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Ask questions about wind turbines

The Regional News: M. Bancroft - January 6, 2009

My family and I moved into Walpole Township 20 years ago made it home and raised our children. I have never offered my thoughts or opinions to a newspaper before, but after attending the Port Dover and Nanticoke wind farm show and tell, I feel I have to.

We enjoy rural life. We don't have city water or sewers, sidewalks or streetlights. Being able to sit out in the evening, listening to the bullfrogs and crickets whilst staring at the stars in the dark night sky, feeling sorry for the city folk that just don't understand we're not living out here because we're poor and cannot afford to live in the city, we are here because we want to be.

I then read that some large corporation has decided that they want to make a lot of money by moving large wind turbines into this area and sell the electricity to the grid. This in the name of 'renewable energy' and we are supposed to be good corporate citizens and welcome them with open arms.

My mother said "beware strangers bearing gifts". I heard this corporation had already solicited local land owners paid for and got leases signed up for the land they need. My thought is, were these people fully informed of all aspects and consequences of this proposal before they agreed to sign?

I had read an article in the newspaper USA Today about five weeks ago, it told of Wind farms in the U.S. and the disastrous effects on bird and animal life, it stated that now, after the damage is done, they regret installing them.

The article talked of newer, better wind technology, vertical turbines that fit into the frame of an existing high voltage line tower with less impact on the environment and communities. They do not affect wildlife, are cheaper to install and connect to the high voltage lines at the tower.

As mentioned earlier, I went to the meeting to ask some of the questions that bother me:

1. How will this project effect the migration path of the Tundra Swans that pass over our house resting in the local ponds, spring and fall?

Their answer, firstly deer in headlights look, obvious they do not know about the swans, then the environmentalist lady said, "Ducks, geese and swans fly around the turbines, it will not affect them."

2. Why is this technology better than the vertical turbine mounted in the hydro towers, or wave power with generators offshore?

Their answer, "We have not heard of vertical turbines", someone else chipped in "the egg beater type?", "yes, they probably would not be big enough" was the final answer. I was then told wave power generators would probably scare the fish so as I should see there would be problems with any type of generator.

3. I asked about the effect these turbines would have on my property value. Their answer was to direct me to a thick book on a table which I was told was a study showing property values were unaffected or even increased due to wind farms. I tried to breeze through it, what I did get from it was that this study was done in the USA. It did not say where, it could have been a remote desert area, it said values did not change but a graph I found showed a 10% - 15% decrease in property values from construction through 4 years after.

Our Canadian real estate market is different to the USA; you see that everyday during this recession. What I want to hear is feedback from the real estate agents that work in the areas of existing wind farms locally, they will know about change in values. Like a lot of residents, I do not have a company pension; the future sale of this property will be the largest part of my retirement money.

4. I asked about health issues, including noise pollution relating to the turbines. I was again directed to a technical study on the table. Again I am not a doctor but what I gleaned from the study was that about 10 people in 1000 had experienced severe medical issues due to the 1 Hz - 2 Hz low frequency sound vibrations generated by the turbine.

Also 83 people in 1000 had suffered severe sleeping problems due to the increased noise levels at night time when speeds pick up. Maybe to big corporations that is regarded as acceptable losses, to me, that is too many.

I asked the kind man if he would like to live next to a turbine, he grimaced and said that was a personal question and I was not allowed to ask that. I am sorry but this feels like a personal issue to me. I asked about the benefits to our community, maybe an increase in employment, they told me possibly four jobs will be created, will our Hydro be cheaper, they said no. I personally do not see any benefits, I see a lot of detriment for the community and profit for a corporation.

The last time a large corporation said it would be okay and they were looking out for us, trust them, we lost our steel mill.

I ask all other residents in the area to think of and ask the questions that are important to them and their families, if you do not like the answers or like me do not get any, send an email to the ministry of environment, ministry of natural resources and your local council, these turbines will be here for at least twenty five years, we need to have all the facts explained to us before we agree to anything.