Ottawa environment committee votes Yes to wind on City-owned lands
May 18, 2022
The City of Ottawa’s Environmental Protection Committee passed a motion on “City Renewable Energy” yesterday in an unanimous vote.
The motion, presented by Bay Ward Councillor Theresa Kavanaugh, contained these statements in Section 3:
3. Approve that, contingent on sufficient resources, Council direct staff to report back to the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management by Q4 2023 with:
a) An evaluation of existing solar PV systems and impact to facilities installed at City owned facilities
b) A distributed energy resource framework for city-owned
facilities and land including:
i. Renewable energy generation (solar and wind)
ii. Energy storage
ii. [sic] Demand response
iv. Potential policies to install distributed energy resources at City facilities or on City land
There was only one question from the committee members, and it came from Committee Chair Scott Moffatt, who noted that he has been telling rural residents of Ottawa that the City is not planning to develop wind power.
Councillor Moffatt: … the concerns still arise and I made it clear in the past to rural associations and community members that the City itself is not actively out there exploring opportunities to stick wind turbines in your backyard, but we would also be foolish to not think that this is something that could happen in the future. …
We made some commitments to looking at zoning and setbacks when that time comes, in the next term of Council, also through the Official Plan making sure that these things don’t occupy prime agricultural land in the rural areas as well.
Now this is all contingent on the Province actually listening to us. We’re actually embedding that because we know the previous act did not listen to municipalities and did not give us deference in any way, shape or form when it came to where wind turbines are sited. We know that municipalities have fought against that in the past.
We also know that there are other renewable energy sources that have no opposition, that are quite popular and are effective.
So, just a quick question to staff whoever might be here, whether it’s Janice Ashworth or Andrea Flowers
or whoever, that what we’re doing here doesn’t change what we’ve said in the past when it comes to wind in the rural area.
The response was provided on behalf of the City by Andrea Flowers, Section Manager, Climate Change and Resiliency:
What we put forward as part of this motion as a broader picture is, if there are sufficient resources, we would look at a Distributed Energy Resource for city-owned facilities and land. We have explicitly said that would include renewable energy generation both wind and solar as we have specified in Energy Evolution. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we are supporting turbines in backyards where it’s not being asked for and it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to end up with that in this motion, but we need to understand what our options are because technology is getting better in low wind areas and the technology is changing and some of those technologies [interference] concerns that we’ve heard from people.
So with a combination of working with zoning and the Distributed Energy Resources we will [unintelligible] work through those files [?].
Mr. Moffatt seemed not to understand that Ms. Flowers’ response was YES, the City is planning wind power. He commented:
I think that’s where I want to make sure as a city we aren’t making those same mistakes that previous governments have made and that we don’t have situations where rural communities feel that they’re left out of the conversation and that the City is just going to come in and do whatever we feel is necessary, from that one perspective on wind.
Because honestly, I don’t get the feedback on any other energy generation technology. It is specifically about wind and I know that my rural colleagues hear the same.
So we just want to make sure that we’re one city, I don’t want to see us pitting communities against one another and that is inherently what happened in the past on this file.
If your next question is, how much land does the City of Ottawa own and is it possible to put wind turbines on it, the answer is unknown. A call to the City of Ottawa today to ask about a directory or map of publicly owned lands got the answer that yes, there is such a map—but the general public can’t see it.
While wind power developers boast—falsely—that wind turbines only need an acre or so of land, the fact is that with the huge foundations, and the associated infrastructure such as access roads, transmission lines, electricity cabling and transformer substations, more land than that is needed.
The other question that arises from Ms Flowers’ comments (who it must be said, grinned when talking about citizen concerns about wind turbines in “backyards”) is her reference to zoning and “new technology.”
The City will be developing new zoning with regard to the siting of grid-scale wind turbines; the new zoning bylaws will be presented for public comment at some point this year.
As to “new technology” which Ms. Flowers says will help with resident concerns, unless there are magic wind turbines in development that do not actually use wind to generate electricity, we’re afraid she is
mistaken. The technology of wind turbines is such that as the blades pass the mast or tower, noise is created; noise is created as well from the equipment in the nacelle.
Current “new technology” in wind turbines is aimed at squeezing power out of wind resources even in low wind areas such as Ottawa and Eastern Ontario—NOT at reducing noise emissions for hapless neighbours of the power plants. The newest turbines were installed at Nation Rise just south of Ottawa. Noise complaints began while the turbines were in their testing phase and in a matter of months after commercial operation began, there were so many complaints that the local public health unit has asked to review the reports.
Ottawa staff spoke a year ago about the need to “get this right.”
So far, there is little in the behaviour of City staff to reassure rural residents that their communities will not be industrialized by the huge noisy wind power generators that city folk seem to think will solve all their problems.
Fact: wind power is intermittent, unreliable and weather dependent, as well as a low density power source (it takes up a lot of land to produce minimal power). As such it will not support the City’s goals of massive electrification, nor help it on its way to the Net Zero goal.
Wind doesn’t work.
#noise #windenergy #environment #PartTimePower #WinddoesntWork
See Ottawa Wind Concerns comments to the Environmental Protection Committee here