Wind companies trading leases “like monopoly”, offering cash for extensions: opponents
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