Stop Offshore Wind Turbines on Toronto’s Waterfront
Thank you for visiting SaveTheTorontoBluffs.com. This website is sponsored by a group of Toronto citizens who are concerned about the industrialization of the Eastern Toronto waterfront, in particular the environmentally sensitive Scarborough Bluffs (an Ontario Heritage Site). The website is formatted to explain the cause of our concern, outline some facts that should be considered in understanding the situation, discuss our concerns based on these facts and ask for your help in stopping this venture by Toronto Hydro.
For those of you not familiar with the beauty and fragility of the Scarborough Bluffs, we have also included a photo gallery and book of pictures of the Bluffs.
Update on Wind Turbines Proposal Offshore Scarborough Bluffs
August 6, 2009. Update on Anemometer: Please click here to down load PDF. PDF
How to Fight the Big Wind Onslaught
Calvin Luther Martin, PhD Associate Professor of History (retired) Rutgers University: Please click here to down load PDF. PDF
Follow The Science
By: L.P. Lombardi, M.D., B.Sc. (Microbiology): Please click here to down load PDF. PDF
A Review of the Health Effects of Noise by Dr. L. P. Lombardi, MD
Interesting Article on Low Frequency Noise: Please click here to down load PDF. PDF
Why Wind Turbines Are The Problem, Not The Answer
FOLLOW THE MONEY: There's so little wind and so little electricity: yet developers rush to claim sites for their turbines. Why? Because there's so much money to be made for private shareholders that it doesn't really matter whether the turbines run efficiently or not. Where does the money come from? Do you really have to ask? Check your property tax bill. Check your income tax bill. Check your Hydro bill. Yes, it comes from you. And you never get it back: it goes to the developers. more...
Are you concerned about the effects of wind farms on the Toronto water front? Below are some of the possible effects.
- A wind turbine project makes NO economic sense: it spends an enormous amount of tax-payer money on a project that would provide very little electricity that we would then have to pay very high rates for.
- A wind turbine project has the potential to damage the environment: to the lake bed; to the water which we drink; to the migrations of birds, bats and the threatened Monarch butterflies; to the resident populations of birds and wild animals that inhabit the shores along Lake Ontario.
- A wind turbine project would threaten the very fragile, unique Bluffs.
- A wind turbine projecty would industrialize a beautiful recreational area where people currently walk, jog, kayak, sail and spend time enjoying the natural surroundings.
- A giant turbine project would negatively affect the daily lives of thousands of Toronto citizens with massive construction effects, ongoing noise, uninterrupted flashing lights and potential health hazards.
The Cause of Our Concern
Toronto Hydro and their consultant Gartner Lee is considering the feasibility of putting an industrial wind farm 2 to 4 kilometres off Toronto's eastern shore. If wind speeds prove favourable, the proposed plan would see 400+ foot wind turbines, with flashing beacons in Lake Ontario.
The 60 to 100 turbines proposed for this area would require a 52 square kilometre area. This would potentially span a 25 km stretch of prime beach, parkland, and residential areas , along the shore of Lake Ontario. The turbines could encompass an area from Leslie Street to Ajax. Although it is important that Ontario develops new ways to harvest green energy, it must be done in a way that protects the environment and respects the rights of all our citizens. We do not believe that this initiative meets either of these requirements.
- The world needs more green power. We strongly support well-considered initiatives to this end.
- The Province of Ontario has a green power initiative but has no guidelines and does not regulate where wind farms are located.
- The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) was established through the Electricity Restructuring Act. It operates independently and as a non-profit corporation. Licensed by the Ontario Energy Board, it reports to the legislature through the Ministry of Energy.
- The OPA is responsible for:
- Assessing the long-term adequacy of electricity resources
- Forecasting future demand and the potential for conservation and renewable energy
- Preparing an integrated system plan for conservation, generation, and transmission
- Procuring new supply, transmission and demand management either by competition or by contract, when necessary
- Achieving the targets set by government for conservation and renewable energy
- The OPA has commissioned a number of studies on the topic of wind farms in Ontario. At least two of these studies were completed by Helimax Consulting Inc. The most recent is a study of the opportunities for off-shore wind farms in Ontario published in April , 2008, only 8 months ago.
- This study determined the 64 best locations for offshore wind farms in Ontario, including seven sites on Lake Ontario. The 64 sites, when developed, would potentially provide 35,000 MW of power. The Ontario goal for 2025 is 5,000 MW.
- The study also provided some guidelines for offshore sites, the least favourable being near an area with a population density of 64 people per sq. km. or greater, a less favourable site is 1-3 km from shore, most favourable is 9 or more KM from shore.
- The Scarborough Bluffs site selected by Toronto Hydro is not one of the 64 sites recommended in the Helimax study; it is also located beside a residential area with a population density over 1,000 per sq. km.; and it is located 2 km from shore.
- According to the data in the Helimax study and the Canadian Wind Atlas there does not appear to be sufficient wind at the Scarborough Bluffs site to support a wind farm. This is true for the whole year, but particularly true in the critical summer period. The Pickering Wind Station, located at the shore of Lake Ontario and at the eastern extreme of the proposed wind farm, has been in operation since August 2001. According to the Ontario Power Generation Backgrounder on this installation: “This 18% “capacity factor” is low compared to other forms of generation and results mainly from the lack of constant strong winds. Other areas in Ontario have been found to have much stronger 'wind regimes'.”
- Toronto Hydro is proposing to spend $1m in taxpayers' funds to study the winds at one specific point in the proposed wind farm area and has leased the land for the wind farm from the MNR. The proposed study site is 1.8 km from land, therefore not actually within the defined boundaries of their proposed wind farm.
- The Scarborough Bluffs site will be the closest-to-shore offshore wind farm in the world and the only one built in close proximity to a major residential area.
- The wind turbines are more than 120 meters tall with a substantial underwater base to support the structure. As an example of the size of the base, the on-shore Pickering Wind Generation Station required 318 tonnes of steel-reinforced concrete for its foundation. This base will need to be tied to the lake bottom in some fashion. These turbines will be topped by navigational and aviation warning lights that will be flashing all day and all night.
- Although it is Toronto Hydro who is doing the preliminary study, it will not be funding, building or operating the wind farm. A private company will be doing this after a tendering process run by one of the Provincial Power Authorities or Toronto Hydro. An example of a private company is Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Canadian Hydro Developers. They run the Wolfe Island project among a number of others. There are other companies operating in Canada.
- These private companies can take on these projects because there is a standing offer from the OPA to purchase the power for the next 20 years at $110 per megawatt generated. We understand that this price is adjusted periodically for inflation. There is also a Federal initiative that provides $10 per megawatt generated for the first 10 years of production. This is extremely expensive power: Ontario Power Generation sells its power generated at $33.00 per MWH for hydro and $49.50 per MWH for nuclear.
- The Scarborough Bluffs are an environmentally sensitive area. The Toronto Conservation Authority has spent millions of dollars to reduce the rate of erosion of the bluffs. This work is only partially completed. This erosion directly impacts the houses located along the top of the Bluffs.
- Toronto Hydro has stated “Any further projects (i.e. an offshore wind farm) are subject to a separate environmental assessment process with full agency and public participation”. John Gerretsen, the Environment Minister in Ontario, has publicly stated there are currently 19 projects on the go in the province. Full environmental assessments were requested in 17 of these projects; not one was granted. According to Mr. Gerretsen, “We have enough information regarding the major issues involved. There is no need to do these assessments.”
- Wind power is not a steady source of power. The existing wind turbines in Ontario reached a high output of 617 Megawatts in early December. On July 19th the wind turbines reached a low output of 2 Megawatts. Wind power does not replace the need for existing power generation sources. Nowhere in the world has an existing power plant been shut down and replaced by wind generation.
- The Scarborough Bluffs are part of the Atlantic Flyway, a major spring and fall migratory route for many species of birds. It is also the migratory route for Monarch Butterflies.
- All of Ontario's industrial wind turbine installations have been in rural or wilderness Ontario. For rural sites, there is a very strong economic reason to support the turbines – each land owner who hosts a wind turbine receives a lease payment of $9,000 - $13,000 per year plus a break on their hydro bill. Not surprisingly, the hosts are very strong proponents of the turbines.
- The Scarborough Bluffs are as high as 65 metres above the lake level at their highest point. The wind turbines are over 100 metres high, possibly creating a very different sound issue than experienced with the land-based turbines. With the likelihood of no environmental assessment before proceeding, this issue will not be addressed but should be. The well being of the hundreds of affected homeowners along the bluffs should be of concern to the proponents of the turbines.
We believe that there are a number of concerned green voices in this argument that are taking a very basic argument that “wind power is green and good” and applying this argument to any proposal by any agency to say that the project should proceed whatever the facts might be. We believe that the facts in this proposal, as outlined above, should cause these advocates of the Scarborough Bluffs Industrial Wind Turbine installation to rethink their position.
We also believe that Toronto Hydro is quite determined to have a wind farm of their very own and that the only possible place for this is the Scarborough Bluffs site. There is no data to support this location as a good site for an industrial wind farm.
The OPA sponsored Helimax Report does not mention this site when listing the top 64 sites in Ontario. This study was commissioned by the Ontario Power Authority and published in April 2008. The Canadian Wind Atlas shows that the wind power at this site is unacceptable.
The experience at the Pickering Wind Station demonstrates insufficient wind in this location. Toronto Hydro is proposing to spend one million dollars, mostly taxpayer money, to measure the wind for two years. The site chosen for the anemometer is not within the proposed area for the wind farm. Toronto Hydro stated at the November information meeting that the data from their study would not be available to the public.
We are being asked to believe that once this study is complete there will be a full environmental study before proceeding with the turbine installation. The experience to date in Ontario and the statement by John Gerretsen, the Ontario Environment Minister, that they have enough information regarding the major issues involved and that he sees no need to do one despite repeated requests would seem to suggest that this study will in all likelihood not occur prior to the start of construction. This is absolutely unacceptable.
There are a number of issues that are new in this proposal. A few of them include: the environmental sensitivity of the bluffs; altering the on-shore water currents by constructing the turbine bases; industrialization of a major residential area; first wind farm in the world to be built beside a residential neighborhood; and turbines at house level, not above the residents as in existing installations. Not to study these issues unique to this proposal is absolutely irresponsible.
There is no information available regarding the construction of a typical water-based industrial wind farm. This should be known before spending $1 Million of taxpayers' money to study winds, that according to the Canadian Wind Atlas and Helimax report are not sufficient.
- Where would the construction be based?
- Would the construction infrastructure require commercial access to the bluffs on the Conservation Authority land?
- How long would the construction period last?
- What would the impact on fish habitant be resulting from the installation of turbine foundations and submarine cables connecting each turbine to the shore?
- What will the impact be on the sports fishery and recreational boaters in the area?
- What will be the impact be from oil leaks from the turbines to our drinking water supply?
- How will the noise from these turbines, an area of low ambient background, effect the quality of life of residents living in close proximity to the Bluffs?