven’t looked up currents, but it seems unlikely that significant sediment would enter the Leamington or Kingsville water supply.


    • marg09

      Hello Mike: There are a couple of sites with answers to your q’s: Try http://www.leamyc.com/pdf/IN%20SEARCH%20OF%20ANSWERS.pdf
      Note that 15 is the INITIAL number proposed. There is no limit on how many more could be put in. The proposal scrapped in 2006 had 119.

      Lake Erie is a shallow lake with huge waves in storms. There is every likelihood that a stirred-up lake bottom would send sediments into the water system.
      In addition, the whole area is limestone and there is a lot of sulphur gas under there. It’s a big problem e.g. on Pelee Island. But what really drives people crazy is the knowledge that there is a likelihood of harm to their health, and people knew that but didn’t look into it. Like Walkerton – remember it? Under the circumstances, “it seems unlilkely” is not going to reassure many people.

      For songbirds that migrate across the islands, see http://www.pibo.ca. Because the birds are island hopping, they do not fly at the high altitudes they use when they are going long distances. That’s why so many of them are seen on Pelee Island.

  9. Mike Barnard

    Thanks Marg09.

    I’ve looked at the first link a couple of times. It’s information light and rhetoric heavy. It’s a donation request form for the local anti-windmill group, not a valid reference. Answers or refutations to all the emotionally-laden questions are available. I’m providing many of them here.

    Regarding Walkerton, I read the Walkerton report (http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/walkerton/) in full a couple of years ago as part of work I was doing in epidemic management and response, and the relationship you ascribe to the e coli problem and this is weak. Yes, people are worried about their health. As an earlier reference I posted indicated, studies show that disturbed sediment is short-lived and over the longer term, there is increased flaura and fauna at the windmill site which actually binds the sediment better.

    Unfortunately, PIBO.CA does not provide information on the height of song bird migration the last 15-20 kilometers (eyeballed approximation from map) from Pelee Island to shore. I haven’t found information on how rapidly songbirds ascend to the 1000 foot plus height they typically migrate at. However, the data that is available indicates that birds are a lots smarter than we give them credit for and don’t fly into modern windmills in significant numbers.

    In my opinion, you’d be much better off devoting your energies to fighting coal power and coke plants proposed for the region: http://www.westernlakeerie.org/cokeplant.html. Coal plants do much more harm to birds and your health than windmills ever will.


    • marg09

      Hello Mike: You seem to be willfully misunderstanding me. Re: Walkerton: The reference is not to e-coli. The reference is to how people react when they discover there are bad things in their drinking water that those in charge of the drinking water should have been monitoring. What would be wrong with doing an ACTUAL STUDY of how disturbing that much of the lake bottom will ACTUALLY AFFECT the drinking water? What we have here is a situation in which no environmental studies need be done, because the windmills are just small enough so that by law the studies are not required. Unless one does an actual study of the actual place with the actual limestone bottom & etc., generalizations about what “usually” happens remain just that. People are less interested in statistics than they are in their own real, specific area. You know about the statistician who drowned in a river with an average depth of two inches.

      And yes, people ARE worried about their health. Silly old them. That’s the thing about people: they do get emotional. That’s how they vote, too: they vote emotionally, especially if they feel they have not been listened to. As for the sediment, short-lived over how long? How many months/years will it take to install first 15, then another 15, then a whole bunch more? Because there is no end number known. Fifteen might not be a huge problem, but 700 would be. Or have you changed your mind about your initial statement, which was that Pigeon Bay is a bad place for such an installation?

      There’s another consideration, too: if this project is messed up, it sets green energy back 50 years. This is an early Bullfrog Power person talking. It’s very, very important to get these things right, and telling people what they “ought” to feel about things like their drinking water and their house prices is just going to make them furious.

      As for how high songbirds fly when going from island to shore, I can send out a call on that. ( I sent you the pibo.ca link because you asked about the songbird species using this route.) But hey! Why can’t the study be done BEFORE the 15 or 119 or 700 windmills go up?

      And why isn’t the Sun Parlour being considered for — well– sun?

      Yeah, I know about coal and cars and cats and such. http://www.birdlife.org. But as I’ve said, the birds are not the only issue here. The water is another. And the third is the process being followed, which will result in a great deal of resentment, and not just in Essex County. Next up: mobs with pitchforks. This can be avoided. Just move the windfarm over, as I said before. Why are you against that?

  10. The Late Fenwick Lansdowne devoted his entire life to painting birds.
    Birds are that worthwhile, we need to protect birds. We need also to build windmills, lets put them on the roofs of sky scrapers. A city is already a form of pollution, lets try to concentrate the mess in one area, people.

    On another note, If it matters how it looks and reads, Publish it yourself.

  11. Mike Barnard

    Hi Margaret . . .

    Actually, it was Adina who agreed that Pigeon Bay was an inappropriate location. I haven’t made up my mind on that subject, that’s why I’m still researching the question. I’m not neutral on counter-factual arguments against green energy sources.

    Regarding Walkerton, I certainly understand the fear of drinking contaminated water. However, Pigeon Bay residents have been drinking the treated water of Lake Ontario after major storms and heavy freighters stirred up the sediment for decades (http://www.iadc-dredging.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=108&Itemid=264). As an earlier post referenced, the sediment is significantly less polluted than it was 40 years ago. Further, per the SouthPoint documents available on line, the easiest and cheapest to install system — monopile — is also the least disturbing of sediment (unlike the statement at the beginning of this thread, which implies the opposite). Saying that relatively localized disturbance in sediment a minimum of a kilometer from the nearest water intake over a short period in time is a major new health concern seems alarmist as opposed to thoughtful.

    Regarding housing prices, I would suggest assessing tourist visits to the windfarms around Palm Springs and other areas, as well as increased fishing tourism due to artificial reef effects. Large windfarms are a net tourist attraction. (http://www.countrysideenergyco-op.ca/files/cec_flyer_windfarm_tourism_20060713a_w.pdf)

    As to moving it east, that’s actually in plan, along with moving northwest. The information provided by Southpoint Wind online shows that there are a total of 5 sites within Pigeon Bay under consideration, 5 in central Lake Erie to the east of Pigeon Bay and 3 in Lake St. Clair. The alarmist statement of 700 windmills in Pigeon Bay in the beginning blog is inaccurate again. This may not comfort anyone as the maximum projected windmills for western Lake Erie is still 165 over five sites, but that’s a long way from 700. (http://www.southpointwind.com/files/SouthPoint_Wind_-_Project_Description_30MW_DRAFT_.pdf).

    Reading between the lines, they are starting in the most economically viable (least rough, shallowest, closest to transmission lines, best road acces) locations first for the pilot sites to assess viability over all. That’s engineering and accounting thinking, not public relations thinking. If they’d started on the other side of Point Pelee or up in Lake St. Clair, there’d likely have been less hew and cry. A bit dumb of them, but if not your backyard, then it would be someone else’s.

    PS: I’m not in the wind industry, I’m not a paid shill of the wind industry, and I don’t stand to make or lose anything by the outcome of the Pigeon Bay windfarm discussion. I’m just a pro-green energy guy who is interested in a rational debate.

    • marg09

      Hi Mike — Yes, it was Adina who agreed that Pigeon Bay was not the right location. And I’m not against green energy – to quote The Fearless Vampire Killers, if you think I am, Boy have you got the wrong vampire! I am however against setting green energy back significantly by messing up a project like this and enraging a whole bunch of people. “Less polluted than 40 years ago” is meaningless unless we know how polluted it is now, and basically people have not been given the studies and the hearings they need. It’s people who vote. Statistics do not vote.

      As for what the company actually plans to do, nobody knows. As you note, these first numbers are “pilots.” They’ve changed it from 119 in the Bay to the present number, but I’ve also heard 700. Rumours are rife. 165 in the whole lake is just the number admitted to now.

      And with this particular site, it’s not a question of “backyards.” A pilot may not be that bird-lethal, but a whole bay full of windmills in a migratory flyway known worldwide in the actually huge birding community? It’s terrible optics and a magnet for adverse criticism, and invites ridicule of Ontario’s green aspirations.”A bit dumb” is right, X10! And public relations is very important when it comes to elections.

      I would also humbly submit that visiting a place as a tourist is different from hHHHmmmmMMhumm living there.

      This is the thing, Mike: debates like this one, once they go public, tend not to be rational. Nobody in the area is in favour. Which makes sense when you realize that it’s a big food growing & processing area. Optics again.

    • marg09

      Hi Mike — Yes, it was Adina who agreed that Pigeon Bay was not the right location. And I’m not against green energy – to quote The Fearless Vampire Killers, if you think I am, Boy have you got the wrong vampire! I am however against setting green energy back significantly by messing up a project like this and enraging a whole bunch of people. “Less polluted than 40 years ago” is meaningless unless we know how polluted it is now, and basically people have not been given the studies and the hearings they need. It’s people who vote. Statistics do not vote.

      As for what the company actually plans to do, nobody knows. As you note, these first numbers are “pilots.” They’ve changed it from 119 in the Bay to the present number, but I’ve also heard 700. Rumours are rife. 165 in the whole lake is just the number admitted to now.

      And with this particular site, it’s not a question of “backyards.” A pilot may not be that bird-lethal, but a whole bay full of windmills in a migratory flyway known worldwide in the actually huge birding community? It’s terrible optics and a magnet for adverse criticism, and invites ridicule of Ontario’s green aspirations.”A bit dumb” is right, X10! And public relations is very important when it comes to elections.

      I would also humbly submit that visiting a place as a tourist is different from hHHHmmmmMMhumm living there.

      This is the thing, Mike: debates like this one, once they go public, tend not to be rational. Nobody in the area is in favour. Which makes sense when you realize that it’s a big food growing & processing area. Optics again.

      Oh: This just in, from a contact on the area. “They are proposing 165 turbines in Pigeon Bay, and a total of 715 in Lake Erie(Essex County) and Lake St. Clair.”

  12. Mike Barnard

    Hi Margaret . . .

    And I’m against set backs to green energy caused by people with real local concerns spreading disinformation.

    Pigeon Bay has 2-3 real concerns which should be focussed on. The brochure and this blog are using everything-and-the-kitchen-sink arguments to incite greater fear and anger, hoping to drive action. Sadly, the sink hasn’t been cleaned, so it’s mouldy.

    I hope you win the battle for Pigeon Bay, as my research and thought leads me to believe that the windmills shouldn’t be sited there initially. I hope you don’t damage green power penetration elsewhere in the process.

    Mike (don’t understimate the Atwood brand’s power)

    • marg09

      Hi Mike:
      Thanks for all your comments. I’ve been doing this while on the road, buy here finally are three locations where you can find the windfarm positions of three major bird orgs.


      As you can see, they support wind power and green power strongly, while requesting that installations be placed so as to minimize damage and monitored while in operation.

      As for the other concerns –Yes, kitchen sink — but I am only reporting on the reactions of people in the area. If the project would only do the necessary studies and address the local concerns, it would stand a much better chance of not causing lasting rancour and of being used as an example of contempt for local voters. They need to investigate the sediment and gas-the-bedrock issues as well as the bird problem.

      As for my driving action, I have not been involved in this until now. The action has been going on a lot longer. It was the local radio poll that incited my first post.

      I appreciate your concerns and the thoughtful input you’ve given — and have referred this string to those involved so they can access the studies you cite.

      All best, Margaret

  13. The Color of Money

    The developer, SouthPoint Wind, is planning an initial project of 15 turbines in Lake Erie… To try to get their foot in the door.

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as 55 more will be added to each wind factory if the initial 15 turbine project is approved. That’s 180 of these 410 foot monsters spinning their blades in the middle of a major migratory pathway and as little as one kilometer from shore. And please, that’s just the beginning. Just last fall the developer was denying any plans for more than the originally proposed 15 turbines. Funny how quickly he changed his mind now that he has the anti-democratic Green Energy Act as the ace up his sleeve.

    This is the worse siting possible for a wind turbine farm. Even John Kourtoff, Chief Executive Officer of Trillium Power Energy Corp, said that the SouthPoint project had MAJOR FLAWS. And he’s on “their” side.


    This project will be the Canadian version of the ALTAMONT PASS wind farm which defies all the statistical averages and predictions by kiling thousands of migratory birds every year. The developer’s own 2009 spring study of the Pigeon Bay project area counted over 1,400 birds at risk of collision/death over their 11 day (1.5 hour a day) environmental risks to nocturnal birds and loafing birds which at some point came into and then left the area.

    By the way, did you know it’s federal offense to kill, harm or harass a migratory bird? Environment Canada is responsible, under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, to ensure that migratory birds are protected and conserved. Hopefully the federal government will step in and make this right.


    Four of the proposed five Union turbines are within IPZ-1. Within IPZ-2 are four of the five proposed Kingsville turbines, and all five of the proposed Union turbines. This means that spills or other contaminants introduced by the presence of the turbines (either during construction, operation, or decommissioning) have the potential to reach the Union #2 water intake before corrective measures could be applied by the plant operators.

    As part of the Clean Water Act, 2006, the Ontario government established criteria for protecting surface water and lands surrounding drinking water intakes. A protection area surrounding waters and lands immediately adjacent to intakes is represented by IPZ-1. An area related to travel time for contaminants to reach the intake before the operator can safely respond (generally considered two hours) is represented by IPZ-2.

    Over 50,000 residents, the Heinz factory and countless Green Houses rely on safe water from the Union water plant. This could very well be the next Walkerton.


    Wind turbines may have at one time been a tourism attraction in the early years, but seriously… who’s going to travel anywhere to see something that is popping up all over their own backyards? This predicted tourism is nonsense. No need to travel, just take a quick drive out into the country side where you live.

    Besides, this region is already an established tourist attraction for it’s natural resources – the lake, the beaches, the marinas, Point Pelee National Park and the many bird reserves which draws bird watchers from all over the world. Who wants to swim or boat in a lake with a gigantic wind turbine looming over them? My grandmother could swim the one kilometer to the nearest turbine! What happens when a blade breaks and falls off the tower into the waters below? Thousands of jobs and businesses that rely on tourism will be lost as people leave the area for un-greener pastures and vacation spots.


    This is not about green energy, it’s about green money.

    The developer could just as easily put the wind farms farther out into the middle of the lake or on land. But that doesn’t make for better profits does it? A 2MW offshore turbine can produce 6 million kWh per year. That’s 52,560 million kW per year. Our government will pay a guaranteed and fixed rate of 19 cents per 1,000 kW that he puts into the electrical grid for twenty years. As a “green project”, the developer will get a government grant which he doesn’t need to pay back to help build the turbines. And since the Great Lakes is Crown land, he doesn’t have to pay any rent for the use of the land.

    That’s a lot of MOOLA and just a few billion green reasons right there.

    I have no doubt the owner will take his millions and move to some island paradise for undisturbed ocean views of his own. Probably next door to McGuinty after being exiled from Canada. ;o)

  14. I’m joining this discussion as Chair of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory because we have serious professional concerns about the proposed installation of 165 Wind Turbines in Pigeon Bay — each one 410 feet high. Pelee Island lies directly off-shore from where the proposed turbines might be built.
    Our research over the past seven years (see http://www.pibo.ca) confirms common knowledge that enormous numbers of birds migrate through, and descend upon the Erie Islands, Point Pelee National Park and the shores of Pigeon Bay each Spring and Fall. This whole area is widely considered to be one of the prime “Birding Hotspots” in North America. It has been internationally designated as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area (IBA).
    While there are undoubtedly other issues with Wind Farms, PIBO’s concern is simply with the birds. When the correspondent, Adina (March 17) — who works in the renewable energy industry — agrees that Wind Farms should not be built in Pigeon bay, he/she expresses the policy of all major bird conservation organizations.
    The US Audubon Society, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK, and BirdLife International, which works with partners in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide, all welcome and support Wind Farms and other forms of alternate energy production. But each one is fundamentally opposed to the construction of Turbines in “known local bird migration pathways, in areas where birds are highly concentrated, or in areas or landscape features known to attract large numbers of raptors.”(American Bird Conservancy)
    These organizations know as much about birds, bird behaviour, and the threats to their survival, as anyone. They have not taken this stand on emotional or sentimental grounds.
    Moreover they all quite reasonably insist that a thorough and objective environmental assessment should be conducted before Industrial wind turbines can be installed in any area where wildlife might be significantly compromised.
    Despite this, there is no sign whatsoever that an objective Environmental Assessment will be required for the Pigeon Bay Development.
    You can find the Audubon, R.S.P.B. and BirdLife policies in the urls listed below.



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  16. marg09

    For a view of the way the Governments of Ontario and Canada are handling this issue, see:

    FROM Onnature. http://onnaturemagazine.com/an-ill-wind.html

    An ill wind
    The Province’s green energy act isn’t so green when wind farms threaten sensitive habitat and wildlife.

    By Douglas Hunter

  17. Diane Ferguson

    Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for providing this forum. I’m about to renew my contract with Bullfrog Power. However, I have heard so much negativity about wind farms, I worry that I am supporting developments like this. Of course I support green energy, but it seems Ontario is pushing things through without the proper environmental studies. It is my understanding that you are (or were) a Bullfrog Customer. I would be interested in your thoughts on whether or not, supporting green energy is somehow supporting projects like this. And which is the worst of two evils?

    • marg09

      Hello Diane: We all support green energy, but the province needs to consider carefully where it is putting such installations. Right now it is in danger of tossing the baby out with the bath water. Yes, the environmental studies need to be done, and yes, they are being bypassed. I am indeed a Bullfrog customer and early advocate, but I guess we all need to write to Bullfrog now and express our concerns.

      With proper thought and implementation, there need not be a “lesser of two evils” choice. But it things go on this way, I’d say push for solar — new forms coming online soon — and give some thought to natural gas and also to reducing the speed limit on highways — an instant reduction in emissions. Grinding up the wildlife and endangering water supplies is not the way to go.

      • Diane Ferguson

        Thanks for your thoughts. I’m excited to hear about new forms of solar coming. So far, the cost has far outweighed the benefit for us. As well, natural gas is not an option where I live in rural Ontario, so we heat with wood and electricity. I will be talking to Bullfrog today and expressing my concerns.

      • Diane Ferguson

        I spoke with Bullfrog power today. i was told that their projects go through more stringent ecologocal testing than does the Ontario government. They are certified by eco-logo. I think I have that name right. Apparently, this is a federal program. But that makes me nervous too as the federal governmetn is not known for its environmental record.

    • Diane, try asking Bullfrog power for a specific setback distance of wind turbines from homes, both neighbouring and host families and see if you can get an answer. I never could. I leave this letter sent for your review.

      Ms. Connie Wong,
      Bullfrog Power

      Dear Ms. Wong,

      Ms. Lorrie Gillis asked me to review the HGC Engineering report (Wind Turbine and Sound: Review and Best Practice Guidelines) commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Authority (CanWEA) and the conclusion publicized and promoted by CanWEA that turbines can be 300 to 400 metres from homes.

      First, I should introduce myself and make clear that I have the credentials to comment. I am a retired Professor of Physics at Queen’s University with expertise in the propagation of very high frequency sound waves in solids and liquids and the reflections of sound waves at interfaces. My teaching has covered a wide range of courses from first year introductory physics to life science students to advanced laboratory techniques to fourth year science and engineering students. I have edited an international physics journal, refereed manuscripts for a variety of journals and served on many national and international committees. Having established a reputation for integrity, I am not going to jeopardize it by making any false claims about wind turbines!

      I have six specific points that you need to consider if you are truly interested in “the strictest standards for environmental goods and services”. Before describing them I should say that I find little to criticize in the HGC report; the problem is the inappropriate use of it by CanWEA and the sin of omission.

      1) Improper Appropriation
      CanWEA is wrong in their presumption that 300 – 400 metres is an acceptable separation (setback) between a single turbine and a home. They know this and yet persist in lobbying for it. The statement is dishonestly extracted from the HGC report. The relevant paragraph is on page 14 of the report, reproduced here (underlining added):
      “Each of the wind farms has a substantial number of large wind turbine generators in place and operational. A number of the wind farms are sited such that residences are located between 300 and 400 metres, and this is generally the minimum setback encountered. Often, residences this close are associated with a landowner leasing land to the wind farm and experiences with this situation appear positive. However, particularly when no financial relationship exists, complaints among people living this close to a wind turbine generator are not uncommon.”

      The HGC report is not advocating a setback in the range 300 to 400 metres for non-participating residences!

      2) What is the Minimum Setback?
      A common, although misguided, noise regulation is that the sound pressure level at a receptor should be limited to 40 dBA. As described in the HGC report, the standard method for calculating noise at a receptor is ISO-9613.2. For a single turbine with a typical sound power of 105 dBA (relative to 10-12 W), ISO-9613.2 shows that the sound pressure level is down to 40 dBA at a distance of 500 metres. For a cluster of turbines, typical of a wind farm, the setback from the closest turbine for 40 dBA can be as large as 1000 metres. These distances are demonstrated in Fig. 1, derived from Fig. 4 of the Environmental Noise Impact Assessment (ENIA) for the Wolfe Island, Ontario wind project. This ENIA was part of the Wolfe Island Environmental Review Report and is now in the public domain. The scale of the contour map is 16.75 mm = 1 km. The light green/dark green boundary marks the 43 dBA contour. Contour separations are 1 dBA. The calculations were made for an array of Siemens 2.3 MW turbines, each emitting a sound power of 105 dBA at a wind speed of 7 metre/s.

      3) Uncertainty
      Missing from all such calculations of sound pressure level, in Canada and in the HGC report, is any account of uncertainty. Section 9 and Table 5 of ISO-9613.2 gives the uncertainty of the calculation to be ± 3 dBA. Furthermore the measurement of turbine power is never precise and different turbines will produce somewhat different sound power. For instance, Siemens quote their sound power measurements to have an uncertainty of ± 1 dBA. Therefore, because independent uncertainties are additive, the total uncertainty is ± 4 dBA. To be assured of a 40 dBA sound pressure level, the setback from a single turbine needs to be 750 metres and from a cluster well over 1 km from the closest turbine. No reputable engineer would neglect uncertainty in making a design decision; yet, acoustics consultants do neglect uncertainty in their noise calculations and regulators are negligent in allowing the neglect. The HGC report does allude to this in section 9 on page 19; to quote: “It must be anticipated that some degree of statistical variability will occur in practice.”

      4) Masking Noise
      The wind energy developers, acoustic consultants and regulators in Ontario have been dragging their feet on the masking noise issue. The argument used by these people is that as the wind speed increases there will be an increasing masking noise from the wind blowing through trees and shrubs and around buildings; therefore they advocate an increased noise limit for turbines as the wind speed increases. While a worthy argument, it is based upon the false premise that the wind speed at the turbine hub and at ground level increase together. The fallacy of this argument was brought to world-wide attention by Dr. van den Berg in a series of publications and in a doctoral thesis. The fact is that, particularly at night-time, the atmosphere can be stable with a substantial wind-speed gradient. Building on the work of van den Berg a table of wind-speed gradients from three continents has been collected. An analysis shows that the average ratio of wind speed at 80 metres (a typical turbine hub height) to that at 10 metres (a conservative proxy for the height of vegetation) is 1.9 ± 0.4 at night-time. A more likely ratio for Ontario wind farms with their proximity to the Great Lakes is 2.3. These night-time averages will include nights when the atmosphere is not stable (lower ratio) so that there will be many nights with a larger ratio. The result is that at night-time, there is not going to be masking noise. The Netherlands has accepted this conclusion and no longer allows the noise limit to increase with wind speed. Ontario has adopted a half-measure, asking consultants to present measurements of wind-speed gradients as part of the environmental review process; the weakness here is that the actual measurements will not be subject to public scrutiny. As far as Bullfrog is concerned, any project that has made use of the masking noise myth to increase the noise limit with wind speed should be considered environmentally unfriendly. A good example of this is the Wolfe Island project which was designed after van den Berg had brought the myth of masking noise to world-wide attention.

      5) Amplitude Modulation
      Anyone who has stood 500 metres from an operating turbine at a time when there is little near-by traffic knows that wind turbines emit a characteristic amplitude-modulated noise. The frequency of modulation is the blade passage frequency, about one per second. It is thought to be the result of the interaction of the wake-turbulence, which generates the aerodynamic noise, and the tower. It is this modulation (imagine a siren or a dripping tap) that is responsible for much of the distress associated with turbine noise. Measurements by van den Berg show that the modulation from a single turbine is at least 5 dBA. Measurements of amplitude modulation have also been reported in the “Salford” report published by the British Wind Energy Authority. On page 38, the report quotes measurements of 3 to 5 dBA with measurements of 7 to 9 dBA in the frequency range 200 to 800 Hz. For one wind farm, the low-frequency modulation was measured to be 12 to 15 dBA.

      The noise guidelines used are based universally upon a calculation of either a 10 minute or 1 hour average sound generated by a turbine. This of course averages out the cyclic amplitude modulation. The ear does not average; it perceives the full modulation. Historically, Ontario has had a penalty for tonal, periodic or impulsive noise sources. Very recently, the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch of the Ministry of the Environment has come out with a clarification of its noise guidelines for wind turbines. It is now denying application of its historical penalty for turbine noise sources with periodic variation. In my view this is a disgrace and suggests to me intense irresponsible lobbying by the wind energy industry.

      The HGC report side-steps the issue of cyclic noise by suggesting that trips to operating wind farms be used so that community members can hear and judge the situation for themselves. First, there is a big difference between spending a short time as part of a bus trip and lying awake night after night listening to the turbines. Secondly, do the authors really believe that if those on the bus trip judge the noise to be a problem in the making that the wind developer will do anything about it.

      6) Intrusion
      Typically, at night, the ambient (background) noise level in rural Ontario will be about 25 dBA. Therefore, present wind turbine noise guidelines allow an intrusion of about 15 dBA above ambient. I know of no research that can justify such a large intrusion. There are, however, at least two field studies that show significant distress at that level. These show that for wind turbine noise levels in the range of 40 dBA, the typical regulation, 50% of people find the turbine noise to be a problem. Various authorities involved in the health and well-being of people living near wind-turbines are recommending setbacks between turbines and homes of 1500 metres.

      In summary, the HGC report does not advocate a setback of 300 to 400 metres. With the lenient present noise regulations, a minimum setback is 500 metres from a single, isolated modern turbine and up to 1000 metres from the nearest of a cluster of turbines. At present, wind energy developers are not accounting for the uncertainty in the calculation of turbine noise at a home or for the uncertainty in the noise power of the turbine. These uncertainties add 250 metres to the required setback. To date, wind energy developers have been making use of the myth of masking noise to decrease setbacks. Similarly, they have been ignoring the characteristic swooshing noise of turbines, a prime cause of the annoyance associated with living within 1.5 km of a turbine. In both of these matters they have been abetted by regulating authorities. The regulating authorities have also bent over backwards for the wind developers by allowing an intrusion of 15 dBA above background noise in rural Canada. By contrast, independent authorities are recommending setbacks of at least 1.5 km in the light of experience with operating wind farms, particularly those in Europe. I understand that the European Commission is close to extending the 1.5 km setback limit regulation presently operating in France and parts of Germany to the rest of Europe. I am trying to get confirmation of this from the German Ministry of the Environment.

      If you are intent upon advertising your company as a responsible seller of environmentally-friendly renewable energy, then you should limit your sources of wind energy to those projects with setbacks from homes of 1500 metres or more. I have written nothing of the visual intrusion of turbines, safety issues or the impact of turbines on bird and bat populations because these are not my areas of expertise. However, there are those who do have expertise and who are alarmed by the cavalier attitude of CanWEA, the wind energy developers and the provincial regulators.

      The attachments to this letter are a report to the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch of the Ministry of the Environment and a paper presented to the World Wind Energy Conference in June 2008. The purpose is to provide references to the content of the letter.

      Yours sincerely,

      John Harrison

      a) Figure 1
      b) Inadequacy of Present Ontario Turbine Noise Guidelines.
      c) Disconnect between Turbine Noise Guidelines and Health Authority

      c: Ms. Lorrie Gillis
      Mr. Brian Howe, HGC Engineering
      Mr. Sean Whittaker, CanWEA

  18. janet truka

    I would like to know exactly where Pigeon Bay is. I live on Clark Beach and I’m pretty sure we’re smack dab in the middle of it. Thanks for any information…I am hands on deck ready to help!

  19. Pingback: Now Subscribing to Margaret Atwood’s Blog « Accustomed to a Smoother Ride

  20. We must NOT allow our beautiful great lakes to become an industial experiment. We do not need to find out the hard way just how much damage is done by industrial wind turbines in reality, as oposed to what ‘studies’ bought and paid for by the wind industry predict, to the bird population, fish habitat or drinking water or to whatever other unforeseen problems water-bound turbines create.

    I’ve seen enough of this experiment on land. Turbines have been placed within 2-3 kilometer radius of people’s homes because industry ‘studies’ say it’s okay. This provincial government and the wind industry continue to deny that problems exist with the land based turbines already up and running in Ontario and elsewhere. They do this in spite of many, many families who’ve had to sell or completely abandon homes near existing projects to try to regain their health.

    The government that people thought was there to look out for them has only revictimized them by dismissing the truth of what is going on in rural Ontario. Please see http://www.windvigilance.com , go to WindVOiCe, Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities to see only part of what is going on.

    I don’t expect we will see any more help or protection from the govt. ministries for turbine installations in the water. We need to speak up and do all necessary to prevent more of this desecration.

    • Mike Barnard

      Lorrie said: “in spite of many, many families who’ve had to sell or completely abandon homes near existing projects to try to regain their health. ”

      My apologies Lorrie, but I’m unable to find significant references to people forced to abandon their homes. I was able to find references to 1 person that rented their home to others and moved further away, and another 6 that had their properties purchased by the wind company.

      Further, the examples I was able to find were rural farm and remote property owners, not town dwellers. As the Western Lake Erie sites are offhsore of small towns, it’s unlikely that these citations are relevant to this site.

      This doesn’t look like “many, many”, and it doesn’t look as if it is relevant to siting windmills here.


      • MA

        Please read my posts here about these families. There are many more suffering in silence. Afraid by speaking out they will lose any potential value in their homes (and most often only nest egg).


      • Mike Barnard

        My apologies MA, but I don’t find the information you provide to be highly credible.

        The ‘dirty power’ myth that Collings espouses has been discredited by every peer-reviewed study of the past 30 years. As one source says, electro-magnetic radiation is much more widely tested than the vast majority of drugs. http://www.emfandhealth.com/

        Assertions that you have original source material that is unavailable to others and pointing to non-credible sources such as Mr. Collings does not a useful argument make.

        And, to be clear, your numbers do not add up to “many, man” either.

        The credible resarch indicates that annoyance-based stress is a concern for a small subset of people. The property value concern is not borne out by evidence, as studies show it to be a statistical wash.

        Asserting that people are suffering in silence implies you can read their minds. It’s much more likely that unless agitators whip up concerns and fears, most people are happily going about their daily lives without any impact whatsoever.


  21. Diane Ferguson

    Hi Lorrie,

    Have you tried asking your question of EcoLogo who certifies the Bullfrong projects? I’d be interested to know.


    • MA

      Diane, The criteria for a wind project to receive Eco-Logo certification is as follows:

      Wind-powered electricity must:

      Not be detrimental do indigenous or migratory avian species;
      Not be located in an are that is protected for endangered or threatened avian species;
      Not cause excessive soil erosion; and
      Have replanted uprooted vegetation and replaced excavated soil after construction or demolition.
      (Notice there is no mention as to how it affects human beings)

      That’s all well and good and looks nice on paper but then I looked up the projects that have actually obtained their certification. Among them:
      Melancthon II (six families had to move out of their homes. Pubnico Wind Farm, Nova Scotia: Daniel D’Entremont family had to abandon their home that had been in the family for 5 generations.
      Wolfe Island Project: Home to a globally significant wetland that was partially filled in without permission by Canadian Hydro Developers. Located directly on a globally significant migratory route for water fowl and other birds.

      I have no faith in the Eco-Logo process after I’ve seen the complete lack of due diligence.

  22. I just blogged about this issue with reference to this post. You provide an effective overview of the problem with image.

  23. MA

    Margaret. I contacted you and your husband 3 years ago about this issue and you totally ignored my pleas. You were so brainwashed with pro-wind propoganda, you dismissed my concerns. Now, Holiday Beach which is the prime raptor staging area in Canada will be completely surrounded by approx 36 turbines on land and, if this project goes through, 55 offshore. I couldn’t believe how blind you and Graham could be to the potential danger to birds. You all are a day late and a dollar short with your concerns. The GEA has gone through and you really have no say in the matter anymore.

    • marg09

      Hello: Did you send a letter, or? We have in fact been working for a while on this, & through various orgs. Did you contact Nature Canada, ON Nature, BirdLife? Nor is it true that no one has a say any more. See below:

      From: Carlyn Moulton <cmoulton@oenogallery.com >
      Date: April 12, 2010 11:49:42 PM EDT
      To: OENO Gallery <cmoulton@oenogallery.com >
      Subject: a personal invitation to rally – please spread the word.

      Dear Friends,

      I am writing to enlist your help.

      Over the past three years, many groups have expressed their growing concern about the lack of proper planning, siting, and setbacks for proposed wind turbine projects. Over fifty municipalities have written to various cabinet ministers, petitions have been submitted, requests for environmental studies have been meticulously prepared, urgent requests for health studies from physicians and concerned citizens have been submitted. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has repeatedly expressed concern about the impact of forty year leases on farmers and agriculture; the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario has written asking for setbacks from tourism areas and to protect areas of natural beauty; naturalists and birders and environmentalists have expressed concern about the impact on migrating birds and bats; the Ontario Federation of Hunters and Anglers have expressed concern about fish habitat and other wildlife. Physicists, acousticians, power workers, business leaders have urged for proper planning, assessment and protection for residents; and property owners across the province have expressed grave concerns about negative impacts on their quality of life and precipitious drops in property values when turbines are located next to their properties, with no consideration for zoning, municipal plans or by-laws.

      The first few projects have demonstrated the real problems with the lack of appropriate regulation. These forty story buildings are being constructed just 80 meters from rural residential properties. People have abandoned their homes because the noise and flicker have been intolerable. Property values are falling next to these projects. The energy produced is a fraction of the projections. A number of companies have declared insolvency, leaving questions about liability, maintenance and decommisioning unanswered. Details on all this can be found at windconcernsontario.org

      So far, the McGuinty government has ignored all these individual and group concerns, denying all requests for environmental reviews of industrial wind turbine projects, and ignoring all requests for safe and appropriate setbacks that take into account the health of the environment, people in our communities, and preservation of our province. Instead, they have opted to make widespread and long term expensive commitments to an outdated technology of dubious merit.

      My own personal view is that this is also a matter of food security. Here in Prince Edward County over 30,000 acres have been leased to wind turbine companies for what the Ontario Federation of Agriculture tells us is a period of over forty years. This agricultural land is now somewhat controlled by Industrial Wind Turbine Companies, many of which are owned by oil and gas companies interested in the cap and trade benefits. These companies are in turn being bought by Petrochina. If you doubt this, google petrochina oil canada … it is a revelation.

      The turbines cause the bats to die because their lungs collapse from the changes in air pressure. The bats then (being dead) stop eating insects. Insects, left uneaten, eat crops. Farmers use more pesticides. …. its time to rethink putting bat killing turbines all over our farm land.

      I also think it is an exceptionally dumb idea to put them in all the major bird migration paths – which is precisely the plan, as it happens that birds travel on the wind. It also makes no sense to put them so close to vineyards, beaches, and rural villages, so that these places are permanently disrupted.

      On April 28, at 11:00 we urge you to encourage your contacts and network to show up at Queen’s Park to rally against this march to folly. This government could have supported investments in public transit in order to reduce emissions. Instead, it cancelled its commitment to do so. This government could have created greater incentives to reduce consumption. It has chosen to not do so. Instead, it has stated that wind energy will eliminate fossil fuel dependency, solve climate change and save the planet. This is clearly false – every other jursidiction which has implemented wind turbines has had to increase the number of gas plants, and none have closed their coal. The wind blows – sometimes. Sometimes it doesnt. Its just not that reliable. For the truly curious, you can go to http://www.sygration.com to see, in real time, just how much energy comes from what source in Ontario. Facts are informative.

      We hope that thousands of people will attend, to show this government that this generation of the people of Ontario do not wish to be the ones to transform the Great Lakes and our rural, agricultural communities into a continuous industrial energy facility at the expense of the environment, our people and our heritage. We surely do not wish to be the ones to foist industrial energy facilities on families just meters from their homes, making their homes unlivable.

      Please spread the word. We shall all wear green – to send the message that we support honest efforts to protect our environment. And we shall carry signs, to tell this government that industrial wind turbines in our lakes, on our shores, in our migration paths, and throughout rural Ontario is the wrong way to go about it.

      Our community is at risk. We are at a critical point in our efforts. Your support will be valued. Please join us on April 28, 11:00, Queens Park. Spread the word. A strong turnout will send a strong message.


      Carlyn Moulton

  24. MA

    I know Carolyn and have been involved with this issue for 4 years. Yes, I sent you and your husband a letter several times. It was ignored. I think that same week you were both posing for an article for Bullfrog Energy. (Wind Carbon Credits)

    I have contacted Nature Canada, ON Nature, BirdLife and every other birding/naturalist organization many many times. Nothing they can do. I recently wrote a a letter to all ON newspapers about the bald eagle kill at Clear Creek. I have worked diligently on this and get nowhere. http://www.hancockwildlife.org/article.php/20100408092422929

    I am also involved in organizing the demonstration at Queen’s Park. It has basically come down to political mutiny or lawsuits. Now that the GEA is passed, the citizens and municipalities have no rights. None….unless you have $250,000 to launch an environmental tribunal.

    If more people had of paid attention to this issue a few years ago, we wouldn’t be in this mess today.

    • Mike Barnard

      It would appear that MA is the moderator of the Wind Concerns Ontario site and his/her moderation policy is to delete polite and referenced posts that contradict the bias of the site. (My experience this morning.)

      It is unclear that this is ‘Bringing Sanity to Wind Development in Ontario ‘.

      For those who use the site as a reference, please note that it is specifically an unbalanced anti-windfarm advocacy site.

      Concerns about siting and environmental impact are reasonable. Complete opposition to all windpower is not.


      • Mike Barnard

        For clarity, MA is not Margaret Atwood, but the handle of the moderator of Wind Concerns Ontario. My comment post was deleted from that site, not Margaret’s blog.


      • MA

        Your comment, Mike, was neither polite nor informative. We’ve dealt with people like you for a long time. Pompous fools just looking for a fight.

        Not bothering to read a thing…just asking US to do your research for you.

        We havent’ got time for your nonsense, Mike.

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