Category Archives: Sarnia This Week
Sarnia this Week
ST. CLAIR TOWNSHIP – St. Clair Township is not a willing host for wind turbines. That’s the declaration councillors made – unanimously – after a recent discussion to establish a by-law about where they can be placed within the municipality. Deputy Clerk and Coordinator of Planning Jeff Baranek made a presentation to council suggesting it adopt a by-law to establish building permit fees for industrial wind turbines.
“You can’t make revenue off building permit fees,” he said, “but you can ensure all costs… are harboured by the developer.” Baranek’s suggestion was a $10,000 fee per turbine plus $100 per metre to the highest point of the structure. He mentioned that some municipalities – most notably Bluewater – are issuing other fees, like a $220,000 decommissioning fee by that municipality, but such a cost was not among his recommendations. He did, however, suggest that council adopt a two-kilometre setback from any property line, which he said would essentially “sterilize” the township. Read article
By Heather Wright, Sarnia this Week
LAMBTON COUNTY – Wind activists say a transmission line hearing may be best way to stop a wind energy center north of Arkona. NextEra received approval for the Bornish Wind Energy center, a 45-turbine project just northeast of Arkona from the Ministry of the Environment recently. Esther Wrightman of Middlesex Lambton Wind Concerns has been among the people fighting the project. She’s frustrated. Wrightman saying looking at the Environmental Registry confirms her suspicion that the Ministry of the Environment simply rubber stamps wind projects. Wrightman says the registry on the Bornish project uses the name of another wind project in Eastern Ontario telling her the responses are not original.
“These are projects that are going to affect people’s lives and it seems that it’s just a matter of copy and pasting approval lines in it from one to another,” says Wrightman. “The MOE has never denied a project” she adds. “The system is broken…you don’t have a government agency that can help…you feel quite deserted at the end of the day.” Read article
Heather Wright, Sarnia This Week
Lambton Shores plans to use a development agreement to spare municipal taxpayers any unforeseen costs from industrial wind farms now in the planning stages. Suncor Energy and NextEra have two large green energy projects planned for the community with over 100 industrial turbines being erected.
Residents have voiced opposition to the plans but have also raised concerns about the impact the construction will have on municipal roads, bridge and drains. But municipalities have little control over the projects since the province passed the Green Energy Act. It takes away the municipality’s ability to approve the projects or suggest placement of the turbines.
So Lambton Shores is going through the agreement it usually uses with subdivision developers, thinking of all the possible items to which could come up as the turbines are built. Lambton Shores Clerk Carol Mackenzie says there should be an application fee for the projects to cover staff costs for dealing with the projects. She’s suggested $5,000. Councilor Doug Bonesteel isn’t sure if that would be enough for a review and questioned whether staff could analyse the documents – which are hundreds of pages long. He says the wind companies should pay for that. “If we’re going to be given information from the wind turbine companies, they need to run by Ontario Professional Engineers Association to certify the information is true …spend their money to do it,” he says. Read the rest of this entry
Heather Wright, Sarnia This Week
THEDFORD – Steve Walker has been working for four years to restore an 11 acre plot of land near the Thedford Bog.
He’s planted thousands of native plants, trees and prairie grasses, all the while watching the wildlife in awe.
In March, the Courtright man watched as the majestic tundra swans swooped over his land to land in the nearby bog.
Now that NextEra Energy has revealed where it will place some of its 92 turbines for the Jericho wind Energy project in Lambton Shores, he’s worried about those swan.
There are a number of turbines which could be placed near the Thedford bog and the draft report shows more than a dozen sites along the Ausable River which Walker believes the swans use to find their migration resting spot.
“The number one concern I have is the tundra swans; to me their almost like a big 747 coming in for a landing and then you put up all these CN towers -you wouldn’t do that at end of the runway,” he told Sarnia Lambton This Week. “I was very surprised they put two of them right tight to their northern border.”
But NextEra Spokesperson Josie Hernandez says the company has been very careful in placing the turbines with wildlife in mind. “The closest one is 920 meters away from the bog,” says Hernandez adding the company’s plan “meets and exceeds the requirements by the province.” Read the rest of this entry
Sarnia This Week
GRAND BEND – For months, Grand Bend Realtor Doug Pedlar has been voicing concerns about property values near industrial wind turbines. Now, he has a larger podium to speak from. Pedlar, who researched just how much homeowners lose when wind farms set up shop next door (about 30 per cent) is now the president-elect of the London/St. Thomas Real Estate Board. One of his first tasks was an eight-minute YouTube video about wind turbines and property values.
Pedlar says the London/ St Thomas board has been very worried about the issue, even pressing the provincial real estate association to speak to the province about the matter. “We’re quietly working away at this,” he says. But the volume is going up. The YouTube video had 500 hits in the first weekend and other real estate boards are posting the information session on their website. And Pedlar is pleased.
“The unfortunate thing about it is people are just not aware of what is going on,” he says. “If you don’t see them, if they’re not in your face, you don’t know. “The thing that I’m really afraid of is not just the property values but the perception of going to an area filled with turbines,” says Pedlar, fearing people will discount living in rural areas because of the turbines. “I drive through Chatham-Kent (the municipality with 300 turbines either built or on the books) and I get a sick feeling…it is not the most pleasant thing in the world.” Read the rest of this entry
Sarnia This Week
LAMBTON COUNTY – The Ministry of the Environment is asking questions about a number of mix-ups NextEra Energy has had with its public meetings.
Wind energy companies are required to meet with people surrounding their projects as part of the approval process under the Green Energy Act. In the past few weeks, NextEra has had problems holding some of their meetings on a project which borders Lambton County.
Recently, NextEra was forced to have its public meeting in Ailsa Craig in an outdoor pavilion. Anti-wind activist learned the company had not booked the venue even though it had sent out notices about the meeting. So the activist booked the hall instead. That forced the NextEra meeting outside, right in the middle of a noisy protest.
It also had to postpone a meeting in Strathroy recently. It was first planned for a school, but the school was closed for the summer. It was then booked for a local resident. After wind activist explained the project and the fact they would be protesting at the event, the owner of the restaurant cancelled the booking. Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright, Sarnia Lambton This Week
LAMBTON SHORES – Jim thought it would be a great way to secure the future of his family farm, but now the land lease he signed with Suncor Energy is making him feel anything but secure.
The Lambton Shores man, who asked us to protect his identity, is in the middle of Suncor’s Cedar Point industrial wind farm. The company wants to erect 62 turbines – half of those in Lambton Shores – to generate power. Not far from Jim’s farm, NextEra is preparing to build an industrial wind farm with 92 turbines.
Jim signed the land lease with Suncor nearly five years ago – long before he had researched any of the potential problems which people who live near the turbines are reporting. For him, it was a way to keep his family farm afloat.
“I said, ‘Well, to secure this for my grandchildren I’ll put that windmill on it. I don’t have to worry about the farm because the taxes will be paid for me.’”
Jim and several other landowners in Lambton Shores are coming close to a deadline in the leases which would allow them to opt out of the contract. Jim has decided not to sign on again saying the turbines “are unsafe, they’re not green and they’re going to bankrupt the province.”
But Suncor and NextEra are now swapping land leases and farmers like Jim are feeling the pressure to sign extensions to those deals are hoping to abandon.
Sarnia Lambton This Week has obtained a letter from Suncor Energy which explained the land lease swap to the landowners.
“Jericho and Suncor, by virtue of a Land Swap Agreement, have agreed to separate their projects and thereby maximize efficiency through an exchange of interests in certain optioned lands. Accordingly, certain lands that are currently held under option by Jericho will become part of Suncor’s renewable energy project and certain lands that are currently held under option by Suncor will become part of Jericho’s renewable energy project,” writes Chris Moger, surface landman for Suncor. “We believe that this exchange is in the best interest of both projects and all landowners participating in those projects.”
Marcelle Brooks of Middlesex Lambton Wind Concerns isn’t surprised by the move. “Quite a while ago, there was a free for all going on” as companies tried to option land from local farmers. “There really was not a plan in place…it was like whoever had the most leases in place was the winner – it was like Monopoly…you buy up everything.” Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright Sarnia this Week
PLYMPTON-WYOMING – In a flood of people concerned about the effects of wind turbines, Paul Marsh stands out. And it isn’t just because he’s holding a picket sign.
Marsh lives in Sylvan – a community south east of Thedford just over the Middlesex County line. He, too, says he will be affected by the 62 turbine Cedar Point Wind Power project in Plympton-Wyoming.
Marsh won’t be too close to the turbines and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to see them since his 30 acre property is filled with trees.
What he will notice is a power transmission line which will run the length of his corner lot property.
“The transmission lines which are going to take the power from here will go right by my house,” said Marsh as he stood in front of the doors of the Camlachie Community Centre where Suncor was holding an open house recently. “The power generated here will go by my house. Everybody thinks about the turbines themselves but not how they move the power.”
The Cedar Point project isn’t the only industrial wind farm which will benefit from the new power lines. NextEra Energy also expects to hook into the line leading to feeder lines near the Bruce Power plant for its Jericho project in Lambton Shores.
“Right now, the small projects can feed into the grid, but they won’t be able to once there are 100s of them.”
And it is obvious Marsh is not happy about it. Suncor wants an easement – legal permission – to erect the power lines on between 60 and 80 feet at the edge of his property.
He had a “90 second conversation” about the idea with officials and now says the company will have find another way.
“They want an easement, but I won’t give it to them. They will have to expropriate it.”
Lambton municipalities working on common wind rules
By Heather Wright Sarnia Lambton This Week
“Our municipalities have to remember that their primary duty is to protect the people in their community regardless of what the Green Energy Act says…regardless of whether it can be acted on, they’ve done due diligence whether or not it can be acted on.”
The Ontario government took away municipalities planning rights for green energy projects in the Green Energy Act. But communities are beginning to fight back as it becomes clear the scope and number of the projects on the books.
In Lambton Shores, Plympton-Wyoming and Enniskillen Township there are several major projects in the works, two of which have already been given energy contracts under the Feed In Tariff program – The Cedar Point Wind Project by Suncor and NextEra’s Jericho project. They are meeting together to find things they can do to protect residents in the face of the turbines. Read the rest of this entry
Napper will “wait and see” if province changes Green Energy Act
By Heather Wright Sarnia Lambton This Week
PLYMPTON-WYOMING – Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper is taking a wait and see approach after the premier suggested the government will make changes to the way green energy projects are handled in the province.
Dalton McGuinty made the comments at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association in Toronto recently. A number of rural politicians – reports suggest anywhere from a dozen to 80 people – walked out before the premier began speaking in protest of the Green Energy Act. It took the planning power for wind and solar projects away from the municipalities.
After the speech, McGuinty told reporters the province is reviewing the green energy program and hopes to incorporate more of the “local perspective.”
“We will be adopting some of the recommendations put forward by rural Ontario so we can achieve a better balance,” he said.
“I’m not going to speak to the specifics, but I can say we have listened very carefully to those concerns and incorporated those into the changes that we are making.”
And McGuinty stopped short of saying whether municipalities would be given planning power over the projects.
“It’s encouraging,” says Napper of the premiers comments. “I’ll wait to hear what (the changes) are. We’ve had a lot of promises from that office before and they’ve never come through. Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright — Sarnia Lambton This Week
WATFORD – The battle over the Zephyr Wind project near Watford is over.
The group appealing the four industrial wind turbines has withdrawn its appeal of the project.
The Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern group launched the appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal of project between Churchill Line and LaSalle Road. It was prepared to start the hearing at the Brooke Alvinston Community Center but withdrew the appeal after a legal pre-hearing setback.
Eric Gillespie, the lawyer representing the group, says the tribunal asked for medical history from the witnesses who would testify to being affected by the turbines, something Gillespie was willing to do. He says the tribunal wanted to see the records of 23 witnesses who were to testify of the health affects of wind turbines. And it wanted the records for the last ten years.
But he says compiling the information would take time. Gillespie asked for an adjournment, but the tribunal gave him six days to come up with the information.
“That’s just not doable,” says Esther Wrightman, one of the people who started the appeal. Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright Sarnia this Week
GRAND BEND – If you can see a wind turbine from your window, chances are your house is going to sell for a lot less money than you want.
That’s the message Doug Pedlar, a real estate broker with ReMax in Grand Bend, brought to about 300 people in the village recently. Pedler talked with a number of real estate professionals across the province about the impact of industrial wind turbines on home sales and found studies about the subject from around the world. He says in general, the value of a home within view of the rotating blades takes longer to sell and could sell for 30 percent less than market value.
Pedlar says in one case in Simcoe, a real estate agent was trying to sell a 25 acre vacant hobby farm with a wind turbine behind it. He listed the lakeview property for about $149,000, expecting to sell it for about $135,000. Six months later he finally got an offer of $65,000. All seven of the potential buyers asked the agent about the wind turbine. Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright Sarnia This Week
PLYMPTON-WYOMING – Plympton-Wyoming says industrial wind turbine operators will have to put down a $200,000 deposit for each of the massive energy makers before any soil is turned.
It’s one of two new standards the township council passed recently in an effort to “protect our people,” according to Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper.
After the province passed the Green Energy Act, municipalities had very little say in where or how many industrial wind turbines would be erected in the territory. Suncor currently plans a 29 turbine project in Plympton-Wyoming, a move Napper is worried about.
In January, council passed the bylaw calling for the $200,000 deposit reasoning there had to be money available so the turbines could be dismantled if, in 20 years, the original owners abandon the machinery.
For Suncor, that would mean cutting a $5.8 million check to Plympton-Wyoming.
“We thought with all the companies coming in – we don’t know these companies – if the turbines have to be removed, it gives you some security,” says Napper. “We want the assurance that if some company comes in and puts up forty of them, (and) they’re gone – when they are worn out – what do you do with them? Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright, Sarnia This Week
GRAND BEND – Until a few months ago, Lisa Michaud didn’t know who ‘MOE’ was. The Thamesville woman and her family have gotten to know MOE – also known as the Ministry of the Environment – as they deal with the government agency because of the impacts of living beside industrial wind turbines.
Michaud, who recently spoke to a crowd of over 300 people in Grand Bend, suffers from severe headaches and vertigo – conditions which started after four industrial turbines were set up by Kent Breeze and Suncor near the family’s rural home.
Her son, Josh, is also affected. He used to work in construction on roofs but can’t anymore because of the dizziness he experiences. “It’s like there is a constant ringing in my ears,” he says comparing it to coming out of a really loud concert.
Michaud says the turbines are also having an impact on the family’s goats, which for unexplained reasons, refuse to go into their shelter at night and don’t sleep. And the animals have had a number of false pregnancies – the first time they’ve had significant problems with their flock.
Michaud says after she became ill, a representative from Suncor came to their farm to talk to her but made it seem “none of this was real and no one else in the province was experience this.”
Michaud asked Suncor to turn the turbines off for a while, so they could determine if the whooshing sounds were actually the source of their health problems. Suncor refused. Read the rest of this entry
Property values and health effects of turbines to be discussed
By Heather Wright Sarnia this Week February 7, 2012
Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group wants people in Lambton Shores to be aware of what they’re facing as industrial wind turbines begin to dot the landscape.
The group is holding a public meeting Thurs. Feb. 16 at the Grand Bend Public School to talk about the effects of turbines on human health, real estate values and local wildlife.
Lambton Shores will soon be a hotbed for wind energy. The largest project by NextEra Energy will put 92 turbines near the Lake Huron shoreline around Forest, Thedford, and Arkona.
Under the Green Energy Act, municipalities have very little control of the power projects. Groups like the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action have filed appeals to stop some of the projects in the province, so far without success.
So Muriel Allingham of the local Wind Action Group wants to prepare people for some of the possible problems associated with the turbines.
Allingham says the scope of the industrial wind farms which are coming to Lambton Shores is “unbelievable. The amount of focus on Lambton Shores is quite heavy and its going to completely change the landscape,” she says. Read the rest of this entry
By Heather Wright Sarnia This Week Jan 22, 2012
WATFORD – As the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal hears arguments against a wind turbine development near Watford, the project is moving ahead.
Green Breeze Energy’s four turbine 10 megawatt project worth about $22 million is under construction now with the concrete forms already poured and the turbines waiting in Windsor to be installed.
But the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group filed an appeal of the project.
WAG’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, says the main focus of the hearing will be the “numerous indirect health effects associated with wind turbines such as sleep disturbance, vertigo, nausea, headaches.”
Gillespie and lawyers for the province are waiting to hear the results of the province’s latest attempt to have the appeal dismissed. The tribunal is likely to release its decision this week. If the hearing moves ahead, arguments will begin in Alvinston Feb. 21.
But there is no requirement to stop work until the hearing is complete.
“You will probably see irreparable harm arguments made on other projects around the area of construction but given that the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action’s claim is based on health and that the health impacts don’t appear to be likely to be triggered until operation begins, we’re still in that phase,” Gillespie says.
“At the same time the company is clearly on notice they’re building completely at their own risk because if the appeal is successful those turbines will likely have to be removed.”
Gillespie says if the hearing continues long enough and Green Energy starts up the wind turbines, the wind action group may try to stop it.
“That is an option. At this point, no decision has been made either way,” says Gillespie. “We have indicated to the tribunal that we may make that motion so it is on everyone’s radar.”