Neighbours to proposed wind farm sites pose the greatest threat to wind power developers. Here’s what you need to know, and how to protect yourself.
September 16, 2022
Nineteen wind power developers have achieved “Qualified Applicant” status with the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO, as that organization prepares to launch new Requests for Proposals related to power generation.
Included in the list are such familiar names as Brookfield, Acciona, Axium Infrastructure, EDPR and wpd.
And right now in Ontario, land agents are prospecting for new wind turbine easements or leases, according to reports from Dutton Dunwich and other jurisdictions. From documents obtained from Ontario residents, it appears the going rate for a wind turbine lease is $20,000 per year, but could be more.
Even if you don’t plan to have a turbine on your land yourself (and why would you?) it is time to get prepared for the onslaught of arguments as to why you should not only have a lease but also why you should support the proposed wind power project. And sign on with agreements, even “compensation.”
“Wind companies know their business will cause a nuisance,” DeFrock writes. “Neighbours pose the greatest threat because neighbours can complain or take legal action.
“They pacify neighbours with lies.”
You’re already ‘collateral damage’
“Neighbours are vulnerable. The political fast-tracking of renewables means that Governments have already factored in rural people as collateral damage.”
DeFrock lists a variety of statements and strategies that have been made to potential wind turbine neighbours including:
- Presenting a noise prediction map that claim to represent maximum noise levels
- They say the noise will be no louder than a refrigerator
- They underquote the number of turbines
- They offer “free” cash contracts—these prevent you from complaining or taking any legal action in future
Even the gift of “free” trees to help hide the turbines (they won’t) and block the noise (they can’t) is a Trojan horse—the apparently harmless gift actually prevents the neighbour from claiming noise nuisance or other adverse effect in future, and the plantation of trees will actually complicate the ability to get accurate noise testing in future.
Other statements include: everyone will benefit from the wind power project, your neighbours have already signed (they probably haven’t, and they’re being told the same thing about you), or, “there’s only so much money so sign now before you lose out!”
According to DeFrock, wind power developers’ legal advisers are actually encouraging them to strike “Neighbour Agreements” with owners of neighbouring or “non-participating properties” because, by signing on to such agreement, the property owner loses the right to take legal action, or to complain about operations of the wind “farm.”
Wind farm noise testing is no protection
DeFrock also advises against relying on wind power developers’ background noise testing, which they say will reassure neighbours.
“Wind farm permits are issued on noise predictions,” they say. “These predictions are based on the size, number, and location of the turbines. They do NOT involve data. And they do NOT involve background [noise] testing.”
We saw this in Ontario where one wind farm proposed a brand new prototype turbine so that functionally, the noise estimates were based on estimates…not real-world operating wind farm data.
If possible, DeFrock advises, get your own acoustics firm to prepare a report on background noise data. You can engage with the wind power developers to show you are “fair and reasonable,” but in the end refuse their offer of background noise testing, and do your own.
Why? Wind power operators have realized they don’t have the data they need to defend a claim in court later, when the turbine noise emissions become a nuisance and are the basis for legal action. By getting your own data, you do.
The wind power industry has learned a lot over the more than 15 years since they have been operating on Ontario…but so have we.
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