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.

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 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 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.”

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

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.

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