Wind farm opens to cheers, jeers

Turbines the first of many in area

By Gary Rennie, The Windsor Star

HARROW –  A billion dollars worth of wind turbine projects have power contracts in Essex County and close to 200 turbines could be up within a few years.

The $110-million International Power Canada wind turbine project was the first to officially start up Friday, but not without protests that show discord within the community hasn’t disappeared during years of planning.

The silvery, carbon-fibre blades of the 24 turbines were turning gently in a light breeze and a deer sauntered across a farm field just before the speeches began.

Essex MP Jeff Watson announced a $11.2-million federal grant to the company to be paid out over 10 years.

“This project is an excellent example of a clean energy technology creating high-quality jobs and a sustainable energy source for Ontario’s future,” Watson said.

A few hundred metres away on the shoulder of County Road 20 a group of a dozen protestors carried signs complaining about rising taxes and electrical rates from all the federal and provincial subsidies going into green energy projects.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott told the 150 people gathered at the construction centre that most residents are supporting renewable power projects that promise cleaner air. “I hope the Harrow wind farm is a lasting success,” he said.

Out with the protesters, mayoral candidate Brenda Dunn wasn’t convinced tax-subsidized turbines were something to brag about.

Murdo McLean, whose farm hosts three turbines, praised the professionalism of the wind developer in dealing with property owners who leased their lands. He described the four years it took to get the turbines up as a “four-year pregnancy.”

His cousin Colette McLean, also a farmer, was among the protestors. “This is a rape of taxpayer dollars,” she said. “This is a very big boondoggle.”

Although their farms are adjacent, the two cousins don’t talk to each other any more because of their differences over wind energy.

Colette McLean’s backyard is about 600 metres from the turbines on her cousin’s farm. The turbines are close enough to be heard outside, but are not yet disturbing her sleep, she said.

The OPP provincial liaison team sent one plainclothes officer to keep an eye on the mostly middle-aged protestors.

Dunn said she joined the protest mainly because she objected to the OPP questioning Colette McLean last week about plans for a protest that didn’t yet exist. Without the OPP’s intrusion, there likely wouldn’t have been a protest at all, Dunn said.

Capable of generating 39.6 megawatts of electricity, the Harrow wind farm isn’t yet connected to Ontario’s power grid. That’s expected to happen within days.

Company president Mike Crawley said the wind farm would generate just over 100,000 megawatt hours of power annually. The company is paid $135 for each megawatt hour or 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in the 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority.

Crawley said wind turbines are getting more efficient in producing power as they increase in size and the blades move more precisely to track the wind.

“Essex County has an incredible wind resource,” Crawley tells his audience. His company’s other big project in Essex County is a $136-million, 27-turbine wind farm in the Stoney Point area of Lakeshore.

Aaron Van Ooteghen came from Norfolk County with a sign complaining about the noise from turbines from an International Power project there. The audible noise and inaudible low frequency noise caused him and his mother to move out of their farmhouse, he said.

Numerous complaints to the Ontario Ministry of Environment about the turbine noise haven’t led to a solution, Van Ooteghen said.

Essex Coun. Ron Rogers, also a mayoral candidate, wanted to see bigger setbacks in his town between turbines and homes. Council agreed on 450 metres, but Rogers argued for at least 550 metres — the number the province’s Green Energy Act eventually settled on.

A year after council debated the setback issue, Rogers still doesn’t see much consensus about the standards needed to protect residents from noise impacts.

But with the Green Energy Act, the province now has complete control over approval of renewable energy projects. Rogers doesn’t see wind turbines being a big issue in the October municipal election.

8 thoughts on “Wind farm opens to cheers, jeers

  1. My heart goes out to the Van Ooteghen family who had to leave their home. How many displaced families are or will be “collateral damage” in this boondoggle? The industry is about as corrupt and irresponsible as can be or has been. IWTs are not green. They are manufactured out of petrochemicals in a very intensive fashion, full of metals and plastics, transported thousands of miles, mired in cement, and house over 1000 gallons of oil in each turbine…they do not survive more than 10-15 years, and produce tiny amounts of brown electricity, always backed up by gas or coal. Denmark has had to increase coal production 50%! in order to back up turbine energy. This is not green at all. We need to shake off the green glasses, and look for meaningful purpose with our economic acitivity, and mostly our relation to nature.

  2. Mr. Sullivan told Aaron he really wanted a turbine and that’s why he moved out! David Santos at one point told me that Turbine envy is why I’m against them. Sure guys people walk away from their homes because their neighbour is making money. People get sucked into a ponzi because they don’t believe it’s a ponzi. Mr. McDermott you’re not listening to the right people, you’re not hearing the people at baseball and soccer or the library or uptown complaining about the noise. You’re not listening to the landowners neighbours. Just wait till Essex is surrounded by them,you’ll hear the complaints then

  3. Here is what the MP said:

    Essex MP Jeff Watson announced a $11.2-million federal grant to the company to be paid out over 10 years.

    “This project is an excellent example of a clean energy technology creating high-quality jobs and a sustainable energy source for Ontario’s future,” Watson said.

    Have any local residents wrote your MP asking for details of the Green Energy jobs.

    What job, where, rate of pay?

    Just a thought.

  4. Sherri says it all in a nutshell! This is a criminal rape of our rural lands and a HOSTILE CORPORATE TAKEOVER facilitated by our our elected officials.
    When a Province can remove power from our municipal representatives this is Tyranny. Millions of $$$ will be made off the backs of us taxpayers so in effect we are paying to shoot ourselves in the foot so that corporate lust can be satiated. Much of the paltry wind produced energy will be sold to the U. S.

    Our economy will join the downward spiral of the European countries that can no longer afford to subsidize this “BOONDOGGLE”

    If Industrial wind turbines removed emissions anywhere in the world, don’t you think the headlines around the world would be screaming this news to shut us up??? In fact Germany is building 26 new coal facilities to back up wind.
    Ontario tells us that we are filling up the hospitals and killing people by using coal power. Do you think that the transportation industry and volume of traffic might be the real cause in urban areas???

    Accepting that the collateral damage of families who lose their homes, forced to leave their homes and accepting that these people are expendable is CRIMINAL… Period.

    This is Canada’s shame. A big stain on our history. The flag on Canada Day should be hung upside down to show solidarity for the suffering people, wildlife and farm animals.

    Go Global folks. We must join the many countries in opposition to the destruction and theft of our lands. We do have the numbers if we “GO GLOBAL”

    Also I would like to see some old buses purchased and a huge showing at protests all over Ontario ribbon cuttings. Or as in our case the “Notice to Engage in a project”

    The Press must get more info to quote.

  5. Melodie is right. If the media will not take the case to the public, concerned citizens must!

    The only debate should be about how to do so to get maximum coverage of the issues.

    BTW Melodie — did you get that info I sent?


  6. Yes David I did receive it and sent you two thank you letters to your email address. So who the hec is this other David??? You finding the weak spot in our notice with the arrogance of Wind Power Development saying they do not need an Environmental Screening Report is criminal! Thank you for the scrutiny, I sent it on to the smarty pants of our group. Also thanks for telling me how to give my email address without attracting spam. Very smart.

    What do you think of the GO Global Campaign???

    or the upside Maple Leafs becoming our symbol??

    I know it hurts but this has become a Canada that I can no longer be proud of or even recognize!

  7. Melodie:

    Never got any return email.

    Make sure that info does not get around till you do your best to exploit. I believe that a fast effective campaign to get information in the correct hands could be helpful indeed.

    As for Going Global, I have been working on that. I have contacted anybody I know that might have information on Windpower, including Dr. Calzeda.

    Information is being traded almost daily now between people analyzing the technical aspects.

    Here is the problem. To prove that windpower is not effective is quote easy. It has now been done in several studies that would be difficult to refute — perhaps impossible to refute.

    My study has been sent to and read by strong proponents o Windpower and regulatory agencies as well as several political leaders.

    Nobody has refuted my findings. Nobody has bothered to refute my conclusions that wind power is ineffective — even pointless. I ma not aware that any other study showing the negative aspects of windpower has ever been refuted. Dr. Calzeda has been called “unpatriotic” — but nobody questions his competence.

    Richard S. Courtney has come to much the same conclusions for example. Here is a link to his paper.

    What happens is that as we become aware of each other we start to refer to each others work and sometimes exchange notes. The of course we can say “It’s not the only place that has problems with wind power you know…” 🙂

    There is lots of evidence that wind and solar power on industrial scales are bad investments and bad news all round. You tell me why our politicians love Green Energy!

    Could it be the Subsidies for Friends programs? If so, what is so attractive about them? What’s in it for the politicians. To me these are the only topics left to research.

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