Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
An Ottawa-area grower, who tried to install energy-efficient systems in his greenhouse operation, has been forced by the Ontario government’s energy policies to cut back his operations. The increase in electricity bills and now the carbon tax, SunTech owner Bob Mitchell says, have forced him to take drastic steps to cut costs. Even then, his business plan for this year is to “break even” not make a profit, which is “stupid” he admits.
How long can he, and other Ontario businesses such as this one, providing locally grown food, go on?
Part of the reason for Ontario’s high electricity bills is the expensive contracts signed for intermittent wind power, which the Auditor General has said Ontario is paying above market prices for.
$% billion more wind power contracts are due to come onstream, soon.
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
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…
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.
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!
* 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
Prince Edward County farm owners Doug and Janet Murphy, have written a letter to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, asking a question that exposes a serious conflict between the Environment and Agriculture ministries, regarding the placement of wind turbines.
According to documentation from Agriculture, farm owners are advised NOT to erect wind turbines near routes for migratory birds. And yet, say the Murphys, the Ministry of the Environment is not only allowing the siting of the White Pines project in Prince Edward County, it is encouraging it.
The Murphys are demanding an explanation and further, that plans to approve the project by wpd Canada be halted.
This news story is doubly interesting when you consider that the maps associated with the new large renewable power projects procurement process show a “green light” for Eastern Ontario.
Farmers not sold on wind turbines, survey says
By Brandy Harrison
OTTAWA — While farmers are among the few who can directly benefit financially from hosting wind turbines, Eastern Ontario farmers are more likely to oppose than support them, a Farmers Forum survey shows.
In a random survey of 100 farmers at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show from March 11 to 13, nearly half — 48 per cent — disapproved of wind turbines. Another 29 per cent approved and the remaining 23 per cent said they were neutral.
But positions on the issue weren’t always clear cut. Even when farmers threw their lot in with one side of the debate or the other, their reasoning was peppered with pros and cons.
It’s in stark contrast to a Farmers Forum survey of 50 Western Ontario farmers at the London Farm Show in early March, where 58 per cent were strongly opposed to wind turbines. Farmers opposed outnumbered those who approved by nearly three-to-one.
The number of turbines reveal the difference: Of the 67 wind projects representing more than 1,200 turbines province-wide, almost all the turbines dot the landscape of Western Ontario. Only two projects are in Eastern Ontario, an 86-turbine project on Wolfe Island, south of Kingston, and another 10 turbines near Brinston, south of Winchester, which were completed in January.
Wind power is so controversial that 13 farmers polled at the farm show wanted to remain anonymous, unwilling to come out publicly as a supporter or a critic.
Nearly three-quarters of farmers who disapproved liked green energy in theory but panned turbines — and sometimes the Green Energy Act as a whole — as a too-costly, inefficient electricity source that’s driving up their power bill.
Eric VanDenBroek doesn’t mind the look of the turbines that are only a short drive from his Winchester dairy farm but isn’t a fan of the way the program was rolled out.
“A financial disaster”
“Financially, it’s already proving to be a disaster,” said VanDenBroek, who turned down a chance to get in on renewable revenue. “It’s costing taxpayers money and we don’t have a say in it. Anytime the government gets involved in something, the costs inflate.”
Doug Armstrong agreed. But the North Gower crop farmer may put one up on his own land, particularly if neighbours are considering doing the same.
“I’m not allergic to money. But to be quite honest, as far as I’m concerned, they’re a total and complete waste of money,” said Armstrong.
Turbines are ugly, said Elwood Quaile, who joked that Wolfe Island may one day levitate out of Lake Ontario. But his biggest beef is the expense compared to the return. “Especially when you have a whole lot of gosh-darn water generators sitting idle,” said the Navan crop farmer.
Higher per kilowatt costs make even less sense when excess energy is sold south of the border for less than it costs to produce it, said Bill Seymour.
“It’d be like me buying a Lamborghini for my farm. It’s really nice and sharp, but do the cost on it. Why would I do that?” asked the Lunenburg crop farmer.
Other reasons farmers disapproved included their appearance, adverse health effects, conflicts between farmers, lost farmland, decreasing land values, and that people have little say in where they go.
Among farmers ready to give wind turbines the go-ahead, just over two-thirds reasoned that there is a need for renewable energy.
“The wind blows. It’s free. How else can we make power out of something that’s free?” said Ivan Petersen, who runs an Osgoode crop, dairy, and elevator operation. Petersen has solar panels and also likes the additional income.
It’s a good idea but there are challenges, said a Peterborough-area farmer, who didn’t want to be named.
“For the farmer whose farm they’re on, it’s a great thing. For the farmer who’s next to him and gets nothing, it’s a bad thing,” he said, proposing a tax rebate to homeowners based on distance from the turbine. “Everybody wins. Then it’s not neighbour-against-neighbour.”
The debate isn’t rational and people are misinformed, said a Dundas County farmer, who approves but requested anonymity.
“People are willing to fight wind energy and still have a solar panel in their backyard, which is kind of hypocritical. You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” he said.
Other farmers approved in hopes of additional income, seeing a break on their energy bills, or out of a feeling that people can do what they like on their own property.
Many of the 23 farmers who remained neutral on the issue said they didn’t have enough information to take a firm stance, but they’d definitely heard the pros and cons.
“If it was making me money, I’d love ‘em. If it was keeping me up all night, I’d want to knock it down,” said Scott Kinlock, a Martintown crop farmer and custom operator.
Wind power approval ratings were high, however, in another Farmers Forum survey three years ago, where just over half of 200 Wolfe Island (pop. 1,200 in summer) residents polled approved of turbines. But nearly one-third of respondents said community spirit had plummeted since the turbines went up in 2009.