Kawartha Lakes residents weigh in on wind turbine debate

MyKawartha.com

(KAWARTHA LAKES) The wind turbine debate is heating up, following an announcement last Thursday (April 8), regarding three proposed wind projects in Pontypool and Bethany .

Area city councillor Dave Marsh, Ward 16, told This Week, that the overwhelming feedback he has received from his constituents regarding the projects has been negative.

“My constituency went so far as to go door-to-door … and they found that about 90 per cent of people were against it,” he said.

Among the main concerns raised by residents are health issues, property values, tourism revenue and a lack of transparency and involvement for local residents, he said.

Heather Stauble, one of the organizers of the Manvers Gone With the Wind group, which opposes the proposed wind project development, said some studies have shown that wind turbines have an adverse affect on humans and animals. Adverse effects include anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and arrhythmia as well as low birth and mortality rates, she said. The health concerns come from infrasound that turbines give off, which is inaudible, but registers in your body, she said.
“In the house, you actually sense more than you would outside because the house actually acts like a receptor,” Ms Stauble said.

In fact, she said France has filed a court order to shut down turbines at night while a health study is conducted.

Ms Stauble is particularly worried about children living and going to school at one of the two schools in the area, because she said studies have shown negative effects on cognitive development from wind turbines.

Internationally, she said setbacks are set around the 1.5 – 3.5 km range, compared to the proposed setback distance of 550 m in Kawartha Lakes.

Ms Stauble’s group has requested, among other things, a full health study regarding the effects of wind turbines on those who live in their immediate vicinity.

Coun. Marsh took a more measured stance, saying, “The jury is still out on the health issues.”

However he did point out that about 45 municipalities have joined together through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to ask for a moratorium on such projects until all health concerns are addressed.

In terms of property values, Coun. Marsh explained that the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has ruled that property assessments of land around wind turbine projects have been shown to decrease by about 50 per cent. In his experience as a real estate agent alone, he said he has lost three potential house sales so far, after the potential buyers were made aware of the proposed projects.
Environmental concerns have also been brought up, Ms Stauble said, not the least of which being protected land on the Oak Ridges Marine, which the Green Energy Act opens up to development, she said.

“There are setbacks as low as 30 metres on the Oak Ridges Marine,” she said.
Beyond the clear cutting of trees needed to bring in the turbines, she also worries about the effect on the water table.

In a March 15 letter to Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Brad Duguid, Bill Allen, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, warned against blemishing the natural sights of Ontario’s tourism areas, like Kawartha Lakes.

“We ask that due consideration be give to the potential negative impacts on tourism businesses when locating proposed wind farms. We strongly recommend establishing minimum distance guidelines for sighting of wind turbines near tourism destinations particularly for those areas that rely on maintaining an unblemished viewscape for visitors.”

Ms Stauble agreed that tourism is a cause for concern as well.

“This landscape will change from rolling hills to wind turbines that are at least 450 feet tall,” she said, adding that she has heard that turbine heights could soar to 720 feet.

In terms of tourism, Coun. Mash said the proposed projects will definitely take a hit on revenue collected from visitors.

“We have people who come to this area to see our hills and our landscape …this will desecrate our landscape,” he said.

At the end of the day, Ms Stauble said wind power is inefficient and sporadic. Coun. Marsh agreed, saying that because wind turbines do not have the capacity to store energy during peak times, established energy sources will still have to remain in place as a back-up during low wind times.

“The goal of shutting down coal [burning plants] has not worked in other countries,” Ms Stauble said, siting Germany, Spain and Denmark as examples.

She also said that power companies are offering landowners 13.5 cents per kilowatt, whereas homeowners pay more in the range of 4-5 cents per kilowatt.

“They [Ontario Power Authority] will be buying for more than we are paying for it now,” she said.

“Our rates will go up because of this, because they can’t sustain a loss like that.”
However, for cattle farmer Allan Cochrane, who has signed on to have three turbines on his Highway 7-A property in Manvers Twp., the project creates an opportunity to make a little extra money without much hassle, he said.

“They are only about 10 feet across, you don’t lose a lot of land.”

Mr. Cochrane was approached by Energy Farming Ontario Inc. about a year ago and signed a 21-year lease shortly thereafter, he said.  He added that construction is expected to begin this summer.

Beyond the construction phase, when fences will be erected around the site, he said the space taken up will amount to three 10-foot poles in the ground where his cows go to pasture.

His belief is that because the turbines won’t be within a half mile of his house, ultimately their presence will not affect him much, except for the extra money going into his bank account. He is set to receive $500 per year until the turbines are up and running and has been promised an additional $8,000 per year, per turbine once they are functioning.

As for the vocal opponents of the proposed wind projects, Mr. Cochrane said he doesn’t think their opposition is about concerns as much as it is about jealousy.
“The only people who are dead set against it are people who don’t have enough room to put up the tower themselves,” he said.

Mr. Cochrane shrugged off noise concerns, saying, “I wouldn’t want one right on top of my house, but half a mile away won’t bother me much, they aren’t that loud.”
“I don’t think they would be any noisier than my fridge, if that,” he added later.
Beyond specific concerns, Coun. Marsh said his constituents are confused and do not feel remotely involved in the decision-making. The lack of clear and transparent information regarding proposed projects creates a lot of concern, he said.

“How can the government stand there and make announcements … and say we are going to approve these projects and not know where they are?” he wondered.  

While Coun. Marsh said he is aware of the municipal and public consultation components of the Renewable Energy Approval process, he said he had little faith that concerns would be addressed in any real way, and expected dissenting viewpoints to be overruled. The process only allows for appeal based on technical merit, he said, adding that will not include the majority of concerns expressed by his constituents.

Coun. March pointed out that he has no issue with renewable energy projects when they are in appropriate places, but the proposed sites are not appropriate because they are too built up and will effect property values he said, and the process has not done enough to involve the municipality and local residents.
“The people should be a part of the process,” he said.

So far, Coun. Marsh said he has not been impressed with MPP Rick Johnson’s representation of his constituent’s concerns, adding he is no longer returning calls regarding this issue, and called for Mr. Johnson to come to a meeting he is planning to talk about his constituents’ concerns. The meeting time has not been made yet, as Coun. Marsh said he is waiting to have confirmation of Mr. Johnson’s attendance before locking it down.

“I’ll make my town hall meeting around his schedule,” Coun. Marsh said.

13 thoughts on “Kawartha Lakes residents weigh in on wind turbine debate

  1. When people get the true facts about Wind Turbines and how they are nothing more than an excuse to rip taxpayers for higher electricity costs, then you get this type of opposition!…………….

    Information is the “death knell” for the Wind Industry!

  2. Mr. Cochrane has a big surprise coming to him when he finds out that the developers have total control over his land now for the next 21 years. They can put in roads and turbines where ever they want and there are no setbacks for turbines on the landowners property. So yes, they can put one right over his house. Basically they can do whatever they want with his land… he can’t even sell it.

    What a “great” deal… for the DEVELOPER!!!

  3. 10 feet across??? How does he think they get 60,000 tons of concrete in the base if it’s only 10 feet across? Oh yes , I know they bury that back up so you just see the base and gravel around the white mast of the turbine but does Mr. Cochrane know that earth worms leave the area and the blades blow off morning due? Talk to us next year Mr. Cochrane because “If something is too good to be true…………….!”

  4. My farm is entirely surrounded by leased up properties. There isn’t enough money in the world that could entice me to be a part of this green energy scam, consequently my one and only conversation with the wind developer was very brief. The Cochrane’s of this world can rationalize their partnership with these carpet bagging windies all they want, but it all boils down to greed.

  5. My farm is surrounded by lease holders too! And in 2005 when a snake oil salesman came up my driveway and told me I could make about $30,000/year for twenty years if I signed up for about 3 turbines I must say for a fleeting 2 seconds I was tempted. I mean I could spend winters in Mexico and live like a Queen on that kind of retirement money. BUT common sense prevailed and as he was getting in his car after our 5 min conversation I said I am sorry but I think these things will scare away MY wildlife that we cherish and destroy our incredible view of Nottawasaga Bay.. He said you really need to do your “due diligence and study the advantages” I threw out his brochure when I saw the size of the monsters and I never dreamed that anyone of the so called wealthy farmers on our Road and the millionaires that built breathtakingly beautiful homes for an investment to pass on to their kids would even think about scarring the landscape. Like fools we kept pouring our retirement savings into the restoration of the old 1835 farmhouse to the tune of $300,000. This was our dream to scale down to this small little doll house on a hill on 100 acres and then pass it on to our sons. Looks like no one wants to buy it for the listing very fair market price because of the slated wind turbines. I will sue of course but where will I ever find a farm on a hill like this one again. Maybe I can rent it out to “The Hells Angels” for just enough to cover the taxes! Then my very rich neighbour and his 2100 acres with 9 Industrial Turbines can know what it feels like to have his home devalued. You know Harley’s are quiet as a refrigerator! They use less fuel therefore are very green!

  6. Ha Ha!!! Harleys as quiet as a refrigerator…..your plan is a winner, Melodie.

    Putting aside the very real devastation you must be feeling about all of this, just for a short moment – I will sit back and truly enjoy the image of a Hell’s Angels House next door to your “farmer” neighbour!!!

  7. “As for the vocal opponents of the proposed wind projects, Mr. Cochrane said he doesn’t think their opposition is about concerns as much as it is about jealousy.”

    It wouldn’t surprise me if this opinion was drilled into his head by the CanWEA trained sales shysters.

    “…His belief is that because the turbines won’t be within a half mile of his house, ultimately their presence will not affect him much…”

    Notice the double-speak? This poor chap suffers from a classic case of “cognitive dissonance”…lol

    He says the turbines will be far enough away that they won’t bother him, yet goes on to say that opponents’ concerns are about jealousy.

    Notice too how he seems to have no concern or care for any neighbor who might be impacted. Far enough away not to bother him could mean too darn close for his neighbor.

    This guy is going to learn a hard lesson here I think. And all for a whopping $24K per year. Hope it’s worth it for ‘ya Sir.

  8. wegrait – Yes, that jealosy theory popped up out of the blue about a year ago.

    It’s almost like CanWEA sent out a missive to the converted on how to screw your neighbour.

  9. I guess Mr. McGuinty, when he reads about the revolutions in Thailand and Krygzistan, doesn’t think it can happen here. Maybe he should think again.

    It’s time we put these politicians, who are either stupid or corrupt or both, in prison for crimes against humanity. It’s time for the people to rise up and say “NO MORE!!!”

  10. Mr. Cochrane should check his lease as to what it he got himself into. Three turbines may not end up where he thinks and unless it is stated in the lease as to the exact location he may get a surprise. He has basically sold the rights to his property for 500 a year with a promise of 24 k, if three turbines are built, without knowing what company he will ultimately be dealing with and without means to follow through to collect if there are problems with payments. Jealousy is not what neighbours, with full rights to their land should feel.

  11. The Wind Energy industry is a Global Cartel. All the world wide W.E. Associations communicate with each other regularly and from time to time collaborate as the AWEA and CanWEA did recently by “searching the scientific literature for studies of the adverse health effects of Industrial Wind Turbines [IWT’s] on people.

    Hundreds of 1 000’s and perhaps millions of $$$$ were spent in announcing that there were no studies showing the adverse effects of IWT’s on people.

    Many decades ago, Carl Sagan, one of the world’s scientific geniuses said, “Absence of evidence does not mean evidence is absent”.

    What is missing is the rigorous scientific study of the ways in which IWT’s do in fact affect human health.

    NASA has conducted numerous scientific studies of the effects of vibration both audible and inaudible from military sources such as aircraft and other machinery. Police forces around the world have used some of the findings to control crowds and even merchants have used the keen hearing of young people by having sound which they and not older people can hear to discourage [usually] teenagers from “loitering’.

    Now that we know there haven’t been any rigorous scientific epidemiological studies conducted to understand the effects of the vibrations emanating from IWT’s, CanWEA strategists have taken to labeling those affected as having [whatever they mean by] psychosomatic symptoms and various talking heads for their organization such as Geoff Leventhal and Bart Geleynse suggest that these sufferers be “treated” with psychotherapy in order to reverse their symptoms.

    What a waste that would be. Most of the symptoms we EXPERIENCE disappear when we have been far enough and long enough away from the 18 Vestas 1.65 MW IWT’s surrounding our homes within a 3 km radius.

    We deserve no less than to have our homes bought so we can relocate and resume the normal lives we had before being surrounded.

  12. Computer “Trolls” are paid to push the thumbs down. Just ignore them. At least while they are busy with us they can’t bother anyone else.

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