Controversy Over Wind Power is Blowing Up in Southwestern Ontario

Wind debate won’t blow away: Opposition over alternative projects is growing across the country

By Randy Richmond    The London Free Press

As the province begins to fine-tune its new Green Energy Act, the controversy over wind power is blowing up in Southwestern Ontario again.

In Middlesex County, worried residents have asked the Environment Ministry for a full environmental assessment of a 40-turbine project north west of Strathroy.

In Huron County, the local federation of agriculture is calling for a moratorium on projects pending results of an epidemiological study on wind power’s health effects.

Alternative energy companies, such as the one proposing the Middlesex project, are paying close attention to the rising opposition.

“It has kind of taken off across the country. As an industry we are concerned about any concerns or queries people have,” said Mark Gallagher, development manager for TCI Renewables.

TCI’s’s Adelaide Wind Farm would put 40 turbines, which would generate 72 MW, on about 3,240 hectares of land north and south of Hwy. 402 just west of Strathroy.

Opponents say they have had little chance to express their concerns, which centre on the health effects of the turbines.

“For me, the biggest concern is that there are not enough health studies done,” said Esther Wrightman, a Kerwood resident and a founder of the Middlesex Wind Action Group.

Early studies have shown people living near the turbines suffer a range of health problems, Wrigthman said, citing several U.S. and Canadian studies. According to those studies, the turbines can cause sleep disturbances, headaches, rapid heart beat, panic episodes, vertigo and nausea.

She filed a formal request yesterday to the province to have the project bumped up to a full environmental assessment, saying the initial environmental screening done for the project doesn’t address key health issues, including the proximity of turbines to an elementary school.

Wrightman also claimed TCI tried to sneak its proposal into the area with so-called public meetings made up mainly of farmers who stand to make money off the leases.

“The rest of us didn’t know.”

TCI’s Gallagher disputes claims the company tried to hide its plans, saying all township residents were invited to two public meetings through newspaper advertisements.

The township also provided TCI with a list of people who should get mailed invitations, Gallagher said.

He also cited medical reports, these ones concluding there were no ill effects from wind turbines.

Complicating matters is the province’s new Green Energy Act, passed in May.

Ontario residents have until July 24 to comment on proposed regulations in the act, such as a minimum setback for wind turbines of 550 metres from the nearest dwelling.

“There is no study to back that number up,” Wrightman said. “It is just a number out of a hat.”

Also proposed are requirements for ongoing monitoring to address low frequency noise and vibration.

Any project with 24 or more turbines would require a noise study before getting approval.

The Huron Federation of Agriculture has taken a cautious approach to the issue, said president Wayne Black. The federation represents about 2,000 farmers.

“Some of them have the wind turbines and others want them, and others really don’t care to ever see them again.”

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture passed a resolution at its June board meeting urging local federations to seek a moratorium, Black said.

5 thoughts on “Controversy Over Wind Power is Blowing Up in Southwestern Ontario

  1. Important for people to voice their concerns as the GEA is really pushing wind power and given the delay on funding for the nuclear reactors, the focus and incentives for more wind power may be the result.

  2. FYI – a letter that has been sent to Aim Power Generation, all MP’s, MPP,s, Ministries, Wind Concerns & similar web sites;

    July 23, 2009

    To Whom It May Concern:
    More people should be concerned with property value associated with industrial wind turbines adjacent to their homes. Should their health become an issue and they can’t live near turbines anymore, who is going to buy their property?

    From Green Backlash: The Wind Turbine Controversy :
    As the nation rushes to add renewable energy to its power portfolio, a growing chorus of homeowners and others are expressing concerns about how industrial wind projects are affecting health, safety, lifestyle and property values.
    According to Michael McCann of McCann Appraisals LLC in Chicago, Ill., “Turbines are large-scale industrial machines/projects, which surround homes, unlike any other large-scale projects. I have never seen a situation akin to wind farms where an industrial zoning ‘overlay’ encompasses and surrounds existing homes. No other industrial, retail or other type of large-scale project gets approved without first buying out the existing residences rather than surrounding them. A home is the biggest investment most people have in their life and deserves value protection from a dominating land use, which generates profits for the developers and is claimed to be for the public good. It would seem that most wind energy companies are unwilling to compensate people fairly for value loss…nor buy them out.”

    According to the GWEC, “the global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth $47.5 billion.” That works out to about $1.76 million per megawatt installed (http://wwwWind Energy Stocks
    At an average cost of $1.76 million per megawatt, you’re looking at a $219.9 billion market-in just the next five years.

    I am laid off until February 2010 and I can’t afford the mortgage & tax payments…
    I need to relocate and find a new job, but I can’t sell my property…
    Because of these wind turbines surrounding my house, nobody is even interested in looking at my property…
    Why is Aim Power Generation reaping in these profits while I am approaching bankruptcy?
    Aim Power Generation should be buying me out…
    I need this to happen before I lose my house!

    Kay Armstrong

  3. Kay,try sending a copy of your letter to the Harrow News, and the Essex Free Press. If no one will buy your house then they say the sales show no loss of value. AIM has plans for about 60 turbines for our community,our council is brain washed by these chaps and will not listen to residents who are against them.According to them we are just nimby’s or have turbine envy. AIM and their friends are telling the neighbours there will be no loss of property values. Your story lets them know the truth

  4. How are companies able to continue to spin false stories on how quiet industrial wind turbines are and how they will not devalue your property or do not discuss risks of stray voltage? Why is it people believe a sales person and not the person suffering? The sales person is trained to deliver their message using techniques that do not require the truth. Why is it that when the media or some writers report on the true affects of industrial wind finish with something positive about industrial wind and how it is needed or how we should support renewable energy? Those comments are added to diffuse and distract from the real story. The real story is not remembered, but the action has been justified. What chance do we have against a government with media that continue to support industrial wind? More than can be realized. Kay has made a first bold step in speaking out. BD is right. Send your letter to all papers and media, post it on community boards asking for help. Believe in empathy. We are here.
    “I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”
    – July 1, 1960. From the Canadian Bill of Rights.

  5. Green energy act has way too much “power” What is happening in your part of Ontario is now starting in eastern ontario with 10 mw solar energy fields. These unproven , unsightly, unrestricted, unhealthy, fields are popping up everywhere!Meetings with Recurrent Energy people are a farce . No questions are answered!Our concerns are new, but I hope to learn from your experience.

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