Ontario Landowners Association join in fight

By WES KELLER, Orangeville Citizen

Ontario Power Authority (OPA) last Thursday awarded four Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) onshore wind turbine contracts, and the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) has joined in the intensifying fight against them.

The four projects are reported to have a combined installed (nameplate) capacity of 615 megawatts, a reported 230 MW of that at Smithville in the Niagara Region, which would make it the largest wind farm in Canada. The other three are at Pickerel, near Burks Falls, Simcoe and Stella, on Amherst Island, near Kingston.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is heralding the awards as good news for Ontario’s economy, but there’s a growing multipronged opposition to wind farms, no matter how large or small they may be.

“Wind energy’s growing contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply is making Ontario a leader in green energy production, and bringing much-needed jobs and economic opportunities to local communities,” said CanWEA president Robert Hornung.

“The wind energy industry is committed to working closely with municipal leaders and local residents, the Ontario government and the Ontario Power Authority to ensure wind energy developments in communities throughout Ontario are responsible and sustainable.”

But the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) is describing wind energy projects as “a lot of hot air.”

“Evidence in the United Kingdom and elsewhere shows wind turbines are often unreliable during heat waves and cold snaps – when we need energy the most,” says the OLA as one of “10 reasons” why it believes industrial wind farms are not a good idea.

Although there has always been opposition as well as support for wind farms, it is difficult to know whether the opposition has intensified because of experience or because local government and the public feel left out of the development process for wind farms by virtue of the Green Energy Act (GEA).

CanWEA has said the GEA rules for consultation are a bare minimum. It has urged its members to go beyond the basic GEA requirements in dealing with the public and host municipal councils.

Locally, residents at or near the Mono-Amaranth Townline have expressed dissatisfaction with open houses held by the proponent of the proposed threeturbine, 6.9 MW Whittington installation in Amaranth, just north of 15 Sideroad, and there has been a groundswell of opposition to the proposal.

Also in Amaranth and Melancthon, Paulette Crawley is urging the township councils to petition the province to shut down the (now) TransAlta 200 MW Melancthon Wind Farm, still Canada’s largest. Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill promised to discuss the issue with ministry officials at a ROMA convention. It was an agenda item for today’s township council meeting.

Meantime, the approved 27 MW Plateau Wind Project in the north of Melancthon remains quietly on course for development. It would have nine 1.5 MW towers.

Not everyone opposes turbine development. CanWEA quotes Jim VandenHoek, former mayor of Frontenac Islands near Kingston, as saying the 199 MW Wolfe Island wind farm is “the best rural Ontario good news story that you will find. Annual income from the wind development has allowed this municipality to achieve sustainability and to reduce property taxes.”

Canada currently has 4,155 MW of installed wind energy capacity. Ontario is the provincial leader in installed wind energy capacity with 1,598 MW of wind energy development.

Under the provincial Long-Term Energy Plan, CanWEA estimates that wind energy will deliver a minimum: 800 people per year employed in construction of wind farms through 2018; 2,300 fulltime positions in operations and maintenance by 2018; a significant increase in the 900 fulltime manufacturing jobs that will already be in place to build major components by 2012.

As well, it points to the economic benefits to municipalities through taxation and other charges plus possible amenities payments and income to the farming community through land leases.

Opponents argue that all those things are coming at the costs of health, reduction in property values, and unwanted changes to the landscape.

The issue of widespread adverse health effects is being disputed, and a national U.S. study last year concluded that turbines have little or no effect on property values within a 10-mile (about 18 km) radius, according to a Jan. 11, 2011, article in Energy Business Daily (EBD).

“The Laboratory used eight-point hedonic statistical analysis to analyze home and property sales prices of 7500 real estate transactions entered into from 1996 through 2007 which involved the buying and selling of real estate within a 10 mile radius of an existing wind turbine array. One home was only 800 feet away from a wind turbine facility.

“The conclusion was that while it’s probable that there are some people who would never wish to have to look out on a wind turbine array, leading some small percentage of property values going down, there is no significant negative impact at all on the larger real estate value picture concerning situations where wind turbine arrays are within sight of a property.

“With ever-increasing community interest in the installation of wind turbine arrays, including in some coastal areas, in the United States, this kind of research is vitally important.

“Human beings need beauty as well as practicality which is why you don’t usually see well-off people living close to a factory, even though that factory is doing something very valuable in the practical sense,” concludes the EBD.

Locally, Roger Oliveira of Melancthon says he has spent 20 years building his dream home, and now he’s surrounded by turbines. In a complaint to the council, he says his home “sounds like an airport only worse.”

He says he has some more work to do on his house. Now, he says, he’ll have to finish the work and then “walk away from it for the sake of my health.”

19 thoughts on “Ontario Landowners Association join in fight

  1. Sean, We miss you already. Take a deep breath. You have many readers that respect you. We are just getting to the fun part now and we need you. Reconsider please.


  2. Sean,

    It is necessary for posters to quote from articles in order to point out the falsehoods in the articles.

    Also using quotations shows the poster is not making up things. Using quotations is very valuable in any kind of discussion to point out good or bad.

    If a quotation is cited you can’t be accused of taking things out of context either.

    Reveals the source of the information as well.

  3. Rabble Rouser,

    I value your spontaneous remarks, & enjoy reading your posts.

  4. I feel like I came in mid stream in the comments. But regarding the study in the US –I thought it was a graduate study –I’ve tried to get information from anyone that’s looked closely at it to refute other than it used hedonic stats rather than paired sales. I tried to “wade” through, but there wasn’t (for me) a logical bottom line – and I couldn’t find “homes that never sold section”.
    Spontaneous quotes are great, also quoted (with sites) are also — that allows people like myself to go back and look up for further research.
    Several times we’ve had county board members dispute one item that someone says — we have a quoted site we can say — here it is. One particular county board member it won’t matter, but since it’s “facts”; it makes it harder to dispute. And, others listening can be the judge.
    I do find it grossly unfair that the wind industry can tout one flawed study like it’s the gospel and no one bats an idea, but if we who may bring up something else in property devaluation or health will have to have a ton of studies to back it up.
    It’s unfair – but money is driving the train

  5. Bette,

    The Irish Academy of Engineering has released a recent study of the wind turbine situatuion in Ireland.


    “The report concludes that the proposed level of wind powered generation will add substantially to generation costs. to the detriment of Ireland’s economic competitiveness and result in the destruction of value of exisiting generating assets owned by the taxpayers when we can least afford such damage”

    The U.S. is still in a shaky economic recovery so using money for useless wind turbines is to be avoided.

  6. Thanks for the info about the study in Ireland I’ll check it out. Yes, in our case in the U.S. our counties think they’re getting a great deal with the “taxes”, but the wind company asks that they be abated for awhile — of course the process is already started so, ok. Plus many of the counties “believe” the myth of jobs. Who can actually tell how many jobs there really are… I’ve tried with no luck. Maybe Canada requires better accounting of “actual” jobs.

    Another problem we have here is that some county officials & (townships officials) are leaseholders. And, in one case the county lawyer told the county board member since you’re a leaseholder “you can’t vote on this”. He carried on “he didn’t think that was right”, but didn’t vote. However he was on the main committee that put together the wind ordinance.

    As far as government hand-outs for wind projects — I just keep hoping we’ll wake up to the fact it’s a waste.

  7. Bette, I argued that in the U.S. case the EIA has data that shows wind doesn’t accomplish any green goals; http://morecoldair.blogspot.com/2011/03/green-shoots-green-does-not-score.html

    I can see your frustration with a lack of data on real estate valuations, but it also seems to me it is by design. The story is data is lacking for the residences closest to turbines due to a lack of data for willing sellers selling to willing buyers. Maybe the data isn’t there because the only buyers are hush money from big wind – or non-residents buying a revenue stream.
    If you wish to pursue the property valuation argument, I’d suggest your best bet may be to look at Denmark’s law which functionally ended on-shore turbines there.

  8. Jim VandenHoek is talking through his hat if he thinks that IWT arrays have “reduced property taxes” in Frontenac. What he likely meant was “…has reduced property values on Wolfe Island to near-nil”. And MPAC can expect a surfeit of appeals (successful) from Wolfe Island property owners who are left with lands situated in the midst of an industrial park.

  9. Why is there not a study on real estate values of properties that are only 550 meters away from the turbines ?
    Do it on all properties in 550 meter increments out to the 10 mile radius spoken about in the US study.
    Only then will you get true property evaluations.
    This BS about averaging a ten mile radius is insane and totaly useless except for turbine builders.

  10. Craig:

    Convince Barbara. If she gets the numbers I will consider crunching the data… Mapinfo could be available to do the presentations… No promises — but it is an intriguing thought and it is not that simple — because the prices will have to be subjective evaluations.

    How can you set a selling price on something that cannot be sold? Been there tried that…

  11. David,

    Ask Mr. McCann if he has any more information on property values in the States. You might get him with a post at Wind Turbine Syndrome.

    Right now this is closely guarded information.

  12. Bette,

    Toledo Blade newspaper published some job figures for a wind project planned for southern Michigan a little while back.

    Oregon papers published job figures for projects going in there in eastern Oregon

    Minot,North Dakota with” Prarie Wind Development”?
    had some job figures.

    We also had some from Harrow,ON

    This is information was used to come up with ~1 job/10 turbines after construction.

  13. If there was money to employ a professional appraisal company not tied to the wind developers (which some very much are) then this would all be very obvious.
    It is very difficult for realtors to take on this size a task.
    It really needs to be done by a professional company but you really need to research who they have ties to. I cannot emphasize that point enough.

  14. The fellow on Wolfe Island or near there who is tracking property sales and putting them on a map is on the right track. He shows where the sales are in relation to the turbines by mapping them.

    Should be done for all Ontariol wind turbine areas. Easy to see which property sells and which dosen’t.

  15. Class 1 agricultural land is less than one half of one percent of Canada’s total land mass. Almost 18 % of that has been absorbed by the cities since 1971 . ( Statistc Canada ) One would think the rest would be very valuable.
    Syngenta’s ( crop and pesticide company ) pegs the remaining Class one land at under 4/10 of 1 %. Heard that for myself at a crop meeting yesterday.
    Since this government could care less about protecting that resource , I have a suggestion .
    Legislate that the cities have to make any and all land available ( undeveloped land ) within their city limits to put turbines on.
    Service the remaining land in between and sell off the lots for house construction. Since windmills are a thing of beauty and cause no health problems , ( LOL ), these lots would command a huge premium.
    The city gets money from the turbine leases, sells the lots a huge profit. Since mansions would be built on these desirable scenic lots , tax revenue would see a huge increase.
    WIN, WIN, all the way around.
    After reading the ruling on the court case today, I would love to nail McGuinty’s bag to a tall tree stump and push him off backwards.
    Just my rant for the day.

  16. David
    A few months ago Dale Goldhawk – “Goldhawk Fights Back” , did part of his radio show about Turbine problems. I only caught the tail end of it.
    A lady phoned in saying ( I believe if I remember right ) that most realtors did not want to go no record about this issue because if people learn that prices are depressed, then offers come in even lower causing prices to trend even lower.
    She said one realtor in the Orangeville area had complied some of his own stats.
    In the past 3 years, all listings in the affected areas where listed at least twice as long on average, selling prices were either $48,000.00 or $58,000.00 ( I can’t remember which figure – I apologize ) lower, but more importantly 11% have never sold.
    Maybe some one could try and contact Dale Goldhawk and see if there is a transcript of that show available.
    I emailed Goldhawk’s show myself after I heard that radio show but received no reply.

  17. Barbara,
    Jobs: I hadn’t seen the Kansas article, thanks. The problem with some of the articles I’ve read is they are interviews with the wind developer who tells “us” the public how many jobs. However, afterwards no one really knows. In our own situation when the company talks sometimes they say 10 – 20, sometimes 5 – 20.

    I wonder if a maintenance company is hired out of state A to go around to 10 wind projects would those say 10 people be counted as 100 jobs or 10 jobs? since they contract out and rotate around not working “full time” at any of the 10 IWF In one county here they have 1 office person for a large project my contact hasn’t been able to find anyone else who “actually” works for the IWF. We (in the U. S.) don’t seem to have any government group that looks at this. So, they can pretty much say what they want. And, jobs sell. I hope you have better oversight there.

  18. Greg,
    Same thing happened here to a friend of ours (bought land for potential home and hunting land). After — he found there was an “option for a wind turbine”. He got out of the wind turbine option. The options are “suppose” to be recorded, however, from the clerk seldom are.

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