Letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer, September 29, 2015
Ian Cumming’s search for truth about wind turbines attracted my interest. A longtime admirer of his critical thinking skills, his ability to uncover the hidden, and his talent for research, tells me he is onto uncovering the great untruths of industrial wind turbines.
In his article “Looking for truth” of September 15, 2015 [not available online], he presents several truths. However, he makes some grave basic research mistakes. Having spent six years going to meeting[s] to learn about wind turbine issues, informing myself through knowledgeable people, travelling backroads to talk to people living next to turbines, I can tell Mr. Cumming is in the early stages of his research.
In his article, he identifies the most apparent truth of all: energy companies and the farmer/leaseholders are in this purely for the money, read “greed”, with no regard for neighbours or state. Cumming’s area of growth: what is the neighbor of the leaseholder getting out of this arrangement? I question how that farmer is manipulating or ignoring the truth, the truth that 550 meters away, a 170-meter (approximately 525 feet) structure is towering over my home.
…He contradicts himself by telling people to speak the truth and then when they do he calls them hypocritical, through his reference to a meeting beginning with the swooshing sound of a turbine. He suggests that the sound is exaggerated. Interestingly, a day before I read his article, a farmer who lives within 800 meters of two turbines said, “Tom, you won’t believe it. I was standing beside my tractor, engine running and the jet-sounding turbine was louder than theb tractor.”
That was my first-hand research.
Later [in his article], Mr. Cumming presents an inverse error by stating that he heard nothing standing beside a huge windmill in a county in New York. The inverse error: if I am standing beside a turbine, I do not hear any sound, therefore turbines do not make any sounds. My research would ask, how long were you beside that turbine? The people I have talked to who live around the turbines say that wind direction and speed, atmospheric pressure, and time of day all influence the amount and kind of sound. *
Several people have told me the sound is the worst between 3 am and 6 pm when the usual ambient noise is the least. Sound travels the farthest at night–when people are trying to sleep. Mr Cumming was probably not doing his sound research at that time of day.
His concluding example demonstrates that he is a novice wind turbine researcher when he referred to New York veterinarians with multiple problem-free herds next to 28 wind turbines for over a “decade.” My research tells me that 10 years ago, the largest turbine was about .6 to .8 megawatt. The local ones are 2.2 megawatts, newer ones proposed 3 megawatts, over twice the size of the ones 10 years ago!
I suggest that he find several herd with turbines of that magnitude within 55 meters, operated by sleep-deprived farmers and find out the health problems on those farms.
His concluding statement, “Is demanding the truth from either side too much to ask?” is the saddest part of the article.
The Truth: the misguided deceptive Smitherman-McGuinty-Wynne Ministry of the Environment are aware of human health problems, bird and bat killing, infrasound noise, transient voltage, yet they continue to approve new projects, with cost-benefit analysis or regard to local municipal planning. That is the truth.
I encourage Cumming to continue his research for he is good at questioning the right people for the answres he seeks. The easiest place to start: go to a farming community that has wind turbines and talk to as many people as possible who live near them. That is what I did. That research is solid. But remember when researching the truth from the wind companies, 50 years ago we wondered if the truth was that smoking caused cancer. Not possible, said the tobacco corporations.
- Editor’s note: the quietest place is right under a turbine.
A note about writer Ian Cumming; he is himself a farmer, not a journalist, who farms in Glengarry County. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ontario Farmer, August 25, 2015
By Ian Cumming
Emotions were high the late afternoon of August 10 among the 200 or so folks who gathered outside the Nation Township Municipal Hall. They also lined the road beside, waving No Windmill signs, with most trucks and cars driving past honking support.
Doctors told mothers of ill children: you have to move if the turbines come
Two concerned mothers approached Ontario Farmer one the day before this protest, the other at the protest; one with an autistic son, the other with a daughter waiting for a heart transplant. Both said they were given medical advice that “we’ll have to move if the windmills come.”
The son, Michael, “who can hear a grasshopper deep in the grass that far away,” would be tormented beyond anyone’s comprehension, from the windmill swooshing sound that non-autistic people can barely sense, said his mother Susan, a former nurse. “When I drive by windmills I cry and choke with anger.”
Marc Bercier had windmills go up plus a substation on his land*, to the minimum sum of $95,000 per year for 20 years. A heck of an offer for a father who has two sons wanting to take over the operation.
“I’m pulling out of the windmill contract,” said Bercier recently. He detailed the venom that his family has faced for their decision to have windmills, including his elderly mother, when attending a public meeting the week before. [Editor: this was the huge meeting attended by 500+ people in St. Bernardin.] “I don’t want to put my family in that situation.”
The $22,000 he gets to keep as a down payment from EDF “wasn’t worth it,” said Bercier, “We value peace and family over money.” *
Even when he [Bercier] had gone public to Ontario Farmer (June 23) and other media this summer, detailing his contracts and the reasons for signing them, farmers who had done the same “attacked me, wanting me to keep quiet,” said Bercier.
Perhaps it was that self-imposed silence and the smoothness of the wind company EDF attempting a quick sales job for the community which contributed to the mounting opposition, said Bercier. “EDF didn’t do the real work with people.”
Phone call from the Liberal MPP
A last-minute pitch from EDF, which included offering to double the yearly stipend to the Nation Township from $150,000 to $300,000 per year on August 10, came the exact same day his council was meeting to reverse its earlier decisions to support the two projects [Editor: the writer fails to mention that there is a 150-MW project by EDF, and a 40-MW project by RES Canada being proposed] and declare itself an unwilling host, said Nation mayor Francois St. Amour. … The motion to reverse [Nation’s] earlier decision hadn’t even been on the agenda, but a call from local Liberal MPP Grant Crack to the mayor to deal with it, forced the issue ahead.
… [Developer EDF commented…] If people in the area have legitimate health concerns, we can certainly work with them and place the windmills so they are not affected, [Stephane Desdunes, director of development] said.
*Editor: you just don’t care about other people’s families and peace…
Ontario Farmer, June 2, 2015
Letter to the Editor
I was glad that writer Tom Van Dusen chose the word “balance in his account of the recent wind power information event in Finch, Ontario, where communities are now facing new power developments of 50-75 turbines.
Our view is that landowners’ decision to lease land for turbines must be balanced with the effect the power generators will have on their neighbours and community as a whole—these decisions cannot properly be made in isolation.
I would like to correct one statement attributed to me: I did NOT say that wind power projects should be located “in the middle of nowhere.” I believe I said that people live in Ontario’s North, too, and that the damage caused by wind power projects was not acceptable in these often fragile environments.
It is also not true that studies have shown “no risk” of health impacts. That evening I mentioned the Health Canada study which showed that 16.5% of people living within 1 km of a wind turbine had problems, and 25% at 550 metres (the Ontario legislated setback).
I also mentioned the Council of Canadian Academies report which said that Ontario’s methodology for noise measurement is not adequate, and that proper population studies have not yet been done, especially on vulnerable people such as children.
The Finch Lions’ Club provided a great service to their community by hosting the information event. Clearly, balance is needed in the information getting out to Ontario citizens.
Wind Concerns Ontario
Harvesting ratepayer dollars with wind
Visiting the home page of Armow Wind you are struck by the marketing efforts meant to persuade the reader that this project is a wonderful development for the Municipality of Kincardine. It says:
Harvesting the Wind for Ontario
Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. (Samsung) and Pattern Energy Group LP (Pattern Development) are developing the Armow Wind project in the Municipality of Kincardine. The project will provide enough clean and renewable energy equal to the energy needs of approximately 70,000 homes. The 180 MW wind project will bring many benefits to the Kincardine community, including more than $75 million over 20 years in property taxes, landowner lease royalties and community benefits. The project will fund a long-term community benefits program, which will support education and other initiatives, including a contribution of $1 million to the Kincardine Airport to improve local operations.
The numbers on Armow Wind make the $75 million they claim will be generated for the community look tiny.
Another page on the website states Armow will generate $10 million in realty taxes over the 20 years which is $500,000 annually or $2,777 per MW. The assessed value for the 180 MW project is $7.2 million. That comes from former Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s instructions to MPAC to assess turbines at $40K per MW.
The truth is, the capital cost of the 180 MW is much bigger. The EIA estimates the cost per MW of onshore wind is $2.2 Million/MW, meaning the capital cost value is about $396 million. If the turbines wereassessed like anything else, at, say, 50% of their actual capital cost, each MW would generate about $35,000 in realty taxes in one year, or $6.3 million in annual realty taxes for the 180-MW project and $126 million over 20 years.
The 180 MWs producing at 29% of capacity should generate 457,000*: MWh per year which would produce annual revenue of $61 million or $1.2 billion over 20 years for the developer. (How we got there: 180MW X 29% X 8760 hours [hours in one year] = 457,000MWh X $135/MWh). So the township will actually receive less than 1% of the gross revenues generated.
The other $65 million will benefit land owners who have signed leases; I calculate the average lease payment is $18,000 per MW annually from Armow. In other words, they are going to receive six times more per MW than the township.
Conclusion: Harvesting the wind rips off the hosting township of wind development projects and Ontario’s ratepayers! The takeaway for Armow Wind is $1.1 billion!
December 1, 2014
* The website claims the power produced will be “equal to the energy needs of approximately 70,000 homes”. Producing at 29% of capacity will actually generate power for less than 50,000 homes, for 80% of the time the power isn’t needed.
Country fair season is beginning and with it, opportunities for rural communities to make known their dissatisfaction with the Green Energy Act in Ontario, and the invasion of wind power developers.
Yesterday, a float at the Listowel Fair demonstrated community concerns about hydro bills, health and property values, as a result of a proposed wind power project in North Perth. The Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens group also launched a weather balloon* to show fairgoers the actual height of the turbines proposed for their community.
*Need a weather balloon for an event? We may be able to help. Email us at email@example.com
A survey done by Farmers Forum magazine at the London Farm show reveals farm owners opposed turbines on farmland by a ratio of 3:1
Parker Gallant in farmers Forum on who got the money from wind power on agricultural land.
Here from the current edition of Farmers Forum, a story on the differing views of farm owners on having turbines on their property. One farmer interviewed reacted to the concerns of the community, the other persists in believing that community opposition is wrong.
Farmers face off over wind turbines
Wind farm at Brinston will be test case for others
By Tom Collins
PETERBOROUGH — As 10 new wind turbines were to start spinning at Brinston — about an hour south of urban Ottawa — the tide of public opinion about wind farms is changing, pitting farmers against one another.
The Brinston wind farm has been controversial, so much so that South Dundas council has since passed a resolution that it will not support further turbines until it sees a need for it. Some wind power supporters have seen communities turn on them.
When M.K. Ince and Associates Ltd. decided to build five wind turbines in Cavan Monaghan Township near Peterborough, Don Winslow immediately jumped on board. In spring of 2013, he signed with the wind company to allow them to build a wind turbine on his 500-acre cash crop farm. Three months later, after immense public pressure and hostility, he told the company he couldn’t do it anymore.
“It relieved our stress tremendously (to cancel the contract),” said 70-year-old Winslow, who estimated that less than five per cent of the community is in favour of wind turbines. “We don’t have to sneak around the neighbours hoping to not run into them.
“There is always an element of society that is going to go overboard,” he said. “But people I respected were just as upset as the real radicals.”
Winslow is still a big believer in wind technology. But many Ontario municipalities are not. As of late January, 78 of 444 municipalities have declared themselves unwilling hosts of wind turbines — along with 33 concerned municipalities — despite the fact the designation has no teeth.
Five or six years ago, wind companies were offering farmers an agreement where they could earn $10,000 or more per year to allow a turbine to use up a half-acre of land. Now that price has almost doubled, Winslow said. A farmer signing an agreement today could make about $400,000 on a 20-year agreement.
Winslow said his neighbours were concerned about property values, health risks, and a flicker effect caused by shadows from rotating blades in the setting sun.
These wind turbine issues are still hotly debated. While the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said last April that wind turbines do reduce property values, many of the health issues have seen studies that support both sides of the argument. Health Canada has been studying the issue and expects to release the results this year.
Ed Schouten of North Gower: “I will host a couple…”
Ed Schouten has long wanted wind turbines on his dairy farm in North Gower. He doesn’t believe turbines are as much trouble as some make them out to be and would host a couple if a wind farm company decided to build in the area.
“I’m not afraid of them, let me put it that way,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to harm the farm. I never thought in my life people would be against this.”
Schouten thinks the Brinston turbines will be a good test case for the rest of the area. If wind farms are done right — like the one in Brinston — then no one will complain, he said. The trick is to keep the wind farm small. If there are a few turbines, they look nice, but if there are hundreds, they become an issue.
Winslow said the negativity in the news media has played a big role in people shifting away from wind turbines.
“You don’t hear much except for negative publicity,” he said. “It’s hard for the average citizen to take anything but the view they keep hearing over and over in the press. There’s far too much emotion into it now.”
Editor’s note: despite Mr Schouten’s claim that keeping the “wind farm small” would avoid issues with the community, the truth is, the proposal for his property and one other that is now on hold, was for eight turbines that would have been the largest in North America, and would have affected more than 1,000 homes. As for “small,” the 20-megawatt wind power generation project would have cost the citizens of Ontario $4.8 million a year, had it achieved a Feed In Tariff contract, or $96 million over the life of the contract.