All politics is local wind turbines

by Aaron Wherry

Health Canada has announced a study of the potential health impacts of wind turbines.

This study is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low frequency noise generated by wind turbines,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “As always, our Government is putting the health and safety of Canadians first and this study will do just that by painting a more complete picture of the potential health impacts of wind turbine noise.”

Conservative MPs Larry Miller and Ben Lobb are pleased.

Meanwhile, in a heavily footnoted letter, Pierre Poilievre has written to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty—pdf here—to request a delay for a proposed wind farm in his riding.

As your Ontario Government continues to promote the expansion of wind power generation across the province, I am concerned that some scientists and physicians are warning about the adverse health risks affecting those who live in close proximity to IWTs. Until the completion of this Health Canada study, I am calling on a moratorium on the Marlborough Wind Farm project proposed for the village of North Gower, located in the City of Ottawa. 

The issue of wind turbines has been hotly contested in some parts of Ontario, linked even to the defeat of several Liberal MPPs in the last election.




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All politics is local wind turbines

  1. Really….now the Conservatives want to trust in science? sure…..fact is that this is polticking and nothing more……Ontario is getting slammed for whatever perceived insults we may have put to the oil sands….we are a part of a game to prove a point……YOUR move Mulcair and thanks for putting us in the middle.

  2. Our investment in monitoring our own bit of the ozone layer must be scrapped but money too look at possible side effects of a bit of noise must go full steam ahead?

  3. Take a look at this again with an understanding of Harper’s agenda. Why does an anti-research, anti-environment, pro-oil, and anti-healthcare government research the negative health impacts of wind turbines?

    It doesn’t seem like the conservatives would fund research to protect the health of Canadians. It seems more likely that they would fund research to delay/shut down wind turbine projects, i.e. stop investment in the environment, increase our reliance on oil and redirect funds to further the Harper agenda.

    • As Leona points out in the quote, the agenda and conclusions for the ‘research’ has been decided.

      • I do love the imagery of “painting a complete picture…” In some ways, it’s a pretty honest portrayal of what governments try to do.

        Having said that, I think wind turbines are a blight on the landscape, brutal on wildlife (birds and bats), ridiculously expensive, possibly dangerous to those living nearby, and destined to be labelled an utter failure economically and environmentally. It’s a technology that simply doesn’t work.

        • “I think wind turbines are a blight on the landscape,”

          Worse than Oil derricks? Tar sands site?

          “brutal on wildlife (birds and bats),”
          Tailing ponds?
          “ridiculously expensive,”
          Oil industry subsidies?
          “possibly dangerous to those living nearby,”
          Duh. You might trip on your shoe-lace. A tree limb might fall on you. A car might jump the curb. A dog might bite you. You might drown in an inch of water. Oil fumes might choke you. A pipeline might leak. A tanker might hit a shoal and spill its oil all over the ocean.
          Sheesh. that was a really stupid argument on your part.
          “and destined to be labelled an utter failure economically and environmentally.”
          And I repeat: that is a really stupid argument to make. Pure fear mongering and completely ignoring the economic bubble of subsidized far sands oil extraction, let alone the present environmental destruction that you can stand and actually see in Alberta, let alone imagine and pretend.

          Try to paint a complete picture.

          • doug rogers sez. “Sheesh. that was a really stupid argument on your part.”

            No doug, that was a really stupid argument that you made up yourself and then blasted with a withering rebuttal. It’s just possible – indeed, it was once fairly common – that one can be opposed to option A without being head over heels in love with option B. I don’t know where you get the idea that I celebrate the death of birds in tailing ponds, or get all warm and fuzzy over an oil spill, but I think if you re-read what I’ve actually written you’ll find that I didn’t say anything that could be honestly mistaken for such a sentiment.

            In fact, my response to those who want to save the world from their greedy, thoughtless, rapacious neighbours is to model what you preach. Conserve. Don’t throw good money after bad in an effort to revive an inefficient technology which was abandoned (with cause) when a better technology was discovered.

          • sorry you’re flailing here. give up now.

          • GFMD advises – give up now.

            You ever notice that those who are the quickest to give up are the slowest to shut up? You can’t make an argument – it’s too hard – but you are utterly certain that you’re right. Carry on giving up.

          • Which technology was that? Or do I have to guess again as to what you mean?
            BTW, the only energy source this government won’t find unacceptable is oil.

          • The technology that replaced the windmill of the 1800s is the burning of fossil fuels and the widespread introduction of electrical power. Wind power was used when nothing better was available. Now that better options are available, it’s not practical or reasonable to go backwards for idealogical purposes.

            If you think the government won’t accept hydro power, nuclear power, solar power, geo-thermal power, and other fringe power sources, then I suppose you could point out where and when they are shutting them down?

            It’s not an either/or situation. Your attempts to cast it as such are kind of silly.

          • “The technology that replaced the windmill of the 1800s is the burning of fossil fuels and the widespread introduction of electrical power.”i

            So, it is about oil….

          • I suppose, if you are particularly simple-minded, that it is about oil and only about oil. But, if your thinking is a little more complex (and if you don’t ignore what I said in the second paragraph) then you’d understand that it’s not about loyalty to a particular commodity, it’s about preferring the better solution – the more efficient solution – to the less efficient and the less reliable, Wind power can not replace fossil fuels – or nuclear power, or hydro power, it can only supplement them. And the traditional power capacity that sits idle while the wind is blowing still needs to be maintained and will always need to be available.

            If you’re going to invest untold billions of dollars into an alternate energy program, then invest the money into nuclear power to improve the safety of reactors and find a long-term solution to the handling of nuclear waste. Or invest in tidal research, because at least with the tides you have a genuinely reliable power source.

          • Untold billions? The AB $50M tar marketing budget would’ve covered the early R+D and patents and stuff.
            Google Bill Gates and molten salt battery.
            This project needs even more funding to try out different materials and blueprint topologies. Is only in the low tens of millions in funding so far.
            Google molten salt battery and some cost estimates are about the 10th entry returned. Coming up short of $220kwh USA 2022 target.
            We could just use pumped water but then might as well just use hydro. A MB to SK line, or MB to MN, or to Thunder Bay….will be economical with a mature federal government.
            Google ARPA-E wind turbines rare earth metals.
            Only $22M to find cheap metal wind turbines. AB could’ve saved the world but dropped the globe. Then J.Quick came in expertly to catch it…
            Untold tens of millions…why didn’t AB fund this out of Rainy Day Fund?! It turns out market forces are crap. A dollar in the hands of Gates is worth mopre than a cdn dollar, at least with the “leadership” you all chose and set up the future AGW-ed world.

    • Whatever his reasons are, I completely support his decision and hope the study uncovers all the damage the wind turbines are doing to the people of rural Ontario..

      • Are people climbing up into the turbines and getting sliced to ribbons.? Because all that’s mentioned above is “noise”.

        • The complaints have been about noise. You would think that the noise would become like “white noise” for people who live near the turbines. This is certainly the case for people who live near train tracks and in high vehicle traffic areas. You would expect that these residents would tune out the noise of turbines but they say this isn’t happening. They complain that it disrupts their sleep and they feel irritable and depressed. Almost like those who complain about WIFI sensitvity. The only solution would seem to be to have wind farms located in areas with sparse populations. I don’t believe there have been complaints in southern Alberta because the turbines are so far from any homes.

  4. It’s obviously a coincidence that wind generated energy competes with Alberta’s natural gas –

    • It doesn’t compete very well… If not for outrageous public subsidies, wind power would have remained on the scrapheap of obsolete technologies where it belongs.

    • It does not compete at all, just the opposite! Wind turbines requiere a back-up source of energy which is a generator burning natural gas produced in Alberta!

  5. I live in an area of wind turbines…..for those of you who don’t …..the difference is money.

    People who got paid for wind turbines being on their farms, or next door or whatever are perfectly healthy and have no complaints.

    Those who didn’t get paid…..because they are too far away…..even a mile away in some cases….are claiming all sorts of ailments.

    It’s about the bucks, that’s all.

    • The landscape, the views. What a blight they are on the Lake Erie shoreline.

      • I love the look of them….sleek, elegant…..

        Unlike the ugly hydro towers……it’s just that people are used to them and don’t ‘see’ them anymore.

        • I’ll take one nice little nuke plant purring along at the Bruce, over hundreds of mechanical contrivances blocking the fields, the forests, the sky, and the Lake in the distance.

          • You won’t after the explosion.

    • That’s interesting. There have been reports of ‘communities divided’ and that sort of thing. If the land lease on a turbine (or two or three) is a profitable sit-and-count-the-money sort of venture, those who have them may well be content to absorb the white noise. And those who don’t have turbines would surely hear those throbs loudly. If those making the health claims were to, say, suddenly ‘adopt a turbine’ or host one for financial gain, suddenly changed their tune, well then, yeah, the rancour is all about the $.

      That said, the observation above – that an anti-research, pro-petroleum government should suddenly ‘get religion’ (as it were) about alternative energy sources – suggests the fix is in. One can never underestimate the overreach of the petrocracy.

      • Yup, no ‘turbine-itis’ in places where people got paid.

        There are ‘true believers’ of course….the same kind of folks that oppose flouride in the water, or wifi in schools…but on the whole, money overcomes the ‘health complaints’. It’s like magic.

        Naturally there are also those who are gung-ho fossil fuel types….so they don’t like wind, solar, etc…..shares in oil companies no doubt, or some other vested reason to oppose any change.

        http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/603506_326150634138496_534536467_n.jpg

  6. This issue blows left right distinctions to smithereens.
    Health effects aside, they destroy the natural beauty and vistas of the Ontario landscape. They highlight our wasteful, inefficient use of electricity. Progressives should support the science and engineering of the hi tech developments offered by nuclear energy.
    More than the noise i would suspect the electromagnetic radiation coming off these generators in the sky is more dangerous to human and animal health than the noise.
    Has anyone heard of the law of conservation of energy? Every watt of electricity taken from the movement of air across Ontario is changing our environment and weather.
    Crazy alliances but I am with the Cons on this one, and will never support McGuinty.
    Last time I voted NDP because I don’t think they really know where they stand!!

  7. lgarvin said:

    “Having said that, I think wind turbines are a blight on the landscape,
    brutal on wildlife (birds and bats), ridiculously expensive, possibly
    dangerous to those living nearby, and destined to be labelled an utter
    failure economically and environmentally. It’s a technology that simply
    doesn’t work.”

    if you think they are a blight on the landscape, I can’t argue with that but I disagree. They are not brutal on birds (they can kill birds but cats and windows are far worse). Bat microphones are now installed during measurement campaigns and bird and bat studies are conducted for any new wind farm. Same with shadow flicker and noise studies. All publicly available. “possibly dangerous to those living nearby” – check out the nocebo effect. An economic failure? The price has and will keep dropping and efficiency keeps rising – no other power source is trending this way (apart from other renewables). Environmentally, they’re better than the alternatives.

    Your last sentence is the most laughable: “it’s a technology that simply doesn’t work.” That is insane – do you believe that? Have you seen one spinning? Well if you saw it spinning (which they usually do 80-90% of the time, not to be confused with the capacity factor) then they are working!

    Combined with hydro storage and with short-term forecasting, wind can play a big part in addressing our energy needs.

    For those who love picking on the new renewable technologies – what would you prefer instead and why?

    • It takes more than assertions to dismiss an argument. Cats don’t kill eagles and bat microphones, while they might comfort those looking to be comforted, don’t actually prevent bats dying in their thousands each summer where wind turbines are installed. The thing about the bats (who are dying at 4 times the rate of birds) is that they don’t even have to collide with the blades, the change in the air pressure around the turbines is killing them without touching them. (Google “barrotraumas”) Since the noise of the blades appears to attract migratory bats, and since bats are slow to reproduce, wind turbines could mean the collapse of entire populations of bats. What does that mean for mosquito populations? the population of other pests? I don’t know, but I don’t think it will have a beneficial effect.

      I don’t really have time to answer the rest of your points except to say that wind power will never be reliable (like the tides), will never be cost effective (like oil and gas which are still the most efficient energy sources on the earth) and will never satisfy our endless appetite for more, more, more energy. If you’re worried about peak oil (and I’m not particularly) then use less energy.

      • “I don’t really have time to answer the rest of your points” – lgarvin, if you’re honest with yourself, judging by the 284 comments you’ve made to date and the 7 (and probably climbing) you’ve made on this article alone, you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, you’re just being picky.

        The main point about the bats is that it might be a problem, sure, but bat studies are being conducted by 3rd parties prior to any wind turbines being erected. The wind industry is listening and trying to change it. Could you say the same about other power producers?

        Wind may not be as reliable as the tides, but wind is all over Canada and in the right locations can be very reliable. How can it never be cost effective? It’s becoming cheaper all the time and it is using a free power source. Oil and gas prices are low at the moment, but there is no guarantee that they’ll stay that way. Wind will always be free. Oh and if you want to talk about cheap power, don’t mention nuclear, as the costs are high and keep on rising.

        Now you’re trying to bring in energy conservation into your argument – like people who support renewables hate the idea….

        Why not tell us your ideal mix of electricity in Canada then, without renewables? That might reveal a bit too much though.

        • Brendan says: “That might reveal a bit too much though.”

          That’s the second time that you’ve seen fit to question my honesty and -let me check the numbers here – still zero demonstrations of any dishonesty. A person less charitable than myself might take that for hostility rather than mere projection.

          It’s true that I post here more than I should, so what? And when I say I haven’t time for something, that’s what I mean. If you think I’m trying to dodge any point, then raise it again. Some of the things you said in your original post were unimportant, IMO, or simply unsupported.

          Speaking of which, what 3rd parties are doing “bat studies”? What measures are the “wind industry” taking to mitigate the problem? Can you name me three examples of a wind turbine location that was rejected because of “bat studies”? You claim that the wind industry is listening and “trying to change” and then you suggest that no other power producers can make the same claim. First, what changes, please be specific. Second, are you saying that there have been no improvements in the fossil fuel sector? In the Hydro-electric sector? In the nuclear sector? None at all?

          Wind is not reliable, full stop. And even when it’s blowing like Louis Armstrong, it is less efficient and less economical than an equivalent natural gas turbine. It takes up more space, it has a greater environmental impact, and kills more wildlife. The long term effects of the low-frequency noise pollution and the long term damages to the eco-systems (bats in particular) are unknown. I’m not saying there are no externalities with natural gas, but I am saying that the negatives with natural gas, or hydro, or coal, are a known quantity. Windmills, not so much. Additionally, the cost of wind energy will always include the cost of the traditional power sources that must be maintained in order to back-stop it. It’s like buying a traditional gasoline commuter car to act as back-up for your “efficient” electric car. The operating costs for the standard car may be lower, but the capital cost and the fixed costs are the same.

          So you want to know what my mix of electricity would be? More hydro, more nuclear, more natural gas, less coal, less wind, less solar. We sell a huge amount of our cleanest power (Quebec’s Hydro) to the US and, in trade, we buy some of the dirtiest power (Midwest Coal Power) when we do actually buy power.

          So what does that “reveal” to you, Mr. Truthteller?

          • A transmission line is good to 1500km. That makes wind generally reliable. Texas lost all wind for a while about 4 years ago. AGW kills for instance, the entire marine food chain. Ocean acidification might even do us in; is a lot of biomass gone. The foot-print of wind turbines and other major energy sources isn’t even close. I can dig a wind turbine foundation myself. Nuclear is truly massive. The concrete is needed to prevent maybe, a China Syndrome. The cost of wind turbines is about 8 cents kwh. That is delivered. Probably around 20-24 cents installed. The cost of a kwh of coal is about 8 cents (I’m guessing up 3 cents since mid last decade) and oil 12 cents (known to be up 4 cents since 2005-ish). Tack on 4 cents for CCS is very optimistic and CCS might not work. It will take decades to prove suitable for widespread usage.
            A molten metal salt battery (there are other potential materials combos just waiting for any actor with a little cash to R+D) will likely bank wind turbine electricity though in Canada we can use pumped water (but if you have hydro and get develop it under oily gov, why bother with wind?). B.Gates is saving the world here, the world that Canada is trying and failing so far to destroy.

          • Nuclear. Next time (within 10-20 years) just let the damn things melt down all the way. It will kill the industry, kill some corporatist country, and ruin baby food and meat for a year. Remember Fukushima?!

        • You say wind is all over Canada. Then why can’t turbines be put in a more windy place where they won’t affect people? Why do they have to be put in Canada’s most densely populated area?

  8. I would very much welcome a thorough, objective, scientific and non-partisan study into health effects of wind turbines. Wake me up when a study like that is announced, will you?

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