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?”


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.

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.

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.

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

July 5, 2010

As the temperature climbs, so does the folly

It will be interesting this week as temperatures in Eastern Canada climb over 30 degrees Celsius every day, and there is demand during the DAY for electric power to run air conditioners and fans, how well wind power will contribute to Ontario’s energy needs.

The answer: not much.

At the time of writing, out of Ontario’s capacity of 1085 megawatts (MW) of power produced by wind, all that is being produced is 256 MW. In specific, Princefarm with a capacity of 189 MW is producing ZERO at the noon hour; Wolfe Island is producing 23 MW out of a capacity of 198 MW.

And what is the anticipated peak demand in Ontario today? 24,351 MW. Wind isn’t even a drop in the bucket. And with hundreds of turbines already operating and yet producing this disappointing result, can you imagine HOW MANY there would have to be even to get to 5% of what Ontario needs?

Useless. Why is taxpayer/ratepayer money being spent on these high-impact developments when so little benefit is being realized? And when there are so many other costs such as declining property values and health effects? And Ontario’s scenic landscapes being ravaged for useless industrial wind turbines?

One more question: when the wind turbine developments that are actually in WINDY areas of the province produce so little (the average is about 20% of capacity) WHY is North Gower-Richmond, which CanWEA and the Canadian Wind Atlas note as “poor” or “marginal” for wind, even being considered?

More news etc daily at and local news regularly at

July 4, 2010

“Avian megadeath” and other features of wind

In the National Post this weekend a letter from a reader in Calgary who points out what it would really mean to have enough industrial wind turbines to replace a plant generating energy from another source, in this case an oil sands plant.

Avian megadeath certainly, and wholesale destruction of the landscape for very little return. Here is the letter:

Check in with the North Gower Wind Action Group at or

May 17, 2010

The environmental costs of industrial wind turbines

This is not a new article/opinion but nothing has changed:

The list of environmental costs imposed on wildlife and people are now being recognized

Wind Turbines; Offensive industrialization of human space

 By Online  Monday, July 28, 2008

By: Dr. Brian L. Horejsi, Dr. Barrie K. Gilbert, George Wuerthner

People are barking up the wrong tree by promoting, or succumbing to, wind turbine construction regardless of where it is proposed and how many there might be. Many North Americans are infected with tunnel vision and erroneously appear to believe that turbine generated energy is somehow linked to reversing the growth in and impact of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

// //

There exists NO evidence anywhere that Turbine energy is substituting for or displacing fossil fuel dependence, nor is there any evidence that it is in any material way slowing the rate of GHG emission growth. Turbine energy is a non factor in the never ending growth agenda of the fossil fuel industry, and it is not a factor in the agenda of governments promoting growth in and dependence on oil and gas consumption. There can be no better example than North America of the failure of turbine energy to slow growth in anything.

People have been hoodwinked into promoting wind turbine energy as some sort of Nirvana all while human population growth and per capita energy consumption continue to spiral upward. Turbine energy generation is fueling growth in human population and energy consumption and growth in a false “economy”. It is NOT doing the opposite.

Matching the folly of the energy replacement misunderstanding is denial by governments and promoters of the ecological impacts and health effects of turbines; the ugly reality is that they are a serious addition to the industrialization of quiet rural landscapes that people have long valued for quality of life, retirement, and recreation.

The list of environmental costs imposed on wildlife and people are now being recognized; they are far from meaningless, but they have been trivialized by turbine promoters and politicians that have systematically tilted the deck sharply in the developers favor. Environmental costs have been systematically ignored by a political and regulatory system that has corrupted individual and societal freedom and environmental integrity by relegating these values to some distant offshoot of economic growth. These costs, and those who stand by them, are treated with contempt; how dare they influence the decision to grant some landowner a chance to make a buck by carving your backyard and your space into fragments with giant chopping machines?

Wind turbines are an assault on human well being and act to degrade the human “gestalt”. Promotion of wind turbine energy is a case of serious misjudgment by those who fraudulently use green wash to promote their commercial aspirations.

Buried deep within the human genome is an innate recognition and suspicion of monsters – large objects – looming on the horizon. Wind turbines are todays versions of a threatening monster, jammed down the throats of neighbors and localities. 30% of the human cortex occupies itself with processing visual information, far more than any other sense, and nothing delivers a more intrusive and intense visual picture than the tower and blades of wind turbines. Turbines erode freedom of the human mind hour after hour, night after day, virtually forever, like a cell phone ringing incessantly and yet no one is able to turn it off. To many people this intrusion into their physical and physiological space is an insidious form of torment. The mental effect is analogous to the physical effects of a heavy smoker sitting next to you essentially for life!

We do not subscribe to the managerial / market approach to democracy or conservation with its deeply entrenched bias against human values such as an unadulterated horizon. This largely corporate view denigrates the value of freedom of the human spirit – the very pedestal upon which human dignity, character and strength are built.

In an honest and fair regulatory and political environment, local citizens and communities would bury turbine projects long before they get to the serious implementation stage. Once again, however, citizens are being forced to try and employ the very tools that degrade our quality of life and humiliate us as mere pawns of some corporate created market economy. That being the case, it occurs to us that wind turbines wearing eternally on the human psyche, constituting a “taking” by corporate promoters and biased government collaborators; a taking that damages the well being of all residents. We asked ourselves if $1000 payment per person would compensate for the damages imposed on the ever day life of hundreds and thousands of affected citizens? Not even close. Perhaps then, $3000, or $8000? Would that kind of money make up for the forced collapse of part of your quality of life, your loss of right to space, loss of privacy, loss of political power, curbs on your freedom, and the mental and physical costs imposed on you by stress associated with constant angst, irritation and distraction? For some, we suspect yes would be the answer. For others, like those who have lost a child to negligent corporate behavior, been strangled slowly by nicotine, or been poisoned by toxic emissions or effluent, no amount of money can compensate for the deprivation and harm they have and will suffer. Regardless of the compensatory damages you might place on that part of your life lost because of turbine industrialization, should you not be compensated for this taking?

The commercial private sector is forcing itself into your life, and that constitutes a taking of your rights, benefits and well being. We propose that each person impacted by a turbine receive, as a starting point for negotiations, $3000 annually, to be paid by the developer for the loss of private and citizen rights, a very large portion of which includes peace and satisfaction, a critical part of your state of mind. We all know that is a significant part of personal, social and democratic well being. The concept is simple; if the developer and some uncaring land owners want to destroy your rights and those of other citizens, inflicting on you suffering and mental distress, the good old “free” enterprise system developers and local governments love to hide behind, comes into play; they pay to destroy part of your life. There has to be pain and resistance in the system for those who knowingly exploit the public and individual vulnerability, a now institutionalized vulnerability which commercial and private sector interests worked hard to establish.

The recent proliferation of wind turbine farms is just one more case of the serious aggression and destruction that reflects the continuing expansion of an extremist private property and commercialism agenda. This socially, legally and politically defective agenda and process is being exploited by corporations, some local residents, and local governments. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not freedom and it is not democracy; it is vandalism and oppression in the name of commercialism. As citizens we have the right, and we say the obligation, and we must marshal the courage, to reject wind turbine invasions as a corruption of our well being that is cached “in our spirit rather than in our wallet”.

Dr. Brian L. Horejsi

Behavioral scientist and citizen advocate for democratic process
Box 84006, PO Market Mall
Calgary, Alberta, T3A 5C4


Dr. Barrie K. Gilbert
Wildlife Ecologist and conservation activist
Box 252
Wolfe Island, Ontario KOH 2HO


George Wuerthner,
Ecologist and writer.
POB 719, Richmond,
Vermont 05477
28 July 2008

April 2, 2010

What has happened to Kingston?

Or, more correctly, Wolfe Island?

It’s been a year and a half since a visit to to Kingston, the venerable town that was built in the late 1600s and still has many stone homes, Fort Henry and martello towers to mark its history, and that of our country.

What a shock then to settle down at an outdoor patio this unseasonably warm April 1st and—no joke—gaze across the beautiful harbour to see more than 40 industrial wind turbines turning slowly in the low breeze. (There are 86 in total.)

In the daytime they are distracting enough (those in the know about wind turbines understand that if the blades are turning slowly, the turbines are USING electricity, not producing it) but at night the truth is evident: the wind turbines have turned picturesque Wolfe Island into an industrial zone. The view across the harbour now is of flashing red lights atop the turbines, where once you could look over the water and see the twinkling lights of island homes, reflected in the water.

Wind energy is unreliable, inefficient and expensive—how we wish they had conducted this sad experiment somewhere else.

January 17, 2010

Dr Harrison on wind turbines

Dr John Harrison, professor emeritus in ohysics at Queens University, has been one of the more outspoken experts talking about the realities of wind-generated power. In an article in the Kingston Whig-Standard appearing this weekend, he says that his journey to opposing the turbines began as an objection to what they do to the landscape—in his case, Amherst Island—and then, upon researching the issue, to realizing the true reason not to have wind turbines anywhere near people is because of the noise.

“…there are noise problems…there is a valid scientific basis for the noise problems, and the Ministry of the Environment and the developers are not interested in hearing about the noise problem,” he told the reporter.

When Wolfe Island residents asked for his help in reviwing the proposal for the 86-turbine development he found flaws in the developer’s data and told the consultants, Canadian Hydro and the Ministry. “They just ignored the whole thing. There is no check and balance in the system. Those measurements were worthless. The ministry accepted them.”

Today he says, “let’s install renewable energy, but let’s install it away from people.” He predicts that Wolfe Island residents, already experiencing health effects from the noise, will be getting buyouts from the wind developer as some residents of Kincardine have done…and they have to sign a gag order, which is why you don’t hear from them now.

We say, YES! That’s what we’ve been saying too.

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

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

October 12, 2009

No exaggeration: they WILL change North Gower

In his own words, a North Gower area resident who has some experience with industrial wind turbines. Bear in mind that the turbines on Wolfe Island are 125 meters or 415 feet. The turbines planned for North Gower are over 600 feet tall.

It is no exaggeration that they will change our community.  If they come, I will go.
You cannot have an appreciation for how large they are until you stand under one.  Their size and the size of the equipment that comes with them is shocking.  Each single blade is 150ft long.  Each tower tube section is huge.  You don’t have to visit Wolfe Island to see them.  You can see them from the 401 as you pass Kingston.
Building the array is no small construction project.  They are so large that they will not be able to make 90 degree turns at roadway intersections, so step one will be to build sweeping turns (in gravel) at every turn to every site from (I assume) the 416.  These roads require enourmous amounts of gravel, which means thousands of truck loads of gravel and culverts and all the other equipment required, and gravel dust will be everywhere.  This will ensure that the existing road infrastructure is severely damaged.  You will need to get used to roads with large pothole and crack damage.  Yes, I know, we already have that. I predict they will also serve notice at the end of the project that there is no money left to remove those gravel roads and do any road repair, and you will have to force them to do so in court.
Whole families will develop negative feelings for other families, for their own reasons.  Because they supported the project.  Because they didn’t.  Because they believe their property value has suffered.  Because they have to look at them and listen to them.  Because they are tired of the tourists asking directions.  Because they aren’t getting paid for them, yet have to look at them.  The ratio of who gets paid to those who do not is quite large. 
The noise caused by the turbines in operation is interesting.  Wolfe Island has 86 turbines in several feeder rows, so you are not talking about the noise of one, but that of many superimposed turbines.  I describe it as sounding like you live next to an airport.  It sounds like aircraft are taxiing around an airfield just over the next hill, and there is a general rumble like a freight train in the distance.   The noise changes regularly, as wind gusts and currents open or close the transmission sound path to your ear, in various directions and distances.  If you get close to one, you can hear the individual whooomp as each blade passes.  The real noise up close however is the transformers.  They are large and noisy. 
Because the turbines will point themselves into the wind direction local to each tower, and spin at their own speed based on local wind velocity, power is not grid ready when it comes off the tower.  It gets rectified, combined, inverted, transformed, until it is ready for supply to the grid.  Each change is “lossy”.  That means that the generated power is inefficient.  Sure it’s renewable, but not cheap.
I have been led to believe that wind power technology does not make economic sense.  They will never pay them off.  The capital costs of hardware and installation, the maintenance costs, and the inefficient power generated means your hydro bills will go up, the more wind energy comes on line.  The whole project is supposed to be offset by the warm green glow feeling we get looking at the towers.
Enough said. 
But because a picture is worth 1,000 words, here is a photo from Wolfe Island, which helps to understand the enormity of these structures. Again, this turbine is 2/3 the size of what is proposed for North Gower.
Wolfe Island home near turbine
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