Wind project neighbors refuse noise waiver payments, seek buyouts

The Acoustic Ecology Institute

A few months back, there was a bit of a news and comment flurry when the Shepherd’s Flat wind farm announced plans to pay neighbors $5000 for noise wavers, in order to build turbines closer to homes than Oregon’s unusually strict 36dB noise limit would allow. While the plan was dissed by many as an attempt to buy off neighbors, it seems to me that agreements like this are a valid way of addressing concerns about noise, especially in that they provide local authorities an avenue that may help them justify larger set-backs (or lower decibel limits) to protect residents who don’t want to hear turbines, while allowing developers to arrange exceptions with people who either don’t care about noise or feel that a payment is fair compensation.

But of course, noise waver or easement provisions don’t guarantee that the developer can build turbines closer to every resident.  Caithness Energy is dealing with this in Oregon now, as this unusually frank article details. The entire article is important reading for nearly anyone working on this issue, but here are a few highlights:

Richard and Joanne Goodhead were clear from the start that they were not willing to live with turbine noise of up to 50dB, as the waiver would allow, and told Caithness, the developer, they wanted to be bought out. “(The Caithness representative) said ‘We’re not in the real estate business,’ Goodhead said. ‘I said, fine — I’m not in the windmill business.’” After a month of negotiations, which included offers of $6000 per year for 20 years, and later, the revenue from one turbine, Caithness relented, and bought the Goodhead’s land and home.

Two other homes near the Shepherd’s Flat wind farm, which is still under construction, have been sold; one was bought by an attorney who works for Caithness, acting on behalf of another local landowner who is part of the wind project.

Invenergy’s Willow Creek wind farm, just south of Shepherd’s Flat, has also been struggling with noise issues, finding it difficult at times to meet the 36dB limit.  According to the Goodheads, the local antelope population has noticeably declined since it began operating.

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13 thoughts on “Wind project neighbors refuse noise waiver payments, seek buyouts

  1. Some data from the Oregon Shepherd’s Flat Wind development:

    1.Has 338 turbines at completion
    2.Construction jobs ~500
    3.Post construction full time jobs 35
    4.Host land owners get $15,000 per turbine per year for 15 years
    5.Property taxes paid by wind developer ~ $ 7 million per year for 15 years

    Post construction full time job numbers agree with other figures we have come acros for wind turbine employment of ~ 1 job/10 turbines.

    Only good news here is that non-participating people are being compensated for their losses.

    Again if Ontario installs 7,000 turbines this works out to about 700 full time jobs with 1 job/10 turbines.

    Not much in the way of new permanet jobs for the cost of 7,000 turbines in Ontario.

  2. Some municipalities,the ones with smarter councillors get more money than others. Some get property taxes and $1500/tubine a year[Essex] or only taxes [North Malden Wind Farm, Essex] and the smarter councils get taxes and $4000 up to Wolfe Island’s $7000

  3. Anyone know what the lease payments are in Ontario? At Shepherd’s Flat,OR the host land owners get $15,000/turbine/year.

    Those involved in wind turbines in Ontario sure got a hose job from the province and the wind developers.

  4. I just heard a municipal council is considering charging agricultural/commercial taxes for an entire farm where a project is proposed. This would leave the host with a significant loss after new tax rate is applied.

  5. Supposedly the “better” companies in our area (Lambton/Middlesex) have upped their offers to +$20,000/turbine – based on production – production measured with a rubber ruler. Lots of cynicism out here. There is a report of a company trying to exercise a “right of first refusal” option on an optioned farm, but backing down when threatened with public disclosure – real nice guys those wind rep’s. They promise never do you any harm. The only thing they want in writing is your silence.

  6. So in the Shepherd’s Flat,OR the wind developers will pay ~$ 20,000 property tax + $15,000 lease/turbine or $35,000 total per year.

    Then ~$3,000 taxes + ~ $20,000 lease or $23,000 for Ontario at the top end of offers for deals so far. This leaves a $12,000 difference at the top end with many deals already obtained for a lot less money per lease per year.

  7. I’ve heard of a company near Chatham, ON that is paying the landowners and their neighbours.
    The turbine hosts receive about $30000 and the neighbours get something like $3000-8000 depending on acreage (which is not enough to pay for property devaluation)
    I’ll try and verify these claims and get the det’s…

  8. Thanks Harvey & Joseph,

    Looks like the price/turbine is on the rise and paying the neighbors is new. Wonder if the $3,000 -8,000 for neighbours is a one time only payment for noise.

    At any rate the tax amount the towns get won’t increase due to the cap. So we all can see who is getting the money. Great revenue stream for the towns hey what!!!

  9. Just say for the sake of discussion that all 7,000 turbines will be on land and that each land holder could have 2 turbines. Then 3,500 land holders would benefit from the wind turbine scam at the expense of all Ontarians paying for this in their Hydro bills. No wonder land holders are clamoring to become part of this scam and to enrich themselves at public expense.

    As more information is gathered we will come to know the extent that a few can enrich themselves at the expense of others.

    If noise payments to neighbours are now being offered in Ontario this is an open admission on the part of turbine operators that noise is a problem with wind turbines.

  10. Also should add that it only takes a very small number of land owners to put the wind turbine scam over in Ontario and elsewhere. Without the cooperation of land owners this whole wind scam would not be possible unless crown land is used.

    It only takes a few willing people to bring on energy poverty and great economic damage in Ontario.

  11. Putting industrial wind turbines on crown land or in crown water resolves very little. Increased transmission lines would be needed and more people will, in the end be impacted financially and with loss of value to the crown land which we all own. Industrialization of places like Algonquin Park to the level needed to build the industrial wind turbines should not be tolerated. We should not be suggesting the permanent wastage of crown land for this wind scam.

  12. To keep these new turbine factories running, the fed’s will be forced to give up crown land (lake erie) as they can put up 100’s of turbines at a time with little opposition. This is because it’s more difficult to oppose the federal gov’t vs a more local provincial one. And a provincial gov’t is more difficult to influence (democratically) than a municipal one. Now, I’m not going to stop there. Remember when we had even greater influence under township governments? Democracy is becoming less and less local, making it more controlled by the larger cities where most of the votes are located.
    Soon we will be dealing with the UN on issues like turbines or solar panels. Maybe Canada aleady made deals with international non democratic bodies like the UN to put up so many turbines etc.

  13. Placing turbines in Lake Erie is a provincal matter and not a federal matter but you are correct that once turbines are manufactured in Ontario it will be a lot easier to push them on the people. Must keep the factories going and people employed.

    Next place for turbines could be on crown lands.People involved in the wind turbine scam don’t care where they are installed. Only the money counts.

    SouthPointe Wind proposes to place over 700 turbines in Lakes Erie & St.Clair in Essex Co. This is ~ 10% of the 7,000 proposed for Ontario. From these figures you can see that not many people are involved in the wind scam and it dosen’t take many willing participants to make the wind turbine scam work.

    So far we are not facing great numbers of people to be concerned with but it only takes a few willing individuals to make the wind scam work. The government knows this and we should remember this as well.

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