NorthGowerWindTurbines

May 26, 2012

The madness of this venture

Just had a conversation with a small business owner in Manotick: the rising electricity bills are a severe punch to his business. And he deeply resents paying those bills when he knows part of the increases are going for huge subsidies for wind and solar power.

“It just makes no sense at all,” he said. “What kind of province will this be when the Liberal government is done? What will be left?”

Indeed.

Here are some local facts:

-wind power developers are subsidized about $500,000 per turbine per year. In North Gower, assuming 8 (though we don’t for a moment believe that) that is $4 million per year.

-there are no jobs. Wolfe Island has 3 jobs for 86 turbines, where do you think that leaves North Gower after the construction period is over? No jobs.

-research out of the U.S. is showing that the average property value loss for properties within 2 miles/3.2 km of wind turbines is 40%. For North Gower, that represents a $47 million property value loss for young families, seniors and other homeowners

-at $10-15,000 a year per turbine, the farm owner isn’t going to get rich on the lease payments, but the cost to the community is much much more

-wind power is not “green”, it requires fossil fuel back-up due to its unreliability and tendency to produce power out of phase with demand, i.e., when it’s not needed

-Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for this, or a business case study. The government simply doesn’t know what it’s getting into.

The Manotick store owner is right: this is just crazy.

September 2, 2011

Is wind power “green”? (No.)

An opinion on the environmental impact of industrial-scale wind power; note the “inputs” to the construction process.

Here is the link: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/39973.

From a land use, economic, environmental or raw materials perspective,
wind is unsustainable

Our least sustainable energy option
  – Paul Driessen  Thursday, September 1, 2011 (2) Comments | Print
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President Obama and a chorus of environmentalists, politicians,
corporate executives and bureaucrats are perennially bullish on wind
power as the bellwether of our “clean energy economy of the future.”

In reality, wind energy may well be the least sustainable and least
eco-friendly of all electricity options. Its shortcomings are legion,
but the biggest ones can be grouped into eight categories.

Land

As American humorist and philosopher Will Rogers observed, “They ain’t
making any more of it.” Wind turbine installations impact vast amounts
of land, far more than traditional power plants.

Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant generates 3,750 megwatts of
electricity from a 4,000-acre site. The 600-MW John Turk
ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Arkansas covers part of
2,900 acres; two 600-MW coal-fired units in India use just 600 acres.
Gas-fired units like Calpine’s 560-MW Fox Energy Center in Wisconsin
require several hundred acres. All generate reliable power 90-95% of
the year.

By contrast, the 600-MW Fowler Ridge wind installation (355 turbines)
spans 50,000 acres of farm country along Indiana’s I-65 corridor. The
782-MW Roscoe project in Texas (627 turbines) sprawls across 100,000
acres. Oregon’s Shepherds Flat project (338 gigantic 2.5 MW turbines)
covers nearly 80,000 wildlife and scenic acres along the Columbia
River Gorge, for a “rated capacity” of 845 MW.

The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre project will blanket some 320,000 acres
of sage grouse habitat and BLM land in Wyoming with 1,000 monstrous
3-MW turbines, to generate zero to 3,000 MW of intermittent power.
That’s eight times the size of Washington, DC, to get an average
annual output one-fourth of what Palo Verde generates 90% of the time.
But C-SM has already received preliminary approval from BLM.

To replace just 20% of the United States’ 995,000 MW of total
installed generating capacity, we would need to blanket an area the
size of Kansas with wind turbines, and then add nearly a thousand
600-MW gas-fired backup generators … and thousands of miles of new
high voltage transmission lines.

Raw materials

Wind turbine installations require vast amounts of steel, copper, rare
earth metals, fiberglass, concrete, rebar and other materials for the
turbines, towers and bases.

A single 1.7 MW wind turbine, like 315 of the Fowler Ridge units,
involves some 365 tons of materials for the turbine assembly and
tower, plus nearly 1100 tons of concrete and rebar for the foundation.
Bigger units require substantially more materials. Grand total for the
entire Fowler wind installation: some 515,000 tons; for Roscoe,
752,000 tons; for Shepherds Flat, 575,000 tons; for Chokecherry,
perhaps 2,000,000 tons. Offshore installations need far more raw
materials.

To all that must be added millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete
and rebar for thousands of miles of transmission lines – and still
more for mostly gas-fired generators to back up every megawatt of wind
power and generate electricity the 17 hours of each average day that
the wind doesn’t blow.

Money

Taxpayers and consumers must provide perpetual subsidies to prop up
wind projects, which cannot survive without steady infusions of cash
via feed-in tariffs, tax breaks and direct payments.

Transmission lines cost $1.0 million to $2.5 million per mile.
Landowners get $5,000+ per turbine, plus royalties on all energy
produced from the turbine, plus payments for every foot of access road
and transmission lines. However, taxpayers pay more, while the
landowners’ neighbors suffer property devaluation, scenic disruption,
noise, health problems and interference with crop spraying, but no
monetary compensation. Direct federal wind energy subsidies to help
cover this totaled $5 billion in FY 2010; state support added billions
more; still more billions were added to consumers’ electric bills.

The Other People’s Money well is running dry. The “manmade
catastrophic climate change” thesis behind the wind energy campaign is
in shambles. Voters and consumers are understandably fed up.

Energy

Mining, quarrying, drilling, milling, refining, smelting and
manufacturing operations make the production of metals, concrete,
fiberglass and resins, turbines, and heavy equipment to do all of the
above very energy-intensive. Ditto for transporting and installing
turbines, towers, backups and transmission lines. That takes real
energy: abundant, reliable, affordable – not what comes from wind
turbines.

In fact, it probably requires more energy to manufacture, haul and
install these monstrous Cuisinarts of the air and their transmission
systems than they will generate in their lifetimes. However, no
cradle-to-grave analysis has ever been conducted, for the energy
inputs or pollution outputs. We need one now.

Health

Whereas environmentalists garner scary headlines over wildly
speculative claims about health dangers from hydraulic fracturing (to
extract abundant natural gas for wind turbine backup generators), they
ignore and dismiss a growing body of evidence that wind turbines cause
significant health problems.

Principal health issues are associated with noise – not just annoying
audible noise, but inaudible, low-frequency “infrasound” that causes
headache, dizziness, “deep nervous fatigue” and symptoms akin to
seasickness. “Wind turbine syndrome” also includes irritability,
depression, and concentration and sleep problems. Others include
“shadow flicker” or “strobe effect” from whirling blades, which can
trigger seizures in epileptics, “vibroacoustic” effects on the heart
and lungs, and non-lethal harm to animals. Serious lung, heart, cancer
and other problems have been documented from rare earth mining,
smelting and manufacturing in China, under its less rigorous health,
workplace and environmental regulations
.
To date, however, very few health assessments have been required or
conducted prior to permit approval, even for major wind turbine
installations. Perhaps the trial lawyers’ guild could redress that
oversight.

Environment

Raptors, bats and other beautiful flying creatures continue to be
sliced and diced by wind turbines. Thankfully, the Bureau of Land
Management has included an “avian radar system” to track the slaughter
within its 500-square-mile Chokecherry region – and banned mining
among the turbines.

Wind turbines are supposed to reduce pollution and carbon dioxide
emissions. But because backup generators must repeatedly surge to full
power and back to standby, as wind speed rises and falls, they operate
inefficiently, use more fuel and emit more – much like cars forced to
stop repeatedly on freeways.

Jobs

The myth of “green jobs” is hitting the brick wall of reality. While
the turbines are installed in the USA and EU, far more numerous mining
and manufacturing jobs are in China, where they are hardly “green.” As
Spanish and Scottish analysts have documented, the “green” installer
and maintenance jobs cost up to $750,000 apiece – and kill 2.2 to 3.7
traditional jobs for every “eco-friendly” job created.

Electricity costs and reliability

Even huge subsidies cannot cure wind power’s biggest defects: its
electricity costs far more than coal, gas or nuclear alternatives –
and its intermittent nature wreaks havoc on power grids and consumers.
The problem is worst on hot summer afternoons, when demand is highest
and breezes are minimal. Unable to compete against cheap Chinese and
Indian electricity and labor, energy-intensive industries increasingly
face the prospect of sending operations and jobs overseas. Bayer
Chemical’s warning that it may have to close its German facilities is
just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to wind, Nat King Cole might have sung: “Unsustainable
that’s what you are, unsustainable though near or far. Unsustainable
in every way, and forever more that’s how you’ll stay.” Maybe not
forever, but certainly for the foreseeable future, especially compared
to increasingly abundant natural gas.

So take a hint from Spoon’s lively tune and “cut out the middleman.”
Forge a direct relationship with energy you can afford, energy that
works nearly 24/7/365, energy that causes the least ecological damage
and is far more sustainable than wind power: the hydrocarbon,
hydroelectric and nuclear power that have sustained our society and
brought unprecedented health, prosperity and living standards to
billions.

Then help the planet’s least fortunate people to do likewise.

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is a senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive
Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, nonprofit
public policy institutes that focus on energy, the environment,
economic development and international affairs. Paul Driessen is
author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death
Paul can be reached at: letters@canadafreepress.com

For news daily, go to http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com and for local news http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com and follow on Twitter @northgowerwind

July 25, 2011

Wind turbines: “Try living with one”

Here’s a letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer, responding to a recent article that was pro-industrial wind turbines.

Dear editor:

I must respond to the letter by the members of S.A.C. Unlike them, I live directly 550 m from the proposed site of a 2.3 megawatt, 419-foot high wind turbine (w of 3 planned towers). I also live right next door to the neighbours who have had to wait many long months to sell their home,carried two mortgages at the same time and took $100,000 lLESS than an accurate value. Their home was situated on one acre of land, beautifully constructed, completely finished, about 15 years old with a shop most guys would die for, clean as a whip inside and out with very nice landscaping. The only reason they lost $100 K was because of the proposed wind turbine directly in front of their home. They also lost two prospective buyers prior to this deal because as soon as those buyers were informed of the wind project, they pulled out.

The wind project I speak of is the Whittington Wind Farm. They want to locate these towers at the bottom end of the optimum wind area; 264 homes are affected by these towers within a four-mile diameter of the central location. ‘Why’ is my question. Why do these large turbines need to be located in such a populous area? … There is a lot right with the green energy program in theory but there is a lot wrong with it in reality.

Diane Griffith

Mono Township, Ontario

July 11, 2011

Wind turbines, property values and the need for a moratorium

What follows is a letter to the Commissioners in Maine looking into the effects of industrial wind power generation projects in that state, written by U.S. real estate appraiser Michael McCann. Note the setbacks he is recommending—Ontario’s setback (which the government claims is among the most stringent in the world—not true) is 550 meters or a quarter-mile, roughly.

Kenneth Kimmell, Commissioner, DEP
John Auerbach, Commissioner, DPH
MassDEP Wind Turbine Docket
1 Winter Street 4th Floor Mailroom
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Commissioners,

I am responding to your inquiry into health effects from industrial wind turbines. Since there is a noticeable correlation between reported health impacts and significant impacts on real estate values, as well as the real estate rights issue of peaceful use and enjoyment of one’s home, I believe the documented diminution of property values caused by improper turbine siting is an objective measure of this secondary impact.

I do not write as a medical expert; however, in 6 years of reviewing industry funded and independent reports, inspecting project locations, researching empirical prima facie sale price evidence and interviewing residents, I have found that there is a tremendous market aversion of the “market” to buying homes within visible and audible (or sub-audible) proximity to industrial scale turbines.

My value studies have included submissions to Massachusetts Towns of Wareham and Brewster, and have been written to address zoning compliance evaluation of proposed projects in those locales. (I am sure either Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals would be able to provide a copy of my submitted report or presentation, but if interested in reviewing these documents, feel free to contact me directly for a copy.)

I would note for your consideration that wind project developers in Massachusetts typically seek to obtain setback permissions that have proven to be unhealthy and so disturbing to some existing residents near other wind energy projects worldwide, that dozens of people have abandoned their family homes rather than continue to try to cope with an untenable level of impact. Impacts from noise, shadow flicker and the unhealthy physical and/or physiological reactions to same.

Industry prefers to couch their applications for approval with their self defined limits of how many hours of shadow flicker are acceptable, or with “modeled” rather than measured noise studies. They also prefer to discuss setbacks in terms of feet and meters, when projects broadcast their impacts on a scale measured in miles and kilometers. I have personally seen more official scrutiny of public officials hearing zoning requests for fast-food drive through lanes or lighted parking lots than what is often rubber stamped approval of wind applications, with no serious consideration of the multitude of actual impacts from wind turbines.

It is my belief that peaceful use and enjoyment of a residential property is simply a measure of the other side of the same coin; namely, health impacts. If both ways of describing people’s rights are to be adequately protected, then it is my recommendation that Massachusetts develop rules that require:

1. Setbacks be scaled to the size of turbines, i.e., 2+ miles for the 400-500 foot turbines typically proposed, reduced to perhaps ½ mile for turbines of 125 feet in height.

2. Mandatory shutdown of turbines during nightime sleeping hours.

3. Mandatory shutdown of turbines that generate noise complaints, until such time that actual noise levels can be MEASURED and demonstrated that background levels are not exceeded by independently determined health/acoustic study levels, including low frequency and infrasound levels.

4. Mandatory homeowner option to sell to developers at market value, if and when inadequate (i.e., 1,000 feet – 1,500 feet) setbacks are approved by any unit of government.

5. A moratorium on any further turbine construction within 2 miles of any residence, until such time that there are reliable studies addressing low frequency and infrasound impacts from turbines on human health. Claims made by industry put the burden of proof on homeowners, and it is the appropriate role of government to end this trend and rely on credible evidence to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and, indeed, their property values.

Any homeowners that lived at ground zero of Boston’s Big Dig project were certainly bought out for the greater public good. I suggest that enforcing this concept is an appropriate use of governmental authority with the claimed public good of wind energy projects, as well. Until then, the completely lopsided scale of turbine developments will surely continue to create health impacts, and people will be either trapped within, or flee (abandon or sell at huge discounts) their family homes.

Thank you for your attention to my response to your inquiry. I remain available to discuss the related real estate issues that correlate with health effects.

Sincerely,

Michael S. McCann
McCann Appraisal, LLC
500 North Michigan Avenue, Suite # 300
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Real Estate Appraisal & Consulting
cell (312) 961-1601
mikesmccann@comcast.net

June 29, 2011

Health effects from wind turbines? Ontario government doesn’t know (and didn’t really try to find out)

This comes from a blog written by Dr Carl V. Phillips, en expert in epidemiology and related health sciences, who also has a PhD in public policy. He writes on the so-called “experts” who prepare reports based on questionable research and refers to the report by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, released in 2010, with the conclusion that there are no health effects from the noise and vibration produced by industrial wind turbines.

Not a single person living near turbine arrays was interviewed by the Ontario research team. Dr. Phillips:

The problem is that the further away someone is from understanding a scientific matter themselves, the more likely they are to believe someone who is not giving them accurate information, either out of ignorance or a hidden agenda.

You have to know something to even know who you should believe.

A policy maker who has absolutely no clue about scientific epistemology will depend on Wikipedia or 24-year-old aides (who will go to Wikipedia) to tell them what to think.  Even if it is not literally Wikipedia, it is some other source at that level, like news reporters or a local advocacy group, that interprets science at the level of what shows up in the conclusion sentence of research papers abstracts.  As readers of this blog know, such claims are not reliable in health science.  Indeed, Wikipedia and most news outlets intentionally cultivate this kind of uncritical-acceptance-based behavior. 

On a few occasions I have tried to correct errors in Wikipedia where something was once widely believed to be true, but was now shown to not be true (and, I think in all those cases, was never actually based on evidence – it was just one of those conventional wisdom problems).  But even if I made the change in terms of “it was once believed that but now it has been shown/established that….” the editor who controlled the page quickly changed it back.  I was informed, in effect, that most of what is out there on the web still presents the old view and does not acknowledge a controversy, and since science is democratic in the Wikipedia world, the old versions stands.  Given that experience I choose to focus on forums where most readers know enough to recognize at least the basic credibility of what I argue, even if it is contrary to what they thought they knew and what others claim.  My project in this blog is to figure out how to help people skip a few steps on this knowledge ladder, but that does not help much for those who do not even seek that knowledge.

The problem with knowledge at the news or Wikipedia level is that the people compiling it do not know who they should believe, or even how to distinguish when there is legitimate controversy.  Wikipedia is truly great at what other non-expert encyclopedias were always quite good at, getting non-controversial factoids correct, and it dramatically broadens the coverage (from “when did Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address?” to “who were the finalists in American Idol”).  It is pretty good with scientific controversies that do not have much of a worldly political angle (“when did humans arrive in the New World?” “what is the definition of ‘species’?”).  But it and newspapers fail when it comes to current controversies in active politicized sciences that public officials need to wade into.

The Wikipedia-level authors get their information from anyone who can publish an authoritative-seeming paper.  This gets pretty close to maximum current expertise in many sciences, where people authoring study reports mostly know what they are doing and generally know who look to when they do not.  There might be disagreement over ultimate conclusions and best methods, but not complete ignorance about best methods or who the leading thinkers are.  But this is not the case in health sciences.  Most people writing the epidemiology papers, the sources of the summary “knowledge” that is used in policy, have no idea what constitutes expert thinking in epidemiology.  Thu there is yet another layer of not knowing enough to really know that makes uneducated faith in experts and “common sense” that much less likely to identify good advice.

For example, on the question of whether there are health effects from industrial wind turbines, the government of Ontario, Canada (a major hotspot in that fight) seems to put a lot of stock in the thin report on the subject by their Chief Medical Officer of Health.  (CMOH is a strange Canadian institution wherein a physician administrator type is always the province’s chief public health advisor.)  I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I saw a newspaper cite that report as if it were authoritative.  The problem is that the CMOH and her staff were in way over their heads in writing the report, and not only did not know what constitutes the available evidence, but did not know whose analysis to believe.

Funny story:  I was cross-examined by a lawyer representing Ontario at a proceeding where I had presented testimony that the CMOH report was a joke, albeit in a less combative and more detailed way, of course.  She asked me something along the lines of, “since you know so much, did you ever contact the CMOH to try to provide useful input into the writing of the document?”  It boggles the mind.  I expect it would require more search and processing power than Google has to be able to identify any time someone is writing a supposedly expert report that is beyond their capability, and then direct the real experts to proactively contribute to it.  It seems more promising for report writers to track down the experts and ask for input.  Of course, they have to know who to even ask.

The situation in Ontario is that the lawmakers trust an authoritative sounding government official who knows more than they do but is far from an expert in science, and in turn she does not know who to believe or how to interpret it.  Perhaps those who she believed know who are really expert, but they have shown no evidence of that.  I am not sure whether Ontario legislators follow the same pattern of education as Americans, but it really would not take much scientific understanding, when coupled with a bit of partisan education (lobbying) in the subject matter, to realize that the CMOH report is worthless.  But if the local lawmakers do not have the skills to understand (when given some information and advice about thinking in the spirit of what I do in this blog) when their “experts” are giving them bad information, it does not really help much that true expertise exists, merely a few layers away.

June 16, 2011

Eaglewatch: corporations invading communities

This report from native news watch group Eaglewatch, June 16, 2011:

From the Eagle Watch #154

Mining the Wind:  Who Would’ve Thunk It??
Detailed Report
June 16, 2011

In the early days after Contact, we Indigenous were shocked when the Colonizers wanted to sell the land from under us.  We objected vigourously.  To us Real and Original People/Nishnaabe/Ongwehonweh, the land contains the bones and dust of our ancestors.  It is not to be sold but the Newcomers sold it anyway.  Then they wanted to sell the water.  We were shocked and we objected.  We continue to object but they are doing it anyway.  Now they want to sell the wind.  We were shocked and now we are objecting.  Who would’ve ever thought the wind would become such an issue?

Over the past few weeks, we at the Eagle Watch, have scoured the internet for information on industrial wind turbines.  There’s lots out there and quite a growing debate. 

We profiled two wind developers, Prowind and Horizon Wind Inc, both of whom want to set up wind “farms” in Ontario.  What a misnomer!  It’s more like mining with all the associated damage and pollution.

There are many other big wind developers but these two are typical.

TWO CORPORATIONS INVADE TWO COMMUNITIES

With growing opposition to wind turbines being placed near people’s dwellings, the promoters will be looking for more places to put them in the bush, that is on Indigenous communities.  Watch out for that term, “remote location”.  It usually means dumping their toxic and wasteful projects on our land, on our doorstep, in our face.  They don’t care how it harms us.  They presume to act with impunity because they get away with it all the time.

Two well known environmental organizations, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club SUPPORT the mega wind projects.  Some people are surprised and outraged about this.  We have long been aware of the self-serving hypocrites who shelter under the banner of Environmentalists.  Many environmentalists support depopulation.

How much space does one wind turbine need?

“The GE 1.5-MW turbine, with a 70.5-m rotor span, therefore requires at least 48 acres per tower in a single line perpendicular to the wind (32 acres/MW) or 123 acres per tower in an array (82 acres/MW). Each Vestas V90 1.8-MW turbine, with a 90-m rotor, requires 78-200 acres (43-111 acres/MW). Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association has written, “My rule of thumb is 60 acres per megawatt for wind farms on land.”

Horizon aka Horizon Legacy Energy Corporation aka Horizon Wind Inc. aka Horizon Wind Limited Partnership and Big Thunder Windpark Inc., aka Big Thunder Windpark Limited Partnershp
 vs
Fort William First Nations and the City of Thunder Bay

Toronto based, private firm, Horizon Legacy Energy Corp. wants to put up about 20 wind turbines on the Fort William First Nation Nishnaabe territory pristine wilderness outside Thunder Bay Ontario, not far from the US border.   

The Fort William First Nations community is home to about 1500 people.  The colonial puppet Band Council signed an agreement in 2007 with Horizon Wind.  The Nishnaabe people were not informed.  They were not consulted and did not give their consent.

Thunder Bay already signed some deal with Horizon who are now sueing the city for $126million for reasons that are not clear.  Many Thunder Bay residents now vigourously oppose the wind project.

Horizon president and CEO Anthony Zwig was in for a real surprise on May 30, 2011 when the Fort William Nishnaabe filled their community hall to oppose the destructive wind project.  They had a lot of questions for Tony and they had plenty to say to him.

On June 1, a letter written by a Fort William Nishnaabe appeared in the NetNewsLedger.  In part, it reads:
“We, the Anishinabek peoples of Fort William First Nation, have had most of our lands and much of our way of life taken from us by settler society. Indeed, more than 8,600 acres of land has been taken by settler society for settler projects since we established our reserve.  We are literally surrounded by lands that have been destroyed by settler projects. Because of this, we live with all the problems consistent with colonial oppression, including social, psychological, environmental and political pathologies. Due to this legacy, WE WILL NOT GIVE ANOTHER INCH.

“The proposed location for the Big Thunder Wind Park is in prime moose habitat. Our reliance on moose for physical and spiritual sustenance depends on healthy moose habitat surrounding Loch Lomond lake. We have seen time and again that settler projects that meet provincial and/or federal standards do little to protect our sacred relationship to moose and other animals. We gain our identity from relationships to our lands and our animal relatives; though this relationship is hard for settler society to understand, we are ready to protect it. We will not let another settler project compromise moose habitat in our traditional territory…”

Tony “Huff and Puff” Zwig is a prominent and affluent Toronto … philanthropist and patron of the arts just like Murray Koffler, founder of Shoppers Drug Mart and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business CCAB.  Tony and Walter Zwig and Murray and Tom Koffler are lifetime members of the board of governors at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. 
 
The Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee opposes Horizon’s Big Thunder wind project in and near Thunder Bay.  They will be hosting a screening of the film, Windfall on Thursday June 23, 2011 at the Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay.

Another concern to the Fort William Nishnaabe is a company called Sky Power putting in a 45,000 panel solar installation on Fort William territory.  The scale of such a project is also detrimental to wildlife and people who depend on our relations for survival.

Prowind vs North Gower, Carleton Place, Brinston, South Dundas Township, United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, Shanly, Township of Edwardsburg-Cardinal, United Counties of Leeds & Grenville.

These settler communities are all on Ongwehonweh territory between the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers.  Once productive farmland for early settlers, the family farm today is an “endangered species”.  Farmers struggle to earn a living from the soil.

Prowind is a German company with a Canadian subsidiary now based in Hamilton, Ontario.  Prowind has 16 wind projects all over Germany and is now expanding into at least 8 other countries.  This includes England, Ireland, Italy, France, Australia and Romania. 

Johannes Busmann, a certified dairy farmer and lawyer, founded Prowind in 2000.  He knows how to talk to farmers.  Prowind Canada is run by money-loving Cathy Weston, president and Juan K. Anderson, project manager and aerospace engineer.  Prowind likes to start the project and then sell it to someone more willing to deal with the headaches.

A North Gower farmer agreed to rent his land to Prowind for some wind turbines.  Now, Prowind wants to sell the project to him.  Prowind is trying to develop other wind projects in the area.

The resistance to the Prowind wind turbine installations is organized under the name, North Gower Wind Action Group (NGWAG) which is related to Wind Concerns Ontario.  These people are concerned about quality of life and how wind turbines affect property values.  NGWAG is hosting the screening of Windfall on June 26 in North Gower, about 20 minutes outside Ottawa.

THE PROBLEM WITH WIND TURBINES
The big wind projects cause a number of problems.  Here’s our short list of things we learned and then some more details about the related health issues.

1.  Wind turbines are extremely ugly to look at.  We think that Beauty should be a part of our Lifestyle.  Wind turbines also cause strobing, flickering and reflection of sunlight that is a health issue for some people.  The wind turbines being built keep getting bigger and bigger.

2.  Wind turbines make hideous noise, often loud and steady like a speeding train that never arrives.  It’s hard on the nerves literally.  Wind turbines make infrasound which the human ear cannot hear but the body feels it.  People like airline pilots already get vibro-acoustic disease (VAD) from constant exposure to low frequency sound. Wind turbines emit electromagnetic radiation of various frequencies that can be harmful to health on a cellular level.

3.  As more and more farmland is being used for wind turbines, developers are turning to the bush.  They want to cut down trees and build more roads.  Wind turbines need regular maintenance so they must be easily accessible.  This is destructive to all the creatures and Life in the bush.  It is murderous to Indigenous people who get their livelihood from the bush.

4.  Wind turbines adversely affect birds, bats and other creatures.  The wind turbines on Wolfe Island and those proposed for nearby Amherst Island are located on the migratory routes of many threatened and endangered bird species including raptors like the Bald Eagle.  The presence of the turbines causes the birds to avoid these locations where they normally find food.  The Kingston Field Naturalists are studying this issue.

5.  There are potential dangers of chunks of ice falling from wind turbines or being flung great distances by the rotors.  Anyone could get hit.  Fires are also possible and have happened.  The wind turbines contain plastics, resins and other substances that are very toxic when burned.

6.  The promoters of wind turbines always tell you they can power so many homes and produce so many mega watts.  But do they?   Wind is not a constant so it is impossible to predict how much wind will occur during any given time frame.   Just how efficient are the turbines at harnessing the wind’s energy?  A simple fact of physics is that when electrictiy is produced in one place and transmitted to another place, it loses power in the transmission. 

7.  There are security and communications concerns that the wind turbines interfere with microwave transmission and radar including at airports.  Why then this big industrial wind turbine facility going up at Kingston Ontario, the east end of Lake Ontario near to the busy Canadian air force base and international airport, Trenton, less than an hour’s drive to the west???

8.  Proponents claim that industrial wind projects will provide jobs.  Beyond the construction, this does not appear to be true at all.  A minimal number of technicians and mechanics maintain the turbines once in place.

9.  In the end, the wind turbines with so many moving parts will break down into useless garbage in about 20 to 25 years.  The steel rubble will lie with the crumbling concrete pads, motionless and quiet at last.  The emboldened animals will creep forward to examine the debris.  Plants will pop up and vines will creep over the miles of wires, batteries, broken switches and plastic shards.  People will shake their heads, amazed at how foolish their fellow humans can be.

For news of North Gower-Richmond, please go to http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com

May 16, 2011

The outcry over Hudak’s FIT announcement

It was nothing if not predictable: following Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s pledge to cancel the $7-billion deal with Samsung for wind and solar manufacturing and installation of facilities (a contract that as yet has never been seen by the public) and to halt the Feed-in Tariff or FiT program which pays exorbitant prices for power to solar and wind generators (power from hydro and nuclear in Ontario cost 6 cents a kWh; FiT pays 13.5 cents for wind and up to 80 cents for solar), the people who stood to benefit the most are now protesting.

They say “thousands” of jobs will be lost.

Not true. As Kevin O’Leary said on the Lang-O’Leary Exchange last week on CBC, “they weren’t real jobs and they should be lost.” Anything built on subsidies, the fund manager explained, is not sustainable. In other words, if the subsidy goes, so goes the business; “real” business, O’Leary said, is built on profitability. That’s not the so-called “green” energy manufacturing business.

Last year, the Ottawa Citizen’s Randall Denley calculated that–if the government’s numbers about job creation were even true–the cost to taxpayers of the jobs created was over $300,000 PER JOB. That is crazy. And not sustainable.

But now, these people, like the band of solar and wind companies in Ottawa, and like the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (in reality a government-funded lobby group) are claiming that we all must fight back and not lose Ontario’s green energy program.

The truth is, the number of jobs being created is a pipe dream, they won’t last, wind and solar can never do what the proponents say it will in terms of power supply, there are other costs in terms of the environment, lost property value etc., and–most important–everything that is being done is paid for by taxpayers and electricity ratepayers.

So, those people who claim YOU need the “green” energy business are really saying, “We want YOUR money.” You’re paying for their profits.

But don’t take our word for it: here’s what Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod said. “Dalton McGuinty is subsidizing these companies at the expense of people who pay for power, at the expense of families paying the bills…. There is nobody in town that thinks paying 80 cents for something that costs five cents is a good deal for taxpayers.”

May 2, 2011

Property values and industrial wind turbines

We know that neither the provincial government in Ontario nor the industrial wind power generation industry care about the health of people who are unwillingly exposed to the noise and vibration from industrial wind turbines, and we know they don’t care about birds because they persist in planning to build in such sensitive areas as Amherst Island, Ostrander Point, and the north shore of Lake Erie, but it appears they do still care about one thing and how the public is going to react: property values.

When homeowners find that it is impossible to live in their homes due to the constant noise and the developers finally step in and buy the properties, the homeowners have to sign contracts that say they cannot discuss the terms of their settlement, with anyone.

How upsetting then that details of the recent sale of five homes in the Ripley area became public. The homes were sold to a numbered company which, it was discovered, was “owned” by executives with the wind developer.

Well, it turns out, there is a reason for all that. It’s not that the homes are now uninhabitable and perhaps worthless (THAT would be a very bad message when the government is saying the wind industry is bringing prosperity to Ontario). No, it’s that people are not able to “deal with change.” If they’ve lost the view of their “favourite apple tree” they apparently go all nutty and cash in what is probably the biggest investment of their lives.

Here is a report from the Saugeen Times.

http://www.saugeentimes.com/477%20Liz/Wind%20companies%20plan%20to%20remarket%20homes%20May%201,%202011/Template.htm
 
Acciona to re-market homes near Ripley, says Austin
By Liz Dadson
 

Acciona Wind Energy Canada plans to re-market the homes it purchased near Ripley, says community relations manager Paul Austin.

He was responding to an article in the Kincardine Times last week, stating that the Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines (HALT) group had discovered the sale of four of the five homes owned by people who had been fighting Acciona and Suncor (co-owners of the Ripley Wind Power Project). The residents said they could no longer live in their homes because of health concerns due to the wind turbines.

The article quoted HALT president Mac Serra as asking why, if there are no health concerns, is the wind company purchasing the homes of the victims?

Serra also noted the purchase was by 2270573 Ontario Inc. One director of this company, listed on the transfer, is Alejandro Salvador Armendariz, manager of Acciona Solar Energy LLC, and the other is Christina Ellerbeck, manager, marketing and business development, renewable energy, Suncor Energy Services Inc.

Austin says there is nothing unusual about Acciona and Suncor operating as a “numbered” company to complete the transaction. “That’s normal practice,” he says. “There is nothing secret about this. It happened six weeks ago and we called all the key stakeholders (including local councils) to let them know.”

In fact, he said the decision to purchase the homes stemmed from feedback the company received from the community.

“We have done extensive studies and tests,” says Austin. “We’ve had independent experts in, and officials from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Grey Bruce Health Unit. There is no link between wind farms and these health concerns.”

After discussions with leadership people, community members and landowners, the company decided the only way to resolve the dispute with the neighbours was to purchase and re-market their homes.

“This is an example of the company standing up to be a good corporate citizen,” says Austin. “It’s a way to show leadership. Even though there is no link between the wind farms and health problems, the residents were persistent with their concerns and they weren’t going away.”

The company plans to sell the houses at market value. “It’s the best resolution we could think of, given the discussions over the past two years,” says Austin.

He says the company has had an independent real estate appraiser in to evaluate the properties and will now work with local realtors to sell them. “We’ve already had expressions of interest.”

Austin says the entire problem centres on people’s inability to deal with change.

“If you’ve lived somewhere for years and then somebody comes along and builds a structure beside your home so you can’t see your favourite apple tree, you get upset,” says Austin. “But the next person coming in to buy your home, doesn’t care about that view. He’s more concerned about the house and the property.

“It’s the same with wind turbines. We have a high level of confidence that we can sell these houses.”

And once sold, that would address one more concern, regarding property values, says Austin. “We see that as a positive.”

April 29, 2011

Playing the electricity “blame game” in Ontario

As the opponents of the unreliable, inefficient and expensive industrial wind power generation business alert the public to the money being wasted by industrial wind power on the windy spring days when demand for power is low, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty employs his usual diffident style to deflect criticism, claiming he’d rather have surpluses than the “blackouts and brownouts” under the former Conservative government.

Fact is, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and Mr McGuinty must think people are swooning from seeing their latest electricity bills and can’t recall the promises he made in his last election campaign.

In their interesting book* Hydro: the decline and fall of Ontario’s electric empire, Jamie Smith and Keith Stewart recall the great blackout of 2003 and the efforts to examine the cause. The most obvious, of course, was deregulation in the U.S. which led to a destabilized grid (and an unscrupulous private power company in Ohio). But Ontario was at fault, too in some ways. The authors write:

Neither the ruling Conservatives nor the Liberals, who were ahead in the polls, wanted to talk about electricity during the campaign of 2003. For the Tories, it was a topic too painful to contemplate. Instead, the [Conservative] government used the time-honoured political dodge, appointing a task force to study the issue. The Electricity Conservation and Supply Task Force, packed with privatization boosters, was co-chaired by Peter Budd, the principal spokesperson for the private power producers in Ontario.

For the Liberals, raising the electricity issue might remind voters of their various policy reversals and embarrassments. They had voted with the government on the Electricity Competition Act and had at one time supported the sale of Hydro One. On the same day that leader Dalton McGuinty was proclaiming his opposition to privatization in a media scrum, the party sent out a fundraising letter to electricity companies saying that only the Liberals could be trusted to follow through on electricity privatization.

The Liberals did make a number of ambitious campaign pledges vis-a-vis the electricity system. Things would be better by the end of a Liberal government’s first term in 2007, they promised. They would shut down the province’s five coal-fired generating stations, reduce electricity consumption 5 per cent, and provide enough “green” power to meet five per cent of the province’s energy needs—all within four years. These clean-air commitments were driven personally by McGuinty, somewhat to the dismay of his advisors. He was knowledgeable about the issue and keen on doing something about climate change. The coal phase-out promised raised the environmental stakes while setting the Liberals apart from the Conservatives.

…Seemingly in keeping with McGuinty’s conversion to public power during the election campaign, the Liberal government would oversee no sale of Ontario Power Generation or Hydro One assets. The publicly owned plants would feed power onto the grid on a “power at cost” basis except that this time the cost would be determined by a stronger and more independent Ontario Energy Board rather than by the government or the utility. The idea was to remove politics from electricity-pricing. [Editor: THAT didn’t happen…]

The future rested in creating ” a climate that welcomes private investment.” New generators would be privately owned and would be able to charge whatever price came out of the interplay of market forces. [Editor: THAT didn’t happen…] To soften the blow, consumers would have the option of payng a fixed rate, set annually by the Ontario Energy Board, or playing the market. In any event, because 70 per cent of the power was being supplied by the public sector at a fixed rate, prices were expected to be less volatile than they were under a completely open market. The old hydro dams that cost about a penny a kilowatt-hour could offset the seven cents per kilowatt-hour being demanded by the private sector as a prerequisite for investment. [Editor: current contracted FiT rates for onshore wind are 13.5 cents per KwH, and for solar 80 cents, to be reduced to 58 cents sometime.]

In many ways, this approach was not that different from the Tory model…the Liberals were simply capping the price beforehand and blending the cheaper “heritage” power from Niagara Falls with the higher priced private power. This was no renewed public power system, but a recipe for slow motion privatization. Many publicly owned generating stations would be phased out by attrition, gradually replaced by private, for-profit stations as coal generators were closed and nuclear plants came to the end of their lives. If the Liberals did manage to shut coal down by the end of their mandate, private operators would be supplying over half of Ontario’s power within four years. … profits from building and operating new plants–whether nuclear or fossil—would be concentrated among a few corporations. [Editor: THAT is happening–natural gas and industrial wind power generators are profiting by the billion.]

In short, the McGuinty government uses power outages—something the average consumer can relate to—to scare voters and to deflect from its real agenda: creating a power boom for a select few corporate entities. But their history of “policy reversals” and “embarrassments” continues.

*The book is interesting for its interpretation of Ontario’s history but falls apart in the last chapter with its slavish devotion to “renewables” especially wind power. The reality of wind power is that it can never replace fossil-fuel power generation (in fact it REQUIRES fossil fuel). It has not in any jurisdiction on earth, and it never will.

April 25, 2011

Thinking of leasing property for wind turbines?

As we’ve said before, one of the interesting features about blog hosting is the ability to track people’s search criteria. One thing that comes up repeatedly is the request for more information on leasing property for turbines.

With the advertising going on paid for by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the lobby group for corporate wind developers and their suppliers, it’s easy to see why property owners might be thinking about it.

Our advice? Think a lot.

First, get a lawyer. Do NOT sign any agreement, even an option to lease, without having a lawyer review the document first. We have heard of some wind development companies offering a cheque and demanding a document be signed on the spot or the offer goes away: this is not appropriate business practice. You should always have the opportunity to have legal advice before you do anything.

We would also suggest you visit the Wind Concerns Ontario website at http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com , click on the LEASES tab, and read the documents and view the video there.

And then, read, read, read. Talk to some people already leasing if you can, though be aware that many standard lease agreements require the property owner not talk about the terms of their agreement. So, you might not be getting the whole story.

Many people have been lured into a lease by the promise of steady cash but they haven’t realized the other issues associated with leasing land for industrial wind turbines such as the impact on your neighbours and your community, the impact on your own property, insurance issues, liability issues, and the things you are giving away such as rights to build on your own land, etc. Remember, these are not “wind mills” and a group of them will not be a “wind farm” or a “wind park”…industrial scale wind turbines are power generators…they do make noise and they will change your environment for as long as 20 years.

This is a big commitment: be sure to visit areas where turbines are already working and ask people what the effect has been on their community. The Shelburne/Melancthon area has had turbines for years and there are vacant homes and people with health problems, due to inappropriate siting of these machines. You need to see and hear for yourself (be aware that being close to a turbine is NOT a test of how noisy they can be; standing right underneath one is the quietest place). Seeing a couple of turbines once is not a realistic experience.

Do your homework: the future of your property, your fanily, and your community depends on it.

Wolfe Island Ferry Dock.jpg 

Turbines at the Wolfe Island ferry dock. The island has 86 turbines. Jobs? 3.

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