Terrors and errors with wind turbines

2014_06010041by Harvey Wrightman

The wind battles are over in the areas of  Adelaide, Bornish, Bosanquet and the wind company landmen have moved on to “greener” pastures for their prospecting and duping.

In their wake they have left a cluttered mess of leaning towers and graceless power lines above ground, and less noticeably – the barely hidden maze of electrical 34 kV cabling that conveys the power to the substations and the grid. There’s a big punch in those cables when the wind chooses to deliver.

Trenches for these cables meander back and forth from private to public property.  According to the regulations, they must be buried a minimum of only one metre below the surface, but who’s checking.  Regardless, these are very dangerous cables to locate in a zone where others might be digging.  A breached collector cable by an excavator could cause a massive explosion.  We have heard of two incidents where collector cables have been “touched” in the NextEra Jericho wind project in the former Lambton County township of Bosanquet.

In the first case a drainage contractor who was replacing a collapsed header drain along Thomson Line, east of the Arkona Rd., hooked onto the control cable of the adjacent 34 kV collector line.  That would have been very scary!! The line had been marked for location with stakes, but the cables either weren’t where they were supposed to be as they were too shallow, or not ID’d properly by the highly qualified “locate company”.  Regardless, it should never have happened.

A similar incident occurred over on the 8th Concession, only the cable was struck by a post hole auger for a new fence, even though the line had been ID’d by the same locate contractor. See the pattern here?


 

Safety is also an issue that seems to be lacking on the turbine job site. In an incident on a NextEra tower site, we have heard a worker fell 50+ feet when a trap door inside the tower was left up and down he went. Went to hospital for 3-5 days and was released.

Then at Suncor’s Cedar Point wind project a boilermakers pin wrench for aligning the tower sections fell 50+ ft and pierced a worker’s shoulder, through his chest and just touched a vertebrae. Some damage to his back but he walked to the ambulance and was released several days later.


A vast number of errors by the wind company operatives are being reported by those who live in the area – not too surprising as the unthinking clods who work for the wind companies are not masters of detail and they follow a basic corporate culture of ad hoc action – “Get out of our way. It will be built as we see fit.”

There was a reported problem of property lines that came to notice when a farm was sold. The survey showed that the neighbouring farmer had over the years “moved the line” ~40 ft. A minor skirmish between the two sides was finally settled when the new owner reclaimed his lost property by taking his plow to it. But there was a problem – NextError had placed a wind turbine so close to the line that it was now on his land. That would present a problem with the power contract they have with the OPA. Lawyers will sort that one out, but informed local sources tell us that the new owner is now getting paid for the turbine.

All kinds of farmers are pissed at both NextError and Scumcor for not repairing the drains and laneways. BUT as the man in charge of Suncor told one farmer, the contract says they have 50 years to remediate the land, “so don’t call me anymore.” No heroes in this one, the farmers did sign the contracts.

In the Suncor Adelaide wind project, one by one the nacelles are being removed for replacement of worn out bearings that have been leaking oil.  Suncor is in a dispute with the turbine maker, Siemens, as to who pays what.  Lots of work for the big crane and they are hardly a year old.

Supposedly Suncor can’t allow the Cedar Point turbines to operate at capacity even if there is enough wind. Rumour is they wouldn’t spend the money to buy the heavier cable and are afraid of overloading the buried collection cables.  Hard to imagine such a basic error; but, as pointed out before, planning is not their strongest suit.


 

One farmer over north west of Forest sold his farm to some insurance company from Toronto for twice what he was asking for it. It has one turbine and the 115KV line going across it. Apparently the lease money from these will more than pay the mortgage.  According to local sources, the Suncor transmission line pays $200/pole/year plus an initial fee.

Needless to say, lucky landowners will brag when they score big. Accordingly sources say that Suncor is paying as much as $50,000/year per turbine. It all depended on where and how long people held out for more.

They are finally fixing up the mess along Elginfield Rd in the ditches and are planting trees and sowing grass seed. Here’s a question: the transmission line easements that some dupes so willingly signed, stated that signers for the line would receive the final payment when the line was in service and all parties involved had signed off.  Even though the trans line has been operating a year, we understand that no one’s been paid.

Unfortunately this is just the beginning of “the rest of the story”.

3 thoughts on “Terrors and errors with wind turbines

  1. “All kinds of farmers are pissed at both NextError and Scumcor for not repairing the drains and laneways. BUT as the man in charge of Suncor told one farmer, the contract says they have 50 years to remediate the land, “so don’t call me anymore.” No heroes in this one, the farmers did sign the contracts.

    For me, its like a Toyota “Blue Crush” moment: I’m taking this in, taking that in …

    Just sitting back, watching the farmers reap what they sow, make their beds and lie in it, play with the bull and get the horns, etc.,etc.

    My sympathies only lie with those who are collateral damage in this whole sordid affair.

  2. Wish the Ombudsman’s office would do their job. They have a LOT of information but seem to be sitting on it….still…

    • Yes, the Ombudsman has been a real disappointment!

      After speaking with an investigator at one point, I felt certain that we would be protected, but it’s a ‘complaints driven’ process and they need enough complaints before they can take action, was my understanding. Did people report to the Ombudsman?
      People in rural Ontario need to bombard their office. It’s not too late.

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