We will never give up the fight: WCO vs CanWEA

Wind turbines in Tiverton, Ont.

The Letters page in The National Post is ablaze today with the “wind fight” as letters from both Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson and wind power lobbyist Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) president Robert Hornung appear, toe-to-toe.

Re: The Ontario Liberals Don’t Deserve Another Term, letters to the editor, June 10.
The rising cost of electricity and its impact, is a key topic of discussion in the Ontario election campaign. All parties are committed to ensuring Ontario’s power supply is reliable and priced to support business growth and economic priorities, but their plans to meet that objective differ. One example of this is in the province’s approach to wind energy development.

The key driver of rising electricity bills in Ontario is not wind energy. Independent analysis by Power Advisory LLC indicates that wind energy accounted for only 5% of the increase in our electricity bills between 2009 and 2012, with the bulk of rising rates due to necessary upgrades to aging power plants and transmission systems.

A key economic driver for Ontario is a responsive, competitive electrical system that respects the environment. A steady stream of new wind energy complements energy conservation, and provides Ontario with the much-needed flexibility to align electricity supply needs with changing economic and environmental circumstances.

Today, wind energy is cheaper than building new nuclear power plants, and can compete with new hydroelectric development, as well. It is also not subject to the risks of rising costs, that could result from rising commodity prices or any future price on carbon emissions. Any political party that advocates a shift away from wind energy needs to demonstrate how their proposals for new electricity generation will be cheaper. It will be challenging to do so.
Robert Hornung, president, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Ottawa.

Re: The Republic Of Whiners And Blamers, Robert Fulford, June 7.
As the president of the coalition of individuals and community groups that have been fighting the Ontario Green Energy Act since its inception in 2009, and the invasion of Ontario’s rural communities by huge power development corporations seeking government subsidies as they despoil and bankrupt the province, I take issue with Robert Fulford’s assertion that not many people have expressed “unease” about this situation.

At present, we have over 30 community groups and thousands of individual members, who have all been fighting the Ontario government with heart and passion, as we defend our communities. Although the legislation put in place by the wind industry allows the public to appeals wind power projects, this has turned out to be an illusion. But this has not stopped Ontarians from trying. To date, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on the appeals, and on private litigation.

The citizens of Prince Edward County have raised over half a million dollars in their fight to save the environment against Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment. Others have already spent hundreds of thousands on legal fees to invoke a Charter challenge based on human rights.

The sad truth is that Mr. Fulford is right: No matter how high the stakes for all Ontarians, the people of the province’s cities, especially Toronto, have sat by and let this happen. In the meantime, we refuse to give up the fight.
Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario, Toronto.

See the letters page here.

As for Mr Hornung’s assertion about the costs of wind power, please see this post by energy economist Robert Lyman.

CBC poll on Ontario power system: city vs country

The CBC conducted a poll on what was important to Ontario voters with regard to the Ontario electricity system—what type of generation is important to whom, and more.

Read the full report on the CBC poll here.

Read Bill Palmer’s analysis of the results here: AnalysisCBC Compass Energy

Be sure to read through to the end, where Mr Palmer shows the results for the question, should Ontario build more wind power plants.


Turbine woes affect party allegiances in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex


PC candidate earns Liberal endorsements in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex 22

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer

Thursday, June 5, 2014 2:28:11 EDT PM

Well-known Liberals in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex have been coming out publicly in support of Monte McNaughton, the rural southwestern Ontario riding’s Progressive Conservative candidate in the June 12 provincial election.

They include Dr. Thomas Wolder, a family doctor and former mayor in Strathroy, who said his support for the Liberal Party is a mixed bag these days.

“Federally, probably, but certainly not provincially,” he said.

“I’m certainly upset with the way they’ve run things.”

Wolder was campaign manager for former Liberal MP Rose-Marie Ur through four elections but said he’s not supporting the party provincially this time for reasons that include the ORNGE air ambulance scandal, gas plant scandals, climbing electricity costs, Ontario’s growing debt and wind turbines rising in his community.

“My wife certainly doesn’t want these towers near our farm,” Wolder said. “She’s quite upset about it.”

Wolder said he believes many “high-profile Liberals” aren’t supporting the party this election, and added, “I see lots of Liberals down my street that have Conservative signs.”

Wolder said he considers McNaughton “a good man, and I think he’s cabinet material,” but added his support runs more to the candidate than it does to the PC leader, Tim Hudak.

“I don’t think some of the things Hudak’s coming out with make sense, like firing 100,000 people right off the bat,” Wolder said.

McNaughton, a Newbury businessman who took the riding from the Liberals in the 2011 election, said Liberals coming into his camp tell him they’re looking to change a government they believe has forgotten rural Ontario.

“Whether it’s factories closing, or the wind turbines being constructed, or rural hospital cutbacks, I just think this government is seen to be more of a downtown Toronto government, than anything,” McNaughton said.

Rex Crawford, a Wallaceburg area resident who served as a Liberal MP in the 1980s and 1990s, supported McNaughton in 2011 and is again this election.

“I feel Monte’s a real gentleman and working for his constituents,” Crawford said, “and what I’ve seen happening in Toronto is sickening.”

Jeff Wesley, another Wallaceburg politician with strong Liberal ties, said he’s supporting McNaughton, “because he has earned my vote.”

Read the full news story here.

WCO: MPAC study a “self-serving” exercise



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.”


Jane Wilson WCO.president@gmail.com

MPAC study available here.

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






Farmers vs communities over wind turbines

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.