Wind farm fight in Eastern Ontario: “no democracy, no truth”

If province had a 1-km setback for wind power generators, almost none of the North Stormont project would be allowable, says community group. “They say wind power is ‘green’ ” says leader Margaret Benke, “but it’s not.”
<p>Margaret Benke surrounded by research into wind turbines on Monday April 25, 2016 in Berwick, Ont. Benke is hoping North Stormont Council will pass a resolution urging the IESO to rate an unwilling municipality as a mandatory requirement as opposed to rated criteria.</p><p>  Lois Ann Baker/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network
Margaret Benke: asking North Stormont Council to pass resolution May 10, making municipal support a mandatory requirement for wind power contracts [Photo: Cornwall Standard-Freeholder]
Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, May 2, 2016
By Lois-Ann Baker

BERWICK – She is fighting the good fight and not about to quit just yet.

Margaret Benke is chair of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont and she and her group are hoping to stop the wind turbines from coming to the township.

Benke said the first time she heard about the turbines coming was when she read about a public meeting in the Chesterville Record.

“I said I’ve got to do something,” said Benke.

Earlier this year, EDP Renewables was awarded a contract for its proposed Nation Rise Wind Farm under the Independent Electricity System Operator’s large renewable procurement process. The project is rated at a potential 100,000 megawatts. On its website, EDP says it has secured contracts with about 40 local landowners covering over 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres).

Benke related a story of her nephew who had purchased his first home in Shelburne and within a year or two wind turbines went up around his land.

“He couldn’t live in his house anymore,” she said. “He abandoned his house. He likened (the noise) to living inside a drum.”

Benke said she had been hearing the stories at family get-togethers about issues with wind turbines.

This spurred Benke into action. Together with a family friend who happens to be a cartographer, they put together a map of the area and, allowing for the mandatory 550-metre setback for wind turbines, were able to determine approximately where the turbines could be erected.

She also looked into the Health Canada study done on wind turbines and found out of the 2,004 people originally selected for the study, 430 had abandoned or demolished their houses due to the turbines.

“It significantly decreased the number of people in the study,” she said. She said they interviewed people who were 550 metres away from turbines, but the only people who were that close were the landowners who were under contract with the wind turbine companies.

Benke then asked to be a delegation at a council meeting so she could present council with the information she researched on the wind turbines before council made any decision on whether to support the turbines or not.

“Immediately anybody with money sense, their antenna goes up, there is money in this,” she said. As every municipality is aware, there have been cutbacks into how much money they are receiving from the province, and that money has to come from somewhere.

“We did a very balanced overview of what the map looked like and what it would look like if you had a one-kilometre setback which is what the experts recommend,” she said. “There were only two fields that would have qualified.”

The one-kilometre recommended setback refers to a paper put out by the Ministry of the Environment where it recommended a setback of one kilometre for a wind farm of 10 turbines with noise level of 105 decibels.

Benke also found out each turbine generated just over $4,000, which was about the same amount of tax revenues from a home valued at $300,000 to $350,000.

“If you go ahead with the wind turbines, it pretty much kills any new development,” she said. “I couldn’t let this happen without at least being a voice in the wilderness. We needed to have our voices heard.”

Benke said wind turbines give the illusion they are “green” but they are not.

“It’s the perception that it’s doing something for us that it’s not,” she said. “Lack of democracy, lack of transparency, lack of truthfulness.”

Tom Loturco of EDP Renewables explained the next step is for contracted projects to obtain all necessary licences and approvals, including conducting an environmental assessment. According to the IESO website, these processes must include community engagement.

On behalf of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, Benke sent a letter to Mayor Dennis Fife and the councillors asking them to pass a resolution to request the Independent Electricity System Operator make a willing municipality for renewable energy a mandatory requirement as opposed to a rated criteria. Council deferred the passing of the resolution to a later date. North Stormont had already voted to declare itself an unwilling host for the large renewable procurement program.

Benke is asking council not to give up and if something as simple as passing the resolution will help, do it.

In any case, we strive to have good working relationships with landowners, municipalities and the public,” Loturco said. …

Read the full article here.

NoMeansNo_FB (2)

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  • Sommer
    Posted May 3, 2016 9:31 am 0Likes

    I wish that Margaret Benke was speaking out on behalf of all rural Ontario residents. Each time I see the rise of a real leader who is going to prevent their community from being ruined and prevent residents from having to abandon or demolish their homes because of this ridiculous incursion, I rejoice and at the same time I grieve for the people in Huron County who are stuck in the middle of this horrible nightmare and while experiencing the adverse health impacts are struggling to find someone who will turn these turbines off so that they can simply live safely in their homes.

  • Gregory Latiak
    Posted May 3, 2016 9:40 am 0Likes

    Somehow, I think the ‘green’ that the proponents refer to is not the green of a healthy environment but a euphemism for money. The ingenuity of this whole program is that they are using the power system to pick our pockets and distribute it to a select few. Any actual benefit to the planet from further coupling our economy to the weather will be strictly coincidental.

    • Barbara
      Posted May 3, 2016 11:31 pm 0Likes

      Green 2.0, Formally the Green Diversity Initiative
      Advocacy – NGOS
      Grants Funds received (2012)
      ClimateWorks Foundation, $169.8 M
      Energy Foundation, $33.2 M
      Sierra Club, $23.1 M
      NRDC, $13.6 M
      League of Conservation Voters, $8.2 M
      World Resources Institute, $7.3 M
      National Wildlife Federation, $6.5 M
      Blue Green Alliance, $2.0 M
      Greenpeace, $1.6 M
      Union of Concerned Scientists, $1.1 M
      And many others
      This website also has who the funders of these NGOS are. Namely large foundations. And those named are not all of the funders handing out money.
      At least some of this money has effects on Canada. Refer to the work that Vivian Krause did.

      • Barbara
        Posted May 4, 2016 2:37 pm 0Likes

        WRI/World Resources Institute
        Grants of $1 million or more include:
        Bloomberg Philanthropies
        Caterpillar Foundation
        ClimateWorks foundation
        Oak Foundation
        Michael Polsky Family
        Shell foundation
        Betty Moore Foundation
        And others.

  • Barbara
    Posted May 3, 2016 12:18 pm 0Likes

    Is NO going to become MAYBE now?

  • J.P. De Grandmont
    Posted May 3, 2016 5:35 pm 0Likes

    Why doesn’t WCO start a Provincial or even a National petition on the topic of Wind Mill abuses & concerns addressed to the Ontario Legislators……..
    I’m sure you would get thousands upon thousands of signatories. They can win by taking citizens on one by one…….but if we stand together it would be a different story.

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