NexTerror Wind and Rural Fear
by Harvey Wrightman
The Liberal party, engaged in a collective effort of navel-gazing, is puzzled as to why rural residents have such irrational fear of the great green future planned for them – all the prospective leadership candidates affirm that the wind energy program will proceed as planned.
One of the newest wrinkles to the wind program is now coming to light. The 300 or so wind turbines planned for north east Lambton, north west Middlesex and southern Huron Counties require transmission lines to get to Hydro’s 500kv main line some 40 km away. The wind companies, in their typical corporate arrogance, planned their projects first, leaving transmission details for later, never anticipating that things here would be any different than they are in Kansas or Missouri where you send out your “landmen” (that’s what this particular breed of slime is called) to offer a few dollars for the easements required – and the poles are up before anyone even knows about it. Almost everything on private land so there are no hassles with municipal or State bureaucrats. So, we can do the same thing here, right? – Well, not exactly.
Over the past 50 years farm land in southern Ontario was improved by installing subsurface tile drainage which eliminates wet spots in fields and generally improves the growing ability of soils. Tiles are laid out in a systematic fashion with current practice seeing the patterns set as close as 25’ apart. They don’t do that in Kansas or Missouri. They don’t have to because the weather factors are different.
Two years ago, when the landmen came to one local landowner with the standard offer of a dollar a foot to bury the collector lines in his fields, he said, “NO” and continued to say , “NO”. The reason was, the plan had 12 collector lines running straight up the middle of his “systematically-tiled” fields. In that case the whole field would have to be tiled again. The loss in crop production and the uncertainty of , “…what next will the wind company do…” made the decision easy. Other farmers said, “NO” too. Suddenly the wind company had a problem. Their staff, almost all American, knew very little about farming and their assumption that local landowners would fall over themselves to take the lines was wrong.
Worse, the transmission corridor which the wind company, NexTerror, wished to acquire for the high voltage 115 kv line was not defined let alone secured. Adding to the complication is the Ausable River, a deep gorge, forested, and with many species of concern living there. Crossing it anywhere creates disturbance and calls for oversight. A broad area was outlined for the trans route, but no details provided. Meanwhile, landmen knocked on doors shoving contracts at landowners, some signed, but a significant number did not.
Eventually Nextera (locally more affectionately known as NexTerror) was forced to look at the municipal right-of-ways (ROWs). Curiously, landmen approached the adjoining landowners for easements claiming that while the poles would be on the ROW, an “aerial” easement was required to allow for the “swing” over private property. This would allow the company to use fewer poles reducing the visual impact. Again, some people were enticed by the offer of “free money” – a one time payment ranging from $5000 – $50,000 depending on the number of poles and property involved. Other people, recognizing that an easement is registered on the deed as a “lien” and is virtually forever, refused to sign. They also reasoned that 100’ poles in front of a $400,000 house would fall short of the $100,000 or more the property would lose in value. In addition, an easement is registered as a “lien” against the property affecting its saleability.
There was now anger for the attitudes and tactics of the large wind companies who try to bully their way onto the municipal road ROW to erect mile upon mile of new high voltage 115kv lines on 100’ poles. NexTerror is now engaged (bogged down) in discussions with Middlesex, Lambton and Huron counties to get permission for such usage. About 60 adjoining landowners have already said, “NO”, refusing to sign “aerial easements” for the big pole lines needed to carry the power over to the 500kv line, the “tap” into the provincial grid. One would think the company big heads would prioritize these lines – otherwise the power of 300 turbines along Lake Huron is “stranded” – looks stupid.
So, why does NextEra want these easements so badly if they can use the ROWs anyway?
A- Because Hydro One is refusing to allow NexTerror to use Hydro Ones’s poles. NexTerror has to construct its own lines.
And why is that?
A- A good guess – it’s the liability of the 100+ lawsuits against wind projects, like the one in Stayner where property owners are seeking compensation for loss of property value from the developer of a proposed wind project. Real estate appraiser Ben Lansink, in 2 recent studies of actual sales, has demonstrated that properties within 2 km of a wind turbine drop ~ 40% of value. Note, this does not take into account the many properties that did not sell and were then taken off the market. Real estate agents can make money in an up or down market, but not if there are no sales. They are worried about this. There is also the issue of “stray current”, which is already a problem in rural areas. The wind companies have slyly suggested that building a wind/electric generating project doesn’t “directly cause” stray current, it may only “uncover” the deficiencies of the system.
As more power generation is “diffused” in the rural areas, there has been an increase in the amount of stray current and power surge events. Hydro, not so dim as the wind companies, wants no part of wind company legal woes that are looming on the horizon.
Local Councillors who fear the negative economic and social impacts of wind turbines, now have to integrate on public property the myriad array of power lines needed to connect these monstrosities. They will field the “first calls” that angry residents will place. The new lines take up space that may be needed for future services. Wind power is sent out of the region, with almost zero use or benefit locally. Large corporations reap the profits. Local residents lose real wealth with decreased property values. Municipalities lose tax revenue. Most worrisome are the insidious nature of the health effects. The MOE’s response, “Cover up and suck it up.”
All the “environmental gains” and profits are exported for someone else’s benefit. This doesn’t go down so well. Small wonder people are suing wind companies to preserve asset value. Banks and insurance companies are getting cautious about mortgages and insurance even on properties without wind leases on them – more discord and social friction. You can imagine the content of local gossip now taking place.
Eventually some companies, for whom wind is just a cute side-line (Suncor, e.g.) will figure out what local people already know: – that industrial wind doesn’t make sense for anyone – not even for them.
The Liberals of course, are quite clueless.
Posted on December 12, 2012, in Adelaide Project- NextEra, Bornish Project, Electrical Pollution, Ethics, Jericho Project, Next Era, Property value, Transmission and tagged Nextera, transmission, wind turbines. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.