Turbines make ‘lousy neighbours’

Rick Vezina

By Andy Comber, Essex Free Press

Rick Vezina and his wife Judy love peace and quiet. They found it 12 years ago, settling with their two children into a dream home on the Graham Sideroad in what is now Kingsville’s Gosfield North.

“We searched hard to find this place – it’s perfect,” Vezina says. “The property is treed in, no neighbours right next door.”

Vezina says they always planned to spend their retirement there. But that was before the start-up of Brookfield’s Gosfield Wind Project – 22 turbines with 80-metre-high towers and 49-metre-long blades. One of the turbines is merely 350 metres from his home, Vezina says.

“Now we have a new neighbour, a big white thing. I’m not so impressed.”

Fully in favour of renewable energy, including wind energy, Vezina had few concerns as the turbines began to rise into the skies around his home. Brookfield had assured neighbours close to the structures they would not experience any problems, he says.

“It was going to be pleasant.”

Things have quickly changed to unpleasant over the last few weeks, ever since the turbines came to life – blades spinning to the wind, as they should, to generate electricity, Vezina says.

“They are noisy. It’s at night. It sounds like a jet plane going over, but it never leaves.”

Brookfield called the Ministry of the Environment to investigate the noise complaints, as required, Vezina says. A provincial officer visited and agreed within minutes of getting out of his vehicle that there was too much noise, he says.

“He couldn’t believe they would put the turbine that close to my house.”

Vezina says the turbine came with additional noise problems. Instead of quieting as its blades slowed with a diminishing wind, a new noise emerged, he says.

“Crunching and crashing. It sounds like a bunch of rocks being tossed inside,” Vezina says.

Calls to Brookfield brought out work crews. Some construction material – cut-outs, it was suspected – were falling inside the blades, he was told. With faster speed, centrifugal force kept the material from falling with each turn.

Even worse, Vezina says there is more than noise coming from his “lousy neighbour.”

Enjoying a sleep-in on a rare day off, Vezina opened his eyes to glance at the clock, but the couple’s bedroom was flashing like a strobe light. They discovered the turbine’s shadow flicker coming through the tiny window facing the rising sun.

Sitting in their yard as the sun sets, the Vezinas watch shadows from the turbines to the west move quickly over the fields, flashing on the woodlands. They have captured the disturbing visual effects, both inside and outside their home, on video.

“We never signed up for this,” Vezina says.

They have talked about selling their home, but now fear their property value has been severely compromised by having the turbine as a neighbour.

“Seriously, who is going to want to buy this place?”

The Vezinas soon found they were not alone. Other residents were discovering their own unexpected surprises living as neighbours to the Gosfield wind turbines.

Phil Barrette and his wife Heather both describe the turbine noise, more noticeable at night, “as a jet that never goes away.”

“We’re not against wind power, but they should never have put the turbines this close to people,” Barrette says. “But now they are up, and we’re going to have to deal with them.”

Barrette says he is surprised to hear that the community did not rally behind veteran Spitfire pilot Jerry Billing, who fought to keep a turbine out of the flight path of his rural landing strip in Lakeshore. He says it appears one person’s tranquility is too easily sacrificed for another person’s profit.

“We’re just the little people. They are not going to unplug them for us.”

A long-time County Road 14 resident, Catherine von Flotow says she no longer enjoys sitting out in her yard due to turbine noise.

“It sounds like a washing machine that never quits,” she says. “It’s obnoxious.”

On Road 10, on the western edge of the Gosfield wind project, Hazel Smith hopes the turbines, the closest one less than a kilometre away, will not pose problems for her beloved Belgian horses.

“It does sound like a jet, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not a high-pitched jet sound,” Smith says.

After one of the noisier nights, her horses were uncharacteristically hesitant to enter a pasture facing a turbine.

It is common for horses to act out of sorts when they encounter something new, she says.

“They usually adapt pretty fast.”

On Oct. 4, Brookfield Renewable Power celebrated the commissioning of its Gosfield project. Company representatives were joined at the base of an operational turbine by busloads of employees, participating landowners, contractors, and government officials from all levels of government, including Ontario’s energy minister Brad Duguid.

“This is a landmark day for Ontario and demonstrates that our clean energy economy is creating jobs and attracting investment into our communities,” announced Duguid, who later attended a groundbreaking for Brookfield’s 72-turbine Comber Wind Project.

At the ceremony, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos praised Brookfield’s record of working with the community.

Rick Vezina hopes Brookfield continues that record of cooperation.

“If I have problems, I am going to keep on complaining,” says Vezina.

27 thoughts on “Turbines make ‘lousy neighbours’

  1. “At the ceremony, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos praised Brookfield’s record of working with the community.”

    This quote from above makes me wonder if everyone in Ontario is going insane!

    Brookfield and the Provincial Government has destroyed these peoples lives and home………if that’s “working with the community” then tell me what I’m missing here!

  2. When an industrial wind farm lease is signed, they can put the turbines any where on the property, put roads any where on the property , bury the power cables any where. they are not supposed to make noise according to the wind companies.
    if u happen to live next to an industrial wind farm, u are out of luck. good luck on trying to sell your house.
    thanks dalton for the e health scam, eco fees, smart meters that are not so smart, the horrible sales tax u dumped on us, and the tax on home utility bills. the green energy act and the way it was implemented reminds me of russia during the stalinist era. this whole thing has me worried.

  3. The Canadian charter of rights explains that we have the right to live on our property in peace,living next to a IWT does not allow you to live in peace. More or less in torture,secondly living next to one you cannot escape because your property is basically worthless so now you are in prison with your family for no crime committed. So living next to these IWT violates our rights and the government,land owners of the IWT and the corporations of these IWT should be charged for this crime and held accountable for and have them put in prison. There is now enough evidence to conclude IWT are causing health effects across the globe and we should pursue this avenue. Stop this madness

  4. The 550 metre setback applies to any development that was not approved before the introduction of the Green Energy Act – if approvals were issued prior to the enactment of the GEA – they are subject to a prior set of rules.

    Be careful with the 550 metres, however, as that is a guideline which may be reduced at the request of the developer if a noise report can be produced in support of the reduction. So 550 metres is by no means a minimum – it is a suggestion.

    Finally – although the legal action that is presently underway specifically targets the setback provisions in the Green Energy Act – if the action is successful, it would be hard to imagine continued placement of IWT’s close to homes, regardless of which set of rules govern the development.

    It may take further legal action to stop them but the road to success will be well laid.

  5. Sleep deprivation is considered “torture” under the Geneva Convention Rules. When turbines and wind energy proponents are concerned lt’s “business as usual”.

  6. Yup, Brookfield reps have no problems, they don’t live there. Hope people don’t forget this by next October when we can vote the wind industry out of power. They do control our province because they are the liberal party.

  7. “our clean energy economy is creating jobs ”

    Two lies in one sentence.

    Because we have a surplus of generation, all that wind power isn’t even used by us, it’s getting exported to the US.

    Creating Jobs? No, these are a leaching net job loss, as Spain found out. 2.2 jobs lost in the private sector for every “green” job.

  8. this 550 metres is all phoney..the renewable energy regultions specifies that the distance to any receptor shall be 550m minumum,however in our area we have proposed set backs of 334m,348m 368m,442m,424m .and 497m.we have found that these belong to land owners who have signed a deal with the wind farm company.this will render this property useless until the wind farms are dismantled because who in there correct mind would want to buy it[except the wind company].talking about having your cake and eat it too

  9. I thought that I read something about Spain’s green energy policy….every green job created cost 2 real jobs…

  10. Quixote – it’s not just Canada going crazy. Here in the USA it’s just as crazy. That 550 meters (1804 feet) sounds great! our local county board (after much discussion) agreed to 1320 feet (1/4 mile) setbacks for non-participants — that was after the wind company stated “they could live with that”. Makes one wonder who’s running the show!!

  11. bette,

    Please keep in touch with us as we all are battling the turbines. We have a common cause here.

  12. T3,

    Agree with you. The people promoting wind turbines know exactly what they are doing but they just don’t care about anything but the money that’s in this game.

    One way to break a contract is to prove you were deceived by the other party/parties to the contract/lease. Not an easy task.

  13. T3, I am deeply moved by your story. There is no doubt that crimes have been committed against you.

  14. I still cannot believe this is still happening. Why can we not tell them that this is all illegal and criminal,this act alone is criminal to enforce onto us.Do we not live in a democratic country. If so Dalton should be thrown out now not another year,better yet throw the book at him.Is there no one out there that can state our rights to live in peace on our property which is our right and man trumps corporations.This should be out in front and centre. we should demand this and force them to stop what they have done and are doing. This is our God given right to live in our homes and not abandon them from these criminals. The longer we wait the more damage to our people and our rural settings this is so ridiculous and horrible to even contemplate.

  15. The closest turbine to my house is 915m (approx 3000ft). I live in Gosfield North near the most Eastern of the turbines. The description of the jet that wouldn’t leave is very accurate. I’d throw freight train in there too as the sound is intermittent with the spinning. I tried to capture the sound on my camera the other night because it was unbelievably loud. The video needs to be adjusted because the camera didn’t quite hear what my ears were hearing. I’ll keep trying though. It’s nothing but lies when they say that they don’t make noise. They most certainly do. There will be no more peaceful summer nights on the porch for me.

  16. I am trying neither to be paranoid, nor to invest my precious energy in fear of conspiracies.

    Please, folks, share your thoughts on this fearful possibility that keeps recurring in my mind.

    This is feeling to me like a war against rural and small-town Ontario, a war with objectives and strategies. Drive away the people and animals, render the land uninhabitable, buy up the land and use it up some more.

    I know some of you have spoken of this before, but is this what is happening? Has it been planned in secrecy by “government” and Big Wind?

    Where is the media? WHERE IS FIFTH ESTATE?

    I have friends who are going along with all this – I hardly know who they are anymore.

    How can anyone consider buying property in rural Ontario now?

    I am feeling afraid.

  17. I do not have turbines around me now. But I want to live on the land, maybe in the woods in a couple of years.

    I want to be brave and empowered and say “Nothing, no one will take away my dream to live in peace.” But so many of you have already lost this – and the birds and animals, too.

    How can we live, let alone thrive, in such a world?

    Is this fascism? Is this war?

    When the land-owners refuse, en masse, to lease their land, will the “government” hand over our Crown lands to be raped and pillaged?

  18. kbug,

    Keep trying to get a recording but you may need sound recording equipment.

    Also try and video any lightning strikes on the turbines.

    By all means keep us informed about your situation.

  19. claire,

    Don’t know if you can call this a conspiracy yet but it’s getting there.

    Eco-nuts,greenies, and green energy people have pushed these wind turbines off on to the largely rural areas by pressuring and getting laws changed.

    Getting laws changed is the most dangerous but needed to force the rural people to accept the turbines.

    Seems Al Gore recently advocated that busineses lobby to have laws changed inorder to achieve this desired green political end.

  20. kbug,

    Please don’t forget to video tape any ice build up on the turbines. You just might catch ice being thrown off the blades.

  21. I emailed Brookfield to file a complaint with them. I will also put in a complaint here.

    Right now, I’m sitting in my bedroom (which faces the turbines to the south and west) just listening to the horrible sounds coming in the window. The turbines are definitely ruining the quality of life here. I have to make things noisy in the house so I don’t hear the whoosh, whoosh, whooshing. I can’t sit and read quietly without the noise. Today is the first time I can hear them with the windows closed. I can almost feel it, it’s so loud.

    I’m 8 months pregnant and get little sleep as it is, this noise isn’t helping. This is the loudest I’ve ever heard them, now that the crickets are silent at night.

    I have the noise recorded on video, you just have to adjust the sound to filter out some of the other noise. I play it on VLC player and filter it and you can hear the whooshing. I’m just not sure how to permanently filter it so I can upload it to YouTube.

    Brookfield should be ashamed for putting these up here. All the houses in this area are pretty close together and the setbacks just aren’t enough. They obviously don’t care about the residents here, just the money.

    I hope we can move one day.

  22. This is a letter I sent to my Senator here in Wisconsin, he was already aware of my problems with sleep.
    It’s happening all over the world.

    Consensus, those of us that have followed this issue knew they would never reach concensus given the appointments that where made to the wind siting councel. Green is Green and money talks. These rules are only about small wind projects, what about those of us now living in the big ones! Blue Sky-Green Field. We have been not only ignored but intentionally written off in my understanding of the rule. Most of the people living within the foot print of BSGF can only be discribed as victims. We never signed on, or where even asked our opinion, we just have to live with it. Many of those same victims have spent countless hours trying to get the word out knowing full well that it might be to late for us, but have felt that it was our civic duty to warn other people in the state what may soon be coming to their back yards. A Big, for profit company. We have many nights when we KNOW that the 50 dba is being exceeded, the walls will vibrate, who do we call that will come out at 2:00-3:00 a.m when it’s happening? You get a answering machine as they are all at home sleeping. Many of us don’t bother anymore, that is not to say that we have become used to. We never will. Who is policing them? NO ONE. They get a complaint, then come back the next week in the middle of the afternoon do a reading that says they are in compliance, No Problem. HOW DO WE FIGHT THIS. The Fox has been left to guard the hen house here in Johnsburg. We need to be grandfathered in with the noise issue. If not we are being asked to live with a greater burden than any other citizen in the state of Wisconsin. We never signed on to be thier Guinea Pigs. They can’t move them but can curtail them at night so that we can sleep.. Our property value or lack there of is a whole nother chapter. Thank you for you time and concern.
    Joan Lagerman

  23. Joan, thanks for your posting. We have common cause with you.

  24. I have filed with MOE and they simply ignore me now,they do not know what to do,it seems ridiculous to complain to them.They are only to help the corporation of Ontario and Canada. Yes I do believe in conspiracies now knowing that Canada is listed as a corporation and Ontario.They will do whats best for other corporations not the will of the people.Only if there is enough protest.This is why you need to send notice of your right as a man not a corporate person.Check out your birth certificate it list you as a corporate person all in capital letters.But if you claim you are a man or woman you have more rights than you think and you have to send your notice to claim your rights and you want to live in peace. Again we need to wake up.

  25. Filing a complaint with MOE seems futile I know, but you are laying a foundation to build yourself a case. Keep good records of each call. Make sure you get yourself a reference number from the spill action centre @ 1800-268-6060. If MOE is not responding, then they are not meeting to their responsibilities which is actionable and Ombudsman can help. Please understand that all gov’t agencies respond based on numbers. Just a few complaints can be overlooked and disregarded as frivolous and vexatious.
    Note also that a company under their Certificate of Approval issued by MOE must respond to the complaint within 2 days and provide mitigation within 4 days. If they are not responding let Ombudsman know. They can act upon this.

    Also please contact at Ombudsman Adam Orfonakos @ 1800-263-1830 Ext. 3357. Ombudsman is compiling a case to discern the extent of the problem. It’s no use sitting at home wringing your hands and complaining that nothing will be done. These turbines may not come down but at least you may be able to get them to stop in order to get sleep.

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