Year of the Turbines, Part Two
(read Part One)
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
“Dec 17: Early AM. Neil not sleeping well, me neither.” Monica Elmes wrote those words in her diary back in 2010. It wasn’t until some time later that she realized what had happened the previous day outside her home in Chatham-Kent. After years of preparation and close to nine months of construction, Enbridge Inc. had flicked the switch and started 44 powerful wind turbines turning near the Elmes household. Lack of sleep was just the first symptom for Elmes and her family.
“To me, the visual intrusion is huge but, also, when they started to function, the noise intrusion was way more than I ever thought. When I first saw the map and saw where we were located, I thought, ‘Oh, good, we’re 1.5 km away from the closest one,’” says Elmes. She almost let out a sigh of relief at the time, not expecting the noise would be bothersome. Nothing could be further from the truth. Noise levels today with the turbines operating are often ten times what they were before.
And noise was just the beginning. For the first time in her life, Elmes began experiencing painful earaches. “It was kind of a definitive moment for me when I realized,” she says. At first, she didn’t equate the turbine noise and the ear discomfort. But, one day when the turbines stopped, her ears started popping and crackling – and she realized the increasingly worsening ear pains were being caused by the turning blades.
One of the problems so many people have with turbines is that they’re intermittent and unpredictable. Elmes says, “It’s incredibly variable. There’s times when it’s fine, other than visually. There are other times where it feels like something’s beating you over the head.”
Elmes is fortunate that she’s mostly susceptible only to health issues associated with the audible noise from the turbines. Her spouse, Neil, is a completely different story. “My husband is the one I worry about more, because he seems to be sensitive to what I would assume is non-audible low-frequency noise, so he doesn’t sleep well anymore.” Read the rest of this entry
Year of the Turbines, Part One
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
This is a story about one woman and her family. Average people, like most of us. It’s about how their happy, rural lives changed dramatically beginning a few short years ago. About how they were transformed from contented farmers into faceless people who feel trapped in their own lives. It’s a story of what happened when wind turbines changed everything. And it’s a story about how people’s lives in our communities are about to change, too, with the proposed installation of up to 400 turbines right in our own backyard.
Monica Elmes lives in Chatham-Kent, about an hour or so south of here. She and her husband Neil have owned a small cash crop farm just south of Ridgetown for the past 17 years. She’s an intelligent person who studied Science and Agriculture and worked as a research technician for the University of Guelph and Ridgetown College. Slightly more than a decade ago, she and Neil decided to have a child and she’s been a stay-at-home mom ever since.
Until a few years ago, she described her life on the farm as ‘fabulous.’ “We bought our property and farm here planning to never leave, have done extensive renovations and everything we can with the view that this was where we were going to live and die forever – and absolutely loved this place,” she says.
As a farmer, she and Neil have always been concerned about the environment. “I’m really an environmentally conscious person. Everything we do on our farm – we have our environmental farm plan. Everything we do in our home – we’ve always thought about those consequences to the environment,” she says.
That’s what got her excited about the idea of wind turbines in the first place. About six years ago, there was a lot of talk in her community through the grapevine about people wanting to lease to wind companies – and the couple were definitely interested. At the time, crop prices were really bad and they were intrigued when a group of local residents approached them: “They thought if, as neighbours, we could get together and form sort of a group to approach the company, it would be beneficial for everyone to have that sort of power position, kind of a cooperative, community thing,” she says. “A lot of people – ourselves, as well – we thought this would be a good thing for the environment – and an opportunity to make money at the same time.” Read the rest of this entry
Norma Schmidt, a registered nurse, speaks to a large crowd in Clinton, Ontario in September, 2010 about what her health is like, living in the midst of Enbridge’s Kingsbridge Wind Power Project, consisting of 110 wind turbines. Norma’s story is featured in the upcoming CBC documentary “Wind Rush”.
As the Liberal Leader Candidates tour Middlesex and Lambton, the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group aren’t far behind. The local group were able to talk with Liberal Candidate Kathleen Wynne in Strathroy Saturday about the issue with wind turbines, but WAG Member Muriel Allingham wasn’t very convinced with what she had to say.
She added no matter who’s elected this weekend, they will be hearing from the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group. Allingham says they have to be involved because they have to continue moving forward with this issue and we need to get a moratorium on further wind development until it is proven to be completely safe. (Listen here)
Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley agreed to meeting AND a conversation with only a limited number of residents from rural Ontario (fourexactly, but we took five, 2 of home are already victims of wind turbines). It became apparent very early on in the “meeting” that there would be no “conversation”, as Mr. Bentley stonewalled question after question. The time to pretend to “gather information” was over 4 years ago, Bentely — you have the information, but you choose to ignore it, and ignore us. Good luck ever winning rural Ontario vote back again, if the Liberals view this as the way a democracy works.
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. Read the rest of this entry
By Laura MacDuff, The Post, Hanover
DURHAM – The Municipality of West Grey met with NextEra energy at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. As part of the approval process for the wind turbines planned for just outside of Durham, NextEra needs to make consultation with West Grey. This began on Monday. Questions by council were answered by Derek Dudek, community relations consultant for NextEra, and Adam Rickel, project manager of the Durham project. NextEra also hired a West Grey police officer to be present at the council meetings, to ensure the safety of all people at the meeting.
Mayor Kevin Eccles said to NextEra that council is elected to represent the people. He said that the vast majority of people within West Grey don’t want the turbines in their municipality. He said that was why West Grey passed a resolution saying that West Grey will not be a willing host to the turbines.
“We hope that we’re providing them with accountable information that will ease their concerns with respect to the centre,” Dudek answered.
Councillor Bev Cutting made it clear to the NextEra representatives that West Grey would be getting their own independent peer review done by West Grey, at a cost to NextEra. She said that all of those proposing a project have to have it reviewed by an independent peer reviewer and that the company proposing a project always pays.
The mayor questioned the company to do tests about stray voltage around the turbines. “Would that not be a proactive thing for the company to do?” Mayor Eccles said he had heard stories of stray voltage in and around the Ripley wind turbines and the Kincardine ones. Adam Rickel said that there is a lesser risk for stray voltage because the cables are buried underground. He said that “historically stray voltage comes from hanging lines.” Read the rest of this entry
CTV News“It was a scene of protest today in Ingersoll as the small town hosted all seven provincial candidates in the race to replace Dalton McGuinty. CTV’s Gerry Dewan has more on the debate inside and on the demonstrators outside.”
There was polite applause from the 150 people attending the meeting, but an equal number of protesters gathered outside to complain about wind farms, a local landfill project and the legislation that freezes teachers’ wages.
INGERSOLL, Ont. – Few policy differences emerged at the first all-candidates meeting for the seven men and women running to replace Dalton McGuinty as Ontario Liberal leader and premier, but Kathleen Wynne surprised the audience by promising to appoint herself as agriculture minister.
“This is such an important issue for us as a province, not just as a party, not just as a government, that I think the premier needs to take this on,” Wynne told party faithful gathered in the gym of a youth centre in Ingersoll, about 30 kilometres east of London, Ont. Read article
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
London Free Press- Letters to the editor
Regarding Winds of change blow for municipalities (Feb. 28).
I’m glad municipalities will have more authority on the subject of wind turbines. These turbines deplete property value, leading to empty homes in some counties. Wind farms are detrimental to wildlife (bats, migrating birds) and some link wind turbines to human health concerns.
The concept of green energy is merely a public relations game, aimed to sway the voting public. There is nothing green about these turbines, rendering lots of wetlands useless for migratory birds, and known to kill bats and other birds.
Adding to this, there is no funding allotted for the removal of these turbines. They are simply allowed to rust away, creating an eyesore to the public.
Please stop bringing in these windmills and select more environmentally-friendly power sources.
Regarding the editorial Rural Ontario set to blow up at McGuinty (Feb. 25).
I agree with Mark Davis, deputy mayor of Arran Elderslie. There are times you must do what you feel is right. Municipalities are merely asking for a one-year moratorium on wind turbines – not much to ask when the premier tyrannically took away control of wind turbine installations via the Green Energy Act.
If the Rural Ontario Municipal Association thinks a walkout on Premier Dalton McGuinty’s speech is shortsighted on the turbine issue, please walk out and help stop the destruction of small, rural and northern hospitals. If this is not enough, think about the closings of rural schools, allowing multinationals to bid on busing, and the shutdown of abattoirs.
One way or another, he must be stopped.
Blackburn Radio News February 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
The Lambton-Middlesex Wind Action Group is lashing out against construction of 4 wind turbines at the Zephyr wind farm just southwest of Watford.
Some 40 protesters held a peaceful demonstration at the site this afternoon, slowing down activity by getting in front of gravel hauling trucks.
This led to warnings from Police but no arrests had been made.
Protester Blair Allin calls the industrialization of Ontario “unacceptable”.
The group has protested against a number of local wind farm developments, and is currently preparing for an environmental review tribunal hearing against the Zephyr project.