Eastern Ontario wind farms: enjoy the horizon while you still can
From Farmers Forum, August 4, 2015
Community opposition to industrial-scale wind power mounting
Excerpt from “Eastern Limits” by Tom Van Dusen
I’m not sure what it is about North Stormont Township but wind power developers seem to love it.
Their calculations must have discovered more forceful winds than normal stirring the township. On the surface, though it seems no more or less windy than any other rural municipality.
In increasing numbers, developers have been wafting through the township looking for prime sites* to erect their industrial turbines. As in other communities where they’ve landed, their efforts have been the subject of increasing protests, petitions, and testy meetings.
Correctly gauging the way the wind is blowing on the issue, township council has just taken a stand against turbines and their proponents…for what that’s worth. With the provincial government relentlessly pushing wind power, it’s probably not worth much.**
Mayor Dennis Fife has explained that too many ratepayers are against wind projects for council to reasonably support them. Fife has expressed his personal opposition, claiming wind will never match nuclear power generation.
Typical of disgruntled ratepayers is Roger Villeneuve who worries that towers “much taller than any tree I’ve ever seen or will ever see” will soon dominate the local landscape.
…Council was helped along in its decision by Concerned Citizens of North Stormont which circulated an unwilling host petition, demanding that elected representatives back it at a meeting July 28. They did.
In explaining its opposition the citizens’ committee cited the loss of property values and prime agricultural land, increased hydro costs to cover wind power expansion, environmental impact on birds and bats, health issues related to pulsating noise and shadow flicker, and eventual decommissioning costs.
…Developers have been through all this before, in several other Ontario municipalities where they’ve landed. You see, they have carte blanche from the province under the Green Energy Act, trumping any local motions, opposing them. Projects are decided by the province’s Independent Electricity Service Operator [sic–it is “System” Operator] (IESO) with little regard for local concerns.***
…a growing number of wind power opponents are urging councils to use other tools at their disposal…one suggested option is refusing a bylaw to permit road access to turbine sites. ****
“Enjoy the natural horizon while there still is one,” says ratepayer Roger Villeneuve.
Wind Concerns Ontario notes:
* What they are looking for is willing landowners. Wind doesn’t really have much to do with it.
** The Not A Willing Host declaration stems directly from a statement by Premier Kathleen Wynne that she wouldn’t force wind power projects on communities that weren’t willing. Her failure to honour her word is underscored by the 89 (soon to be 90?) communities that have protested by municipal resolutions.
*** This is true but the failure of a developer to gain municipal support does not help them in a successful bid. Bids without community support are ranked lower.
**** This is not actually a valid option: several communities have tried this already and what happens is, the developer goes to the Ontario Energy Board which then grants permission to use road allowances. The municipality is then left without a road use agreement and possibility of compensation for the sometimes considerable damage to public roads.