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 , 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.

January 2, 2010

And then there are some farmers who do (speak out, that is)

Farmer Dave Colling, ex of the Ripley area, made a presentation recently to the Drayton, Ontario area and said that, due to stray electricity, noise and other factors, if you’re a farmer who is leasing land for wind turbines, “In the long run, you’re going to wish you never had them built on your land.” The stray electricity is akin to “living in a microwave” he says.

And now over to Colette McLean of the Harrow area, who despite her objections to the proposed wind turbine installation under construction near her (she herself was offered leases for turbines on her land, but turned down the ‘opportunity’), now has to live with the turbines. “It’s my health, my family’s health and the viability of our farm and the value of our farm,” she recently told the CBC. “Everything my husband, my son and I have worked for, is going to be gone.”

And then there is Wisconsin farmer Scott Smrynka who has actually measured the stray voltage in his dairy barn, and notes the reduction in milk production, problems with calving, and the fact that his cows and calves are dying from mysterious causes, and show abnormal hearts and kidneys at autopsy.

Put the wind turbines where the wind is, not where the people and the animals are.

To get in touch with the North Gower Wind Action Group directly, email them at

December 29, 2009

Editorial:time for independent (i.e. not paid advertisement) health study on wind turbines

From today’s Ottawa Sun, further comment on the CanWEA/AWEA “study” (which will go down in communications history as how NOT to dispel negative ideas about your industry), and another call for a proper, independent, REAL study of the health issues that can result from the constant noise and vibration from industrial wind turbines, sited too close to homes.

To fully satisfy the public, the province should commission an independent study to find out if there are any health effects related to wind turbines.

Recently, an industry-funded review concluded that the sound coming from wind turbines is not harming the public’s health. Dr. David Colby, the acting medical officer of health for Chatham-Kent, was one of seven members of a “five-star, internationally known” panel that reviewed “substantial” existing scientific literature on wind turbine sound and possible health effects for the Canadian and American wind energy associations.

The panel determined the sound wind turbines make isn’t any different from what can be heard in a typical urban environment, Dr. Colby said.

“And they’re not loud,” he said. “There’s really no plausible mechanism that they could cause health effects and there’s no evidence that they do.”

While the review will certainly allow the public an opportunity to look at more literature on the issue, an independent study commissioned by the province is what is really needed to ease public concerns. The study needs to gather up-to-date data from individuals living near wind turbines and investigate the health effects being reported.

Colby’s statement to Sun Media that “there’s no evidence to indicate that money should be wasted on such a study, which will never satisfy people anyway” is a weak defence.

Health issues are being reported by some individuals living near wind turbines. Because the technology is relatively new to Ontario, the government needs to undertake a study now so that data can be gathered from the past two or three years in areas where the turbines have been in use.

Dr. Colby says the “unrestricted study” was conducted with no limitations on panel members and that the associations did not instruct them to ignore any findings or to come to any particular conclusions. That’s refreshing to hear, but an independent health study by the province is a relevant and necessary step for an industry that is so new to Ontario.

As this green technology takes off across the province, the public needs to be reassured there are no health risks associated with it.


You can see the editorial here.

To get in touch with the North Gower Wind Action Group directly, email or mail messages/donations to P O Box 485 North Gower  Ontario K0A 2T0

October 30, 2009

An editorial from wind energy “ground zero”

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

Here’s the editorial.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 23, 2009

High stakes in the country

We digress.
We have referred often to the Shelburne area and Melancthon Township as a site for industrial wind turbines (they started with 20 and now have hundreds) but apparently, there’s a lot more going on there than just wind development. Read this excellent article to see how the rural landscape and land use can change…dramatically. And people don’t seem to have much say in the matter, either.

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