Category Archives: Sarnia Lambton Independant

Lambton Shores ‘not a willing host’ to turbines

LAMBTONSarnia Lambton Independent
Lambton Shores Council has joined dozens of municipalities which say they are ‘not willing hosts’ to industrial wind turbines. Municipalities have had little say in the planning of the projects since the province brought in the Green Energy Act. It overruled any local planning authority. At the time, then- Premier Dalton McGuinty said it would stop people from objecting to the projects simply because they didn’t want them in their backyards.

But since then, rural communities have organized lobbying groups trying to impress upon local government and the province there are health concerns associated with the industrial turbines even as big energy companies began planning projects around the province. In Lambton Shores, 267 of turbines will soon dot the landscape including two major projects by Suncor Energy (46 turbines), NextEra Energy’s Jericho project with 92 turbines.

Lambton Shores has been carefully pouring over the projects, hoping to offer comment to the Ministry of the Environment on areas where residents are have voiced concerned, such as how far the turbines are from homes, stray voltage, and the health effects from sound vibrations. Lambton Shores has asked for a moratorium on wind development until a health study by the federal government is complete, but so far the province hasn’t responded. Read article

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NextEra sues activist for use of “offending logo” and video

Nexterror EnergySarnia Lambton Independent
NextEra Energy has made good on its threat to sue a local anti-wind activist. The company, which has several wind energy projects slated for Lambton and Middlesex Counties, is suing to stop the use of “offending logos.”

The company has filed a lawsuit in Toronto saying Esther Wrightman’s use of NextError and Next Terror on her websites Ontario Wind Resistance and the Middlesex Lambton Wind Concerns. Court documents say the use of the logos “is false” and is “likely to mislead the public as to the character” of NextEra.

The company takes issue with being linked to terror. “NextEra is operating in full compliance with the law…the defendant is aware or is recklessly indifferent to the fact that the term ‘terror’ and ‘terrorist’ is reserved or organizations with extreme and violent criminal aims,” the lawsuit says adding the terms are usually linked to organizations such as Al-Qaida and Hezbollah. “NextEra is a law-abiding organization that has consulted extensively in the defendant’s community. It has committed no acts of terror or violence.”

NextEra wants Wrightman to remove all references to NextError and Next Terror and a video showing the company cutting down an eagle’s next in Haldimand County. It’s also seeking damages saying Wrightman may have gained financially through donations to the website for various wind groups. Read article

Insurance industry wary of covering farms with turbines after Collingwood court ruling

Heather Wright/This Week Greg Cameron of Cameron Insurance in Oil SpringsHeather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
A local insurance broker says a recent decision to allow neighbours of wind farms to sue for lost property value may make it harder for farms with wind turbines to get liability insurance. Greg Cameron of Cameron Insurance was one of the speakers at yesterday’s meeting held by CORE – Conserve Our Rural Enniskillen. CORE organized after three wind companies began moving throughout the area asking farmers to host wind turbines on their property. Up to 51 turbines are planned in the three projects

But Cameron is warning farmers they need to be careful about signing lease agreements because it may affect their insurance coverage. Cameron says a recent Ontario Court decision in which a judge ruled property owners around a proposed development in Collingwood could go to court to look for damages to cover the devaluation of their property once the project was built.

Cameron says the insurance industry, which does not have uniform policies on liability insurance for farms with industrial turbines, is closely watching the situation. “As more and more turbines go up and more and more liability suits are presented, you will be able to tell the appetite of the insurance companies, whether they will cover farms (with turbines),” says Cameron. Read article

Anti-wind activist “won’t back down” as NextEra threatens legal action

IM000872.JPGHeather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
Esther Wrightman says she’s not about to be silenced in her fight against wind turbines in her community. Wrightman, a member of Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group, recently received a Cease and Desist order from NextEra Energy after altering the company’s logo to make it read Next-terror and NextError on signs and videos.

“This use of the NextEra logo is unsanctioned, in violation of NextEra’s intellectual property rights and defamatory, especially in conjunction with the video makers’ disparaging comments about NextEra,” Awanish Sinha of McCarthy Tetrault law firm in Toronto writes to Wrightman. “While NextEra recognizes your right to object to its projects and to express your opinions regarding wind power and provincial policies regarding green energy, you do not have a right to utilize its name and logo in any manner or to defame the company.” Sinha writes company officials tried a half dozen times to talk to the activist by phone about their concerns, but weren’t able to reach her. When Wrightman added NextTerror Bullies Canada Inc. to a blog, Sinha says the company felt it had to take legal action. “The latest manipulation of NextEra’s logo has compelled NextEra to take this action and stop this escalating abuse.”

dsc03328The company told Wrightman to remove all uses of the alter logos on the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group and Ontario Wind Resistance blogs. It also calls for two videos – one of company workers removing a bald eagle’s nest which was in the way of a new project in Haldimand County. Wrightman says that video and another of a company official telling protestors the Ministry of the Environment gave permission for the nest to be cut, have been viewed thousands of times and have shocked people. “I really believe it has more to do with them wanting the eagle nest video down,” she says. Wrightman believes the letter is simply a threat that the company uses with people who don’t agree with their projects. Read article

Enniskillen will wait to impose a two km zone for wind turbines

enniskillen-windHeather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
Enniskillen Township politicians say they’re considering a bylaw to keep wind turbines two kilometers from homes. But Mayor Kevin Marriott says council is waiting to see what happens with two prominent cases in the Ontario courts before acting. There are three wind energy companies going door-to-door in the municipality trying to sign farmers to wind leases. The projects could mean up to 51 turbines in the community.

A new group, CORE – Conservation of Rural Enniskillen – has been formed to encourage residents not to sign on, making it difficult for the wind companies to get the land base they need. So far, the companies have not secured contracts with the provincial government to sell power.

That’s why Marriott and his council told members of CORE at a recent council meeting they’re taking their time on imposing a two kilometer limit – which would be directly opposed to provincial law. Marriott says communities such as Wainfleet and Plympton-Wyoming which imposed the limit are facing legal challenges and are currently in court. A decision on the Wainfleet two kilometer set back is expected in weeks.

“When we hear that decision we thought we’d be in a better position to proceed with setback (requirements) like Plympton-Wyoming’s,” says Marriott adding a larger exclusion zone would be one of the best ways to stop wind projects in the community. “Two kilometers would pretty well eliminate any place in rural Lambton,” says Marriott. Read article

Energy Board flooded with objections to NextEra’s transmission project

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Sarnia Lambton Independent
NextEra Energy is facing stiff opposition to its transmission plan. Dozens of people, organizations, and businesses have filed to be interveners at an Ontario Energy Board Hearing on the transmission line project to serve three of NextEra’s projects including the Jericho Wind Energy project in Lambton Shores.

The company plans to erect 100 foot poles over 30 km along roads in Middlesex County to carry the power generated by the wind projects near Strathroy and Lambton Shores. But some neighbours are not pleased. The OEB allowed 10 days for people to register to take part in the hearing to approve the plan, at least 15 landowners and nine other organizations want a say in the hearing.

Middlesex County, Adelaide Township and North Middlesex want to be involved in the hearing. So does Hydro One, the Independent Electric System Operator, and Entegrus Transmission Lines. The Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group – a citizens group which has been objecting to the industrial wind projects in the area – also wants a say. Read article

Warden worried about second wave of wind energy; 900 turbines possible in southern Ontario

CHATHAM KENT ONTARIO ENBRIDGE WIND FROM HWY3 TALBOT TRAIL15Sarnia Lambton Independent
Lambton County Warden Todd Case is worried southwestern Ontario will be flooded with industrial wind turbines when the provincial government offers energy contracts to large companies soon. He wants the provincial government to rethink the green energy agenda before awarding any more contracts to produce power.

Case was recently in Windsor at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainability Conference. He visited a wind turbine plant in the city where the talk was about the province’s next round of announcements for the Feed In Tariff (FIT) projects to large energy companies. Case says industry leaders expect that next round will place hundreds of turbines in southern Ontario and that has him worried.

“There are rumblings from the government there will be about 900 expected in (the region) the second process,” says Case. Read article

Windfall of donations for Plympton-Wyoming/Suncor court battle

plympton wyomingHeather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independent
They’re putting their money where their mouth is. The anti-wind group WAIT in Plympton Wyoming is accepting donations to help pay for the municipality’s court battle against Suncor Energy. Suncor is in the final planning stages of the Cedar Point Energy Project which will place about 28 industrial turbines in Plympton-Wyoming.

But Plympton-Wyoming Council balked at the project and its lack of input because of the Green Energy Act. Council passed its own bylaw under the Municipal Act to “protect the health of our people,” according to Mayor Lonny Napper. The bylaw called for turbines to be 2 km away from homes instead of  550 meters mandated by the Green Energy Act and placed large fees on each turbine for decommissioning.

The municipality was served notice of a court challenge by Suncor earlier this month. Plympton-Wyoming has vowed to fight the move, hiring lawyer Eric Gillespie who is known for his work with anti-wind activists. The move was applauded by WAIT and now it will be supported financially as well. “The council is meeting next week to figure out how they are going to pay for the legal battle, says WAIT spokesperson Elizabeth Bellavance “in the meantime, WAIT is going to accept funds on behalf of the municipality.”

WAIT has a bank account set up at the Southwest Credit Union in Wyoming to accept any donations. Donations can also be sent to WAIT at Box 219, Plympton Wyoming, N0N 1T0. Read article

Activist question why wind companies surveyed Rock Glen

rockglenHeather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independent
Muriel Allingham is questioning why the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority would allow wind energy companies to survey sensitive areas such as Rock Glen Conservation Area. Documents released by the authority released to Allingham, a member of Middlesex Lambton Wind Action, show a company called CanAcre, working for NextEra Energy on the Goshen and Jericho projects in Lambton and Middlesex, signed an agreement with the ABCA to have access to conservation land for field studies. Rock Glen Conservation Area in Arkona was among the nine tracts of land surveyed.

Conservation Authority General Manager Tom Proutt says the agreements were signed two-years ago, before there was wide-spread concern for the project. He says the company offered to survey the land and do an inventory of the plants and wildlife. “The agreements that wind energy companies had asked us for were part of their environmental studies they were doing,” says Proutt. “They were looking at our properties in terms of what was there and that was information that we would find useful because we don’t have the time or money to inventory our lands.”

But Allingham says the conservation authority should have known the companies were looking to use the lands – a use she says would not be appropriate. “Conservation lands are just that and it (wind energy projects) displaces wildlife and their mandate is to protect land and wildlife. Read article

New transmission lines spark plans for up to 51 wind turbines near Petrolia

enniskillen-windHeather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
Enniskillen politicians and residents are watching with worry as three companies make the rounds asking landowners south of Petrolia to sign leases for wind turbines. Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott says in the last few months three companies have been speaking with the municipality about projects which could bring as many as 51 turbines to the rural township.

The mayor says there has been major interest since the Ontario Energy Board gave approval for Hydro One’s $40 million upgrade of a major transmission line which goes from the Lambton Generating Station into London. The upgrade allows for up to 500 megawatts of additional renewable power in the area according to documents filed at the time with the OEB. “These transmission lines that are coming from the Courtright coal-fired facility are being upgraded and all of the sudden there is an interest to feed that line,” he says. Read article

Suncor taking Plympton Wyoming to court over turbine setbacks

suncor CedarPoint_WebMap3_ProjectLocation_20130127Heather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
The wind war in Plympton-Wyoming is headed to court. And Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper says his municipality will fight to protect its residents against the potential health effects of wind turbines on its residents.

Suncor Energy has a contract with the provincial government for a 100 megawatt, 46 turbine project in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores. About 28 of those turbines will go in Plympton-Wyoming in the Camlachie area. The municipality has taken an aggressive stand against the project putting in tough local regulations.

Thursday, Suncor Energy Products served the township with notice it’s challenging the municipality’s bylaws which require turbines to be two kilometers from homes, a $200,000 deposit for decommissioning and its building permit fees of $10,000. A court date has not been set yet, but Mayor Lonny Napper the township is hiring a lawyer to defend its bylaws. “We feel we have a strong case here,” says Napper. “It is our mandate under the Municipal Act to protect our people and that’s what we’re going to do.

“We’re not against wind turbines; we’re in this strictly for the health and safety of our people.” Read article

Wind activists want Lambton Shores to take a tougher stand with wind energy companies

stw-wind-response MarcelleSarnia Lambton Independent
Local anti-wind activists are worried Lambton Shores officials are not making tough enough demands nor asking the right questions on the two wind energy projects in the community. Lambton Shores preparing its comments on the Suncor Energy project (62 turbines) and NextEra Energy (92 turbines) which will be within the municipal boundaries.

The municipality planned to hire a consultant to comb through the binders of questions to be answered but found any firm with expertise in the area was already employed by the wind energy companies. Marcelle Brooks, spokesperson for Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern, has looked at the municipal response to both projects and has one major concern. In both documents, the municipality states the turbines are equipped with sensors which automatically shut down if abnormal amounts of noise is found.

The sound waves are one of the major concerns of the people opposed to wind energy who say the sound can cause headaches, sleeplessness and tinnitus. “I question where that information was obtained,” says Brooks. In fact, in an email to anti-wind activist one of NextEra’s consultants debunks the idea. “The turbines can be shut down remotely but not as a result of achieving a certain sound limit,” writes Derek Dudek in an email. “The 40 decibels is not measured at the turbine but rather at the receptor location (nearby homes.)” Read article

MPAC looking at effects of wind turbines on assessment

Aaron Van Ooteghen

Heather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independent
A  study which will show whether the value of the property around industrial wind turbines has changed is just about complete. Officials from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation talked to Lambton County Councilors about how the wind energy projects are assessed for tax purposes and what affect they have on surrounding property owners.

Officials say privately owned turbines and those owned by non-profit organizations aren’t subject to taxes but industrial turbines in commercial projects are. A 1.5 megawatt turbine – typical of the industrial projects – is valued at $60,000.That fact didn’t sit well with county councilors. “How did someone come up with $40,000 on a structure that is worth $6 million,” says Brooke Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan.

St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold says the artificially low assessment means lower tax revenue for the municipality estimating a turbine would generate $500 to $1,000 in taxes. “That’s not a lot of dollars for the local municipalities; that’s what has driven a lot of municipalities to put extra costs onto the projects.” Arnold says municipalities were led to believe it would up to $10,000 per turbine. “There is a lot of miscommunication.” Read article

Opponents say wind company donations to conservation authority “a violation of public trust”

Turbines: Killer of BirdsHeather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independent
A donation to a conservation authority by one of the wind energy companies planning a massive project in the Grand Bend area is “a violation of public trust” according to anti-wind activist. And officials with the conservation authority which accepted it say it may be time to create a sponsorship policy.

For the past six years, the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority has held a golf tournament to raise money to maintain trails in a memorial park in Exeter. Last year, NextEra Energy was one of sponsors of the event. In an interview with QMI Agency, NextEra officials say they have a long history of backing community initiatives and they make the contributions “because it is the right thing to do.”

But the sponsorship drawn the ire of anti-wind activists who say the conservation authority has to approve the projects and should not be accepting money from the companies.

Marcelle Brooks of the Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern isn’t surprised NextEra is passing out cash in the community. “They are specifically aligning themselves with community and environmental organizations in order to appear sensitive,” she says. “Fortunately, residents know all about NextEra and that they are neither environmentally sensitive nor sensitive to the needs of the community.

“It is an absolute conflict of interest to accept any money from a company exploiting its land holdings…NextEra needs to get across the Ausable River (which is under the jurisdiction of the conservation authority). It is a violation of a public trust.” Read article

Wind turbine neighbours could find their land at risk

CHTAHAM KENT ONTARIO ENBRIDGE WIND FROM HILL RD6Heather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independant
Lambton wind activists are warning landowners they could be at risk even if they don’t have a wind turbine on their property. Lambton Shores is soon to be home to two major wind projects. Suncor Energy plans to build a solar project with 62 industrial turbines and NextEra Energy’s plan has 92 turbines. Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern spokesperson Marcelle Brooks says a little known part of the regulations for turbines allows for boundary setback reductions. It basically means the giant turbines could be placed very close to the property lines of people who don’t want turbines on their land.

Suncor is applying for 21 boundary setback reductions and NextEra is looking for 39. “It benefits the host property owner,” says Brooks. “The companies are putting the access roads close to the turbines as close to the property line as possible so they don’t chop up the farmer’s field.”

But she says in the case of a massive failure of the turbines, they could land on the neighbour’s property. “If it did fall into the neighbours property, you’re going to have not only the blade length of 50 meters but you’re going to potentially have another 20 meters of hub and turbine tower come crashing into your field. A hub and rotor weighs 144 tonnes…that’s going to make a pretty big hole.” Read article