October 30, 2009

“Our rural environment is in deadly danger”

From Thomas Pawlick’s book, The War in the Country:

“… our rural environment is in deadly danger. It is, to put it bluntly, being trashed, and through it, the water supply of our great cities–including Canada’s capital–could be trashed along with the air we breathe, the integrity of the forest that mitigate global warming, and the life in our freshwater lakes and rivers.

  “This is not something affecting ‘a few farmers’ or the odd cottager sitting by a lake out there in the boondocks, or a small band of First Nations people living in the back and beyond. … What is needed now, urgently, is physial direct action at the local level and widespread social and political action at every other echelon. So many things need doing that only thousands of people, mobilized, inspired, and working together, can accomplish them fast enough to save the situation.”

He follows with some action items:

-restore some of the powers removed from municipal governments

-educate urban people about what is really going on in the country and their personal stake in the outcome

Pawlick quotes Roger Epp, professor of political studies at the University of Alberta:

“…from the perspective of governments and outside investors, the countryside is no longer understood in terms of rooted human settlement and livelihood. Rather, it is coming to serve two very different purposes. The prettiest places become upscale playgrounds: tourist resorts, golf courses, parks or weekend property with a view of the mountains. The rest—mostly out of sight, out of mind–are envisioned as either resource plantations or dumping grounds. They are ’empty.’ ”

Except, North Gower isn’t empty: the industrial wind turbines proposed will be less than 1.5 km from hundreds of homes and families.

For more information on the North Gower Wind Action Group, contact them directly at

or mail PO Box 485, North Gower ON   K0A 2T0 or

fax 613-489-3868

An editorial from wind energy “ground zero”

This is an editorial from the Orangeville Citizen, dated October 8th of this year, which is pretty balanced in our view. Remember, these are the people who are at “ground zero” for the Shelburne/Melancthon/Amaranth developments, where a number of people are reporting poor health as a result of exposure to wind turbines, and where some families have been bought out.

Here’s the editorial.

Wind energy remains merely part of the solution
THE MIND BOGGLES at the prospect of building a single wind power project in Lake Erie that’s more than 30 times the 132- megawatt capacity of the Melancthon Wind Farm, currently Ontario’s largest such project. Yet that’s what the Dufferin project’s owner, Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., now plans to accomplish.

Canada’s largest independent developer of wind-energy projects is acquiring rights to the 4,400-megawatt “offshore wind prospect” from Utah-based Wasatch Wind Inc. The nearly 900 wind turbines to be erected in the shallowest of the Great Lakes would produce enough power at peak to meet the current needs of about 2 million homes.

Although the prospect might be welcome news at Queen’s Park, where the governing Liberals have been pushing hard to have more wind farms built in the province, it raises some serious questions as to how best to meet Ontario’s long-term electricity needs.

At present, the provincial government stands committed to phase out all coal-fired power production within the next five years and at present has no plan to invest in any new nuclear power plants. And it will be at least 2014 before the first stage of the Lake Erie project would be on stream.

Although it’s clearly a “green” form of energy production, wind power has serious drawbacks in the area of predictability.

Historically, predictability was a problem for Ontario only when it came to predicting long-term needs. A failure to predict the surge in power demands after the Second World War led to a severe power shortage, and in the 1970s the failure of demand to meet expectations led to just as serious an over-supply of generating capacity and the need to cancel some projects and slow the construction of others.

With wind power, the real problem is the inability to predict a project’s output beyond a few days because of the vagaries of meteorology. And even the largest wind project will produce little or no power on a hot, humid day when the demand for electricity peaks but there’s nothing more than a slight breeze.

In the circumstances, there should be no doubt that Ontario’s long-term power needs should be met by a sophisticated combination of base-load and peaking generators.

As we see it, any viable plan should include at least two new nuclear projects, conversion of the remaining coalfired plants to use natural gas, and the strengthening of inter-provincial grids to permit large-scale imports of power produced in Manitoba, Quebec and Labrador.

Instead of carrying out its plan to close the 4,000-megawatt Nanticoke Generating Station on Like Erie, the McGuinty government ought to set in motion the progressive conversion of its eight units to natural gas.

Although a few years ago such a conversion would not have made much sense economically, natural gas being so expensive and supplies being deemed so limited, that situation has changed dramatically with the discovery of huge untapped resources in shale deposits, not to mention the proven deposits in the Canadian Arctic.

And it just so happens that a lot of natural gas can be stored naturally in the Lake Erie basin.

Since the Hydro One transmission grid already provides for 4,000 megawatts of output from Nanticoke, it would seem fairly logical that the combination of the Lake Erie wind farm and conversion of Nanticoke to gas would leave the province with a new type of base-load capacity that would shift from wind to natural gas depending on the wind velocity.

The argument for two new nuclear plants would be based in part on the economic benefits to Canada of being able to prove anew the superiority of Candu technology in terms of safety as well as reliability.

However, any twinning of the 3,600- megawatt Darlington nuclear plant and addition of a new-generation Candu plant at the Bruce Generating Station would clearly require a risk-sharing agreement between the federal and provincial governments similar to those involved in the pioneering Douglas Point and Pickering A stations. (Such agreements would limit consumers’ exposure to cost overruns and poor performance.)

As for the interprovincial transmission grids, there should be little doubt that over the long haul the best means of keeping Ontario’s retail electricity prices competitive with those of other jurisdictions would lie in long-term contracts for power from new hydroelectric projects in Labrador and Northern Manitoba. But the challenge will be to get that power to Ontario consumers safely and economically through use of the latest transmission technology.

Of course, the one big unknown is the future level of demand for electricity, given the uncertainty relating to the provincial economy and the conflicting impacts of power-saving technologies and breakthroughs in battery technology that would confirm the future of electric vehicles.

Clearly, wind and solar will have a role to play, but both have their limits.

October 29, 2009

Wind energy: Clean air? Renewable energy? Saving lives? Or, buckets of cash?

Prowind’s chief salesperson loves to trot out the statistics about air pollution in Ontario (most of which comes from the U.S.) and the resulting deaths, and claims that people opposing wind turbines do not have an ethical argument.  Wind energy is the only way to create “clean” energy so Ontario can enjoy the power resources it needs.

Time for a more “informed and intelligent” discussion he says. Well, good. And here it is. From the Globe and Mail Report on Business, the story “New rules could fuel green bonanza”.

Key points:

-Ontario’s Green Energy Act could pump $4.5 billion into the hands of the province’s renewable energy companies, utilities and power distribution firms

-an independent analysis done by Hatch Management Consulting says that the new rules provide for guaranteed prices for power generated by wind, solar, hydro or biomass, AND require that equipment be built in Ontario

-companies that build renewable energy projects will benefit the most, up to $3.2 billion

-job gains will be much lower than the 50,000 projected by the Ontario government

-companies are already opting to move to Ontario to take advantage of the “green bonanza” such as Calgary-based Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd. Chairman Michael Carten says if Ontario hadn’t created new rules, the company would have gone to the U.S. or Europe. They will make Ontario a “beachhead” for North America, attracting companies from Europe.

The full story can be read here:

And what of little, windless, North Gower, where 300 homes will be located in close proximity to huge industrial turbines and subjected to the noise and vibration, and hundreds more at a distance much less than European setbacks? While renewable energy companies pocket millions, homeowners lose up to 30% of their property values, and their health and quality of life will be forever changed. This is the new Ontario.

MPP Lisa MacLeod speaks up


Monday 26 October 2009 Lundi 26 octobre 2009


Ms. Lisa MacLeod:  Thank you Mr. Speaker,

I stand before this Chamber today to support the private members resolution of my Progressive Conservative colleague, Bill Murdoch, the MPP for Bruce Grey Owen Sound.

 Mr. Murdoch is calling for a moratorium to be placed on wind farms throughout Ontario until more studies have been completed on the health affects wind turbines may cause.

 The residents in the Village of North Gower have contacted me regarding their concerns about a wind farm in our own community.

And, during the committee hearings on the Green Energy Act, MPPs, including me, heard from dozens of Ontarians who have warned us against potential health impacts of those whose homes are near a wind farm.

Perhaps the biggest failure in the Green Energy Act, and there are many, is that local planning is taken away from local communities in favour of a made in Toronto plan by the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. 

 For the residents in my Nepean-Carleton riding, the only option left for them to have any public input on the wind farm this Liberal government wants to impose on them is Mr. Murdoch’s resolution for a moratorium.

 Nepean-Carleton is battling two battles right now, the wind farm in North Gower and also the doubling of the village in Manotick, all because provincial bureaucrats not local politicians are dictating our future.

 I’ve said in this chamber once before and I will say it again, we cannot take local planning decisions away from our rural communities.  Enough is enough.

Leasing land for wind turbines: “I wouldn’t do it again” (2)

Johnsburg Survey Summary Updated 4/2/09


Residents of the Johnsburg, WI area who live within one half mile of at least one wind turbine were asked to complete a written survey. Forty six per cent returned the survey, many with additional comments. Here is a summary of the 219 responses that were received. Note: residents live in the midst of the Blue Sky/Green Field Wind Farm in east central Wisconsin – 88 Industrial Wind Turbines scattered across 10,600 acres of rolling farmland in Fond du Lac County. 

  1. A.    If you could do it over, would you have turbines on your property or near your home?

           60% said NO, including 30% of those currently hosting a turbine.

  1. B.     What problems have you encountered?
  2. TV, radio reception – 57% (124) now have a problem with TV or radio reception
  3. Shadow Flicker – 52 % (113) stated they have a problem with shadow flicker
  4. Noise – 50 % (108)  stated yes, noise is a problem
  5. Look of the landscape – 49% (108) dislike the new views
  6. Cell phone reception – 30% (66) now have cell phone reception problems
  7. Construction concerns – 21% (47) cited problems during the installation
  8. Impact on plants and animals – 11% (25) indicated problems


  1. C.    Would you approve an expansion for more turbines in your area?   (Phase II)

      63% said NO, including 26% of the respondents that indicated they already host a turbine.


  1. D.    How far should a turbine be placed from a home?

            62% indicate a setback should be 1/2 mile or more; only (22%) support the Wisconsin Public         Service Commission setback of 1,000 ft.

  1. E.     When asked about building or buying a home, 71% said not closer than 1/2 mile to a turbine.


  1. F.     What Health problems does your family experience that you attribute to the turbines?

      33% indicated at least one of the following problems: Sleep Loss; Headaches; Nausea; Stress;      or Seizures, with 25% stating their sleep was disturbed at least once per week.

  1. G.    In addition to these impacts on humans, 30% indicated negative effects on pets, farm animals or wildlife.

 H.    How do you think the wind farm has affected your property value? 58% stated their property lost value. Estimates of loss ranged from 10% to 60%.

 Typical Comments also received from those responding are listed by subject area: (3/30/2009)

 #1: I know we need alternate energy sources, but we were told they (turbines) were not noisy and they are extremely noisy. 

 #2: Very noisy, cannot open my windows in the spring, summer or fall.

#9: I think land owners and homeowners should do their homework before jumping at the almighty $Dollar. They (turbines) are an eyesore for the nice community we used to have.  My advice, don’t go through it, you’ll be sorry. In summer I cannot open windows due to the noise. People come to visit and they cannot believe people have to put up with them (turbines).

#23: Who will buy our home now?  Why can’t someone help us now before the next 40 turbines go up in the same area?  Farmers signed a contract under the table – we had no say in anything.  We can’t build a shed – it was too big so they say- but they can approve of these damn, good-for –nothing wind farms.  Closed windows – still can hear them damn things.  Tell people to fight back before it’s too late.

[Please see post for December 3, 2009: Thinking of leasing land for wind turbines? No going back if you do.]

October 28, 2009

Landowners & wind turbines: “I wouldn’t do it again”

We have a report from the Dundalk Herald, dated October 21, about a public meeting held in Flesherton earlier this month, which attracted a large audience. Among the people making comments at the meeting were two Ontario farmers who had leased their land to wind developers for turbines.

Glen Wiles of Ripley Ontario said he and his family had to leave their house because of illness, and stay in a motel. His son, wife and their child are now also living in a motel, which is being paid for by the wind company.

Another Ripley area farmer, David Colling, leased property for a wind turbine but if he had it to do over again, he wouldn’t. As well as being a farmer, Mr Colling is an agricultural electrical consultant, and measures “dirty” electricity in homes. He says that turbines produce plenty of it. Inside a house near a turbine, he says, is like “living in a microwave”.

But for North Gower, it seems to be OK to put hundreds of homes within a kilometer of these machines. According to Prowind, the wind developer, North Gower residents are unintelligent and uninformed, and standing in the way of progress as Prowind moves ahead to save Ontario from “unhealthy” and “dirty” sources of energy.

More, this time from Mr Arlin Monfils of Lincoln, Wisconsin, who at the time of writing was the Chairman of the Lincoln Town Board. He wrote this to be of help to other communities contemplating wind turbine developments:

“Problems that are of strong concern, and problems that we had warned the utilities about but were assured that they would not occur are as follows: interference with T V reception, Microwave reception interference, depreciating property values, flashing red lights (FAA) interfering with nearby homes, wind turbine NOISE which interferes with neighbors sleep and their mental health, increased traffic, road damage, cattle being scared from rotating shadows cascading from the blades in a setting sun, rotating shadows in nearby homes, concerns about stray voltage, concerns about increased lightening strikes, environmental damage to birds, etc. etc. etc. But the proponents for wind energy will dismiss all of these concerns and tell you that they will not occur. THEY ARE WRONG. Ask the neighbors who are not property owners reimbursed by the utilities through lease agreements on their property or people who want to lease in the future. They will verify these problems.

If a town has zoning, establish written conditions with penalties to ensure that the utilities and companies follow the regulations of the local town zoning. Also, look into the establishment of a moratorium on the project so more time can be used to collect or research information about the concerns voiced in areas like Kewaunee County. These concerns are about the public health and safety of our residents and this grand idea of ‘sticking’ these huge towers in near by residents is not a proven success story. It’s a trial by ERROR! Only time will tell what the effects of this ‘EXPERIMENT’ will be. This is especially true with the issues of noise, its effect on the neighbors, their mental health related to the noise and its disturbance, the effect of stray voltage on the nearby cattle, as well as other safety issues. Other concerns like the distractions of drivers from the rotating blades, increased lightening strikes in the areas of the towers (not to the towers directly because they are grounded), and other public health and safety issues need to be analyzed on into the future. ”

Greed, propaganda and opportunism: Wind turbines should be spelled “turbine$”.

October 27, 2009

wind energy:”good for the environment”? or NOT

Here is a report posted in September this year in the Tehachapi News, by two residents of the remote Alta-Oak-Creek-Mojave area of California, where industrial wind turbines have been erected over the last few years.

They are not happy.

We have owned property on Old West Ranch, East side, near Wild Horse Road for almost 30 years—before any wind projects were ever even begun.

As far as we are concerned, we have experienced no positive results from the wind industry’s involvement in our area. All we have seen—and indeed felt—are detrimental effects from noise, dust and the changing view of pristine golden hills which throbs with vibrational and visual pollution with even the dogs and coyotes howling whenever the wind blows in the “right” direction.

We depend upon solar and battery energy and satellite communications as no public utilities are available to or accessible by us. They affect us only in a negative way and we could receive only more headaches from massive additional development and experience none of any possible benefits to be derived from the proposed development so close to us—only negative ramifications.

We definitely do not look forward to more wind industry, dust and the accompanying whine of the turbine blades coming at us from the East even stronger.

No mitigation was even in the proposal. At the least, the section on or adjacent to Old West Ranch should be removed from development consideration and zone change.

Since the limited current wind machines have grown from picturesque to megalithic as the wind energy projects multiplied, we have experienced the death of our pinon pine forest caused, according to environmental experts, both drought and development pollution. When the dust blows, our newly acquired asthma and allergies bloom as we now have become disabled senior citizens.

There have been numerous fires which have threatened the forest around us which originated from wind properties.

We are in the path of migratory birds and animals including deer, ravens, turkey vultures, bears, mountain lions and coyotes to name a few which will be affected by the huge, whirling blades. Where will they go?

How about the fragile wild flowers such as protected poppies and wild gourds which seem to thrive in this area? But even now, they are quietly disappearing with the recent batch of wind machine development.

We have limited access to our home, under the current best of circumstances, from Wild Horse Road, along which the beauty of actual black wild horses can be seen during certain times of the year as they look for sustenance in the wild grasses found there.

This access road becomes impossible and washes out during inclement weather. How will additional traffic on these mountain roads be managed? This development on Old West Ranch has no publically maintained roads.

We have listed just a few of our concerns. When the east wind blows, the wind machines whine and those of the animals who live here suffer in extreme pain. We too have noise-caused headaches. The animals can only howl in agony.

So, do not bring the proposed development here in Old West Ranch. Do not further damage this historic, fragile and endangered forest area. Please do not completely and irrevocably destroy it!

October 26, 2009

Disgrace and failure

Dr Jon P. Harrison, professor emeritus at Queens University, takes issue with the quality of testing for noise from wind turbine installations. It’s a bit technical for us, but suffice to say, the noise measurements are not accurate.

In a recent presentation to the annual meeting of the Canadian Acoustics Association he gave details of how testing is done and how it should be done, and concludes with the results of testing on one home in the Amaranth region of Ontario, near Shelburne (near Orangeville). (The Shelburne area started out with 20 industrial wind turbines years ago, and now has 133, with dozens more on the way.)

Dr. Harrison:



… the sound pressure level was consistently above the Ontario limit of 40 dBA for almost all of the 6-day period, with peaks 25 dBA above the level. Note also, that the low frequency sound picked up by the body is missing because of the A-weighting and the peaks due to amplitude modulation are missing because of the averaging. Needless to say, the noise was unbearable and MOE did nothing about shutting down the turbines. The only recourse was for the home-owners to abandon their retirement home; it was eventually bought by Canadian Hydro Developers who subjected the home-owners to a gag order. Five other families similarly abandoned their homes and were bought out by CHD. This is a disgrace and a failure of MOE to uphold the Environmental Protection Act.






Regulations for wind turbine noise presently in force are inadequate to protect rural residents from annoyance and, in many cases, health problems resulting from operating wind turbines. The typical noise limit of 40 dBA needs to be reduced to 35 dBA. There needs to be a 5 dBA penalty for amplitude modulation. There needs to be an analysis of turbulent inflow noise, for both atmospheric and wake turbulence. The uncertainty of noise prediction codes must be included. Together, these essential up-grades to regulation will push setbacks to the 1.5 km range where they should be.



That said, what are the potential effects on North Gower, where the MAJORITY of homes will be within 1.6-3 km of huge industrial wind turbines? Why is the wind developer taking this chance? Why are North Gower residents being subjected to this cruel experiment? Does the developer really think that the people won’t explore every option they have, including legal action?

October 23, 2009

What’s in it for the landowner? Maybe not much.

We’re learning more about the tactics of the wind developers who approach landowners with a seemingly beneficial deal to develop wind turbines on their property. Turns out the deal might not be so beneficial. Here Ontario lawyer John Adams, QC, lays out the details.

Wind Turbine Option/ Licence Agreements – Should You Sign?

There are various forms of land owners’ agreements regarding industrial wind plant construction in Ontario. Generally, in each agreement the land owner grants an option to the developer (3 – 5 yrs. in length) for a nominal fee ($500 – 1000 per annum) to enter into a licence (in the form of an easement), or lease, to erect wind turbines and all ancillary equipment on portions of the owner’s property. The terms of the licence or lease are set out in the option so that all that is required is for the developer to serve notice of exercise of the option. The agreements essentially cover the same points, although they vary somewhat in particulars. The following comments relate to one of these agreements, but have general application.

a) The easement runs for 21 years less a day, unless required planning consents are obtained under the Planning Act, when it will continue for ever.

b) The number and siting of turbines are left ultimately to the sole discretion of the developer, including proximity to the owner’s home, barns, etc. [The number of turbines is obviously limited by the acreage – in an explanatory memorandum from another developer it is stated that there should be one turbine per 25 acres.]

c) The owner has no control over the size of the turbines. [Currently, the largest installed turbines are rated at 2.3 MW; 3 MW are now available and 5 MW are in development.]

d) The owner waives any right to complain about “any effects attributable” to the turbines on the property or on any adjacent properties, including: noise, flicker, air turbulence and wake. [This belies CANWEA’s web-site statement that noise is “almost undetectable”. There are no regulations or guidelines that will prevent a turbine being erected literally next door to the farmhouse to protect the owner and, perhaps more importantly, the family, from the serious health problems that can and do result. It is doubtful that most owners realize the significance of this provision when they sign away their rights.]

e) The easement relates to one acre plots upon which each turbine sits; but there are sweeping ancillary rights that affect the rest of the property. These include:
– roads and general access to each of the turbines where the developer determines,
– transmission lines and transformer stations to be sited as the developer determines,
– the right to patrol the installations (security guards),
– the right to remove trees on and immediately adjacent to the licensed lands
– the right to free and unobstructed wind. [This might restrict the construction of new buildings on the property or the right to sub-divide. The latter may also be meaningless because any building subsequently constructed on the divided parcel would be too close to the turbines for planning purposes.]
– the developer has the right to veto any structure within 1000 m of a turbine.

f) The developer may be a company formed for the sole purpose of operating and owning the assets of the specific plant. This is a common practice. In that event, the covenant to restore the site at the end of operations, like the company, may well be worthless.

The net result of the agreement is to essentially dedicate the whole property to the operation of a wind turbine plant and anything inconsistent with that operation will be prevented.

John Adams, Q.C.

November, 2008

And here is a sad story out of Wisconsin which, as we know, has plenty of sad stories related to exposure to the noise and vibration from wind turbines, and shadow flicker. Here is the landowner’s account.

October 22, 2009

Wind turbines and property values: less rhetoric, more facts

More information on the effect of wind turbines on property values, excerpted from the rewport by Frey and Hadden, available at

1. Testimony of Russell Bounds, Railey Realty, a licensed real estate agent and appraiser, a hearing for a proposed wind turbine development in Maryland, 2006. Asked what effect if any the wind turbines already erected have had on the characteristics of properties nearby, i.e. up to 3 miles away, he answered:

“Within the view shed it ruins the horizon. The closer you get to the turbines, the greater the visual impact. Those people who are looking for the natural views of the mountains find they are diminished or no longer exist. The rubines not only have a visual impact but also impact the quality of life. The ones I visited were very noisy. They impact a country setting with a rather large industrial wind plant that takes away from anything I would call heritage views, peace and quiet.”

When asked if he had heard whether people have had problems, he said yes and then “The primary complaint is noise. Second is the visual impact of the turbines. Going into the house and closing the door eliminates the view. It does not eliminate the sound. The constant drone cannot be escaped…Their greatest concern is the substantial loss of value of their property.”

He added that he knew of property transactions in Somerset, PA that were sold for “substantially less” that their prior sale price because of the proximity and impact of wind turbines. He concluded; “…property values of the natural and scenic properties within one half-mile and probably within one mile of the wind turbines will be negatively impacted… the value of some properties outside one mile will be adversely impacted by the noise.”

2. Real estate appraiser David Maturen wrote to the Michigan Wind Working Group in September, 2004. He noted that several studies had been done showing no diminuition of value (the REPP report and the ‘Blowing in the Wind’ report by the Beacon Hill Institute) but said there were many criticisms to be made of the methodology and conclusions of those reports.

He reviewed several legal cases including one in Victoria, Australia where homeowners were not informed of a proposed wind turbine development  on the seller’s disclosure form. The court concluded that the property had suffered a 20% decline in value.

Finally, he wrote: “Can any state agency conclude that wind farms do not have the potential for causing a nuisance and devalue nearby properties and cause a ‘taking’? No. … In our quest for energy independence for our society in general, let us not forget the potential for economic loss to individuals as an economic consequence. We should be prepared to compensate adjacent owners for any property rights (value) taken as a result of the introduction of wind farms.”

More tomorrow.

To see a map of the possible reduction of property value from the proposed Marlborough I and II industrial wind turbine developments, email

to receive a PDF.

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