Wind developer packs PAC

By Cheryl Heath, Clinton News Record

In a marked departure from the typical Central Huron Planning Advisory Committee with an empty gallery, hundreds of area residents had to be packed into the REACH Centre Auditorium Jan. 20, for a scheduled presentation by wind developer Chuck Edey.

While the delegation, officially provided by Leader Resources on its two scheduled projects for the area, was for information purposes’ only and not for any decision by council, it nonetheless proved to draw a standing room-only crowd, most of whom proved to be against the idea of industrial wind turbines coming to the municipality.

In addressing the scope of the two projects at the behest of PAC chairman Dave Jewitt, as Reeve James Ginn declared a conflict on the issue, Edey acknowledges being well aware that the topic at hand has provoked the passions of area residents.As such, says Edey, his Kincardine-based company, which is owned by the American Wind Alliance, is endeavouring to do its part to communicate with and invest in Central Huron.

So far, says Edey, the company has made more than $450,000 in landowner payments and spent $6 million in project development. Further, he says, Leader Resources is creating jobs for local residents.

“Our vendor list in this area is substantive,” says Edey, noting that so far more than 100 contractors have expressed interest in the construction projects.

As it stands, says Edey, the Holmesville-area project is the top priority as the Summerhill one is still moving through the regulatory process.

Since the province recently granted the Goderich Township project a priority ranking, the construction phase is expected to start as early as the end of 2011 or the first quarter of 2012.

In attempting to address concerns, Edey reports his company has conducted “numerous” seasonal bird studies, completed environmental mapping of the project area, and conducted archeological assessments where, in all, three artifacts were found, including half an arrowhead.

“Those have been logged and they are in an area which we will avoid,” says Edey, noting the company has also held meeting with First Nations’ groups and completed noise modeling that was reviewed by Golder & Associates.

At the end of the day, Edey says the Holmesville area project will include 60 turbines, resulting in $96,000 worth of building permits, an annual tax levy of about $168,000, a tax levy on the land itself of $336,000 and $1.2 million in annual payouts to landowners.

While it is hoped the Summerhill project will move forward in 2012, Edey reports it is anticipated there will be $64,000 in building permits, a $112,000 tax levy on the generator, $23,000 in land taxes and $800,000 in annual payouts to landowners.

In referencing his company’s earlier projects, including the one in Ripley, Edey says it is important to understand there are new guidelines in place that his company intends to follow.

“There are Best Practices to be considered,” says Edey, noting there would be substantial differences to the Ripley and Enbridge projects if they were undertaken today.

Edey also notes CANWEA, the umbrella organization for wind companies, is undertaking a series of advertisements designed to show ratepayers the positive side of wind projects.

Edey adds he is well aware that there are a number of concerns with wind farms.

“We believe both sides have to have a dialogue,” he says, noting a consortium is being formed to discuss wind projects along the lakeshore.

Still, says Edey, it is his belief that the “silent majority” supports wind farms.

“We believe there is broad support for wind energy,” he says, adding a signage campaign is about to begin so wind energy supporters can spread the word, ‘I’m for wind power.’

During a question-and-answer session open only to councillors, Coun. Brian Barnim first posed a three-part question to Edey, including, “How does this affect you, except financially?”

Edey says as a former Ontario Hydro employee and as someone who has been in the energy sector for decades, he has seen, first hand, what coal can do to the environment.

“I believe it (wind energy) is the right thing for the farm. I believe it’s the right thing for the country. I believe it’s the right thing for the planet,” he says.

When Barnim asked Edey how he thinks wind farms will impact the community, Edey acknowledges there will be strife.

“I am well aware that neighbours feel differently,” he says. “It’s a different milk cheque, if you will.”

“Is there an annoyance factor? The answer is yes,” says Edey.

But, says Edey, the controversy is temporary.

“What we see is this will pass,” says Edey, noting, “I am disappointed that we’re having signs at either side of the road.”

When Barnim suggested wind energy is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, Edey disagreed.

“The electrical infrastructure of Ontario is broken. If you don’t know that, you’re not reading,” he says.

Coun. Burkhard Metzger, who received the most support of all three West Ward councillors in the recent municipal election, suggested Edey was blowing hot air, and that the fact that those who oppose large-scale wind farms were elected shows the community’s support is not there.

While Metzger first presented a preamble that proved to irk Edey, Metzger ultimately asked why the wind company was now presenting an amicable approach to the situation when it was at first very blustery and telling landowners that “it is a done deal, get used to it.”

“You are here because you realize the grassroots movement is against it,” says Metzger.

Metzger also challenged Eddy to agree to take out property value protection policies on all of the impacted landowners within the footprint of wind farms in order to assure landowners that turbines will not decrease land values.

While Edey took time out to address Metzger’s tone and to suggest running an election on one issue is “an atrocity,” he also said his company would not take on Metzger’s challenge.

“I believe what you’re asking is unreasonable,” says Edey.

Coun. Alex Westerhout also questioned whether the company has reviewed the perils of wind energy.

“It’s sure easy to look at all the positive when you are the ones making all the money,” notes Westerhout.

When asked whether the company will undertake a health study to gauge the health impacts associated with wind farms, Edey says the project would require too much time.

“I don’t believe most people understand what a health study is… it requires 15 years of baseline study and then the turbines would have to come in,” says Edey. “We’re trying to be good corporate citizens. We have talked to physicians, we have talked to doctors.”

When Westerhout suggested, as was first proposed by former UWO Dean of Medicine Dr. Rob McMurtry, that a proper health study could be conducted within one year for $2 million, Edey says the company has already been in consultations.

Edey also pledged that at least two more town hall style meetings will be held before the Goderich Township project is in the ground.

In an interview after the meeting, John Brand, a Tipperary Line resident was one of the few wind energy proponents at the session, says there is far too much rhetoric being spewed from both sides.

Brand, a farmer, says people are forgetting about past issues, like the farm income crisis, which showed there was a need for new programs to help farmers.

“This helps rural Ontario, people are forgetting that,” says Brand. “There is a lot of rhetoric. That’s all it is.”

Brand says he feels frustrated by the fact that wind opponents are attempting to cloak their personal dislike of turbines in weak arguments.

Brand says it is also unfair for councillors to question wind developers’ potential revenue since the same types of questions aren’t asked when an individual applies to build a pig barn, which also has an impact on neighbouring properties.

17 thoughts on “Wind developer packs PAC

  1. No one has explained to me how wind energy makes sense when the equivalent back up natural gas turbines must be built to kick in when the wind dies AND these turbines produce ~25-30% of their rated capacity overall. We are turning beautiful Ontario into industrial land/water scapes. Eastern Lake Ontario could have thousands of wind turbines in the next few decades- several decades later they will be rusting hulks- a testament to our stupidity. One 1000MW nuclear plant can produce the equivalent (non-intermittent) power of ~3-4000 turbines. It’s nonsense. Brian W

  2. Chuck Edey says he is supported by the “silent majority”. Because of the GEA he only requires the support of a “silent minority” of landowners to move an IWT project forward. My question is why are they so silent?

    As his promised sign campaign escalates, so to will the division between once friendly neighbours. If by some miracle these projects do not proceed to construction, it may be too late as most of the damage has already been done.

  3. “As his promised sign campaign escalates, so to will the division between once friendly neighbours.”

    This very reason alone should be enough justification for our government to scrap it.

  4. “Our vendor list in this area is substantive,” says Edey, noting that so far more than 100 contractors have expressed interest in the construction projects.

    Looks like Fast Eddy go the Sussex Memo.
    Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs…………………………………………….did I say jobs?
    Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs………….jobs………….and more jobs.

    There! That’s a wrap!

  5. The article dosen’t say how many turbines are in the Summerhill project?

    For the Holmesville project with 60 turbines:
    Turbine tax $2,800/year/turbine
    Land tax $5,600/year/turbine
    To land turbine hosts $20,000/year/turbine

    Number of temporay & permanent jobs not given for either project.

    So it is easy to see who gets the lion’s share of the money for this project at the expense of their neighbors in health problems and loss of property values.

    With 60 turbines and ,for discussion, 2/land owner would be 30 people with contracts and with 4/turbines it would be 15 people with contracts.

    These are hardly majorities in any community. This leaves out the costs passed on to all Hydro bill payers which could be 60x ~ $ 2 million/turbine or $120 million for the Holmesville wind project.

  6. “Edey says as a former Ontario Hydro employee and as someone who has been in the energy sector for decades, he has seen, first hand, what coal can do to the environment.”

    Maybe Mr. Edey can explain at his next public forum just what he did in his career at Ontario Hydro to make him an expert on the effects of coal fired generation.

  7. I’m not sure where Edey is getting this ‘silent majority” of people. Anyone seen him hanging out around cemeteries?

  8. But, says Edey, the controversy is temporary.

    He’s got that right. Opponents lose, pack up and leave. Or we win.
    What’s certain is we sure have the passion, drive and knowledge on our sides.
    But afterall, we are trying to win over some very “confused” people.

  9. As we already know,wind turbine developers can go into a community and sign up many more land owners than they will need with options that have gag orders. Makes it appear that they have more support than they really have.

    All along the developers know they will only give out turbine contracts to a few and leave the rest out. Devious way to build community support. Those that don’t get contracts still have to keep quiet or give the money back.

    Great method to build community support at very little cost to the wind developers.

  10. Barbara, I didn’t know that. I thought once a lease was signed you were definately getting your turbine(s).

    That is pathetic. I wonder how many land owners had been opponents, only to capitulate believing they’d be surrounded by them anyway?

  11. Barbara: 40 turbines in the Summerhill project. The per turbine numbers are the same as your calculations, except for the land tax number, which seems to be a typo by the newspaper.

  12. There are so many factual errors in all of Mr. Edey’s assertions; one hardly knows where to begin…

    It’s not like the room was full of supporters!

    Wind replace coal, even a little bit? Never been done, never will be. Money earned thru permits, taxes, payouts etc is money coming directly off increases in rates. The left hand is simply paying money to the right. FOR NOTHING OF MEASURABLE VALUE!

    A local municipality may benefit to the detriment of the province as a whole. There is no net increase in economic prosperity, more likely a decrease as businesses and/or residents leave due to a host of issues not the least of which is skyrocketing energy costs. Any large scale job creation is short term and ends as soon as the turbines are operational. Very few long term jobs.

    Then there are the health and environmental issues…

    Did anyone ask Mr Edey if he would be here if wind energy was only purchased when needed at market rates?

    Maybe this should be the first question these disingenuous bastards are asked?!

    Pretty sure their “has seen, first hand, what coal can do to the environment” righteousness would evaporate pretty fast!

    B.B.W.

  13. Is Edey going to remove them when they run their life span?………………..nothing mentioned there…..anyone who can get hold of this “slippery wee man” at the next meeting may want to “hold his feet to the fire” with that question!

  14. I think I understand. Let’s see…He believes asking for a property value guarantee is “unreasonable”? Imagine that…it is somehow reasonable to cause value impacts but unreasonable to be responsible for them?

    Or, maybe he just thinks it’s fair for the “silent majority” to get that warm & fuzzy feeling when more turbines go on-line 50 or 150km from thier homes, at the expense of rural residents…who shouldn’t be so selfish as to expect to be compensated for losses incurred in the developer’s quest for green..LOTS & LOTS of green cash!!

    Next thing ya know, he’ll expect the government to issue hunting permits for bald eagles, so them damn critters don’t damage his turbine blades!

    Put your money where your mouth is Mr. Edey…if there are no impacts on values, then pay the cost for the community to write and implement a guarantee for the folks who, unlike you, will NOT be leaving town (willingly) with the benefits of YOUR project in thier pockets. What could be more fair?

    P.S. Did Canadian Hydro ever dam up an area, surround homes and expect THOSE homeowners to just live with the project? That kind of “underwater” effect is being demanded with wind projects as somehow “acceptable”. Think about it. Crazy!

  15. As I write this, the IWTs are producing 44 MW, or 3.5% of their capacity. This is equivalent to our fleet of nuclear generators having a capacity of 11,000 MW but only producing 385 MW. This at the same time as we are reaching our daily peak demand.

    If Dalton gets his way, we can look forward to many dark, cold winter nights.

  16. wegrait,

    These are options to lease the land. The wind developer pays money to “hold” the land for them for a certain amount of time but does not mean the developer has to exercise the option to lease. The developer can just let the option run out but also have gag order to return money if the land owner talks about the terms of the option to lease.

    Wind developers can tie up lots of land this way for not too much money. Then people can’t find out just where the turbines will be placed so this is a win-win situation for the developer.

  17. Property Value Guarantees are a MUST.

    Living surrounded by 18 Vestas 1.65 MW IWT’s all jammed in within a 3 km radius my houe is now BOTH UNLIVABLE AND UNSELLABLE.

    This is the living experience of being between “the devil and the deep blue sea”

    Now, with 26 months of this life, I am a wandering nomad, always looking for some place to go just to be away from the monstrosities.

    Even having become a wanderer, I am grateful to my son who allows me to sleep in his trailer which is surrounded by trees, fields and bush.

    I’m doing everything I can think of to get back the peaceful life I had worked for to spend the remaining years.

    All suggestions for what else to do are most welcome.

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