Wind turbine angst on Amherst Island: will the island community heal?

“Friend against friend”: Of the 420 people on Amherst Island, 350 opposed the “Windlectric” wind power project, Farmers’ Forum reports. The result is a community ripped apart, that may never come together again

Turbines on tiny Amherst Island. [Photo from Association to Protect Amherst Island]
September 8, 2018

Republished from

FARMERS FORUM

By Tom Collins and Patrick Meagher

Amherst Island — The blades on 26 new wind turbines on Amherst Island started turning in mid-June following a decade-long battle that divided the small island community west of Kingston and turned friend against friend.

Some people still don’t wave to neighbours. Others decline to buy products from those who hold an opposing view, at the Saturday morning market.

The island (population 420) is now home to the fourth operating wind energy project in Eastern Ontario. About 350 islanders joined an association to stop the turbines. There are 86 turbines on the next island over, Wolfe Island, five more turbines just west of Kingston [Ernestown], and 10 at Brinston, 20 minutes southeast of Kemptville.

A Prince Edward County project that was under construction was recently cancelled by Premier Dog Ford as a cost-saving measure.

Several people said the Amherst Island community–you take a ferry to get there–was mostly split between two factions: the anti-turbine group included those who moved to the island since the 1990s and don’t own much land. The pro-turbine group consists of generational families with plenty of space to host turbines.

Sheep farmer Dave Willard, whose family has lived on the island since 1850, has two turbines on his farm and said while things have gotten better, there are still four people who won’t wave to him when he passes by.

“These are not people I grew up with,” he said, adding that turbines are divisive because of the visual aspect. “It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t bother me much.”

There are 17 landowners hosting the 26 turbines. Willard says while there will be good years and bad years, he estimated he won’t earn less than $10,000 a year from each turbine. “It doesn’t matter. If it were $2,000 a year, that would be fine by me,” he said.

Sheep farmer Cherry Allen at Flat Foot Farm is Willard’s neighbor and used to have 1,600 ewes. But they had to cut back to 600 because of the turbine construction on land they rented.

Allen, who runs the farm with partner Mark Ritchie, said they run a closed flock and it will take about three or four years to get back to 1,600 ewes.

Allen, who opposes the turbines, said that one of Willard’s turbines is 700 metres from her house. She said she can hear the turbine but it’s far enough away that she blocks out the noise.

While she doesn’t find them an eyesore, “they remind me of all the angst that has gone on before this and is still going on,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think the community will heal for a generation. “It’s going to take that long to rebuild. It’s pretty sad.”

Sheep farmer Ian Murray of Topsy Farms said his farm was approached several times by Algonquin Power to host a turbine. The farm is run by five partners and Murray said one of the partners didn’t like the look of the turbines.

Too much control by the power developer

Murray felt the wind companies wanted too much control. “We felt it was inappropriate for Amherst Island,” he said. “Saying that, I have no problem with my neighbours…. I have a big problem with the previous Ontario government, making things so lucrative.”

Homeowner Laurie Kilpatrick said the wind carries the noise that can sound like an airplane that never arrives, or a constant “swish, swish, swish.”

The last of Brian Little’s four children headed off to university this year,so Little put the family’s island home up for sale. He can see eight turbines from his back deck and hasn’t had an offer in the six months he’s tried to sell. He’s also close to a substation where all the turbine electricity is collected.”

They don’t do anything

“Prior to the Green Energy Act, you couldn’t build within 1,100 metres of a residence or school. In our case, the substation is 400 metres from our house and 700 metres from an elementary school.”

“It frustrates me that they don’t do anything. We have more than enough electricity in this province.”

Little has a point. Other sources of energy can provide enough power in the province. As it stands, Ontario sells excess power at a loss to U.S. states and Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America.

Looking at one weekend in July, Ontario’s wind power produced 1.3 per cent of Ontario’s demand for energy, and there were 2,515 turbines operating in Ontario, as of December, the vast majority in Western Ontario, said Parker Gallant, a green energy critic who writes an energy sector blog.

He estimated that wind power costs Ontario taxpayers a net loss of $1.9 billion per year.

 

 

 

Comments

Stan Thayer
Reply

Wow, what a mess!
OK folks here is what that electrically heated cup of coffee was costing the hydro ratepayers of Ontario at 6 AM today, Sunday September 9th 2018. 1 hour 22 minutes ago.
The total output from Amherst Island was just under 28 MW, approximately one third of the proposed amount.
Ontario had a surplus to dump and the adjusted rate at 6 AM was $3.00/MWH.
Michigan was taking 1289
Quebec 726
New York 700
Manitoba 85
Total for the 6th hour 2800
All the Amherst Island output was being dumped and all the ratepayers were funding the exchange.
It is the return on investment that makes these IWT’S happen. The so called, “rented” land becomes part of an asset sheet for some corporation and can be traded or sold like any other assets. The small amount of electrical power generated is insignificant to the total grid demand so it becomes an investors dream to dispose of.
We all know the overall IWT’S output will go down as they age and maintenance costs will go up,,,,,so to will the adjusted rates!
You do the math for your cup of coffee!
Stan the power man

Stan Thayer
Reply

Hi again!
So, as I have seen from the overhead drone videos. The generational properties are adjacent in some areas. These areas were not chosen by unpaid imbeciles. Looks to me as if the developers now have acquired a huge chunk of Amherst Island and noone on that Island has the resources with or without the windmill income to mount even a good media rebuttal.
Hey people, don’t feel bad, you took it from the first nations, now Bay St. is taking it from you.
Enjoy!
Stan the power man

Marc Houde
Reply

The windmills in this photo are clearly photoshopped.(and not very well I might add). If your group is into deceiving people with fake photos, what else are you lying to people about?

Wayne Gulden
Reply

Marc – what in the world are you talking about? Do you not know the difference between “drone videos”, photoshopped pictures and a modeled layout of the 4 turbines along the Marshall 40-foot? Unfortunately you seem to be all too typical of a wind turbine supporter – quick to come to conclusions before you’ve actually given the issue some serious thought.

Stan Thayer
Reply

Easy there Wayne!
Hello folks!
It is not recommended to post photos of private property on the world wide Web unless it is your private property.
So mock-ups are the next best thing.
I do not know what photo Marc is mentioning however if it is the one above this posting I will add that my take on it is that the windmill blades are in proximity to a wildlife reserve and the wildlife there, if it is owls, do not have a chance against turbine blades moving at sometimes 500 MPH.
My personal opinion is that the above rendition is quite accurate and although the conservation area has been there a long time to propagate that species the inhabitants there now are doomed to get whacked.
My experience has been that because the blades do not turn some days that the local species rest on the stationary blades and the next day when the blades are in full cycle the local inhabitants get whacked trying to rest.
The daily kill cleanup cost I have been told is stated as part of the overall maintenance projection although I have not seen this personally as noone I have spoken with will divulge this information at will.
One thing I can say with absolute credibility is that all the pick-up truck loads of birds I have seen removed from turbine sites were dead. The reason for removing the dead stock is to lesson the scavenger count. Really I’am not joking. Who could make this up.
Sometimes it seems like a bad dream!
Stan the power man

steve
Reply

Hopefully, the new government in Queens park can get these and all the other turbines removed.

Lets all hope!!!!

steve
Reply

Hopefully, the new government in Queens park can get these and all the other turbines in Ontario removed.

Lets all hope!!!!

steve
Reply

It a shame we destroy beautiful lands all over Ontario with these monsters

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