Clarify position on wind farms: WCO to OFA

Land owners need to be socially responsible when deciding to sign leases for wind turbines, Wind Concerns Ontario tells Ontario Federation of Agriculture president

The following is a letter sent by Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson to OFA president Don McCabe, in response to remarks made by Mr. McCabe at a wind farm information meeting in Finch, Ontario. Several of Mr. McCabe’s comments to the audience, such as that there is no surplus of power in Ontario, were not correct, WCO said in the letter.
As well, while Mr. McCabe’s advice to landowners to “get a lawyer” is sound, Wilson said, the attitude that landowners need to concentrate only on getting everything they want in a lease is isolationist and archaic, and is helping to divide Ontario’s rural and small-town communities.
“Not one word was said about responsibility to community, and neighbours. This [attitude] does not represent the view of the contemporary and socially responsible farm operators that we work with; they are professionals who believe they are part of their communities and who are aware of—or at least consider—the effects of their actions on others,” Wilson said.
The letter was sent to Mr. McCabe, and the Board of Directors for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Dear Mr. McCabe:
It was interesting to meet you last week in Finch, Ontario at the Lions’ Club event, where we both spoke, along with Mr. Levy of CanWEA.
I was relieved to hear your strong advice to those attending and contemplating signing a lease with a wind power developer, to “get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawyer.” This is excellent advice: as you know, these contracts typically contain dozens of pages of various clauses outlining requirements and limitations…many people do not understand what they are being asked to sign.
I was disappointed, however, in other aspects of your presentation. First, there were a couple of statements made that are not correct and may even be misleading.
Power surplus in Ontario: in my presentation I had suggested that more wind power projects were not necessary, especially not for a form of power generation that is intermittent, produced out-of-phase with demand and is expensive, causing Ontario electricity rates to rise. You countered by saying that Ontario has no surplus of power. This is not correct: the Ontario Energy Minister himself admits that Ontario has surplus power and also says that the province will have a surplus for years to come. See his quotes and the forecast for power rates in a Globe and Mail article here.
“Net metering”: you told the audience that they should arrange in their lease to share in the wind power produced by any turbines on their land. This is not correct—it is unlikely one could get power from the wind turbine on a farm, and moreover, it would be in violation of the contract the wind power developer has with the Ontario government to obtain the Feed In Tariff to do that.
Turbine noise: you suggested to the audience that if the noise from turbines were to bother them, they could make sure that there is a clause in the lease so that the power developer would have to address that. This is extremely unlikely; at present, there are thousands of noise complaints in Ontario that go unresolved by either the developer or the Ministry of the Environment.
Community input to power projects: In response to several questions from the floor, you did advise people to go to the government website on the new Large Renewable Power Request for Proposal process, but you also suggested to at least one audience member that there is nothing communities can do, if a power proposal comes forward. That is not correct: people can work with their municipal governments, members of their community, and also choose not to sign the agreement required of adjacent property owners.
Contracts: I believe you also suggested to a farm owner who had signed a contract/option and was now having second thoughts that there was nothing he could do. This also is not correct, and would have been another opportunity for you to advise him to “get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawyer.”
That brings me to the second area of disappointment in your presentation: the overarching theme of your remarks was that if people are going to sign a lease for a wind turbine project they should make certain that they get concessions from the power developer that benefit them. There was not a single mention in your remarks of the need for responsible consideration of other members of one’s community, including fellow farm operators, and neighbours.
This was a very narrow view that demonstrates no balance and instead indicates an archaic, “I can do whatever I want on my land” view. This does not represent the view of the contemporary and socially responsible farm operators that we work with; they are professionals who believe they are part of their communities and who are aware of—or at least consider—the effects of their actions on others.
Our concern with this isolationist view of farm ownership is that it will further divide Ontario’s rural and small-town communities.
OFA needs to clarify its position on this matter, and further, consider advising your membership that when it comes to deciding whether to participate in a wind power project, the responsible course of action is to balance their financial opportunities with the economic, health and social needs of others around them.
We would be pleased to meet with the OFA Board to discuss our concerns.
Thank you very much.
Jane Wilson
Wind Concerns Ontario

What's your reaction?


  • Rachel Thompson
    Posted May 19, 2015 11:15 pm 0Likes

    Great letter, thank you Jane.

  • ScepticalGord
    Posted May 20, 2015 12:04 am 0Likes

    WCO’s letter spells it out clearly but from what I’ve read, the message will soar well over the head of OFA president Don McCabe, who is obviously not up to the job. Can he possibly be as out to lunch as he sounds?
    And wasn’t it mighty convenient of Mr. Levy of CanWEA not to correct or contradict any of McCabe’s propaganda, lies, deceit and half truths? What’s next, back rubs before pillow talk?

  • Sommer
    Posted May 20, 2015 8:09 am 0Likes

    Jane, your message in this letter to Don McCabe is so important to our rural communities in Ontario. My community used to be so attractive to friends and family in urban Ontario who planned to one day retire and find a home in Huron County. Our planners were trying to attract the creative sector to the region before the industrial wind turbine companies arrived. We have the shoreline of a gorgeous Great Lake so close by and towns like Goderich and Bayfield that attract visitors from far and wide.
    Community spirit is extremely important out here. I hope that this crisis will bring about the realization that you so eloquently wrote about it in your letter. Thanks for making your response to Don McCabe public. I hope more people focus their attention on the need for “responsible consideration” of one’s neighbours. This myopic, ‘dog eat dog’, ‘last man standing’, ‘me first’ greed based mentality is so sick. It stems from the fear of scarcity. This has to change. We have to identify this behaviour clearly in order to bring about the healing of our communities.

    • Wind Concerns Ontario
      Posted May 20, 2015 5:06 pm 0Likes

      We met a gentleman who accidentally happened in on a Wind Concerns Ontario meeting in Picton (he was really looking for a wedding) and when we got into conversation he said, as a farm owner getting up in years, he was told, three turbines would set him up for a very comfortable retirement. Yes, we said, but at what cost to your neighbours? Befuddled. He stopped talking and left.

  • Rural Grubby
    Posted May 20, 2015 10:47 am 0Likes

    Thank you Jane for sending this letter to OFA. I would suggest you also send similar letters to CFFO and NFU and possibly to other farm organizations. What is perplexing is how OFA has provided a guiding document about contracts for farmers, but still encouraged farmers to venture into these agreements despite the very concerning clauses they outlined themselves. Why?? They even provided venues for the wind developers to speak directly to farmers interested in signing these contracts without emphasizing the contractual problems, only that farmers should seek out themselves their own development. Why?? I can only draw two conclusions, financial remuneration or that OFA was completely naïve, along with every farmer, the unintentional consequences this kind of development would incur.

  • Rural Grubby
    Posted May 20, 2015 11:02 am 0Likes

    OFA BTW politically panders to the ruling gov’t. From their position paper in 2012. “However, the situation regarding Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT) has become untenable. The proliferation of wind turbines across rural Ontario has seriously polarized our rural communities. Residents not engaged in turbine developments have been pitted against neighbours, over concerns with health impacts and quality of life issues. IWT development currently preoccupies the rural agenda.
    However, the expansion of Ontario’s dependence on wind turbines as a source of energy has been shown to be inefficient. Wind power is not dispatchable power. That means it is available only when the wind blows with it being highly unlikely this coincides with peak power usage at any time, let alone on a regular basis”

  • Rural Grubby
    Posted May 20, 2015 11:10 am 0Likes

    Remember that OFA has clearly identified themselves as an Alliance member of OSEA therefore how much of this Trillium funding is OFA receiving?? to promote wind energy with farmers???

  • Rural Grubby
    Posted May 20, 2015 11:17 am 0Likes

    We need to remember that the OFA is a member of the Green Energy Alliance that promoted the GEA.
    Excerpts from the document:
    • “Lack of considerable economic investment (jobs) to yet come online (lots of announcements to-date but few have actually been realized yet).” (p.3)
    • “Residential rates will increase another 36 percent in 2012.” (p.14)
    • “ Research needs to support this, and should be coordinated with MEI and OPA.” (p.7)
    • “In order to talk past the noisy activists (Hey, that’s us!) and editorial positions, there needs to be a coordinated, paid, earned and social media campaign.” (p.9)
    • “Further research is also required post spike in bill fury, including focus groups to colour, wording and emotion to craft effective, targeted messages”. (p.8)
    • “Perception that the pro-renewable sector (industry, ENGOs, etc.) have been too quiet and need to be mobilized. This needs to be addressed immediately!” (p.4)
    • “Goal is to have $300,000 in hand through contributions from developers and manufacturers to seed the campaign. Each developer asked for a financial contribution of $15,000-$30,000 to support this effort. Anonymous contributions to the campaign are possible.” (p. 11)
    • In this, it will be critical to “confuse”the issue in the political/public/media away from just price to include key value attributes such as jobs, clean air, farm income, etc. Renewables cannot be defined by price alone. (p.2)
    Members of the parasitic Green Energy Alliance. Subsidy hungry grant seekers using environmentalism as their halo:
    Ontario Sustainable Energy Association
    Community Power Fund
    David Suzuki Foundation
    Environmental Defense
    Ivey Foundation
    Ontario Federation of Agriculture
    Pembina Institute

    • r budd
      Posted May 20, 2015 11:59 am 0Likes

      Good letter Jane and good posts Rural Grubby. Thanks. McCabe has been courted and awarded for his role in this alliance for some time now.
      His comments about getting all you can is telling. If you watch the way Liberal policy has been used, they are trying very hard to make nice to the farm sector and empower McCabe within the OFA, while treating the other rural residents as non-entities to be actively ignored and split away from the ag. interests.
      In short its bigger farms, fewer people, more turbines and solar arrays that they are working towards.

  • Rural Grubby
    Posted May 20, 2015 11:42 am 0Likes

    This is a response from OFA to Harvey Wrightman’s letter to the editor in the Ontario Farmer in Jan 2010 as to why they dislike the wind contracts but STILL support “green” energy.
    OFA objects to improper elements of wind leases, but supports green energy. We do this because:
    – farmers can benefit from green energy income
    – green energy is less polluting and has a smaller carbon footprint than coal or natural gas based alternatives
    – green energy and conservation (with the exception of solar power) actually costs the same or less than power from natural gas, power from new nuclear plants and imported coal power
    – wind power, used for fuel cell recharging to power cars and trucks will provide non-polluting fuel at half the present cost of gasoline in Ontario
    – people are ill and dying from air pollution and the earth is suffering from climate warming and green energy is part of the resolution.
    They have never provided proof for these claims.

  • Sommer
    Posted May 20, 2015 5:59 pm 0Likes

    It sounds like the OFA needs to be bombarded with responses to their questionable rationale for supporting these wind company incursions into rural communities.
    The connections between Trillium, the GEA and the OFA need to be investigated fully.

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