One advantage of attending the “open houses” that must be held by wind farm proponents is that you get to have long conversations with the company staff.
The atmosphere of these different forums varies a lot, depending on the representatives and how tough the questions are of the residents who will have to live with the effects of these machines — day and night. Noise is the predominant issue and raises a great amount of fear and foreboding in those who will live within a project. Liken it to a diesel locomotive or a gas turbine engine of — 3000 hp, setting it on a 300-foot tower and shoving the throttle wide open. Now imagine that there are 50 of these within a project. Not quite the fluttering of leaves — the tired phrase the companies like to use.
Noise is one issue. There are many other issues, and the compounding of these problems has brought the Liberal government and the companies to the point where they are desperate to stop the growing opposition. To accomplish this, a new tactic/theme is appearing — let’s call it “schmiergelder,” literally “grease money”, a fluidly colorful term, which Karl Heinz Schreiber used to describe how business deals are enhanced by lubrication with money — you know, cash in brown envelopes handed off in hotel room meetings.
Karl Heinz’s specialty was the aerospace and defense industries, which was brought to light during the infamous Airbus Inquiry. So, at the recent “open house” held in Florence, southeast Lambton County, a proposal for creating “community funds” was put forward by a wind company rep for Mainstream Renewable Power as a way of “sharing” the economic benefits of wind farms. Call me old-fashioned, out of step or whatever moniker comes to mind; but to me, this “notion” of spreading the wealth sounds like a broader form of “schmiergelder.”
Curiously, about two months ago, in a conversation with our local Liberal MPP, Maria Van Bommel, she too expressed the very same idea that all people who live within a turbine project should receive some amount of money. Her point was: that they would be less inclined to complain about the noise and other issues — clearly, an admission that these machines are not so wonderful.
These points arise: Who is the “koppersac” — the “money-bags?” Who will dispense this bribe? Let’s call it for what it is — the company or the government? No matter really, we know ultimately that you and I, as producers and consumers will have to pay it — add that to the 25 per cent increase already coming down the pipe this year. Oh, and by the way, the mainstream rep emphatically said that electricity-rate increases are needed to curb excess demand. I don’t have to make this up. These company people have all sorts of ideas on how to run the electricity system for their benefit.
What about the people who are absolutely unable to tolerate the noise/shadow flicker — and who are driven to leave their homes? I asked the mainstream rep, “…should there be money available to buy the farms/houses of these people?” She nodded and answered yes, if that’s what it takes, it should be done. Well, there is already a precedent: it was done in the Amaranth/Melancthon project near Shelburne. Canadian Hydro Developers bought out six properties last year for close $2 million. These people had to sign “non-disclosure” clauses — gag orders. What do you suppose the company had to fear? The truth about the noise? Were they way over the noise limit? Why would they pay? Was the silence bought that important?
Now that the Ontario Hydro has approved a whole whack of new wind farms, just where does a person go to avoid them and how do you know it will remain “turbine free?” It’s like the countryside is being given over to this one industrial monstrosity and for the rest of us there isn’t even a “ good-bye or go to to hell.” If this is how we are to be treated, how can the Liberals think that “schmiergelder” will quell our anger?
This I can tell our government masters: many of us will we will not be bought with your greasy pieces of silver; we will continue to speak out and expose this program for the empty blunder it is. We will remember this at the ballot box.
Harvey Wrightman, Kerwood