5/5/11 They broke it, they paid AND How close is too close? AND At the movies: Documentary about a rural town torn apart by wind developers AND Good luck selling your home if it's in a wind project AND Everyone Knows it's Windy-Sue: Developers threaten rural Town with legal action
WIND DEVELOPERS SNAP UP HURON TOWNSHIP HOMES
READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE SOURCE: The Kincardine Independent, www.independent.on.ca
May 4 2011
By Barb McKay
“People call me and ask, ‘What should I do?’” he said. “I say sell and leave now before you lose the value of your home.”
Four homes affected by the Ripley Wind Project have been purchased by wind energy developers, and are slated to be put back on the market.
One property on Concession 2, another on Concession 4 and two on Concession 6 in Huron Township were purchased by Suncor/Acciona, which developed the 76 megawatt wind power project, March 16. Land transfer documents were obtained by HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines) president Mac Serra. The documents state that Alejandro Salvador Armendariz, manager of Acciona Wind Energy and Christina Ellerbeck, manager of marketing and business development for Suncor, acted on behalf of the purchaser, a numbered company – 2270573 Ontario Inc.
“The idea was to buy them and remarket them,” said Paul Austin, community relations officer for Acciona Wind Energy.
Austin said the company went through a period of consultation and testing of the properties with the Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
“No link between the wind power project and the health concerns of the residents was discovered,” he said.
However, the residents of the properties continued to insist that their health was being impacted, said Austin.
“It was agreed that the only solution that could be reached was to purchase the properties,” he said. “It was in the best interest of the homeowners, the developers and the community to purchase the homes at fair market value. It was a mutual agreement.”
Austin said the purchase of the properties demonstrates Suncor and Acciona’s commitment to work with residents and the community.
Huron-Kinloss mayor Mitch Twolan said Suncor had informed him of the sales prior to the land transfers, and told him they would be back on the market, but he wasn’t given a reason as to why they were being purchased.
“It makes you very curious,” he said, adding that some residents feel they have no choice but to sell their homes.
David Colling, a Ripley-area resident and citizen member on the Inter-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, said he will be interested to see at what price the homes are listed at when they go back on the market. He said he has received a number of phone calls from residents living in areas where wind projects are slated to be developed.
“People call me and ask, ‘What should I do?’” he said. “I say sell and leave now before you lose the value of your home.”
Austin said full disclosure will be provided for why the homes were purchased when they are go up for sale.
“We want to be as transparent as possible about the process,” he said.
COUNTY LOWERS TURBINE SETBACKS TO ONE MILE
READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE SOURCE: East Oregonian, www.eastoregonian.com
4 May 2011
By SAMANTHA TIPLER,
Commissioners took another look at the rules for how to set up wind farms in Umatilla County. This latest round of changes lowered the wind turbine setback from two miles to one.
Commissioners held a four-and-a-half hour workshop Tuesday, including in the talks planning commission member Clinton Reeder, Helix-area wheat farmer Jeff Newtson and Ed Chesnut, a member of the Milton-Freewater City Council, the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council and Blue Mountain Alliance, the group working to keep wind turbines out of the Blue Mountains.
Setbacks, the distance between a turbine and a town, house or road, has always been a sore issue.
Previously the planning commission had approved and suggested to commissioners two-mile setbacks.
The latest draft of wind rules commissioners reviewed Tuesday listed one mile from an unincorporated community, one mile from a home outside a wind project boundary and a half mile from inside the boundary. For cities, it stated, “setbacks from tower to the city urban growth boundary considered if requested by a city governing body.”
Chesnut said if that went through, Milton-Freewater would try for its maximum: a six-mile setback for turbines people can’t see and 15 miles for those people can see.
Newtson bristled at that, noting 15 miles is almost to Athena, the next town south of Milton-Freewater.
“That seems to be a real slap in the face to the property owners,” he said.
Chesnut acknowledged they had opposite views on setbacks.
“He’s afraid of it because it might be so large,” Chesnut said. “The city’s afraid of it because it might be zero.”
Notes on the rules said any city setback would be a recommendation for the county, and not mandatory.
“We’re pretty uncomfortable with a situation where we can request a setback, but we may not get any of it,” Chesnut said.
Newtson wanted better reasoning for setbacks. He wanted scientific reasons and evidence to back it up why the county should pick two miles or one mile or less. He suggested using decibel levels to determine the distance.
“I’m trying to use science more than this arbitrary numbers going around,” he said.
Chesnut said there were more concerns than sound.
“Visibility, health, property values,” he said. “All those things roll together. … They are inextricable in that you only have one way to handle the effects of a 500-foot tall machine: How far away is it?”
Commissioners mostly listened to discussions, making notes of more potential changes to the current draft of the laws.
They plan to meet again on Thursday, May 12, for the next land use hearing. It will start at 9 a.m. at the Justice Center Media Room, 4700 N.W. Pioneer Place, Pendleton.
WINDFALL BY LAURA ISRAEL
Carl F Gauze, www.ink19.com
Grow up in the country, and you’re used to bad smells and dust and independent streaks a mile wide. Grow up in the city, and land that looks like Hobbiton should never change, at least not after you plunk down a stack of Franklins on a few acres with a view.
But when the Green Energy wagon pulls up and offers to rent your ungrazable ridgeline, you might change your stance. In tiny Meredith, New York, wind energy splits a town in two, and the glossy public relations handouts turn into 40-story behemoths that emit gut-wrenching noise, interrupt the sun, and kill bats.
Like the coal companies of a century ago, wind energy companies get unsophisticated farmers to sign long-term leases for a small stack of cash and huge future headaches. The contracts are protected by confidentiality agreements; the town’s people are effectively divided and unable to negotiate a fair deal for themselves. And when a windmill catches fire or throws huge chunks of ice a mile, there’s not much you can do except move away.
Israel takes her time telling the story of this blindsided small town. With verdant hills, cute cows and a tilt shift lens, the Catskills natural beauty slows down the story telling. We learn one bad thing about wind power every ten minutes or so as the locals give interviews that range from smug and self-righteous to cranky and pedantic.
Clearly, these are good people who have entered into lopsided agreements, and the companies building these towers are sucking up tax breaks without providing real benefits to anyone but their investors. Still, this is a depressed area, the hundreds of dairy farmers a generation ago are now replaced by a handful of plow their niche fields.
Becoming an industrial wind farm may not be any more attractive than having a coal mine move in, but it’s the only economic development available beyond refugees from New York City moving up to restore drafty farm houses.
What does Israel conclude? Beware, you small towns, this could happen to you! Just because someone stamps the new word “green” on something, it might not be any better than that old word “brown.”
This film was screened at the 2011 Florida Film Festival: www.floridafilmfestival.com
ISLANDERS CLAIM TURBINES DEVALUE HOMES
READ FULL ARTICL AT THE SOURCE:The Whig-Standard, www.thewhig.com
May 4, 2011
By Paul Schliesmann
A potentially precedent-setting tax assessment hearing began on Wolfe Island on Wednesday for a couple claiming that noise and lights from nearby wind turbines have lowered their property value.
Lawyers from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and the Township of Frontenac Islands are opposing the claim made by islanders Ed and Gail Kenney.
The hearing, crammed into the tiny municipal township building, attracted opponents of wind farms that are being planned for Amherst Island and Cape Vincent, N.Y.
They believe the Kenneys’ case could change the course of future wind farm developments on both sides of the border.
“MPAC and the township have spent an awful lot of money on this for it not to be a precedent-setting case,” said Janet Grace a real estate agent who leads the Association for the Protection of Amherst Island.
“It’s not so much how much your house is de-valued. It’s that you can’t sell it.”
The Kenneys’ single-family island home, on 237 feet of waterfront property facing Kingston, was assessed at $357,000 in 2008, the same year construction began on the 86 turbines now owned and operated by Alberta-based energy company TransAlta.
Representing themselves at the hearing, the Kenneys will make their case today that the project has devalued their home.
In her opening submission, MPAC lawyer Shawn Douglas acknowledged that while “wind turbines to some extent are controversial,” the hearings scheduled for two days “must focus on (property) value.”
“This is not a test case for properties throughout Ontario,” said Douglas. “It is not a test case in our mind.”
The tribunal heard from four MPAC witnesses yesterday, the first being assessor Emily Hubert.
Hubert testified that she conducted a reassessment of the Kenney property after receiving their appeal in December 2009.
She said she used a variety of properties from across Wolfe Island to determine if the assessment was fair, based on the selling prices of other houses of similar value.
Normally, in urban residential areas, it’s easier to find like properties that have sold nearby to determine market value.
“When you get into rural areas, you have to expand your search further,” said Hubert.
“Most of the (Kenney property) value comes from the water frontage. That’s what most people are looking for.”
Grace said she undertook her own appraisal of the Kenneys’ home and came up with a much lower value, taking into account the presence of the turbines, of between $283,000 and $295,000.
She said people on Amherst Island are already having benchmark assessments done on their properties — in case turbines are ever built there.
“If this sets a precedent ,we will know whether we can contest our assessments and be prepared for that,” she said. “We have a number of people getting formal appraisals done.”
Residents on the U.S. side of the St. Lawrence River are claiming that the Wolfe Island turbines have already lowered the value of their properties.
“This is a big deal, despite what they say,” said observer Cliff Schneider of Clayton, N.Y. “This sure as hell looks, tastes and smells like a test case to me.
“You could establish properties are devalued because of wind projects. This is crucial. It’s something we would consider on our side.”
Richard Macsherry, also of Cape Vincent, said esthetics are important to land value on both sides of the river.
“You do factor in that beauty and viewscape. That’s a recognized part of the value of your property,” he said.
Afternoon testimony was presented by the district supervisor from the Ministry of the Environment in Kingston.
Also appearing was an MPAC valuation manager who has studied the effects of wind turbine facilities on neighbouring properties.
While the tribunal agreed to allow Jason Moore to be questioned, review board co-chairs Susan Mather and Jacques Laflamme disallowed Moore as an expert witness.
They ruled that his 2008 work for MPAC “has not been put to a test” and that there is still “no recognized standard” for assessing property abutting or in proximity to wind farms.
Moore went on to cite information from a report conducted in Dufferin County where 133 turbines have been installed in two phases.
His study could only find 17 examples of property sales through February 2009.
Moore was still able to conclude that sales were not related to the number of megawatts of nearby turbines.
Yet, he said, “there’s not enough evidence to warrant a negative adjustment.”
He also noted that four of the properties had been resold “for more than their initial sale price.”
The final witness of the day was Wolfe Island Wind Project operations manager Mike Jablonicky.
Jablonicky said he has files on 15 individuals who have complained about noise from the turbines, a couple of whom have called more than once.
He said most complaints have been resolved, sometimes involving a shut down of a turbine in order to make repairs.
Only one remains in dispute. A Wolfe Island resident called last week to say that they were being bothered by ongoing turbine noise.
Jablonicky said “it may be a problem getting it resolved. It’s a blanket complaint for two years of operation.”
He also responded to a noise complaint from the Kenneys in August 2009. After meeting at their house, he determined everything was in order.
“There was nothing visibly wrong or audibly wrong,” he told the hearing. “The turbines were all working within parameters.”
Provincial regulations require that turbines not exceed a sound level of 40 decibels under specified conditions.
The nearest turbine from the Kenneys’ house has been calculated by TransAlta as being 1.02 km away.
[rest of article available at source]
IPC THREATENS TO SUE GREY HIGHLANDS
READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE SOURCE: www.simcoe.com
MAY 3, 2011
By Chris Fell
“This is not community consultation. This is bullying of the municipality. It’s forcing this upon people that don’t want it,”
GREY HIGHLANDS – International Power Canada is threatening to sue the Municipality of Grey Highlands for delaying the building permits for its industrial wind turbine project.
IPC Vice-President David Timm spoke to Grey Highlands council at its regular meeting held on Friday morning (April 29).
Timm told council that IPC has done a lot of work on its turbine project and that the delays by the municipality are threatening to cost the company a lot of money. IPC wants to build 11 industrial wind turbines as part of its Plateau Wind Power project.
“We call upon the mayor and council to cease its attempts to frustrate the issuance of these permits and to allow its officials to process our applications in accordance with applicable law,” said Timm. “If the permits are not issued promptly we will be forced to seek relief through the courts,” he said, adding that IPC would seek damages from the municipality.
IPC is objecting to the Municipality of Grey Highlands’ recent move to put in place whopping increases for the costs of building permits for industrial wind turbines. Grey Highlands council recently passed a bylaw to increase the permit fee from $9,000 per turbine to $35,000 per turbine, plus $100,000 as a performance bond per turbine.
Grey Highlands will also hold a public meeting on May 9 to consider a major hike in the turbine entrance permit fee and related securities.
Timm said IPC applied for its permits in June 7, 2010 and the company believes its project is not subject to the new fee schedule recently adopted by the municipality.
“My comments today are intended to express our frustration and serious concern with respect to the actions that council has taken to prevent the issuance of building and entrance permits for the construction of the Plateau project,” he said. “We have consistently sought to work with the municipality by responding positively to council’s requests only to have further impediments placed in our way. When we acquired this project from Chinodin Wind there was no indication that the municipality did not want wind power development,” said Timm.
IPC, Timm said, has consistently sought to follow the Grey Highlands planning requirements for the project – even though the company is not required to do so under the Green Energy Act. He also pointed out that IPC negotiated a generous road use agreement only to see it rejected by council.
“The costs of these delays are now very significant and will begin to rise exponentially with the arrival of the wind turbines in June/July,” said Timm. “These exorbitant new fees and related actions seem to us to be very much targeted at frustrating the Plateau project,” he said.
Members of council did not respond to the Timm’s presentation. Later in the meeting council did go in-camera to receive information from its lawyer about the wind turbine issue.
“The municipality doesn’t have any response at this time to the accusations,” CAO Dan Best said during a brief interview during a break in the meeting.
Local resident Lorrie Gillis attended the meeting and watched the presentation from IPC.
“This is not community consultation. This is bullying of the municipality. It’s forcing this upon people that don’t want it,” said Gillis.