Category Archives: Today's Farmer

Plympton-Wyoming residents say no to wind turbines

By John Phair, Today’s Farmer

In closing Vanhuisen had a warning for those in attendance. “Don’t come bitchin after the fact, get involved now,” she said.

Public resistance to industrial wind turbines appears to be gaining momentum across southwestern Ontario.

A crowd of about 600 packed the Camlachie Community Hall April 19 for a town hall meeting hosted by a newly formed citizen’s group known as W.A.I.T (We’re Against Industrial Turbines).

The group has been formed to oppose an 83-turbine wind farm project proposed by Suncor that would eventually span the Lambton County municipalities of Huron Shores, Plympton-Wyoming and Enniskillen Township.

Bill Wright, a long-time Plympton-Wyoming resident and spokesman for the group, said W.AI.T. intends to do everything it can to prevent industrial wind turbines from every being built in Plympton-Wyoming.

“That’s why we exist,” he said. Read the rest of this entry

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Green energy woes discussed at Lambton NFU annual meeting

By John Phair Today’s Farmer

There’s not a whole lot good about wind turbines, or for that matter, Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

At least that seemed to be the general opinion expressed at the annual meeting of Local 328 (Lambton County) National ­Farmers Union, held recently at the Forest Agricultural Society Hall.

The organization’s outgoing president said issues surrounding wind generators and the Green Energy Act were among his greatest concerns for the rural community as he wrapped up his term of office.

“The thing that had the biggest impact on me are issues regarding wind generators and green energy and the true costs behind them,” said Joe Vye in his report to the membership.

Vye stressed that he hopes no one signs a lease agreement with any energy company, whether it be a natural gas, oil, wind or solar company without having it vetted by a lawyer who specializes in that field.

He noted that he was recently asked to look over a contract from an oil company that wanted to drill on one of his neighbour’s land and was astounded by what he read. Read the rest of this entry

Activist continues call for moratorium on wind generators

By John Phair / Today’s Farmer      Sept 19 2011

One of Middlesex County’s most vocal opponents to large wind turbines says if a comprehensive health study was completed on the affects of wind turbines it would mean the end of the wind industry in Ontario.

Strathroy-area greenhouse operator Harvey Wrightman has long called on the Ontario government to invoke a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines until a health study can be completed.

“We need a health study,” he says. “It’s not a difficult thing to do and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

“But the McGuinty government refuses to do it because they know they will find people out there who are badly affected.”

Wrightman notes that his daughter, Ester Wrightman, heads up a group known as Middlesex Wind Action Group, a loose coalition of citizens concerned with the proliferation of wind turbines in their community and the potential ill health affects those structures may cause.

Harvey Wrightman says and he and his daughter hear from people on an almost daily basis who live near wind farms and who say they’re suffering from maladies such as sleep deprivation, headaches, dizziness, nausea and impairments of cognitive functions.

“People know these complaints are real,” Wrightman says.

“Most people in the rural community don’t disbelieve these claims because you can hardly open a conversation with anyone around here who doesn’t have some direct or indirect contact with somebody who is bothered by the effects of wind generation.”

Wrightman suggests that if the government was to complete a health study on wind turbines it would mark the end of the wind energy business in Ontario.

Wrightman charges that the both the provincial government and the wind energy industry have been remiss in the release of information on wind generation and have maintained a strategy of denial when it comes to suspected health problems.

Because of the technical nature of wind generation the public in general lacks an understanding of the basics that are driving the complaints about the health effects of wind generation, says Wrightman.

“The devil in all this is the technical nature of it, which has worked well for the wind energy industry’s strategy of denial and no release of information,” he says.

He suggests there are two phenomena related to wind generation, particularly in very large generators, that are causing the problems. Neither is well understood by the public. They are wind shear and amplitude modulation.

“These are technical terms but they are fairly simple in nature,” he says.

Winds shear is the difference in wind speeds at the blades nearest the ground level compared with wind speeds at the top of the blade.

During the day when the sun is heating up the earth, the wind speed at the ground level is about the same as the top of the blade, or at about 100 metres, mostly because the heated air rises to upper levels. Consequently, during the day a large wind generator may emit a swishing sound that is barely audible.

But because of the change in temperature at night that changes. At night the winds at the upper levels blow fairly consistently, while at the lower level winds are much more likely to be calm.

“That’s the basis of wind shear,” says Wrightman, adding that wind shear is expressed as a co-efficient and is monitored and recorded by Environment Canada as well as by most airports.

A wind shear factor of 0.4 is about average on summer evenings.

He adds that the blades on a wind turbine are twisted so they’re able to catch the wind to optimize wind power at the upper level.

“But they can’t be suddenly flared or the pitch changed as they come to the lower level, and the blades are therefore pushing wind rather than being driven by it.”

He adds that when the blade passes the tower, the change in air pressure causes a pulsing that can be heard faintly in daylight hours at one to three decibels.

But at night, when the upper pressures are considerably higher — in other words, under wind shear conditions — the pulsing will be in the range of five to 15 decibels.

“At that point it becomes a thump rather than a swish,” Wrightman says, adding that the sound also carries further under wind shear conditions.

“It’s a very distinctive pulsating thump.”

Meanwhile, amplitude modulation refers to the increase in the aerodynamic noise coming from wind turbine blades, and while it’s not well understood, researchers have suggested its severity could be dependent on operating conditions, weather, or even the location of the listener in relation to the turbines and the wind.

Wrightman says there’s no “technical fix” for the wind shear problem and suggests that the only solution is a mandated minimum distance set back for wind turbines of at least 2,000 metres, as opposed to the present requirement of 550 metres.

“They can go ahead and build them, that’s fine, but give me that setback,” says Wrightman, adding that admittedly under those conditions there would be few turbines built within the province.

He says the McGuinty government has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the effects of wind shear and has continued to force his green energy plan on the rural communities of Ontario.

Is it beating or swishing?

Today’s Farmer Opinion
Jan. 5th, 2011

The good people at the MOE love to engage in titillating word-play for fun and amusement.

Last summer I had the audacity to actually write the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Environment and put it to them that the MOE was not properly dealing with the “cyclic noise” of wind turbines – you know, the swooshing, swishing, whumping sounds that many residents complain about, especially when it occurs at night and they cannot sleep. If you have a dripping tap, you fix it. But you can’t turn off the wind turbine; and no one else will, certainly not the man in a control room located somewhere in California.

Now there are regulations for just this sort of thing. In Ontario it is Reg. NPC-104 which states that any industrial machine that produces a “cyclic” noise, one that repeats over and over as long as the machine operates, for example, a punch press in a metal stamping plant, is subject to a 5dB penalty to its noise limits.

A 5dB penalty would effectively double current setbacks from wind turbines to over 1,000 metres. It is an important issue. Read the rest of this entry

Wind turbines a poor income support for farmers

In the swirling debate in rural Ontario about wind turbines and the Ontario government’s plans to saturate the countryside with these bulky appliances, it is common to hear the government line that wind energy is a solution to the income crisis that agriculture faces here in Ontario. Listed below are 5 reasons why wind energy is a poor income support program for farmers and a bad idea for the agricultural economy of rural Ontario.

1) As an income support program wind energy has extremely uneven coverage. Some municipalities will never see wind farms. Where wind farms are proposed some farmers will have the proper setbacks to site a turbine while their next door neighbour will not because of minimum distance separation to buildings. It doesn’t seem right that a government mandated program would distribute ratepayer dollars based on geography rather than need.

2) The lease payments are not enough to save the family farm. Ontario has a cheap food policy that causes the farm industry to lurch from one income crisis to another. To think that a measly $6-8 000 annual payment will solve a farms profitability problem is just plain wrong. It’s a drop in the bucket. I spoke to a hog farmer who told me that even if the 2 wind turbines proposed for his farm were up and running right now it would not make a difference to the viability of his operation. Read the rest of this entry