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.

October 3, 2011

Graham Saul and Ecology Ottawa

Graham Saul, volunteer Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa, appeared on CBC radio this morning to–essentially–shill for the Ontario Liberal party, in the crucial countdown to election day Thursday. Mr. Saul also works as a staff member with Climate Action Network, which counts among its members Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Sierra Club.

Sounds like an elegant group of environmentalists, doesn’t it? Or… Dr Suzuki recently had to step down from the Foundation that bears his name because his partisan activities could have affected the Foundation’s charitable organization status with Revenue Canada. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is the Ontario group that continues to spout nonsense figures on thousands of deaths in Ontario from air pollution due to coal-fired power generation (what pollution Ontario does have –and Canada just rated number three in the WORLD for good air quality–is from cars, and pollution that comes from south of the border). The Sierra Club? Executive Director John Bennett has been waging a nasty campaign throughout Ontario and the organization says it supports saving wildlife but, curiously, would not come out in support of said wildlife at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County, where a Toronto-based wind power developer proposes to put industrial wind turbines on Crown land in an important migratory bird area.

Today, Mr Saul praised to Liberal government saying sometimes a government will come out and do wonderful things, in this case, get us off our dependency on “dirty oil, coal and gas.”

Facts:

  1. Oil has NOTHING to do with electricity generation in Ontario.
  2. Coal-fired generation doesn’t make up much of Ontario’s capacity; what it does could have been made a lot cleaner but the Liberal government halted the implementation of cleaner technology, after millions of tax dollars had been spent on the program.
  3. Dirty natural gas? Well, maybe: but news for you, Mr Saul: Ontario is building MORE natural gas power generation facilities. Including the one Mr McGuinty said he halted but which is still under construction. In fact, industrial scale wind power is so intermittent and unreliable (i.e., NOT there when we need it) that more fossil-fuel power generation is needed to back it up.

Look at the names of some of the companies involved in industrial-scale wind power generation: Enbridge, TransAlta, NextEra (really Florida Power and Light), Suncor and the famous Mr T Boone Pickens of the U.S. Mr Pickens is honest: “it’s about natural gas,” he has said, also in a CBC interview many months ago.

The North Gower Wind Action Group asked Mr Saul if it was alright with his group if an entire community was affected by industrial scale wind power generation, which would turn the community into a factory and could cause negative health effects from environmental noise, for the (unattainable) goal of having wind power replace other forms of power generation. His answer was that everyone needs to look at the larger issue of climate change. So, in other words, yes.

The folks in North Gower don’t agree: we respect and honour the environment too and do everything we can to protect it. We just don’t think turning the land into sprawling wind power factories is the way to go.

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

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.

March 10, 2011

North Gower resident writes a letter

One of the questions we are asked is, how do you know that your community group represents a wider view from the community? Well, aside from the several hundred people who signed the petition that went to the Ontario legislature via MPP Lisa MacLeod, and the 300+ families on our e-mail list, and the 125+ people who come to our information meetings, the countless volunteers working daily on this issue, I guess we don’t know what everyone is thinking.

In the Smith’s Falls EMC today is a letter to the editor from a North Gower resident. She writes:

Dear Editor:

I wish to volunteer my two cents into what is becoming an endlessly revolving argument about the wind turbine farms.

First off, not all of us in the North Gower area are against the Wind Turbine project being proposed for this area. I know from personal experience that wind turbines can perform well here. That being said, if viable scientific evidence can be established into the ill effects of this type of farm, then certainly additional precautions should be implemented – whether it be an increased setback from homes, or possibly smaller or fewer of the turbines.

The Ontario government has illustrated that it can change its mind if such evidence comes to light, as shown by the recent hold on the installation of off-shore wind turbines.

I certainly don’t think that this means that the whole concept or use of wind turbines should be scrapped – this would be extremely short sighted behaviour, given that we do need to stop relying on non-renewable resources for our hydro and energy.

Now is the time to be developing alternative energies to sustain our power requirements – when we can take the time to do it properly, and improve on them.

Debbie Gervais

North Gower

We’re not sure where this resident lives in relation to the proposed industrial wind development, and neither can we know how informed she is, but she has a few facts wrong:

-there is already valid scientific evidence that if the turbines are located too close to people’s homes, people can experience sleep deprivation and then ill health effects

-the Ontario government is standing firm that its 550-meter setback is “safe” despite evidence from around the world in countries that already have turbines, that a setback of 1-2 km is better (note that other countries such as Germany have setbacks between zones, not between the base of a turbine and the centre of a house, as Ontario does). The truth is, the 550-meters is more about geography than health: if we had a 1 km setback, there would be NO turbines in southern and eastern Ontario because of the way the roads and concessions are laid out.

-a proper scientific study is needed to have an evidence-based setback. Ontario now has such a research project ongoing, but it is headed by an expert in electrical engineering, and they plan to take 5 years to come to a conclusion. Ontario will be long done with populating its rural areas with turbines by then.

-industrial wind turbines are a flawed technology–they are intermittent and require fossil-fuel back-up; this is why Ontario is also building natural gas-fired power plants at the same time as it is encouraging wind power development.

-we’re not sure what the “personal experience” with wind turbines would be in this area, given that the Canada Wind Atlas states the area is “poor” to “marginal” for a wind resource. Since we don’t have any industrial-scale turbines here, her experience would have to be with a small wind mill. THAT, i.e., small scale, is an appropriate use of wind power development, NOT 626-foot industrial towers.

-this is industrialization of a rural community that, because of the Green Energy Act, is not getting to have its say. What it could do to property values is expropriation without compensation.

Last, of course everyone wants a clean and effective power system in Ontario. But wind doesn’t work. We don’t see why the people of North Gower have to participate in an experiment that will see no benefits to our community and which is really all about profits going to an offshore corporate developer. “Take the time and do it properly”? WE AGREE!!!!

And, we’re not alone: dozens of Ontario communities have now passed resolutions or motions objecting to industrial wind turbine projects and asking for their planning powers to be returned, AND for independent health studies.

northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

View of turbines at Melancthon, near Orangeville, Ontario.

March 8, 2011

Wolfe Island: not a turbine paradise

Recently, the corporate wind development lobby paid for an ad in Farmers’ Forum in which it was claimed by a restaurant owner on Wolfe Island, that life was great, profits were flowing, and tourists were flocking to Wolfe Island to see the turbines. The truth, of course, was that the restaurant mentioned is in fact closed and for sale, as is the hotel on the island, and two bed-and-breakfast establishments.

Nor, Farmers’ Forum has done a survey of Wolfe Island residents. We’re not entirely happy with the methodology and in fact the authors recognize and document their limitations, but the results are enough to show that Wolfe Island is no paradise of happiness with the 86 industrial wind turbines that now inhabit the island, near Kingston. Note especially the concerns about property values, and the 11 percent of people who say their health has been affected by the turbines.

It would have been better to survey people who spend ALL DAY and all night on the island, but…next time?

The story is here. Thank you, Farmers’ Forum.

http://www.farmersforum.com/MARCH2011/p1.htm

March 5, 2011

Views from farm country

Not everyone gets to see the newspapers  that serve the agricultural community, and they rarely post their entire editions online, so, with thanks to a local farm-owner, we offer excerpts from some letters to the Editor of Ontario Farmer, which appeared recently.

Peak soil as imminent as peak oil

The provincial government has made a first right step by halting any off-shore wind projects until “further research is conducted.” While the government’s motivation is more likely political than science-based [blog editor: like this WHOLE THING!!!] the very admission that more study is needed refutes their own staunchly defended position throughout the life of the Green Energy Plan.

If the science is lacking to back off-shore industrial installations, it is entirely foolish to allow any more land-based installations as well. Dr. Robert McMurtry has eloquently outlined human health concerns and has reasonably called for a halt to more turbine installations until proper scientific studies are done. Yet Dr. McMurtry’s calls have been ignored by the government, even though our minister of environment claims to put human health and the natural environment as his top priority.

Furthermore, there is a fundamental insanity about a policy that would allow the vast diminishment of such a fragile and finte treasure as our prime, class-one farmland. Less than one-half of one percent of Canada is class one farmland (roughly 12 million acres). Of that total, 4.9 million acres is in souther Ontario (Science Council of Canada).

Food prices around the world are skyrocketing and food shortages combined with high prices are causing riots and misery, and dstabilizing national governments. … nergy analysts often refer to the impending tipping point of “peak oil.” e are already roughly at our point of “peak soil” on a global basis. The amount of land currently in production comprises almost all of the capable land without cutting more forests, taking over conservation set-asides, or entering into dubious irrigation schemes. To paraphrase David Suzuki, our land, our water, our air, are sacred. They are not merely there to create profits for global corporations.

…Prime farmland should grow food, not industrial towers. A policy that decimates our foodlands cannot legitimately be termed “green energy.”

It is time for the government to stand down, and do proper research into the health, environmental, economic and social impacts of these industrial schemes.

John Drummond, Greenbelt Farm, Mitchell, Ontario

Have an open mind on energy, yes, but have wind, solar been studied enough?

…Since the green energy proponents have been installing windmills and solar panels as quickly as they possibly can and have truned a deaf ear toward any dissenting views, it is time for common sense to prevail. At the very least, further installation of these devices should be halted immediately pending an objective view of their effects on human and animal health, the economy and the environment by a credible and impartial source. We should not accept anything less.

George W. Arnold, Bobcaygeon

February 21, 2011

A stormy week ahead

We’re predicting a stormy week for the opponents of poorly sited industrial wind turbine projects.

It appears that the “environmental” groups have been encouraged to speak out against the community groups that have been formed throughout Ontario, with the goal of labelling them minority activists, “NIMBYs” and–amazingly—“bullies.”

With all the environmental impact of industrial wind turbine projects, we’re amazed that organizations like Environmental Defence to name one (which is funded by taxpayer dollars and donations) supports the industrialization of Ontario, and that they clearly have not done thorough research.

That’s because they have bought the spurious argument that people–10,000 a year, the government claims (which is a rounding up of the equally false 9,500 statistic promoted by the Ontario Medical Association)–are dying from air pollution produced by Ontario’s coal-fired power generation plants.

Here are the facts:

-Ontario’s air quality is generally good

-the pollution we do have is from industry south of the border, and from cars and trucks

-closing Ontario’s coal plants completely will do nothing

-wind cannot ever replace traditional forms of power generation

-industrial-scale wind development is high impact on the environment for very little benefit

-industrial-scale wind turbines NEED fossil-fuel back-up to function, because the wind is intermittent and unreliable.

Air quality in Ontario today, February 21: GOOD.

Wind power production as of 9 a.m.: 916 MW

Ontario’s projected demand at 11 a.m. today: 17,829 MW; actual at 10 a.m.: 17,271 MW

Who is really speaking out for the environment?

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