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.

Parker Gallant: the Energy Minister’s announcements

The Liberals’ promise of ‘significant relief’ on power bills: a closer look

The April 2014 Liberal event calendar has had a minimum of an event a day, including the Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s delivering a message on how the government plans to help small and medium Ontario business deal with electricity bills. The event was held at Giant Tiger’s HO in Ottawa.

Energy
Bob Chiarelli and friends: did they look at the numbers, really?

These daily announcements are leading up to the budget presentation on May 1st which is widely expected to trigger an election.

Not once in the 27-minute podcast did the Minister mention “Timmies” coffee in the context of either what it would cost ratepayers or how much it would reduce hydro bills for those small and medium sized companies. But what he did was to spin the bad news electricity story: first they rob Peter and Paul to pay wind and solar developers, and when Paul becomes vocal you rob more from Peter to pay Paul. As soon as Peter laments, you tell him you have a plan to give him a break and you simply stick Paul with higher rates. Then, while you are telling Peter he will soon get a break, you rob the company that employs him so they can no longer afford to hire Paul. Shortly after that the company laments that they may have to lay Peter off so you rob even more from Peter and Paul, so that they will be able to keep Peter on staff and may even be able to afford to hire Paul.

Should you decide to watch Chiarelli’s podcast you’ll see he doesn’t make it quite that simple. Instead, he talks about “pillars,” points and electricity acronyms like “IEI” (Industrial Electricity Incentive) or “ICI” (Industrial Conservation Initiative) programs. Like the other promises of prosperity coming daily from the government, the benefits are all in the future. Only one of his suggestions came with a specified time (2015). That was one that will instruct your local distribution company (LDC) to become a lending institution! They will be told to provide financing for “up-front capital costs” associated with “conservation programs.” Needless to say this and the other programs will be financed by other ratepayers via the Global Adjustment (GA).

The day before, the announcement was about ending the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC) at the end of 2015, and was clearly aimed at residential ratepayers (people who vote). Premier Wynne said it would bring “significant rate relief.” The DRC will continue to be collected until 2018 from those to whom Minister Chiarelli promised relief too, from his perch at Giant Tiger. By the end of December 2015 we will have paid $15.5 billion to retire the original $7.8 billion of “Residual Stranded Debt” but they want more, so they will take about $1 billion from most commercial and industrial clients before they will finally declare it paid—evidence of the Liberal trick of robbing Peter to pay Paul!

“Significant relief”?

Let’s look at Wynne’s “significant rate relief” claim. Just one year ago the Ontario Energy Board announced a rate increase that cost the “average” ratepayer $3.63 a month or $44 annually, and followed that with another increase in November raising rates by $4.00 a month or $48 annually. The more recent increase of April 14, 2014 saw another increase of $2.83 a month or $34 annually, and those announcements didn’t include rate increases for the “delivery” or “regulatory” lines on our bills, which also increased. So, in just one year the electricity rates jumped $126 annually and Wynne’s announced rate relief won’t happen until the end of 2015. That’s the year the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB) ends. The OECB reduces the average bill by $13.30 per month or $160 annually. The “average” bill (electricity only) at the start of 2016 will be $286 higher on an annual basis than it was as of April 30, 2013. Adding the HST brings the increase to $323.
We should also expect additional increases from the OEB’s scheduled rate setting on December 1, 2014, May 1, 2015 and December 1, 2015; those add a minimum of $100/120 to our electricity line.

In other words, the average bill will have jumped by approximately $425/$450 by which time Wynne’s “significant rate relief” will become insignificant. Just as the annual DRC charge of $67 falls away, another scheduled charge from the Wednesday announcement (aimed at reducing energy poverty) of $11 will be added, so we may see a measly $56 decrease at that time.

25% increase in two years
The “average” ratepayer will have experienced an increase of over 25% in electricity prices in slightly more than 2 years by the time the December 31, 2015 date arrives. At that time our electricity costs will be charged out at over 21 cents per kilowatt (kWh). That only gets worse as more contracted wind and solar enter the grid. The price will rise further should OPG prove successful in their “significant” rate increase request now before the OEB. Add in increases expected in the “delivery” and “regulatory” lines, tack on HST and all-in costs will be in the neighbourhood of 30 cents a kWh! That average $133 monthly bill will suddenly be $240 and Ontario residents will be challenging Germany and Denmark for the privilege of having the most expensive rates in the industrialized world.

It seems the Liberal Ontario government has apparently abandoned the “Chiarelli” math (units are based on the price of a Tim Horton’s coffee) and have now moved on to a shell game. They tell us their management of the energy portfolio is constantly saving us money—you just have to look for the pea under the right shill, oops, I meant shell!

©Parker Gallant,
April 26, 2014

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

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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Parker Gallant: New Ontario Council told to boost value of OPG and Hydro One

Are 11 years of active depressing value to end?

What spurred the decision by Ontario’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa to announce on April 11, 2014 that the Ontario Government is appointing a council to recommend ways to improve the efficiency and optimize the full value of Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO”? Was it a sudden realization that Ontario had undervalued assets? Or, was it an attempt to deflect attention from the gas plant scandal?

I’m betting the latter. Why? The shareholder value of the first two Crown corporations listed have been continually interfered with by this government.  Everything from “smart meters” to coal plant closures, multi-billion dollar tunnels, run-of river hydro and coal plant conversions (to biomass) have played a big role in the current value of both OPG and Hydro One.  Add that to above-market rates for wind and solar developments, and billion dollar transmission spending to hook them to the grid—the only reason OPG and Hydro One have any value is that electricity rates in the monopolistic electricity sector have been allowed to rise by over 100%.  Four Long-term Energy Plans in 11 years and several dozen “directives” on how the businesses should operate have done nothing to enhance the value of those two entities.

Under the benign governance of the Ontario Energy Board (whose role was eviscerated by the government),  electricity prices have increased at an average annual rate over 10%  and driven well paying jobs from the province, as a result.  Creating value seems to have been overlooked in the process. Is this another “Council” that will present a report that will simply be ignored as in the past?

What does Sousa expect?

Already, I see problems: Minister Sousa seems unaware the Auditor General in his 2011 report noted that  Ministerial (Energy) directives to contract for above market priced wind and solar generation were executed without a cost benefit analysis.

He is also either unaware or in direct conflict with his party’s Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, who, just two days before Sousa’s announcement said, “The government is not currently looking at the disposing of any of our energy companies.”  So, why “enhance value” if there is no plan to sell? Was Premier Wynne aware of this conflict or did she endorse both positions hoping that the new council would confuse the issue, and the electorate?   Perhaps the gambit is to gain credibility to reduce or freeze energy sector salaries, or force a change in the way pensions and benefits are paid, to enhance value?

As recently noted OPG, had 77% of their employees on the “2013 Sunshine list” and Hydro One 67%; both have unfunded positions in the pension and benefits programs.  A council isn’t necessary to figure that out!

So exactly what is Minister Sousa expecting from the council?  OPG and Hydro One are both taxpayer owned institutions with one (Hydro One) holding a monopoly on the transmission business and on distribution of electricity to one quarter of Ontario’s ratepayers.  OPG on the other hand has seen its share of the generation market fall since the PC government split old Ontario Hydro into five entities.

The final annual report of Ontario Hydro had this to say about their contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply: “ OPG facilities now supply about 85% of the province’s electricity demand. Under an agreement with the provincial government, that proportion will be gradually reduced so that by about 2010, OPG will control no more than 35% of the province’s total supply options.”

By the end of 2013 (three years later than planned) OPG had come close to achieving the “agreement” with 16,229 MW of installed capacity compared to total Ontario capacity (per recently “revised” Long-Term Energy Plan) reported as 38,374 MW giving OPG about 42% “of the province’s total supply.”   That OPG capacity of 42% produced 80.3 terawatts (TWh), equal to 57 % of Ontario’s demand in 2013 and in 1999 had produced 136.2 TWh equal to 85% of demand.

The bottom line

On the financial side, OPG’s first full year of operation (2000) generated a profit, net of PIL (payments in lieu of taxes), of $605 million; by 2013 their profit had fallen to $135 million.  So, OPG, based on history reflects itself as a business in decline.  OPG are also about to undergo costly retrofits of their nuclear plants which have traditionally gone over budget.  If Ontario sold OPG at, say, a 12 times multiple on earnings, it would net them only $1.4 billion.  The best the province could hope to generate in a sale of OPG would be its current book value of $8.3 billion, but any buyer would demand guarantees on pricing of generation of all capacity and a guarantee of grid rights to ensure production is purchased.  What is good for wind, solar and gas plant generators would be demanded by any new private sector owners of OPG!  One also suspects a buyer would seek to cover any anticipated cost overruns on existing projects including nuclear refurbishments, biomass conversions, etc.  In other words, it is likely the “Council” will recommend keeping OPG—it may not be sellable!

Hydro One, on the other hand looks like the star with Net Profit (after PIL) of $803 million for 2013 up from $378 million in 2000 (+112%), while Gross Revenue (net of Power Purchased) increased from $1,728 million in 2000 to $3,054 million in 2013 (+77%), despite a drop in terawatts (TWh) transmitted.  An increase in employees of 1,173 however is cause for concern in respect to the transmission and distribution businesses.   If, as suggested by Jan Carr in an article in the Toronto Star, Hydro One gets split into two entities—transmission and distribution—the breakout (2012 year-end) in Net Profit for the “transmission” business is $488 million and for “distribution,” $258 million providing a Return on Equity (ROE) on the former of 18.1% and 12.5% on the latter.  The Return on Revenue (RoR) would be 32.9% and 25.8% respectively and above the comparable at, say, Enbridge with an ROE of 12.8% and an RoR of 18.8%.

Assuming the Council will suggest the two Hydro One businesses be split and could generate say 12 times their earnings in a sale, Ontario might generate $9 billion.  That would come from approximately $3 billion for the distribution side and $6 billion for the transmission business.  The sale would generate a one-time gain of about $2.5 billion for the province, or less than 25% of the current budget deficit.  The sale would cause grief for the Liberal Party from the unions within the Hydro One family and so might prove unpalatable.

I am betting the Finance Minister’s appointed “Council” will deliver bad news but probably not until after an election. This is simply another exercise to deflect from the numerous scandals and the mismanagement of the energy file overall  that are sure to be the message from opposition parties in a provincial election campaign.

©Parker Gallant,

April 14, 2014

The views expressed here are those of the author and not Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Institute for Energy Research: Germany’s green energy experiment a failure

germany-flag

The Washington D.C.-based energy policy “think tank” the Institute for Energy Research (which receives no funding from either government or industry) has reported that Germany’s experience with “green” energy has been an economic failure.

The Institute reports higher energy prices, energy poverty for Germany’s citizens, and “lavish subsidies” for renewable power generators.

North America (including Ontario) has looked to Germany as an example of green power generation; we can only hope they now heed these lessons.

See the news story and report, here.

MP Cheryl Gallant:Ontario Liberal energy policy disastrous

 

Cheryl Gallant, the MP for Renfrew-Nipissing, spoke about Canada’s nuclear power sector in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Here is a portion of her remarks, as they relate to the electricity situation in Ontario.

 

Those of us who believe that nuclear energy has a critical role to play to ameliorate the effects of global climate change were encouraged by a recent open letter to environmentalists, signed by such people as Dr. Ken Caldeira, senior scientist, department of global ecology, Carnegie Institution; and Dr. James Hansen, climate scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    These and other like-minded individuals are urging those individuals who are truly concerned about the environment to support the development of safer nuclear energy systems, such as Canada’s success story, the CANDU system.

    To quote their open letter to environmentalists:


    No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology. […] the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to develop an energy system that does not rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump.

    I have no doubt that the same radical environmentalists who recommended forcing rural Ontario to accept industrial wind turbines and the out-of-control electricity rates that are bankrupting Ontario hydro customers were the same individuals who convinced the Ontario Liberal Party to turn its back on the Canadian nuclear success story.

    The so-called Green Energy Act is forcing people in rural Ontario to have to choose between heating and eating.

     I mention this because one of the architects of the disastrous policy in Toronto is now the principal advisor to the Liberal Party in Ottawa. Gerald Butts, called the “puppeteer” by the media for the way he controls the Liberal leader, would like to introduce a new version of the disastrous national energy policy of the 1980s that is causing electricity bills to skyrocket in Ontario. Worst of all, the cornerstone of an updated Liberal NEP is a carbon tax.

    Ontario needs to cancel its high electricity rate policy. That policy is forcing our manufacturing industry and the jobs that go with it to flee to the American border states that benefit from Ontario Hydro paying them to take power from industrial wind turbines that nobody here wants.

    Liberal economic policy has turned Ontario from being the economic engine of Canada into a have-not province.

    The future is nuclear, for reliable, economic, greenhouse gas-free electricity, brought to us by the 70,000 Canadians that are employed in the Canadian nuclear industry, including the close to 3,000 people employed at the Chalk River Laboratories of AECL.

Ontario wildlife vs Big Wind and Ontario government: wildlife loses

The decision from the appeal of the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal to rescind approval of the wind power project at Ostrander Point is in. Gue$$ who won?

Court favours wind turbines over Blanding’s turtle

An Ontario court has ruled that an environmental tribunal erred when it rejected a proposed wind farm that threatens the habitat of Blanding’s turtles

An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the Blanding's turtle’s habitat. TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the Blanding’s turtle’s habitat.TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
By: Business reporter, Published on Thu Feb 20 2014

Blanding’s turtle is in trouble again: An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the turtle’s habitat.
The modest reptile had stood in the way of a wind farm at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.
But a divisional court panel ruled Thursday that the environmental tribunal made six errors of law in reaching its conclusion that the wind farm would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtle.
The court restored the decision by provincial officials, allowing Gilead Power to proceed with the project, which would erect nine big wind turbines on the site.
It was a bitter blow to local nature and conservation groups. They had argued the wind farm – and the increased traffic associated with it – would harm not just the turtles, but also birds, bats and the rare “alvar” ecosystem at Ostrander Point.
The court sided with Gilead.
“That’s very disappointing,” was all Cheryl Anderson of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists Club could say on hearing the news.

Read the full story here.

Power bill costs turning political opinion on wind power

Wind power costs turning the political tide

Posted on

This is from today’s Toronto Star. While Martin Regg Cohn still doesn’t “get it” (he still think resistance to wind power plants is “NIMBYism”) he at least has opened his eyes to the numbers and the economic cost to Ontario.

Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs spiral: Cohn

Economics, more than politics, is causing the greatest drag on wind power as Liberals look for light at the end of the wind tunnel.

Resistance to wind turbines in Ontario emanated mostly from rural residents and was quickly exploited by opposition politicians eager to steal Liberal seats.
VICTOR BIRO / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Resistance to wind turbines in Ontario emanated mostly from rural residents and was quickly exploited by opposition politicians eager to steal Liberal seats.
By:  Provincial Politics, Published on Tue Dec 10 2013
Who would have imagined Ontario as Ground Zero for the global anti-wind movement, pitting people power against wind power? Instead of a low-carbon environment, the governing Liberals generated a highly toxic political environment.
Yet it is economics, more than politics, that is causing the greatest drag on wind power today. Diminishing returns have prompted the Liberals to tilt against wind turbines.
The pace of future wind expansion will be scaled back over the next 20 years, according to the Long Term Energy Planreleased this month by the government. The latest plan is a belated admission that previous energy plans were off target.
To understand how much the Liberals miscalculated, it’s worth looking at another report that preceded this one. Prepared for influential clients in the energy industry by global consulting firm IHS-CERA, the title of this private study says it all: “Too Much, Too Fast — The Pace of Greening the Ontario Power System.”
It treats our wind turbines as a case study on how greening the power system can plunge it into the red. A cautionary tale for international clients, the report would have been essential reading for provincial energy planners as they looked for the light at the end of our wind tunnel:
“What happened in Ontario . . . provide(s) universal lessons regarding how a simple, appealing, but unrealistic idea can intersect with the political process and set in motion environmental policies that run counter to the underlying costs and complexity of the electric power sector.”

Read the full story here.

Green energy: not playing the role it was supposed to

Here from the Lucknow Sentinel, an opinion on what is being done to our fair province…and its fortunes.Lucknow is the location of the ongoing Drennan appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval.

Green energy not playing the role it was meant to

Tracey Hinchberger
By Tracey Hinchberger, Kincardine News Freelancer

A Wind Concerns Ontario 'STOP' sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)
A Wind Concerns Ontario ‘STOP’ sign is seen on a post in Bruce Township, while Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project turbines spin in the background near the Bruce-to-Milton transmission corridor. Health Canada announced July 10, 2012 that a study would be conducted on the health impact of noise from wind turbines, with results to be published in 2014. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS/QMI AGENCY)

Is this what “green energy” is supposed to look like? This is a question I keep asking myself, and would like to pose to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.
As a writer of an environment-themed column I should be pleased to see the fruits of the provincial government’s Ontario Green Energy Act sprouting up all over our municipality.
Instead, as yet another wind farm project has been approved for the area, I find myself dismayed. I am also heartsick for the residents who have fought so hard to oppose these developments and who will be impacted the most by their presence.
While I realize wind turbines utilize an unlimited resource and produce energy that does not create pollution (at least the operational turbine itself) I have never been convinced they are the Holy Grail of clean energy. There are too many cons, such as unstudied health risks, environmental impacts and effects on energy costs.
But some of the biggest concerns I have with the “green energy” the provincial government has been installing in Ontario are the unquantifiable costs.
What I think Queen’s Park has been ignoring is the impact this program is having on Ontarians’ lives.
By denying municipalities the right of refusal in their jurisdictions, and seemingly disregarding opposition to wind projects, an environment of distrust and anger has been created. Unwilling host communities have lost trust in the process, in the government and the corporations who are developing these installations.
By not giving a meaningful voice to individuals who are impacted by neighbours’ decisions to option land, animosity and distrust have been created between former friends.
Communities have been divided.
Too many reports of ill health effects and lives disrupted have come to the forefront. Too often these same families are left unable to escape because of their inability to sell properties that fall within the boundaries of wind developments.
Pro-wind agents will argue that no health effects have been proven. However, even if no physical impacts truly exist (which I’m not convinced is the case) what about the emotional and psychological effects on these families? What about the anguish people have faced, the feelings of helplessness as massive mechanical structures are erected around their properties, and the stress in knowing their homes are now largely unsellable?
The Kincardine area is already inundated with wind development. To the south there are the 38 turbines of Ripley Wind, to the north 115, when combining the towers of Enbridge Bruce and the handful from Huron Wind. From some vantage points in the municipality there are turbines in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
The recently approved Armow Wind project will see another 92 towers erected in the north east of the municipality, almost doubling the number of turbines already in existence north of town. Compounding this is the fact that these towers will be markedly bigger than those already in place.
What the government refuses to acknowledge is that these benignly labelled “wind farms” are in reality large industrial installations, huge pieces of machinery being erected in great numbers across our rural landscape, amongst people’s homes. The province is essentially turning our municipality into a big factory.
Lives in host communities are being impacted significantly, whether it is health-wise, financially or socially.
If I could, I would invite Premier Wynne and Minister Chiarelli to actually stand amongst the turbines, take it all in and attempt to comprehend the impact of masses of towers sprawling off in every direction, with scores more to come.
I would then ask them to look at every one of the lives that have been so wrongly disrupted, imagine their own loved ones in the same position and ask “is this really what green energy is supposed to look like?”

Not a Willing Host communities voices grow

Posted here on the London Free Press website, the online version of a feature for this weekend.

This blows: Growing list of Ontario municipalities declare ‘unwilling hosts’ to wind turbines

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By ,The London Free Press
First posted: | Updated:
wind turbines
Wind powered turbines spin on a wind farm in Port Burwell, a town near London, Ont. (Derek Ruttan/QMI Agency files)

LONDON, ONT. – Enough. Dozens of Ontario municipalities say they don’t want wind turbines.
Heavily pushed by the provincial Liberal government, the electricity they produce deeply subsidized by taxpayers, giant wind energy projects have sprouted across rural Ontario — often pitting neighbour against neighbour and community against community.
With local control over where the highrise-sized towers can be built taken away by the province, many communities — especially in southwestern Ontario — were already fuming about wind turbines long before Premier Kathleen Wynne took office in February, vowing not to impose such projects any more on places unwilling to take them.
Now, a list of unwilling hosts is circulating — with 61 of the province’s 444 municipalities already on it.
That number will only rise, observers warn, as the “Not a Willing Host” movement grows and pressures the government to bar the industrial turbines from rural Ontario, where 1,200 have already cropped up.
Wind Concerns Ontario, an organization upset at the province’s aggressive promotion of wind power at the expense of local control, compiles and maintains the list of unwilling hosts.
“It was important for someone to keep this list and say, ‘You are not alone,’” said Wind Concerns president Jane Wilson.
“Wind power can work,” she conceded, “but plunking them (turbines) down, right next to communities and next to homes and schools, is not the right idea.”
Ninety municipalities — in favourable zones, located mainly in southwestern and eastern Ontario — “are vulnerable to wind power,” she said.
“That’s where the wind companies have been prospecting.” As the list stands now, two-thirds of those “vulnerable” municipalities are effectively saying no more.
Wind Concerns has dubbed the seven years of wind power development under the Liberals “a disaster for rural Ontario.”

Read the full article at the London Free Press site.