By Troy Patterson Kincardine News
Four homes within the 38-turbine, 76-megawatt Ripley Wind Power Project have been purchased by owners Suncor and Acciona Energy, as a solution to resolve the ongoing issues some residents within the project have been dealing with since it was built in 2007.
Acciona’s Paul Austin said the companies have worked with the Ripley stakeholders for some time, determining “it was it the best interest of the project, the companies and the community to purchase the homes.”
Austin said by offering the residents “market value” for their homes, it would allow them to move so the companies could resell the homes to other interested parties.
“We take the concerns of all our stakeholders seriously,” said Austin, adding they’ve been working with local stakeholders to answer questions and understand their concerns since the project began. “After a prolonged period of consultation that involved a number of third-party studies and tests, it was agreed upon that the only solution that could meet the needs of this small group of local landowners was to purchase their homes.”
The final agreement was reached on March 16, after the prices were determined by independent appraisers.
Local anti-wind power group Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines (HALT) jumped on the information after they were provided documents they provided to The Kincardine News that linked the sales to numbered companies, one owned by a manager with Suncor and the other a manager for Acciona.
In a HALT media release, president Mac Serra said although the homeowners have been gagged by the sale process, they know the families of the four homes sold, out of five that were dealing with health issues, have been fighting the companies for years, “over their inability to lead normal lives in their own homes caused by the Ripley Wind Power Project.”
“If there are no health effects from industrial wind turbines as their proponents claim, then why would wind plant operators buy the homes of wind victims,” said Serra.
In response to the claims the buy-out was linked to health issues caused by wind turbines, Austin said, “No link between the operation of our Ripley Wind Power Project and the health concerns of our neighbours could be discovered, and so no damages were awarded or necessary.”
Serra said this is a case where the “victims” of this process are unable to speak, “which leaves the public in the dark over the true extent of the impact caused by industrial wind.”
“There are over 100 families across Ontario who claim their health is negatively affected by wind development,” he continued. “Many more cannot speak due to confidentiality agreements signed with the wind companies or simply won’t speak up, not wanting to upset their neighbours.”
HALT targeted Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell for “ignoring” health concerns raised by constituents surrounding wind projects and the opinion of Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hazel Lynn, “preferring to quote Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s literature review” that claims there is no link between health issues and turbines.
Dr. Lynn’s data estimates between 10-15% of people living near turbines in Grey-Bruce have said their health has been affected, he said.
With the knowledge of the buy-out, HALT is “calling for a full moratorium on all industrial wind development until an independent epidemiological study has been completed.”
The Ripley-area residents had approached municipal council in 2009 about a rash of health problems, “including high blood pressure, headaches, sleep disturbances, the sensation of bugs crawling on the skin, humming in the head, non-stop ringing in the ears and heart palpitations,” they believed were caused by their proximity to the project.
It was also reported that wind developers had paid for the homeowners to stay in local hotels while they were working through the consultation process dealing with the complaints.
There are currently land options being sought within the Municipality of Kincardine by Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. in Bruce Twp., Acciona Energy is working on a 80MW wind project outside Armow in Kincardine Twp. Leader Resources Services Inc. is planning a 200MW project between Saugeen Shores and the Municipality of Kincardine, while International Power Inc.’s 125MW wind power project is planned near the lake shore in the Township of Huron-Kinloss.