NorthGowerWindTurbines

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.

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 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 22, 2011

Backlash:the industry mobilizes against community groups, citizens

We predicted this, and now it’s happening: the wind business is mobilizing its troops to fight against community groups throughout Ontario, who are protesting the industrialization of their communities, and who are concerned about the environmental impact of putting industrial wind turbines in our lakes.

Today, a representative of Trillium Power was on CFRA, claiming that Wind Concerns Ontario and other groups are funded by the fossil-fuel industry. He said, They can’t be getting by on $5 and $10 donations, they have “sophisticated communication strategies.”

Well, thanks for the compliments but we know from our own work here that we DO survive on the donations, no matter how big, from members of the community, and we certainly have never even heard from any corporate sponsors. Why? Because nobody thinks building huge industrial structures that DO make noise and produce vibration so close to homes, farms and our school is the right thing to do.

And also today, in The Ottawa Citizen, Picton-area community activist Don Chisholm graces Ottawa with his words of wisdom in a letter to the Editor. 

Green means wind

  
By Don Chisholm, Ottawa Citizen February 22, 2011 8:02 AM
 
 

Ontario’s Green Energy Act showed visionary leadership in the struggle to end society’s dependency on fossil fuels. The act has been enormously successful at creating jobs and investment in Ontario. But human nature threatens its viability.

The past century of fossil-fuel driven growth was a one-time historical anomaly. But after growth comes the down slope. Cheap energy made jobs plentiful. Many retired baby boomers with fat savings look forward to a comfortable retirement, ignoring the problem.

Advanced smart hydro grids and distributed energy generation are essential cornerstones for our next generation’s energy supply. Distributed sources mean energy must be collected from natural flows in many backyards. But boomers are sometimes NIMBYs. Many otherwise responsible citizens have voted to prevent wind energy development in our rural farming communities, or even in our lakes. Extensive wind energy is essentially to future energy supply. Many civilizations in the past have grown rapidly and then collapsed because shortterm comfort too often trumps long-term need.

Don Chisholm,

Picton, Ont.

Mr Chisholm is with a citizens’ group himself, the County Sustainability Group or CSG, which is fighting all kinds of development in Prince Edward County but somehow—we don’t understand this at all—they seem to feel industrial scale wind development is OK.
Sorry Mr Chisholm, but all your insults about NIMBYism aside, the fact is this:
-wind doesn’t work
-it has no place being sited next to homes
-wind will never replace fossil fuel or nuclear as a fuel source, it is too inefficient and unreliable

It’s only Tuesday: more industry plants will be surfacing soon.

January 3, 2011

Life with the turbines in Massachusetts

This is an account of living with industrial wind turbines in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in the form of a letter written by a resident. Note that the turbines operating in Chatham-Kent are 2.3 MW and the ones proposed for North Gower-south Richmond are 2.5 MW, and further, we believe what’s proosed for Brinston/Spencerville are more powerful still.

Here is the letter.

http://www.jeffersonleaningleft.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-living-with-industrial-wind-is.html

What living with industrial wind is like in Massachusetts.

(This letter published with permission from the author)
 
December 25, 2011
 
Dear Madam and Sirs,
 
As I write this, sitting at my desk looking out over my snow-covered woodland garden in the rear of my property, I also have a clear view of Falmouth’s Turbine #1 and the huge red crane that is assembling Wind Turbine #2. Every window on the back of my house has a great view of the Falmouth Industrial Park turbines.
 
I have a feeling of being overwhelmed by these machines. Nobody deserves to be subjected to this torment. Nearly every waking hour is spent being aggravated by it or aggravating over what to do about it, or medical appointments because of it, or talking to people calling me about it or who come to my house to see it for themselves, or meetings to do with it, or Internet exchanges dealing with it, or seminars and symposiums on it, or reading articles and books about it.  All this on top of my investing nearly $7000 fighting my own town over it.
 
I want my life back, and I am more than willing to fight for it. Persistence pays. The town sewage odor issue took 20 years. This is no less important to me. This is a matter of basic human rights. I learned one thing with the sewer issue:  that town officials are not forever. Replacements can be seated soon enough, and not all people are mindless.
 
This is Christmas Day. What is so outrageous about wind turbine nuisance is that it continues each and every day. Christmas, Thanksgiving, every holiday, every special occasion. It takes zero time off from annoying people. It is a negative mood setter. Have friends over for a cook-out:  no one likes this noise.  Some of us are driven insane by it. What otherwise could be a perfect day in the garden becomes a day of resentment and anger towards the town and another fist full of pills taken for depression, anxieties, and hypertension.
 
Thank you for the opportunity to speak at your Board of Health, December 20th, meeting. I do not agree with one board member’s analogy of wind turbine noise vs. botulism, and how the one affecting everyone and the other only some people makes the wind turbine detriments more complex to deal with.   What about blade and ice throw?  There is a proper, safe distance to setback even though the ice or blade would not hit everyone.
 
Actually “the hit” of ice or blade would affect fewer people than the noise does. Just because the victim would bleed from the physical hit does not lesson the impact on the victim who is suffering from noise induced anxiety, depression, and pain.
 
What do you say when you find him hanging on the turbine fence with a .357 round in his head?

You are responsible for the the health of all the citizens of Falmouth, including the ones who are sensitive to the noise, shadow flicker, strobe lights, and whatever other annoyances are caused by wind turbines or anything else in Falmouth. Your list of duties clearly includes noise. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency says that “noise is a significant hazard to public health,” and finds that an absolute noise limit fails to adequately protect the public health.
 
Many communities have adopted a rule that adequately protects the public health by establishing a relative standard that limits the noise caused by the operation of a wind energy system to no more than 5dBA above the ambient noise level (as measured at any point on property adjacent to the parcel on which the wind energy system is located). The Falmouth boards should have been looking into this back in 2004 when the wind turbine was being proposed. There was plenty of information back then to realize the detrimental effects of industrial wind turbines when sited too close to populations. The wind industry disclosed only the bright side of the picture.  Town officials either had their eyes closed or outright just “hoped” that things would turn out okay.
 
Not enough research was done, or at least not heeded.  The town took a huge risk, and now the consequences must be faced
.
You dither around wasting time. You do not need peer reviewed studies from Canada or Denmark or Australia to prove to you the detrimental affects of industrial wind turbines on human beings. You have your own neighbors living right here, in Falmouth, whom you can speak to in person.
  • You can stand by their houses
  • You can look in their medicine cabinets
  • You can review their medical records
  • You can witness their beds moved down to their basements
We are suffering right here in Falmouth in real time!  After every meeting, when the turbine issue is yet again postponed, we hear Neil Andersen and Colin Murphy cry out “What am I supposed to do until then?
 
I have received several calls from Alfreda Wring, who lives on Dove Cottage Road in Falmouth. She says I described the noise perfectly in one of my (local) newspaper letters, and says how distraught she is over the noise of the wind turbine.
 
One could not make up her story. She complained to her doctor that she could not sleep because of the turbine sound. He told her to get earplugs.  Then, while she was attempting to put them in, she tripped on her bedspread, fell, and broke her hip.  That resulted in her having to go into a nursing home.
Then there is John Ford, who testified at a Cape Cod Commission hearing how terrible the noise is for him at over 3200 feet from Falmouth’s turbine #1. Look at this list, and think about it:
 
Larry and Jill Worthington, Brian and Kathryn Elder, Neil and Elizabeth Andersen, Colin and Jennifer Murphy, Richard and Charlotte Nugent, Gyongyi Szabo, Gyorgy Frendi, Kathie and Day Mount, Mark Cool and Annie Hart Cool, Todd and Terri Drummey, Malcolm Donald, Beth Underhill, Chris Alves, Donna Hamblin, Douglas Smith, Loretta O’Brian, Maddi Tunidor, Nicole Mant, Patrick O’Conner, Robert Sagerman, Sue Hobart, Vincent Myette, and Barry and Diane Funfar.
 
These are all Falmouth people with real problems resulting from the town’s irresponsible turbine siting. We all want our lives back. You are contributing to driving these people out of their minds and out of their homes. You are contributing to diminishing their life, and most certainly their quality of life.

And this list of harmed and suffering Falmouth citizens continues to grow. Turbine 1 is still in its first year of operation and Turbine 2 has not yet begun to operate. And just wait until the actual tax bills are mailed out.  People will not have to be bothered by a medical ailment to claim a tax abatement over the proximity of the wind turbine.  Falmouth will lose more in tax revenue than it gains in electricity generation.
 
And what has the town figured into their bottom line to offset vandalism? This is a huge problem anywhere these machines are forced into peoples backyards. There is a reason many European countries with more than two decades of experience with industrial wind turbines have now implemented regulations requiring setbacks of 1 to 1.1.5 miles.
 
It is an obvious fact that some of us are more sensitive to the particular character and quality of the sound generated by the turbine. This has been observed in many studies and been amply re-confirmed by many of us abutters of Falmouth’s wind turbine. If I were the only affected person, I would simply pack up and move away.  But there are many others. We have been clearly violated; our quality of life, our well being, our physical and mental health has been adversely affected.
 
The town will not alleviate this problem by shutting the wind turbines down between midnight and 3AM, when the wind is supposedly over some certain speed.  This is the town’s mitigation recommendation to date. (Further aggravating this is Acting Town Manager Heather Harper, when she berates us complainers for undermining the financial viability of her pet project.) Fact is, I am bothered in the daytime, others are bothered at night, some are annoyed 24 hours per day.
 
Severe annoyance leads to all manner of negatives:  stress, anxiety, depression. irritability, anger, migraines, nausea, emotional turmoil, broken concentration, blurred vision, dizziness, hypertension, nervousness, sleep disorder, palpitations, tiredness, suicide.  One does not need a medical degree to produce this list.
 
I am 64 years old. I have been happy, sad, depressed, suicidal, at war, at peace, and everywhere in-between. This town is driving some of us crazy. (I am enclosing an article that is one of the best I have seen as to why there are such wide differences in perception of wind turbine noise.)
We have real issues. We have been harmed. Nothing is being done. At the very least these machines need to be shut down until a final solution is made.
 
All the town officials and town boards act like the noise problem from Turbine #1 is just going to disappear. Meanwhile there is wind Turbine #2 under construction, which anyone with half a mind knows will make the noise problem only worse.
 
This is ludicrous! This is local government at its stupidest!
 
Megan Amsler, in a recent Falmouth Enterprise article, highlighted areas in town where (energy) efficiencies can be raised, and pointed out that one such area is the current wind turbine which has been shut down at various wind speeds and times of the day to address noise concerns from neighboring residents. She says this has cost the town roughly $35,000 in generation—as though the noise problems we abutters experience are only an impediment to the town’s financial bottom line. On the contrary, that wind turbine should not be in the town’s finances! It was built without the necessary special permit, sited irresponsibly, and is being operated with no regard for many citizen’s rights or well-being. Were it not for the ‘green communities’ hysteria, we would not be in this predicament.
 
The 1.65 MW turbines are too big for their site.  Houses are too close.  The homes were here first, some over thirty years. Our environment has been changed from a peaceful community, to being severely bothered and annoyed by an industrial power plant.  How simple is that to grasp?  Shut the turbines down and move them to a proper site.  Everyone knows this!  It’s time for the town to throw in the towel and admit a mistake was made.  Call it a day.  Sell them before everyone catches on and realizes the inefficiencies of wind power.
 
Persistence and “what is right” will win this issue.  I have no doubt as to the outcome.
 
Sincerely,
Barry Funfar
Falmouth, MA

 

For an account of life at Chatham-Kent, go to http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com

December 13, 2010

Robert Hornung on Ottawa: “not a windy area”

Robert Hornung, CEO of the industry lobby group the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, participated in a live online chat event sponsored by the London Free Press today.

When he and Energy Minister Brad Duguid were asked if they would like to live right next to an industrial wind turbine, Hornung replied that he lived in Ottawa which wasn’t a windy area but otherwise, he said, he would LOVE to have a turbine on his property.

He’s right: it IS NOT a windy area. So why is Prowind proceeding and why is the OPA even entertaining their application? Because it’s not about wind or energy or the environment, it’s about money.

December 7, 2010

Dalton McGuinty and the book of spin

Dalton McGuinty’s spinmeisters have wangled an opinion piece authored by him in today’s Toronto Star. Not to put too fine a point on it, the article is replete with manipulative statements that are not entirely based on fact.

Here is the piece, and our commentary follows.

Dalton McGuinty Premier of Ontario

In 2003, Ontario’s electricity system was dangerously close to
failure.

How did this happen?

Very simply, for years supply was going down while demand for
electricity kept going up. During the previous eight years, as old
equipment was shut down, Ontario lost 1,800 megawatts in generation.
That’s the equivalent of Niagara Falls running dry.

Also troubling, we doubled our use of coal to generate our
electricity. That meant polluting our air and harming our health every
time we turned on the lights. Back then, there was no plan for
conservation. And we had become net importers of electricity — relying
on even more dirty coal from the United States.

Whose fault was it?

There’s lots of blame to go around. Governments of every political
stripe knew the system was deteriorating and did nothing. By 2003,
brownouts were a constant threat. The previous government’s plan was
to use emergency diesel generators — again, a stopgap, dirty air
solution.

The uncertainty of supply, and the absence of a long-term plan to
rebuild, made our businesses nervous. International investors were
also raising concerns.

That’s why our government acted. We developed a plan to build a
modern, clean, reliable electricity system that creates jobs and
powers a stronger economy. And, today, our electricity system is
stronger.

Already, we’ve built enough new, cleaner generation to power 2 million
Ontario homes. About a fifth of that comes from renewable sources like
wind and solar. Today, 5,000 kilometres of transmission and
distribution lines have been upgraded. And today, conservation
programs are back and saving families money.

Together, we’re on track to close Ontario’s dirty coal plants. We’ve
shut down eight units so far and two more will close in 2011. By 2014,
coal will be completely eliminated in Ontario. That’s like taking 7
million cars off the road — or almost every car in Ontario.

We’re doing this because coal pollution is responsible for $3 billion
in annual health-care costs, hospitalizations and respiratory
illnesses, especially in our children. We’re avoiding those costs and
protecting the health of Ontarians.

Our plan has led to a new, clean-energy industry that is creating
thousands of jobs for Ontario families. Those are good jobs — making
the wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass energy that Ontario needs.
And they are high-tech manufacturing jobs — building solar panels,
wind turbines and other components for sale here at home and to the
United States and around the world, where the demand for green energy
keeps growing.

Today, Ontario is Canada’s leader in wind power with more than 700
turbines supplying enough electricity to power 350,000 homes. The
Sarnia Solar Project, one of four solar farms in Ontario, is the
largest operating solar farm in the world, creating 800 jobs during
construction.

In partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation, we’ve also begun the
Lower Mattagami project, the largest northern hydro project in 40
years. It will mean jobs for 800 people during its construction. And
many more clean energy manufacturing plants are opening in communities
like Toronto, Guelph, Windsor, Hamilton and Peterborough.

We’re also partnering with thousands of farmers, like John Sauve in
Essex County. He grows corn, soybeans and wheat. And he recently
installed a ground-mounted 10-kilowatt solar generator.

John is one of many thousands of farmers with solar panels or wind
turbines in their fields. Our plan is providing these Ontario farmers
with a new source of income, and they are providing Ontario with good
food and clean energy. It’s a win-win.

Thanks to the hard work of skilled Ontarians, we became Number 1 in
North America for building cars. Now, our goal is to become a
powerhouse in clean energy technologies, too.

We know investing in this new plan isn’t cheap. Over the next 20
years, we will rebuild 70 per cent of our electricity system.

Our new system will give us reliable, clean power and thousands of
jobs in an exciting new industry. And anyone who pretends they can do
this without prices going up isn’t being honest with Ontarians.

On average, electricity prices for families and small businesses will
go up 3.5 per cent a year during the next 20 years. For comparison,
they went up 3.6 per cent a year during the past 20 years.

To help Ontarians manage these increases, we are proposing a Clean
Energy Benefit which would take 10 per cent off electricity bills
every month for families, farmers and small businesses.

Our energy plan is about more than the peace of mind that comes from
knowing the lights will come on. It’s about a strong economy where
businesses have the confidence to invest and create jobs for our
families. And it’s about clean air for our children and grandchildren
to breathe.

We can all take confidence in the fact that, together, we’re doing the
right thing for right now — and for a stronger future.

——————————————–

First of all, closing down all of Ontario’s coal plants is NOT the “equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.” Only actually taking seven million cars off the road is the equivalent of taking seven million—you get the idea. The pollution that comes from cars is different. Yes, something has to be done about the pollution from vehicle exhaust, especially in the Toronto area and the Highway 401, but closing coal plants entirely isn’t it.

And here we go with the deaths again, especially dying children: “$3 billion in health care costs from respiratory illness”? This is not true at all. Ontario had a plan to clean up its coal-fired generating plants, which this government halted. Again, the type of air pollution that Ontario has currently comes from south of the border and from cars/trucks. (See Finkelstein, Jerrett and Sears, 2004, North American Journal of Epidemiology: “Subjects living close to a major road had an increased risk of mortality.”)

The Ontario government’s own report on air quality specifically says, “Overall, air quality in Ontario has improved significantly over the past 37 years, especially for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide. However, ozone and fine particulate matter both major components of smog, continue to exceed the ambient air quality criteria and thus remain the pollutants of most concern … analysis of smog and weather data strongly indicates that the U.S. Midwest and Ohio Valley region of the U.S. continue to be significant contributors…” (Air Quality in Ontario, annual report 2007, page 19.)

At least he was honest about pairing the auto industry and the building of solar/turbine components: that’s his answer to the people of Hamilton, Windsor and Oakville…we’ll get those jobs back, people, and your children will stop dying of asthma, too.

In the meantime, rural Ontario is being changed forever through the industrialization of its communities, people are being made ill by turbine noise and infrasound, scenic vistas ruined, property values decimated, birds killed—all for wind power which is intermittent, unreliable and expensive. And doesn’t do–in fact, cannot EVER do—what it is intended to do, replace fossil-fueled power generation. What Mr McGuinty failed to mention is that wind power generation requires fossil-fuel backup because it is intermittent.

It’s time for the truth about wind. Mr McGuinty didn’t give it to you.

December 2, 2010

They’re not “farms”

It makes us cringe every time we read about an industrial wind turbine project in the media, when it is referred to as a wind “farm” or even worse, a wind “park.”

There is nothing bucolic about an industrial wind turbine installation, especially when they are in multiples. The turbines are HUGE machines, reaching up to as much as 100 meters in the air, with the rotor span equivalent to the wingspan of a 747. (The turbines proposed for North Gower-Richmond are 190 meters or 626 feet high.)

(Thanks to Beckwith Responsible Wind Action Group for the picture.)

This is an industrial use of the land, not agricultural; it is preposterous to have removed land use planning powers of municipalities for these developments, as they are industrializing rural and suburban communities–residents have no means of protecting themselves from the noise, infrasound, and effects on property value as a result of the Green Energy Act. The only means of reparation will soon be the courts (land owners leasing for turbine developments need to be aware of their liability–suits are being brought against them, not the corporate wind developers, all over North America).

Here is a picture of what has happened to pretty Wolfe Island, at Kingston Ontario. (Photo courtesy CSAGE.) Not very farm-like or park-like, is it?

Wolfe Island Ferry Dock.jpg

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