Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why I oppose wind turbines

Like many who grew up in rural Ontario, I migrated to Toronto in my youth. When I retire I plan on returning to my home area.

When wind turbine developments began to appear, I thought these things appeared to be a rather stupid use of land. Over time, these thoughts evolved into the desire to seek out more information on wind turbines. Once the education process began, it was too late to turn back. I regularly post comments on newspaper web sites. Blogging is new to me but I'll see how it works out. 

Wind turbines are not green. Because of government subsidies, they are costing the citizens of Ontario billions while doing nothing to improve air quality. They are a waste of space and resources.

The family homestead is a century farm in Ontario, now owned by my brother. On the way there, I pass a turbine array. It seems like they just appeared out of thin air one day, rising above the cornfields. There are more turbines in the planning stages for the area. Wind development companies are out there convincing more landowners to sign leases for the things, apparently before developments are approved. This is some of the best farmland in the country but a chunk is now out of production to accommodate the turbines and infrastructure. Who is going to feed the world in the future if our farmland is being destroyed?

I am fortunate be able to visit Port Elgin on occasion. It’s a beautiful town on the shore of Lake Huron where the CAW is building a turbine over the objections of the local municipality and residents. This turbine will dominate the view from the main beach and from the lake. The location is dangerously close to the local airport and is on a major bird migration route. There a number of homes very close to the site. The CAW says they are building it for education. Since they have a FIT contract, I say they are building it to suck up some subsidies from the citizens of Ontario.

Don’t call those who are fighting the turbines selfish, whiners or NIMBY's. What is wrong with protecting property values, farm animals, wildlife, wilderness, the view, heritage, or local democracy? 

On top of this, we are subsidising a technology that is expensive and useless. We cannot be complacent about wind turbines. We must work together to make sure that this folly does not continue.

The purpose of this blog is to inspire others to do their own research and educate themselves.
What I write here is MY opinion which is backed up by research. Any fact included in this blog will be easily verified with search of the Internet. Now do some searches and get reading.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I am active on several news media discussion boards. Recently I had another poster call me a redneck scare monger. This is my response to that one:

Funny, I have never been called a redneck before.

If being raised on a century farm in Ontario makes me one then so be it. If being a redneck means that I care about rural residents across Canada, I gladly accept the title. If speaking my mind about what is happening to farmland and wilderness says I'm a redneck then call me one all you like.  If saying that huge wind or power installations are a massive rip off of the public and harm the environment indicates a redneck then I accept the title with pride. It is my dream to return home and be the kind of redneck who has solar panels on my roof and a small, efficient wind turbine, reducing my reliance on the grid.

You said I was being a fear monger. I prefer to think of myself as a member of the opposition, raising the alarm. Many years ago, the government actually said smoking as good for you!  I would be proud to know that one person is inspired by my posts to do the research for themselves.

A letter to my brother

I would like to share a letter I started to write to my brother regarding placing a wind turbine on his property. I have decided not to mail it to him as had been my intent but I am going to use it as my first blog post ever.

My visit is over and I’m thinking over the awful news a lease was signed for an Industrial Wind Turbine (IWT) at the farm. You may have noticed I was extremely upset. As normal with siblings, we shouted and kept interrupting each other. Negative effects of turbine development like bad feelings among family and friends are truly unpleasant. Thankfully, we ended the visit on good terms.

I have studied the impact of wind turbines for a while now. While I don’t claim to be an expert it’s a personal interest.  I’m not going to flood your inbox as threatened. I was going to mail this to you but have now decided to start a blog and have this as my first post. Hopefully I’ll be able to get your attention without starting a new yelling match.

At best your community has been manipulated and at worst outright lied to. I am furious at the development company, the Liberal party of Ontario and anyone who tries to convince me that these things are good for the Earth. I’m sorry you were my target. Some questions should have been asked but was I too upset to think of them.

I cannot deny this lease is an economic windfall for you. It’s hard to argue against the amount offered. Over the 20 year term of the lease, it becomes a great deal of money. Other successful ventures of yours don’t come close. But as the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I call these things Industrial Wind Turbines not windmills. These structures ARE industrial, not at all like the old style windmills that disappeared from the countryside. I refuse to call these developments ‘wind farms’ because they are not remotely related to agriculture. Using a conservative estimated height of 400 feet, the turbine would be almost as tall as Toronto’s Royal York Hotel at 407 feet. Imagine several of them surrounding your property. How about all of the area covered in them, which seems to be the plan?

Somehow Toronto papers, mostly the Star were blamed for our disagreement. Wind opposition groups complain that Toronto media outlets ignore the matter and GTA residents have no idea what is really happening. As a matter of fact, the only mention of IWT in the Star recently was the Auditor General’s report and the paper pouted that the discussion was taken over by the anti-turbine lobby (I was part of that). The Post and Globe have had some reports that are not flattering but the impression that Toronto media is the reason for opposition is very wrong. The real opposition is from areas like Owen Sound, Kincardine or anywhere IWT have been built.  I checked several papers from your area and there are a lot more negative articles than positive. Are developers attempting to discredit opposition by accusing them of being dupes of the big city papers?

The developer appears to have made the community believe if your neighbours signed turbines would be close by whether you signed or not. I am attempting to make sense of setback regulations but a lawyer who specializes in wind turbine leases would have to explain it all. My research suggests if a small percentage of your neighbours say no, the whole deal could be in jeopardy. The company website stated that they need a contiguous block of land, approximately 10,000 acres for a development of this sort.

The company’s website is pretty bland but checking the generic project timeline it looks this project is still in the early stages so may not be a done deal. Other searches indicate some rumours of bully tactics and recent protests against the company. I am still looking for information related directly to this project but nothing has surfaced. I’m starting to believe the company is only speculating in your area with no approvals in place. If you are inclined to share, I would love to have a scan of documents related to the lease.

Look at the finances from the other side. The power that IWT produce is intermittent so other power generation plants must be on standby so they can be available when needed. When too much electricity is generated, it must be sold on the spot market at a huge loss. Other sources remain on stand-by burning fuel while producing no electricity. IWT operators are paid $0.135 kWh through FIT (subsidy to me) while I pay between $0.059 and $0.107/kWh. The difference is buried in delivery and debt retirement charges that represent a significant portion of every electricity bill in Ontario. Your family and neighbours will pay for your lease for many, many years. Higher electricity prices are driving investment away from this province, increasing unemployment.  ‘Green’ jobs are costing the province normal jobs. After all the calculations are done, the whole concept of IWT is bad economics.

We discussed whether or not any coal plants were shut down because of IWT. You mentioned a coal plant in the GTA. The Lakeview plant was shut down in 2005, before many IWT developments came on stream, because it was surrounded by residential development not because ‘green energy’ replaced it. Other coal plants in Ontario are still in operation although at lower capacities. Gas and nuclear cannot be eliminated because it’s required for backup when there is no wind.

You indicated that 3 acres of the farm will be needed for the turbine and access road. At first glance that doesn’t seem like much but in your area, I will guesstimate 700 wind turbines are either built or planned. If each of these use 3 acres of land then 2100 acres of prime farmland is being taken out of production. That’s the equivalent of 21 farms like yours never producing crops again. Don’t forget additional land for transmission lines and substations.

I called a well known Canadian environmentalist an idiot when you told me of his support. He’s a hypocrite as well. He supports IWT and solar as the answer to global warming while they continue to harm humans, birds and the environment. He poses as an environmentalist while encouraging damage to what he should be protecting. Don’t forget his support of the Ontario Liberal Party.

You are positive that the turbines will not make you sick, that studies prove there are no health concerns. I can show you plenty of studies that prove just the opposite. The only proper medical study I can find so far was done in Portugal and indicates health issues are real.  A report written by a rather inept Chatham-Kent Chief Medical Officer acknowledges problems. Unfortunately neither the provincial or federal government see fit to order a scientific study so the argument boils down to accepting someone’s opinion.

It seems the developer wants you to believe that people who say they are sick do so to get in on the action and only want money.  Is this how you want to think of your neighbours if they do experience problems?

My study of IWT shows not everyone will get sick but a significant percentage will. Symptoms include disturbed sleep, severe headaches, ear and sinus issues, and cardiovascular problems. There are some people who experience symptoms after being close to turbine developments for even a short time. Dozens of houses have been abandoned across Ontario because of IWT health effects.

IWT have been nicknamed bird blenders for a reason. Reports show that wildlife avoids them and farm animals also experience health issues. Will the finches still come to your bird feeders? Will your neighbour be able to keep his horses?

Please don’t think of me as just another city person, telling the farmer what to do. I want to return one day but now I’m having second thoughts. Remember our many conversations about attracting retirees to the area. Too many IWT projects will ensure all that nice pension money goes elsewhere. Tourism will be affected because IWT DO spoil the view. How much impact will there be on the local economy?

One of the worse problems with IWT has to be the resentment within a community.  If it has not already happened, neighbours will say you sold out. If a landowner says no, they will be accused of ruining it for everyone else. There will be more shouting matches. Community meetings will be loud and vicious. Some of the friendships you have enjoyed for years may not survive. I can only hope for the best.

I will not apologise for speaking out against IWT. Now it’s more urgent to put a stop to the madness.