Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The Township of Madawaska Valley Council has slapped a moratorium on the approval of any wind turbine projects until next year’s municipal elections, at which time voters will have a chance to vote on the wind farm issue in a referendum question attached to their ballots.
The move came after an at-times heated debate on the issue at Monday night’s regular council meeting.
It is not clear just how much direct impact council’s measure will have – Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has warned that he will not let local opposition stand in the way of so-called Green Energy projects, and has said that the province will take responsibility for the approval of such proposals – most notably industrial wind turbine farms – away from municipalities. Indeed, some council members acknowledged that they expect the provincial government will overrule them. Nonetheless, council’s move will likely diffuse much of the ongoing public pressure on council over the wind turbine controversy.
At the moment, the sole project proposed for the Township of Madawaska Valley is for the construction of six of the mammoth turbines on the hills north of the Village of Wilno. But
several other projects, many of them much larger, are planned for the Township of South Algonquin to the west, and in communities to the east and southeast of Madawaska Valley as well.
Up until Monday night, Madawaska Valley Council’s stand had been that, while it had listened to many submissions from opponents of the industrial wind project, it had not yet heard from the wind power company. Mayor John Hildebrandt had stated several times that council wanted to hear the other side of the story before taking a position. This was criticized by some opponents, who wanted council to come out solidly against turbines.
The resolution to put the matter on hold pending a referendum in 2010 was tabled by Councillor Sylvie Yantha, who in doing so was resurrecting a similar motion that he had initially proposed in November. Last night’s version was immediately seconded by Councillor Shelley Maika and the other councillors supported it.
“I think we should give the people a choice as to what they want,” Yantha said in making his motion. “I think that … the voters are waiting for answers. Let’s let the voters decide.”
Monday night’s meeting began with two delegations on the wind issue, which has been in the public eye since a firm named SkyPower first proposed to build six turbines near Wilno early in 2008.
Carl Bromwich of Wilno said he was appearing to ask that a public meeting be convened on the issue “to smooth over some of the rough edges” surrounding the dispute. He praised Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski for “leading our fight in the Legislature” against the Liberal government’s Green Energy Act bill, saying he was “doing a hell of a good job.” But it is time that MV council spoke out on the matter, too, Bromwich said.
He urged council to “use the powers you have now to make a statement” against the Green Energy Act and wind turbines.
“Your power is our power and if we lose it, we’re going to be answering to (Energy and Infrastructure Minister) George Smitherman and Dalton McGuinty for the rest of our lives.”
Later, Lou Eyamie of SOS, or Save Our Skyline, the lead organization fighting against the Wilno wind farm proposal, also urged council to take a stand on the wind farm proposal.
“I firmly believe that if you people don’t make your position known … you’re going to be too late,” Eyamie said.
Municipal politicians in the townships of South Algonquin, where several turbines are planned for near the eastern border of Algonquin Provincial Park, and in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, where no wind projects are currently proposed, have passed moratoriums on any approvals of wind turbines. Those measures, combined with several others approved by municipalities across the province, were followed by the provincial government’s plan to take over the power to set guidelines and approve projects under its Green Energy Act, which is now before the Legislature.
Denise Brotton of Wilno also addressed council. She said she was glad to see that council has taken the initiative “to do something” about the wind farm controversy, but was skeptical of the McGuinty government’s promises that municipalities will receive money from the wind turbines built in their communities.
“I have no faith that they will contribute anything to us,” she said.
She also cited a news release by MPP John Yakabuski that questions Liberal promises that electricity prices will not rise sharply under the Green Energy Act. Smitherman had pegged the increase at one per cent.
In the Feb. 24 release, Yakabuski noted that Smitherman himself put the cost of the bill at $5 billion. Yakabuski suggested that, with 4.2 million electricity consumers in Ontario footing that bill, this would mean each consumer would face an average increase of $1,200 – a 30 per cent increase over three years.
By Douglas Gloin
Barry’s Bay This Week
4 March 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Wind Energy: torn between the two sides
It seems every day I am asked about the wind energy debate and as a renewable energy dealer I am torn between the two sides. On one side wind turbines produce renewable (clean) energy. On the other hand wind farms require large areas of land to be cleared for sites, roads and transmission lines, a prospect that I am not keen on.
The real fact is, we use electricity and we have a responsibility to either produce it here cleanly or ask to have it produced somewhere else, cleanly.
If it is produced elsewhere we have no right to force on them a nuclear plant, coal fired plant, hydro dams or even wind farms if we ourselves are not acceptable to those various production methods.
It therefore comes back to us. We can and should produce our own energy. Do we want polluting energy or clean energy production? An alternative to many large wind farms may be a few less obtrusive ones in conjunction with many small solar systems. Notice I said small as large solar farms puts us back onto clearing large tracts of land. Almost every building has a potential to support a solar system and each system can have battery back up in case of a power failure.
Solar is more costly per watt but maintenance is minimal and the solar panels themselves can last 25 years or longer. As for decommissioning that would be 25 to 50 years away if not longer. Also, very little upgrades to the utility lines would be needed and smaller wind turbines or micro-hydro turbines (small water turbines) can be added to the grid tie-in system. We need to offer alternatives rather than just refusing these large wind turbines.
Some of the money allocated to increase energy production could be offered to the home and business owners willing to add solar to their buildings. Clean energy produced locally just like locally grown food. Is this a better way?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
At 60 ft., the “personal” windmill here is a miniature version of towering industrial turbines slated to generate power for the grid while generating equal amounts of opposition revolving around sound and sight pollution, possible health risks and decreased property values.
Overlooking Hwy. 401, the 60-footer was erected by ReDriven Power Inc. which has set up shop in a vacant textile factory, providing jobs for about a dozen people. While many of the components are made in China, technological enhancements such as control systems are prepared here.
Among innovations, ReDriven has introduced a tower which — thanks to built in hydraulic cylinders — can be lowered to the ground within minutes for easy maintenance.
With some 100 dealers in North America and Europe, ReDriven has completed about 40 home and farm installations.
The two, five, 10 and 20-kw units sell for up to $60,000, ideal for individual consumers who want to curb their reliance on costly hydro arriving via the grid.
While ReDriven’s 401 unit hasn’t yet stirred up complaints, that can’t be said for plans to strategically install industrial wind farms right across the region.
At a recent public meeting in North Gower, Prowind Canada of Kemptville encountered heavy resistance to its plans to construct 10 turbines producing 20 megawatts of electricity with the potential to power 6,000 homes.
In classic “not in my backyard” fashion, strongest opposition came from those living closest to the proposed site; their concerns ranged from possible health effects from low-frequency noise to the bothersome strobe light impact of the sun behind the blades.
Opponents are seeking greater setbacks than the required 400 metres between the 360-ft. towers and neighbouring homes. Prowind has proposed a 500-metre setback.
Prowind managing director Bart Geleynse Jr. said that, while wind power installations may be held up by opposition, it’s provincial government policy to implement alternative energy producers and that’s what’s going to happen.
With resistance minimal, Geleynse estimated Prowind will move forward by the end of this year with another farm, 4-5 units at Brinston in Dundas County generating 10 megawatts.
At that location, he said the neighbours — mostly farmers, some of whom have leased land to Prowind — are much more welcoming and relaxed about the project than more urban-oriented residents of North Gower.
“Sometimes, you can’t paint a barn red without stirring up emotions.”
In Renfrew County, Save Our Skyline (SOS) is rallying to protect the Wilno Hills from “probably the most destructive action ever to take place here”, according to local resident Carl Bromwich.
“We’re being told that we’ll be hosting 400-ft. high wind turbines in the name of green renewable energy,” Bromwich said. “Unfortunately, this wind issue is very political not to mention popular with large corporations, leaving ordinary citizens with little or no voice in the matter.”
SOS, he said, has been active in trying to educate residents as to some of the downsides of “these monsters” being proposed by four companies, while pushing rural municipalities to pass 10-year moratoriums on wind farm development.
To date, only Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Twp. has agreed to such action. Bonnechere Valley Twp. council rescinded after originally agreeing to such a moratorium. An SOS delegation will address Madawaska Valley Twp. council on the issue tomorrow night, 7 pm., in Barry’s Bay.
Bromwich emphasized that his group isn’t opposed to wind power per se but favours individual units of the type being produced by ReDriven.
However, it staunchly opposes industrial turbine takeover of scenic valley sites for the main purpose of making money.
By Tom Van Dusen
18 January 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Look out, here they come. When I first heard about the wind turbines coming to the Valley, I did not have many thoughts on the subject. It all sounded interesting – good, clean renewable energy. It showed that the Valley was concerned about global warming and showing the world that we wanted to help. I did not have time at that moment to have any other view on the matter because I (and many others) were very busy promoting and celebrating our rich valley heritage.
Then I started reading the signs – “Get informed, know the facts – know the risks.” There were letters to the local newspapers stating the dangers of turbines in our area and the negative impact they will have on us. Neighbouring townships opposed them; one from the west and the other from the east.
Our neighbours to the east have the million-dollar view and are asking themselves: Do we want the skyline to be destroyed. Our councils have to ask themselves: should we be neighbourly? People who have a chance to generate some money by having them built on their land are saying we can do whatever we want with our land and that their neighbors have no say when it comes to the health and environmental issues that arise out of their neighbour’s land use.
How could something that I thought didn’t sound too bad touch so many people in different ways? I needed to ask more questions and I ended up talking to friends, neighbours, cottagers and tourists. They could not believe that we would let the power companies come in to rape our landscape and destroy the beauty of our Valley. There are, of course, a few in the Valley who have no opinion, just like me at the beginning. To them, I say, please get informed!
At first, I thought these wind turbines were 40 feet high, but no – they can be nearly 400 feet high – the height of Parliament’s Peace Tower. They can catch on fire (and how do you fight a fire 400 feet in the air?) Turbine blades can break off and can travel a large distance and maybe hit a house along the way. Ice can build up and the chunks then fly like missiles. How would you like that next to your home?
They produce constant noise day and night. And when the sun is behind the turbine, a strobe effect occurs – this is very disturbing to those living nearby.
How about your property values going down because living near a turbine is not the most attractive investment for buyers? In fact, I believe we will see a decrease in folks wanting to move to our area – and will possibly see many leave. Taxes will have to go up in order to compensate for lower property values and less tax revenue from homeowners.
How would you like to take a picture of a century-old roadside cross with a huge turbine in the background? That is what my wife and I will be looking at.
Our local government is in a tight little corner; they have been asked to rezone a lot of our area for commercial use. Then why not rezone the whole Valley? Here is what I believe is going to happen: right now they say they want to construct six turbines. Once the land is rezoned and the turbines are completed they’ll have their foot in the door. Because of the unattractive landscape and environmental issues, the land next door will go up for sale and the only people who will buy it will be people who want an income property in order to put up more turbines. This will go on and on… These people will not live here; they will take their money and spend it outside the area. You will not see them in our stores, volunteer or participate in any of our community events. It will be a great investment for them and that is it.
Is this the economic development we desire? The white monsters will replace our tree lines and turbines will begin to spring up in droves all through our township. The view from Shrine Hill and the historic St. Mary’s Church, Canada’s First Polish parish, will be destroyed.
Councillors are in a difficult situation. I hope for the sake of all of us, that they listen to everyone and make the right decision. If they feel that the turbines are good for us and will enhance the beauty and attractiveness that makes the Madawaska Valley a tourist destination then so be it. Hills of turbines and the destruction of the historically beautiful landscape of our township will be their legacy. Forget tourism – embrace the power industry.
Is it possible that the power company is setting up these turbines in order to grab cash from the government, which is committed to going green and needs credits to offset the pollution caused by other industries? The company can go bankrupt anytime after they receive our tax dollars and the landowners will be stuck with a white elephant on their property. And these days, when banks and companies all over the world are going bankrupt, there are no guarantees. If money is the only positive thing to come out of this venture, then we are selling ourselves very cheap.
If we feel like we should be part of the global solution to save the planet, then we have a 100-foot drop at Bark Lake that could generate enough power to supply the Valley. Wind farms are not for this area. The people of the Valley have worked too hard to promote and preserve our heritage. Stop, look and listen.
7 January 2009
BV TOWNSHIP adds it’s name to “Councils with Backbone”!
Wind energy generation is a useful and potentially environmentally friendly method of augmenting our growing energy needs. At present, many municipalities across Ontario and the rest of Canada are considering numerous approvals for projects to harness this energy source. These projects are being undertaken mostly on private lands that cover terrains ranging from flat farmlands to mountains with heavy forest cover. Each application is being considered on a case-by-case basis with engineering and environmental reports being commissioned before decisions are made. However, the technical nature of the information in these reports is frequently beyond the ability of most municipal staff to comprehend in any meaningful way; therefore, we rely upon reviews by different engineers for interpretation. Even these reviewers do not have sufficient resources to undertake more than a casual review of the technical data and are unable to do much more than fact check the data. Some of the issues of greatest concern to the public, such as noise, economic impact and possible medical side effects, are little understood by the engineers as well as municipal councils and staffs, even after these reports and peer reviews are presented. Our tendency is be dismissive of challenges to findings that show noise levels to be within Ministry of Environment guidelines. Supposed medical concerns are generally dismissed outright. This could be a costly mistake.
There is a growing body of concern around the world that there is a need for a more comprehensive study of the reported incidents of apparent adverse health reactions due to prolonged exposure to the environmental alterations caused by industrial wind generation projects. It is beyond the expertise of municipalities and the resources available to them to undertake any meaningful studies in this area. Additionally, it would be wasteful in terms of time, money and resources to study this issue on a project-by-project basis. The provincial and federal levels of government in conjunction with the international community need to determine the nature of these health concerns through scientific study in order to create guidelines for safe setback distances from residential and other sensitive occupancies.
Furthermore, there is concern that while there may be economic advantages to a community hosting industrial wind developments, there are also potential economic losses to tourism and to the property values of those living in proximity to them. There has been little study of the true economic impact of wind farms on the host community other than opinion surveys and one outdated real estate study conducted in 2003 by wind energy proponents. Given the growth of wind energy installations since that time there should be ample, verifiable data to create realistic, unbiased studies that could reasonably forecast the economic pluses and minuses of industrial wind development. There is a role here for both the provincial and federal governments that is not currently being fulfilled.
Current policies allow industrial turbines to be installed in almost any location a municipality deems appropriate. Much of the public opposition to wind energy projects is rooted in a lack of apparent scientific information supporting current setbacks from dwellings and non-participating landowners. Added to this is a growing body of anecdotal evidence and small-scale medical studies that seem to demonstrate that the current provincial setback guidelines may be putting people at risk.
For these reasons we, the Council of the Township of Bonneceher Valley, put forward the following resolution:
WHEREAS, the production of energy from industrial wind turbines is an initiative generally supported by the public and governments through tax and other monetary incentives; and
WHEREAS, theses projects are being considered in areas which normally do not allow the intermingling of industrial and other land usages; and
WHEREAS, these projects are expensive investments and by their nature, difficult to relocate should unforeseen problems develop; and
WHEREAS, these projects, once commissioned, are subject to site control at the local level; and
WHEREAS, the local level of government does not have the resources, expertise or time to properly determine the validity of the health, economic and other concerns being raised by concerned members of their community
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Province of Ontario be requested to impose a moratorium on all industrial wind turbine projects currently being considered until such time as the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Tourism have time to review new medical, economic and environmental studies relating to industrial wind turbine development and undertake any additional studies or reviews necessary to create realistic guidelines to assure the health and economic well being of those living in proximity to industrial wind turbine developments.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we respectfully request the Province of Ontario to work in conjunction with federal ministries to provide the people of Ontario and Canada reasonable assurances that government guidelines and regulations for the wind power generation industry are the result of well researched, unbiased studies and can be relied upon to properly locate these developments in their communities without fear of adverse effect on their health or way of life.
AND FURTHER that this resolution be circulated to the Minister of the Environment, Minister of Health, Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Tourism, The Association of Municipalities of Ontario, all municipalities in Ontario, John Yakubuski, MPP and Cheryl Gallant, MP.
6 January 2009
Friday, October 10, 2008
Our local representatives are:
Andrew & Cathy Mask
Peter & Lisa Hubers
For more information please contact: Lou Eyamie, President S.O.S. firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 613-756-6018