A Free-Market Energy Blog

Ontario Update: Offshore Wind Moratorium Decision Hangs Tough, Onshore BAU Targeted

By Sherri Lange -- April 8, 2011

“The [conflicts between wind turbines and residents] are more than just NIMBYISM; they are a justified reaction to intrusive technologies that would not even be polluting the landscape except for involuntary taxpayer/ratepayer subsidies enacted and enforced by government edict. Capitalists and environmentalists unite!”

Mark Twain said “a lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on”. The falsehoods about industrial wind turbines have been marching the globe for 20+ years, but the truth is now in its shoes and making its way into the court of public opinion and into the court of law. Has the tide turned against government created industrial wind?

It’s been a fervent time since the offshore announcement in Ontario recently (see my previous post, Ontario’s Wind Moratorium: Public Discontent Sends a Global Message to Government-Dependent Energy (and energy sprawl). But while celebrating the offshore moratorium announcement, rural Ontario was justly miffed that the province announced business-as-usual with its aggressive government subsidies and permitting  of on-land industrial wind parks.

Communities, however, are waking up to the uneconomic, anti-environmental nature of wind toward a goal of extracting more moratoriums. Public-spirited groups are educating ahead of the next provincial election to get the attention of the provincial Ministers and the Premier and what has been to date government policy by public confusion . Such stubborn, bully-headed policy could sink itself come October 6, 2011.

This is a government that is being guided by a consulting company that was/is spending $300,000 to stay the course on industrial-wind subsidies/permits. As much was exposed in a leaked document in the Legislature whereby the Provincial Liberals admitted to using “consultants” to confuse taxpayers about energy.

Ontario’s Ian Hanna Decision Appealed

A related development to Ontario’s backlash against industrial wind concerns an ongoing court case.

Ian Hanna from Big Island has challenged the Province for not following a careful and scientific approach to turbine placement. This lawsuit, recently defeated, sought to shut down a turbine installation in Ontario for an “undetermined amount of time.”

Although legitimate heath concerns were acknowledged, it was determined that the 550 metre setback was legally framed and that further legal challenges should proceed through the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) process. Still, there is no doubt that too many people have been forced from homes, feeling medical effects, sleeplessness, headaches, tinnitus, irritability, depression, heart beat irregularities, to name a few.

The upside of that legal challenge was that it pointed the anti turbine pencil laser on the courts and province and generated not a little publicity for the movement. But two weeks ago, Eric Gillespie, Lawyer for Ian Hanna, announced an appeal. So this legal dispute still has some healthy legs, and we will keep you abreast of those developments.

The first ever of its kind in Ontario, the Chatham Kent ERT appeal, has all the makings of a TV series. Well-suited lawyers for developer Suncor, with large turbines provocatively displayed on their screen savers, were strategically placed on expansive tables to annoy activists. Another large table supported multiple lawyers from the Ministry of the Environment, ironically acting for Suncor and for the province in order to protect the government-enabled turbine business.

On the other side were turbine expert Robert McMurtry and well-known expert on ice throw and turbine safety issues, Bill Palmer.  Other interested activists, and the soft spoken but punchy and superbly researched environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie also filled the courtroom.

The two days of proceedings I observed were remarkable. But I apparently missed an even more dramatic day the next week when Dr Geoff Leventhal (gainfully reimbursed for his testimony by the various wind interests) gave testimony that surprised nearly everyone in the room, perhaps not least Albert Engel, the lawyer for turbine developer Suncor. Leventhal could not refute the list of negative health effects of turbines even with Mr. Engel’s expert guidance.

Another surprise irony was that the sound expert for Suncor had a hearing disability. As evidence and cross examination evolved, several witnesses for the proponent had to have been quite uneasy. Maybe even Mr. Engel. At least that’s how I saw it. (For more details on this amazing hearing, click here.)

Turbine realists, as I call them, included experts in epidemiology, sound and noise, and risk management, including Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, M.D., USA, Dr. Robert Thorne, PhD, Health Sciences and Acoustics, Australia, Richard James, INCE Acoustician, USA, Dr. Christopher Hanning, M.D., FRCA, MRCS, LRCP, Sleep Specialist, UK, Dr. Robert McMurtry, M.D., F.R.C.S. (C), F.A.C.S., Canada, Dr Arline Bronzaft, PhD, Noise and Health Specialist, USA, Dr. Jeffery Armmini, PhD, Epidemiologist, Canada, Dr. Carl Phillips, PhD, M.P.P., Epidemiology and Public Policy, USA, Dr. Daniel Shepherd, PhD, Noise and Health Specialist, New Zealand.) Consider them a Who’s Who of turbine hard data. They will be heard from again.

Suffice it to say that the Tribunal, first of its kind in the province, is progressing well, very well. Summations are eagerly anticipated as additional high drama.

International Snapshots

Across the seas and here in North America, there are more emerging legal stories challenging Big Wind.

In the UK, Jane and Julian Davis are engaged in a unique possibly first of a kind legal challenge: The constant humming and helicopter like noises have them furious and the family has retained lawyers to advance a “nuisance legal suit” that is sure to set proponents again on their ears if successful. These fine folks just “want to go home” without the noise that is devastating them. Thousands of words of testimony and ten days of hearings will be heard at the High Court beginning July 4.

Closer to home, the Erie County legislature (Buffalo) on March 17th a No Vote for turbines offshore passed with a huge margin of support: 13–2. This is another sign of an aging turbine ideology, wrinkles and pockmarks visible. (Tom Marks, U.S. Executive Director, Great Lakes Wind Truth, and other vibrant activist groups can claim some applause for their hard work in educating legislators.) This brings the number of moratoriums across NYPA GLOW project affected or interested counties to 7 out of 7.

But let’s not forget about the fermenting dissent in Australia. One Rosemary Quinn cannot suffer the noise and vibration of turbines two km away. She smothers the windows carefully at night, and uses her ceiling fan on high in an attempt to cover the noise. Her son and daughter-in-law, Bill and Jenny, are now gambling with their life’s investments, to fight the plans of wind farm developer AGL. Behind these legal challenges are real people, often chased from their principal financial and emotional investment and respite by the whirr and whomp of industrial intrusions on rural landscapes. The Australian Senate now has over 1,000 submissions in response to its request for evidence on the social and economic impact of rural turbines.

The above conflicts are more than just NIMBYISM; they are a justified reaction to intrusive technologies that would not even be on the landscape except for involuntary taxpayer/ratepayer subsidies enacted and enforced by government edict. Capitalists and environmentalists unite!

Conclusion: Ordinary Folks Cometh

What we need to remember in these legal musings is that there are so many cards yet to be played. Illegal massive bird kills of endangered, at risk species, near extermination of Eagles now, oceans criss-crossed with noise and vibration that are again creating killing fields, all of these lunacies hover and are sure to catch the eyes of attentive lawyers and activists. One by one, we bid you farewell, graduates of the Suzuki Foundation and Vestas School of Environmentalism.

It appears that the activists are not as the developers had hoped: blind men in a room with the lights out, searching for a black cat. They are ordinary working and retired people from all walks of life. They have lawyers. They have determination and grit. They appear to be everywhere in every unfortunate turbine laden country.

We now have our own vision of a greener world. Imagine 200,000 turbine “killing fields” worldwide with as little as 1-2% of electricity production in return. Then imagine a turbine free world.

There should not be a machine in every pristine as the DC Environmentalists-who-have-forgotten-the-Environment would have it.


  1. Sherri Lange  

    Following this post, there is news that Trillium is contemplating a lawsuit towards the Province now, following the Moratorium announcement, Feb. 11, 2011. This could complicate things, but the huge momentum gained by various and multiplying moratoriums and No Votes around the Lakes, will prevail. See details and link below. Indeed, the money lost by the developer pales in comparison to the gain in not giving out billions in subsidies, right out of the pockets of consumers and business.


    Exclusive: Trillium debates action against Ontario government’s offshore wind u-turn.

    Trillium Power, which was to develop the first offshore wind farm in Canada’s Great Lakes, may take legal action after Ontario’s shock decision to put a moratorium on offshore wind installations.
    Speaking exclusively to NewNet, Trillium Power CEO John Kourtoff said that having spent millions of dollars on developing proposals for a 420MW offshore wind project, it may look to take action against the government’s change in policy.
    ‘We have invested millions of dollars at the request of the government,’ Kourtoff said.
    ‘The reality is we have had many other offshore wind proponents in Ontario approach us about litigating, which is not our first choice. We are not going to go quietly into the night and either there is a solution found on this or we will have no choice but to defend the shareholders who have invested money in offshore wind.’
    The Ontario government put a stop to offshore wind farms being development in the Great Lakes on 11 February, just as Trillium Power was about to close a financing deal for its offshore projects.
    The government said it took the step because of environmental and health concerns, but the unexpected move shocked would-be developers and investors alike.
    A report by the Conference Board of Canada shows the Great Lakes have the potential to generate 35,000MW of clean energy for the region. But the government has not said how long the moratorium may stand for and has confiscated the sites from developers, putting them back to square one in the permitting process.
    Trillium Power had planned to construct its initial project, the Trillium Power Wind 1 installation, about 17km to 28km off the shores of north-eastern Lake Ontario, which would have generated enough energy to power in the region of 177,000 typical Ontario homes.
    Kourtoff said, ‘It is a very difficult situation right now and the harm of these actions will not be shown for a number of months. It has been extremely destructive on the investment side.’
    Copyright © 2011 NewNet


  2. biggreenlie  

    Well written and bang-on!

    This period in Ontario’s history will be written into school books as a very “dark time” in our Political Leadership!

    It will be used an example of what can go wrong when a leader “sells out” his/her constituents to Industry and allows a massive “Scam” to take over decision-making in order to acquire $$$, power and lands!

    It should be a warning for any future aspiring leaders what has been stated over and over again for decades: “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”!


  3. catherine Bayne  

    Also there are brilliant people who are working through the Aarhus Convention to take their governments to task for neglecting the Principle of Proportionality and the Precautionary Principle and there are true environmentalists such as the John Muir Trust who have maintained their founding principle, to protect wild lands, in the face of industrial-green depravity. Thank you to them all.


  4. Al Isselhard  

    Excellent comments by someone who knows the bitter truth about this politically driven fantasy and environmental treachery. Time is the enemy of the wind developer trying to promote a hit ‘n’ miss inefficient technology.


  5. nofreewind  

    And then there is this very interesting analysis.


  6. Sherri Lange  

    Absolutely correct. One of the largest myths that we need to debunk. Denmark, home to 6400 turbines, has the second highest CO2 level in Europe, and uses 50% more coal than 20 years ago. That little thing called “intermittency” and need for “backup.”
    Wind Power is a Complete Disaster: Michael Trebilcock, University of Toronto.



  7. Ken Langford  

    We have a native corporation (CIRI) in Alaska that plans to build a wind farm (Fire Island LLC) and is actively rent-seeking the local municipal assembly to force the local public power company to sign a PPA for 25 years. The output of that wind farm would destabilize Alaska’s small grid and cost 3 to 4 times the production costs of local utilities. Here’s the local story:


    This is such a volatile situation involving natives and environmentalists that I don’t think sanity will prevail. But I am hopeful. Anyone willing to email our assembly please feel free to do so at wwmas@muni.org.


  8. Heather Hunter  

    If only the politicians would spend as much time and energy researching technology as concerned laymen before committing billions of our tax dollars to subsidize industries that harm the people and environment. The motive of the people who make the decisions is pure self-interest. But they have started doing flip-flops as the truth about this wasteful, dangerous, pernicious technology becomes public. Thank god someone is doing the (unpaid) work to put together the information and educate the public to counteract all the green-washing while the highly paid politicians are courted by the turbine industry. Who do you trust, the lawyers who are paid by the industry or the concerned citizens (including doctors) going up against Goliath? Bravo Sherri and thank God for people like her in this world being ravaged by industrialists.


  9. catherine Bayne  

    Just to make sure the rest of the country knows what the McGuinty governments plans are for CANADA”S Great Lakes I will be spending time on the scenic lookouts of Lake Superior this summer AGAIN alerting travelers of the potential industrialization of our precious freshwater treasures and iconic landscapes.


  10. Sherri Lange  

    Ordinary Folks Cometh…continued.

    Yesterday, May 26th, 2011, in Toronto saw us on Bay Street at the summation for the ERT (Environmental Review Tribunal) previously alluded to in this writing. This is the first of its kind in Ontario, a challenge by Ordinary People to Big “Green” Wind, of an individual project…opening the doors for many many more challenges. Here are the words of someone whose very own community and life is under seige. Please note that in attendance were THREE different families represented who had to vacate their homes.

    BY permission of Lorrie Gillis.

    On Thursday, May 26th, all gave final submissions to the Kent Breeze ERT panel. A decision on this industrial wind project will come forward in July.

    We watched the Ministry of the Environment lawyer stridently tell the tribunal what they should and shouldn’t do. She told the panel that Dr. McMurtry, Dr. Thorne, Dr. Nissenbaum, Dr. Phillips, Dr. Bronzaft and Mr. James were advocates and were simply out to stop wind turbine development in general. In her opinion, the real experts to listen to were the ones CanWEA/AWEA paid to put a report together.

    (CanWEA and AWEA=Canadian and American Wind Energy Associations, lobby groups for the wind industry.)

    Suncor lawyers droned on with the same inaccurate, tired and worn out defense that green energy is best for most and that we should think of the good health that will come from the clean energy produced.

    There were members from 3 different families attending the tribunal summation; all 3 have been forced to leave their homes near turbines.

    Appellant lawyer, Eric Gillespie, said it was clear that there were health issues with industrial wind turbines. He spoke of the hundreds upon hundreds of hours of time Dr. McMurtry, Dr. Thorne and others have invested to directly investigate people who have been affected by turbines. On the other hand, he said, Dr. Colby who could have spoken to any number of affected people in Ontario, claimed to have only one report of someone having a problem with turbines in Chatham Kent.

    Each time Mr. Gillespie got up to speak in his quiet, elegant and confident manner, you could hear a pin drop in the room. Each time he spoke, he drew the panel back to the reason for the tribunal. Each time he spoke, he took the MOE/Suncor bafflegab and trumped it with clarity and simple truth.

    I came away feeling in awe of the summation of 7 months of labour by our legal team. I want to thank all of you on this team, from the bottom of my heart, for the countless hours of personal time, energy, work, money, lost sleep, lost family time, worry and dedication you all put into this on our behalf.

    If there is any justice or compassion left in this provincial Liberal’s ravaged system, we should win.

    Lorrie Gillis


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