Monthly Archives: March 2012
[Article written by Henri Garand, Chair of APPEC. Also published in this week's Wellington Times.]
In the past few years wind energy development meetings have become as common as County festivals. They’re curious entertainments, though, combining reality show with political theatre and outright farce.
A case in point is wpd Canada Corporation’s recent public meeting on its White Pines Wind Project. The company staged an open house, with display panels, thick handouts, a video on turbine siting, and 15 representatives to field questions coming chiefly from Athol and South Marysburgh residents who will be living beside 29 industrial wind turbines. Read the rest of this entry
Here is commentary on one of WPD’s handouts at the first White Pines public meeting on March 22, 2012. Their text is shown in bold, followed by our comment on each point.
Site Selection: Why Prince Edward County?
- Good wind regime. Isn’t it great for WPD that the County is so windy? Too bad for us.
- Compatible land uses — agricultural land requiring a small footprint for Project components. Wind turbines are in no way compatible with the nearby residential properties or the natural environment. And the “footprint” — area of impact — is at least a 2-km radius circle around each turbine.
- Landowner interest for the Project. Oh yeah, the 20 to 29 landowners who signed deals with no thought about their neighbours or the natural environment? This group represents 2/10 of 1% of the property owners in the County.
- Electrical interconnection — the Project has an agreement with the Ontario Power Authority to feed power into the local grid. An agrement maybe, but no existing infrastructure. Hydro One will have to build a 29-km high-voltage interconnection line on 60- to 80-foot poles, sacrificing hundreds of trees and passing close to hundreds of homes, to link to its substation north of Picton.
- Environment — to date, studies of local environmental features show that impacts on wildlife and natural features can be mitigated. This project will locate 20 of the 29 turbines within or near the South Shore IBA, spanning a distance of 15 km. There is no mitigation for the birds and bats killed by spinning turbine blades, or the habitats destroyed by huge numbers of trees and bushes cleared, or the many kilometres of access roads built, or the thousands of tons of concrete poured for turbine foundations.
- Local economic benefit — jobs, municipal tax revenue, benefits to landowners. Maybe four permanent jobs, not necessarily for local residents. A trivial contribution to municipal taxes — about $1K per turbine, the same amount as for a house worth $120K. In fact, the benefit will be mostly lease payments to the aforementioned landowners. On an ongoing basis, WPD will spend only 3% of revenues locally and keep 97% for themselves.
- Site access — good existing road infrastructure. These good roads have been built, and will continue to be maintained, with County taxpayers’ money. WPD will be getting a free ride.
- Accessible topography. Isn’t it convenient for WPD that the County is so flat? Too bad for us that this flatness will increase the impact of both visual and noise pollution.
Did WPD not discover any negatives about choosing to locate its project here? Maybe we only got page 1 of their handout. We’ll check into this and see if WPD left off page 2, titled Site Selection: Why NOT Prince Edward County?
Here’s an update on plans for County participation in the big Wind Concerns Ontario protest rally at the Feed-in Trough (err, Tariff) Forum in Toronto next Tue, Apr 3. Simply put, we need more County residents to join us for this rally.
CCSAGE has organized comfortable bus transportation to and from the rally. At this point, we have sold two-thirds of the seats at $23.00 per ticket round trip. But we need to fill the bus to cover the rental cost and especially to ensure the County’s visibility at the rally. If you’re concerned about the damage that wind turbines will inflict on the County and have been wondering what you can do to help, this is your opportunity.
The Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association (PECWA), has called on the Ontario government to suspend wind energy development in Prince Edward County until conditions set out recently by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture are met.
PECWA, representing more than 30 local wineries and grapegrowers, states that it shares the OFA’s escalating concerns about industrial wind energy development. It specifically names Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point and WPD Canada’s White Pines wind projects as posing “a threat to the rural renaissance occurring in the County”.
PECWA joins the OFA in requesting the Ontario government to “suspend further development until farm families and rural residents are assured that their interests are adequately protected”.
PECWA members both own businesses and live in the County, so they have a major stake in its continued economic success. CCSAGE applauds PECWA for stepping forward and taking a stand on the #1 issue facing Prince Edward County.
For more information, see PECWA media release March 23, 2012.
[Revised to correct two errors]
Of the hundreds of people who attended the first WPD White Pines public meeting on March 22, 2012, it appeared that the vast majority were (and are) opposed to the project.
The representatives of WPD and Stantec were unable to answer all but the most basic questions. In particular, they didn’t know how many houses (which they insist on calling “receptors”) will be within 1.5 km or 2.0 km of a turbine (a requirement of GEA regulations).
They couldn’t confirm the route of the 29-km high-voltage transmission line that connects the project’s substation to the Hydro One substation north of Picton. BUT they now have Maypul Layn Road pencilled in as the route within the project footprint.
Ian MacRae, the CEO of WPD Canada couldn’t provide any information on the cost to construct the turbines, much less the percentage that would be spent locally. He didn’t know how many permanent operations and maintenance jobs would be created. And yet their information touts “benefits to the community”.
WPD had a PhD (in molecular biology) in attendance from an environmental health consulting firm as their expert on health effects. He suggested that only 10% of the closest residents (exposed to the maximum 40 dBA level) will be annoyed by the turbines, and that this annoyance is mostly psychosomatic, due to being in a situation not within the individual’s control.
Other research indicates that 20% to 40% of all people living within 2 km of a wind turbine will suffer adverse health effects including annoyance (in the medical sense), stress and sleep disturbance leading eventually to heart disease and cancer, the cause being low frequency sound and infrasound.
As far as the project’s impact on the natural environment, WPD has indicated that they may not release their study to the public until 60 days prior to the final public meeting, anticipated this summer. This may give local naturalist groups inadequate time to prepare their reponse.
The comment that I heard most often from people expressing their views at the meeting was: “We don’t want more information; we just want you out of here”.
Attending this meeting was an exercise in frustration. But it was necessary to ensure that WPD and MOE appreciate the extent of the opposition to this project.
Here is what you need to know about the effects of WPD’s White Pines wind turbine project on health and property values. Its effects on the natural environment will be dealt with elsewhere.
Based on experience in Ontario and beyond, WPD’s White Pines wind project will make life miserable for many South Marysburgh and Athol families due to the adverse health effects of low frequency sound and infrasound from nearby wind turbines. And it will likely result in substantial declines in property values and extended selling times for all homes in the area.
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT
Phase 1 – 29 turbines spread over 60% of South Marysburgh. The White Pines project will include 29 wind turbines spread over 60% or more of the land area of South Marysburgh, plus eastern Athol. Residential areas most affected will include Lighthall Road, Walmsley Road, Royal Road, the village of Milford, South Bay, Little Bluff, Gravelly Bay Road.
Phase 2 – Increase to 74 turbines? Based on the original two-phase project plan for White Pines, and the fact that options were obtained on more than 50 properties, it is expected that WPD will add Phase 2 if Phase 1 is approved – another 45 turbines, bringing the total to 7 turbines. This would make White Pines 8 times the size of Gilead’s Ostrander Point project.
ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS
A 550-metre setback is inadequate. Recently published medical research from sources worldwide, and self-reporting by individuals in Ontario and elsewhere, show that a 550-metre minimum setback for wind turbines is inadequate to protect human health.
Inadequacy confirmed by Kent Breeze ERT. Quoting from the 2011 decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal for the Kent Breeze wind project: “This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”
A 2-km setback is required. It is the consensus view of researchers concerned about wind turbines and health that people living within 2 km of a wind turbine will be at significant risk of adverse health effects and that, therefore, the minimum setback should be at least 2 km.
Map of 2-km Turbine Risk Zone. The accompanying map of WPD’s White Pines project shows the 2-km Turbine Risk Zone (TRZ) surrounding each turbine, and the total area TRZ resulting from all 29 turbines in Phase 1, including areas of overlap. As shown by the map, almost all of the homes in the area will be within the 2-km TRZ of at least 3 turbines, and as many as 12.
Who will be affected? As is the case with motion sickness, it is impossible to predict in advance who will be affected by low frequency sound and infrasound, and to what extent. However, the greater the exposure to turbines (more and/or closer), the greater the likelihood of experiencing medical symptoms and/or their intensity.
How many will be affected? Within the total area TRZ, medical research suggests that at least 20%, and possibly 40%, of residents will experience adverse health effects from low frequency sound and infrasound, ranging from mild to severe to abandonment of the home.
Annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance. The most notable effects will be annoyance (in the medical sense) and stress during the day, and sleep disturbance at night. These effects are well-recognized as indirect causes of serious medical conditions, including heart disease and cancer, when experienced over extended periods.
Other serious symptoms. In addition, some residents will experience one or more of: headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability, vertigo, tinnitus, heart palpitations. These symptoms generally disappear when the person leaves the area, and recur when the person returns.
No relief indoors. Low frequency sounds and infrasound carry over long distances and are not blocked effectively by walls, so there will be little relief indoors. In fact, the effect may be greater indoors than outdoors due to sympathetic vibrations of walls, floors or ceilings. This effect is analogous to being inside a house and hearing bass rhythms (but not higher frequencies) from a neighbour’s stereo played loudly.
Property value losses. Within the total area TRZ, it is expected that property values will decrease by 20% to 40%, due to concerns of potential purchasers about adverse health effects and reduced enjoyment of property. To illustrate, in the Melancthon-Amaranth area of Ontario, wind developer Canadian Hydro Developers (now Transalta) purchased four properties from homeowners threatening to sue over health problems, and subsequently resold them at an average loss of 35%.
Longer time to sell. The time required to sell properties in the area will undoubtedly be much longer, perhaps extending to a year or more. In extreme cases, properties may be unsellable at any price.
New and renewal mortgage uncertainty. It is possible that banks will reduce the maximum loan amount allowed on renewal of existing mortgages, and on new mortgages, in respect of properties located in the vicinity of wind turbines.
Effects being seen now. Some real estate agents are already reporting an unwillingness by potential purchasers to consider properties in South Marysburgh.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THREAT
While Gilead’s Ostrander Point 9-turbine project has generated a huge amount of opposition (and for good reason), WPD’s White Pines 29- to 74-turbine project is a considerably greater threat to human health, property values and the natural environment. If this project is built, it will create a permanent wind turbine ghetto in the southern area of the County. Life in South County will never be the same.
- The 9 turbines of Gilead’s project (located west of Ostrander Point Road) are not shown on this map.
- Thanks to South Marysburgh resident Orville Walsh for the Turbine Risk Zone map.
[This post replaces an incomplete version sent earlier in error. Note that the bus leaves for Toronto at 8:00 am, not 8:30.]
Wind Concerns Ontario is organizing a major protest rally in Toronto on Tue, Apr 3, 2011 and County residents will be front and centre at this event. Please help send a message to the McGuinty government by joining your County friends and neighbours at this rally.
CCSAGE has arranged for comfortable bus transportation by Franklin Tours for County residents. It will depart from the Metro grocery store in Picton at 8:oo am, arriving in downtown Toronto at 10:30 am. Return departure from Toronto will be 2:30 pm, arriving in Picton at 5:00 pm. The round trip cost is $23.00, payable on board in cash or cheque made out to CCSAGE.
If you intend to go by bus, please email Duncan Fischer (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than noon on March 27.
Here is WCO’s notice of the rally:
Massive Protest Planned by Rural Ontario Underway
The Wind Industry Barons are blowing into Toronto for the Ontario Feed In Tariff Forum April 3 & 4th at the Metro Convention Center, 255 Front Street West.
Protest Date – Tuesday, April 3rd
Time – gather at 11:30
Speakers – 12:00
Protest March- 12:30
Place – Simcoe Park on Front Street, beside CBC building and opposite Metro Toronto Convention Centre
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Christian Farmers Association have joined the call for a moratorium on further wind development. It’s time for Dalton to stop misleading the public. Please mark your calendars, and inform your neighbours. It is time to stand up for Rural Ontario in the thousands!
Start thinking about messages & slogans for your signs and be creative. Identify which part of Ontario you are from and bring a large map of turbine placements in your area. Arrange a bus or use public transit, subways, GO trains to Union Station. Let’s bring our message to Dalton’s Liberals! See you there.
From the main lobby of Union Station (look for signs to railway and GOTrain station to get to main lobby), exit at Front Street, go west (left) on Front St. past York St. and Lower Simcoe St. Simcoe Park is about 300 meters further west right next to the CBC building on the north side of Front St.
Please attend the first public meeting for WPD Canada’s 29-turbine White Pines wind project, scheduled for 5:30 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 22 at PECI, 41 Barker St, Picton.
Many people believe that this project poses an even greater threat to the County than Gilead’s Ostrander Point Project.