Residents pack arena hall to hear presentations on health, wind turbines

by Chris Daponte      Wellington Advertiser

DRAYTON – Dave Colling says for those living near wind turbines, the effect of stray voltage – or what he calls “dirty electricity” – is akin to “living inside a microwave.”  ( See videos of Dave Colling)

An employee of Bio-Ag Consultants and Distributors in Wellesley Township, Colling regularly tests homes, offices, and farms throughout Ontario for electrical problems resulting from nearby wind turbines.

On Dec. 17 he told about 200 people at the PMD Arena that prolonged exposure to the dirty electricity produced by turbines can lead to electrical hypersensitivity, which is like an allergic reaction to everything electrical.

“In the long run, you’re going to wish you never had them built on your land,” he predicted.

Colling was one of three guest speakers at the information meeting organized by several Mapleton residents, led by John Krul and Bill Kabbes, who sent out 2,000 invitations to the event.

“Wow, this is awesome,” Krul said of the turnout, adding he was not sure what to expect.

The group of residents, which also visited council on Dec. 8, is concerned about plans by NextEra Energy, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light, to have a 12-turbine wind farm in northeast Mapleton operational within a year.

Carmen Krogh, a retired pharmacist from Renfrew County, said Mapleton is just one of dozens of municipalities calling for a moratorium on wind energy projects – in addition to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

“Our guidelines aren’t working and people are suffering,” Krogh said. “Basically, the only people not calling for third party health studies are the government and the [wind farm] industry.”

A member of Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities (WindVoice), Krogh said the industry repeatedly claims turbines are so quiet you could hold a conversation at the base of the tower. But, using a graphic to display how sound disseminates from turbines and bounces of the ground, she pointed out the base of the turbine is actually the quietest place to stand.

Colling, who has a turbine located about 900 metres from his home – the minimum setback in Ontario is 550m – said if the wind is right the turbine is so loud it’s like having planes constantly landing on his property.

Krogh also said it is not true that Ontario has the most stringent guidelines for noise – a claim made by NextEra development manager Nicole Geneau at a Dec. 2 public meeting.

Most turbines are noisier now than a decade ago, Krogh told the crowd; and even if they created zero audible noise, they still create infrasound, which can allegedly cause adverse health effects.

“Just because you can’t hear it, does not mean there’s no potential for harm,” she said.

The top health concern relayed to WindVoice is sleep depravation, which can also lead to or worsen other adverse health effects, including existing conditions. Krogh added that even being annoyed by the turbines is a legitimate concern, as the World?Health Organization recognizes annoyance as as an adverse health effect.

While wind farms may have an effect on human health, Colling said there are other factors to consider.

“Our grid, in Ontario, is outdated and overloaded,” he said, adding a complete lack of enforcement from the government and the wind energy industry doesn’t help.

“This is the trouble – there’s nobody policing this,” he opined.

Krogh feels the entire environmental process is flawed to the extant that regardless of the findings of the studies, the assessments will always be approved.

“There’s absolutely no provision to have what we call remedial action taken,” she said. “We really need a pause until we can do some of these [third part health] studies.”

Colling shared several anecdotal stories about people he knows who are suffering from adverse health effects he believes are linked to nearby turbines, including several families near the Ripley wind farm who have been staying in a hotel at the cost of another wind energy company there.

His experience at the 38-turbine Ripley project caused him to be less than enthusiastic when later asked to do testing at the 45-turbine project in Melancthon?Township, near Shelburne.

“It’s one thing to tell somebody [about the side effects of stray voltage] but when you can’t help them it’s worse,” Colling said.

He suggested Mapleton residents should not sign agreements with wind energy companies, but if they do he says residents should never leave alone the sub-contractors building the turbines on their property.

Lawyer Angela Alaimo, of the Janzen Alaimo in?Arthur, warned there are “very few ways of getting out of [the contracts].”

She said those who signed agreements without consulting their mortgage company could be in default of their mortgage. While she wasn’t positive about the outcome, Alaimo suggested that could be a way to try to get out of the contract.

She also wondered why NextEra has yet to register its option agreements on title – other wind projects do so very quickly – and hinted it could be because the company doesn’t want residents to know how many people have signed agreements.

Kabbes, who wrapped up the evening, said the only way to stop wind energy companies from building turbines is to not sign lease agreements.

“If you don’t want the turbines, don’t sign the lease,” he repeated several times.

Wellington Advertiser    Vol 42 Issue 52