Port Ryerse resident to Environment Minister Murray: please stop wind farms

Somehow this got missed in the report
Somehow this got missed in the report

Dear Mr. Murray, new Minister of the Environment,

I would like to congratulate you in your re-election and as the new Minister of the Environment. I was impressed to see your experience as Minister of Transportation and as a former mayor. At the same time I understand what challenges you will be facing in this new position dealing with the incompetence you are inheriting within that department, handed down through the entire inappropriate process created in the Green Energy Act.

This Act took away municipal powers and sidelined 21 other Acts of protection for the environment, human and wildlife habitat for the sake of wind energy development as first priority. This is also why the Liberals are facing a rebellion in rural Ontario by residents who have been ignored and bullied with no consideration as citizens in this province. I would like to suggest that you now have the opportunity to start the change of perception of your political party by doing the right thing.

First of all, you need to give back municipal powers.

Secondly, you need to cancel projects such as the Port Ryerse Windfarm that are suspect to violating any of the environmental or heritage protections within the Green Energy Act or perceived to have possible health problems for people in the area.

Thirdly, you need to change the setbacks to a minimal 2 km. from any residence.

This will be a start. I would also suggest that you back away from wind energy altogether because of the associated problems. I live in Port Ryerse, Norfolk County where we have had wind turbines since 2003 in the west part of the County. We saw the problems of IWT’s as the early experiments with wind energy were being made. We know firsthand about their inefficiency as an energy source, the way many people got sick and had to leave their homes or couldn’t sell them and sometimes sold at a huge loss as well as the inappropriate setbacks for these monstrosities. We now have another project on the eastern part of the County with 13 turbines right around a new development for retirement living, with a golf course to come and a beautiful spa and restaurant. Very sad for the people who bought there or those already living there when it comes time to sell their homes as they have already lost 25-40% of their value which is now common anywhere these things have been built. From the pier in Port Ryerse looking over the water landscape one can actually count 36 of these ugly blights on the landscape over Port Dover including the ones in Haldimand County.

Now we are in the process where you get to approve or cancel a project smack dab in the middle of the County’s lakefront to destroy entirely the landscape of Norfolk County right within the inner Bay of Long Point across from a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve and a cultural heritage landscape which was delineated in a report done for our County back in 2006 called the Untermann-McPhail report or now renamed the Lakeshore report.

Again this information has been sidelined because of the Green Energy Act and taking away municipal powers. In Norfolk County, as with many other areas of rural Ontario, we have many rivers and old dams in need of repair. We also have a local company called Green Bug out of Delhi, Norfolk County putting in hydroelectrical facilities with the Archimedes Screw around the world. They presently have a F.I.T. contract and are awaiting approval from the M.O.E. Our Council and our Heritage Committee I sit on have approved this project we deem to be safe, viable and not interfering in wildlife or human habitat. This is the kind of project we favour for our municipality and we have many other dams in need of repair this could be adapted to.

We do not want to be bullied into any more wind energy which will destroy our lakeshore landscapes and tourism as well as kill our eagles and songbirds and harm our residents and their property values. We also have 3 solar farms which already provide plenty of energy on the grid and have not posed the scale of problems like wind. The municipalities need their powers back to site appropriate electrical facilities according to their own resources and long-term plans.

Attached are some of the reports sent in to the environmental assessment group Stantec and to the M.O.E. to provide information that was not found in any reports of the wind company, UDI Renewables or Boralex. The application was flawed from the beginning when UDI made his application for the F.I.T. contract stating that this project was ”purely surrounded by agricultural land with no significant waterways, heritage or wildlife”. How can anyone miss Lake Erie? At the first public meeting with the company I asked, “What about that eroding cliff?” The answer I got from Uwe Sandner of UDI was, “What cliff?” Our cliff has been dangerously eroding over the last 100 years and especially in the 70’s and 80’s with the high waters of Lake Erie. It is a bluff of 50 feet deep which is seen from Port Dover’s pier by many tourists and locals as an iconic landscape which gave the town its name based on the “White cliffs of Dover”.

I would really like to see an end to the battle between the GTA Liberals and the rest of the province. It is time to end the war against rural Ontario. You have this opportunity. Will you side with the people or the bully money-hungry wind companies with more tribunals and lawsuits? It is time to give back municipal powers, respect those that have declared themselves “Not a Willing Host”, and save Historic Port Ryerse and rural Ontario from more devastation and energy poverty.

We will await the decision from the M.O.E. with the hope that finally there will be a change within the newly elected provincial government to start listening to and respecting its citizens and that this project and others will be CANCELLED utilizing your powers to do the right thing.

Sincerely, Shana Greatrix

Port Ryerse

MPAC study critiqued

When the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, (an Ontario Crown corporation reporting to the Minister of Finance) released its report on the effect of wind turbines on property assessments (again, we caution readers that this is assessment, not appraisal), Wind Concerns Ontario released a statement to the effect that the report had a number of deficiencies, or  at least unusual parameters to the study, and that it was a “self-serving exercise.”

You may review our statement again here.

What we didn’t say was that there were aspects of the report that were unprofessional.

Just as the report on health effects by Colby et al in 2010 bizarrely claimed that not only was there no evidence of health problems from turbine noise there was so little evidence that no further research was warranted, the MPAC study spent considerable time trying to lay waste to the work done by Ontario real estate appraiser Ben Lansink. Mr Lansink, an AACI (accredited appraiser Canadian Institute), has appeared before numerous tribunals and in court as an expert witness on “injurious affection”; he studied several areas of Ontario where wind power projects operate, and documented the effect on property value.

Reviewers Michael McCann and Wayne Gulden have now done formal critiques of the MPAC study, and while criticizing its methodology and results,  also claim that the action of an Ontario Crown corporation to discredit a professional real estate appraiser were uncalled for.

See the critique here: MPAC v Lansink; McCann and Gulden Reviews, June 2014

The interesting thing is that the chief appraiser at MPAC is himself an AACI, i.e., not just an assessor, so there is a case to be made about the work done under his supervision, with regard to a fellow member of the Appraisal Institute of Canada. They have rules about such things. Those interested should contact the Institute’s Professional Practice section.

Turbine view causes property value loss

Can't miss them: turbines seen from the Wolfe Island ferry dock
Can’t miss them: turbines seen from the Wolfe Island ferry dock

One of the fictions maintained by the Ontario government and the corporate wind power development industry and its lobby organization is that property values for properties near wind power projects are not affected by the industrial power operations.

This, in spite of clear evidence from real estate appraisers and Realtors (Lansink, Lxemburger, McCann, etc.) and in spite of the fact that the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) lists wind power developments on its Sellers Property Information Sheet as a negative feature that should be disclosed…along with the existence of or plans for garbage dumps an quarries.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) released a report a few months ago, claiming there was no impact on assessed values (not the same as appraised  values) but even with MPAC’s carefully selected data set and contrived study parameters, there is evidence of a 25% decline in assessed value.

Here now is a report from the Watertown Daily Times, on property values at Cape Vincent, which is affected by the wind power development on nearby Wolfe Island in Ontario.

Realtors say Wolfe Island wind turbines caused waterfront home prices to plummet

By TED BOOKER
TIMES STAFF WRITER
PUBLISHED: SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 2014 AT 12:30 AM

CAPE VINCENT — Realtors say the value of waterfront homes in the town has slid steeply over the past five years due to the eyesore of Wolfe Island Wind Farm, creating a buyer’s market for those who don’t mind looking out at turbines.

Amanda J. Miller, broker/owner of Lake Ontario Realty, Chaumont, said brokers recently have sold waterfront homes on Tibbetts Point Road off the St. Lawrence River for up to $300,000 less than they were priced at five years ago. The 86-turbine wind farm on Wolfe Island, Ontario, was built from summer 2008 to June 2009.

In one case, “a couple of years ago we had a waterfront house that sold for $300,000 that was in the mid-$600,000 range before,” Ms. Miller said.

Though few waterfront homes on Tibbetts Point Road have been sold in the past five years, Ms. Miller said there recently has been an uptick in buying activity. She said that brokers sold three waterfront homes during the past year. Those homes, previously listed in the $700,000 to $800,000 range, sold for $515,000, $530,000 and $615,000. She said that buying activity increased after the news in February that BP Wind Energy abandoned its 285-megawatt Cape Vincent Wind Farm project.

“Property values on Tibbetts Point Road started declining about five years ago, but it’s pretty much bottomed out now and things are starting to sell again,” Ms. Miller said. “A lot of people who struggled to sell their homes had to drop their prices. But I think things are going to start to slowly repair themselves, because the Cape Vincent Wind Farm battle is over.”

Ms. Miller said a “cloud was lifted off the market” when the BP Wind Energy project was scrapped, boosting the confidence of buyers to invest in waterfront property. She said there will continue to be a pool of buyers who are interested in buying affordable waterfront property and are willing to put up with the view of Wolfe Island Wind Farm.

“There’s no more questioning about whether something might happen that will further affect values,” she said. “Now you’re only left with dealing with the wind farm on Wolfe Island, and people are starting to realize the real battle is over — whether they’re pro- or anti-wind. The burden has been lifted and the market will rebound.”

Cape Vincent Assessor Denise J. Trudell said the value of high-end waterfront properties on Tibbetts Point Road has gradually slid in recent years because of an undesirable view of Wolfe Island Wind Farm. As an example, she cited a home at 32519 Tibbetts Point Road that was sold for $700,000 in 2007; it sold in March for $510,000.

“Homeowners don’t think their property is worth as much because the view is not as desirable as what it used to be,” Ms. Trudell said. “I would say there has definitely been a decline in people looking for that type of high-end property. It has certainly had an effect on the property values along that area. But it all depends on how you want to look at it. I had a property owner two weeks ago tell me they find (the turbines) enchanting and like the view.”

Lesa M. Plantz, broker for Prudential 1000 Realty of Clayton, said that some buyers are attracted to homes on Tibbetts Point Road because prices have sharply fallen since turbines were erected on Wolfe Island. But until recently, there haven’t been many buyers interested in the waterfront property.

“When the windmills were first out there, absolutely nothing sold,” Mrs. Plantz said. “And with the continuing controversy going on with the windmill issue in the Cape, there was definitely a steady decline in sales. We had property sit for a couple of years that would have normally been sold in a couple of months.”

To illustrate that point, she said that a three-bedroom, 2,411-square-foot waterfront house on Tibbetts Point Road that was listed for sale for nearly $800,000 in 2010 gradually declined in price until it was sold in March for $515,000. The price of that home had fallen to $625,000 in 2012, and then to $569,000 in 2013 before dropping to its final sale price.

But Mrs. Plantz said she expects that buyers will become more confident in the market now that BP Wind Energy’s massive project is dead…

Read the full article and comments at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20140601/NEWS03/706019897

 

 

UWO study: life not good for turbine neighbours

Western University researchers calling on governments and wind farm developers to avoid feeding war of words 86

By John Miner, The London Free Press

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:02:11 EDT PM

In a study published in the journal Environment and Planning, the Western geography department researchers found people who have raised health concerns and other objections to wind turbines are denigrated, dismissed and ostracized by supporters of the developments in their communities.

They also endure shots by senior politicians, such as former premier Dalton McGuinty, who dismissed health concerns as “unreal.”

The treatment only makes the situation worse for individuals with concerns, said associate geography professor Jamie Baxter, one of the study’s authors.

“If you get right down to the micro level of the community, life is not good for these people,” Baxter said Wednesday.

It was in face-to-face interviews researchers heard supporters of the turbines making light of the problems of those opposed, with comments such as “A lot of people live to be annoyed” and “Well, you know, I guess if you stood here long enough you’d get dizzy looking at them . . . watching those blades go around.”

Health concerns reported by opponents included pain, dizziness, sleep deprivation and loss of balance.

The study found the majority of people in both communities supported the existing wind farm projects within the communities — 80% in Port Burwell and a statistically significant lower 63% in nearby Clear Creek.

But the researchers said the support was more “pragmatic” than “enthusiastic.” Most in favour said it was simply a “better alternative” than other energy choices. Those opposed were quite emotional, expressing anger, disappointment and frustration. …

Take the poll, read the full story and comments here

MPAC study not likely to quell property value controversy

 Wind turbines don’t hurt property values, MPAC says

Industrial wind turbines have been controversial in rural communities. A new Ontario study investigated the value of properties close to turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more, with towers 70 metres or taller, and blades 35 metres or longer.

Municipal Property Assessment Corp. concludes properties near industrial turbines are “equitably assessed” — but group opposing wind farms says the research is flawed.
By: John Spears, Toronto Star Business reporter, Published on Mon Apr 28 2014

Wind turbines do not have a significant effect on the sale prices of nearby homes, a study by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. has concluded.

A group that opposes large-scale wind power development quickly labelled the study as “a self-serving exercise by bureaucrats to serve their government masters.”

Big wind farms can have an effect on rural landscapes, with the tips of the blades reaching more than 100 metres into the sky. The turbine towers are topped by blinking red lights at night.

Turbines have created rifts in some rural communities. Leasing out land for turbines provides income for some landowners. Others complain the turbines mar the countryside, cause illness for neighbours and kill birds and bats.

The MPAC study looked at properties close to 1,157 big Ontario turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more. Such turbines have towers 70 metres high or taller, with blades of 35 metres or longer.

The study took note of whether the turbines were fully or partly visible from adjacent properties or not visible at all.

After reviewing the assessments of properties close to industrial wind turbines (IWTs), the study concluded the properties are “equitably assessed.”

It went further, saying: “MPAC’s findings also concluded that there is no statistically significant impact on sale prices of residential properties in these market areas resulting from proximity to an IWT, when analyzing sale prices.”

The study includes a separate analysis by an Arizona-based firm. That analysis concluded that the presence of a wind farm has a “statistically significant but minor” impact on property value.

Properties within one kilometre of a turbine suffer a 4-per-cent drop in value, it said.

The MPAC study is unlikely to settle the controversy over wind turbines. Jane Wilson, who heads Wind Concerns Ontario, told the Star the research is flawed.

Wilson said the study used questionable mathematical modelling and excluded properties that simply didn’t sell or were withdrawn from the market because they’re too close to turbines.

“Honestly, if you have a home, and someone puts up a thing that’s equivalent to a 30- or 40-storey tower, that does make noise, that does have flashing red lights — it’s really not a big jump to say that’s going to have some effect on values,” she said.

Wilson pointed to an appendix in the MPAC report containing bar charts showing the relationship between property values and proximity to wind turbines.

She said the charts show that properties five kilometres or more from wind turbines generally have higher sale prices and assessments than those within five kilometres of turbines.

Read the full story and comments here.

WCO: MPAC study a “self-serving” exercise

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

STATEMENT ON MPAC 2012 ASSESSMENT BASE YEAR STUDY: “IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY ASSESSMENT IN ONTARIO”

April 25, 2014

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation or MPAC, the independent property assessment body which reports to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, released its long awaited report on the effect of industrial wind turbines on property assessment in Ontario in mid-April.

Anyone waiting for this report, which was more than a year late in coming, was disappointed: despite studies done by real estate appraisers in Ontario showing significant loss in value for properties near wind turbines, MPAC said it “cannot conclude any loss in price” due to proximity to a wind turbine.

Wind Concerns Ontario consulted with several individuals including real estate appraisers and finance professionals about the MPAC report.

“It’s just a self-serving, bureaucratic  exercise in mathematics done by MPAC for their government masters,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “The study was done by assessors, not appraisers—this was not a real-world study using on-the-ground valuation techniques such as direct comparison to property sales.”

In fact, Wilson said WCO’s advisors point out that the MPAC study actually does show a property value loss of 25%. “They claim there is no value loss, but then they present a chart that shows there is, and the effect extends out as far as five kilometers,” Wilson said.

What they left out

What MPAC left out of the study is more interesting than what’s in it, says Wind Concerns Ontario.

Here’s a summary:

-MPAC studied areas near turbines 1.5 megawatts or larger in capacity—this excludes areas with older, less powerful but still large-scale turbines; these are areas where studies by independent real estate professionals have indicated significant property value loss.

-MPAC used only sales after 2008, which means for areas like Kincardine and Ripley, the damage was already done, and is reflected in the data they are using for comparison

-MPAC chose not to include properties that are now vacant, such as those that have been purchased by wind power developers as they have become uninhabitable

-MPAC left out the sales that would have been most informative, i.e., those that sold for significantly less than their assessed values and surely demanded some further investigation before being dismissed.

-MPAC as assessors study sales data only—there is no data on houses listed for sale that do not sell, or which are on the market for extended periods of time

U.S.-based real estate appraiser Mike McCann examined the study and concluded that the assessors went against their own professional standards for assessment methodology: “the IAAO (International Association of Assessing Officers) standards discourage regression analysis and instead recommend the use of paired sales methodology, with direct, detailed comparisons of individual sales data, near and far from the environmental disamenity in question,” he said. MPAC’s regression studies actually show a loss of property value, he explains, when the raw data is sorted by distance, yet the authors somehow concluded there was no impact on value.

The real meaning of MPAC’s report

Prior to the Green Energy Act being passed in 2009, countless municipalities asked the Ontario government for economic analysis of the impact of wind power projects on their communities. “They never got that,” says Jane Wilson. “And the Auditor General in his 2011 annual report said Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for the impact of wind power generation projects on Ontario’s economy—we never got that either.

“This government doesn’t want the public to know the true impact of its decision to rush into large-scale industrial wind power on Ontario’s small towns and rural communities—property value loss would be one metric of just how badly this decision has harmed our economy.”

Instead, Wilson says, “ MPAC obliged its government masters by coming up with this flawed and self-serving study that was designed to produce a specific result, which will doubtless now be used by the government and its wind power industry partner to put a ‘chill’ on requests for re-assessment, and on legal actions based on lost property value.”

CONTACT

Jane Wilson WCO.president@gmail.com

MPAC study available here.

MPAC sales chart showing loss of value: http://www.mpac.ca/pdf/AppendixD2.pdf

 

 

 

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MPAC releases property assessment report

More than a year past its scheduled release, the report from Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) on the effect wind turbines may have on property values has just been released.

You may see the report and its statistical appendices here: http://www.mpac.ca/property_owners/IndustrialWindTurbines.asp

We will be conducting an analysis of the report and will provide an opinion on the findings, soon.

London School of Economics: property values decline near wind ‘farms’

 

windy day

Large wind farms can knock as much as 12 per cent off the values of homes within a 2km radius, and reduce property prices as far as 14km away, according to research by the London School of Economics. The findings contrast sharply with a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in March, which found no negative impact on property prices within a 5km radius of a turbine.

The LSE findings will fan demands by homeowners for compensation when wind farm developments are given the go-ahead. Currently, wind farm operators pay rent on the land they occupy and make contributions to community causes, but are under no legal obligation to compensate homeowners for loss of value.

The report, “Gone with the wind: valuing the visual impacts of wind turbines through house prices”, by Professor Stephen Gibbons, found that “wind farm developments reduce prices in locations where the turbines are visible, relative to where they are not visible, and that the effects are causal”.

For the average sized windfarm, the price reduction is around 5-6 per cent for homes with a visible windfarm within 2km, falling to less than 2 per cent between 2-4km, and to near zero between 8-14km, which is at the limit of likely visibility. In areas close to windfarms, but where the turbines are not visible, the report found there was a small increase (around 2 per cent) in property prices.

Large wind farms cause the greatest decline in property prices. “As might be expected, large visible wind farms have much bigger impacts that extend over a wider area,” said Gibbons. “The largest wind farms (20+ turbines) reduce prices by 12 per cent within 2km, and reduce prices by small amounts right out to 14km (by around 1.5 per cent).”

Read the full news story here.