Entries in wind turbine noise (103)

11/3/11 What are the wind rules in Walnut, Illinois? 


By Barb Kromphardt,

SOURCE: Bureau County Republican, www.bcrnews.com

November 2, 2011 

WALNUT — What if you held a public meeting and nobody came?

It was a nearly empty house at Tuesday’s second meeting of the Walnut Planning Commission to consider an ordinance to regulate wind turbines outside the village limits.

It was a very different scene three months ago, when about 60 residents, both for and against the wind turbines, crowded the meeting room to make their opinions heard. The planning commission took no action at that August meeting, instead choosing to send the ordinance back to the village board for more work.

After months of special meetings, the board hammered out a new ordinance, and Village President Robert Brasen was at the meeting to explain the ordinance and answer questions.

Brasen read through the 26-page proposed ordinance, highlighting the changes. The new ordinance would prohibit anything within one mile of the village limits, and required approval for anything within the one to one and one-half mile range.

Turbines would be limited to the northwest and southeast corners of the village, which are the business and industrial sections.

Developers must apply for a conditional use permit, with a $5,000 non-refundable fee, for each turbine. Each application must include a commencement and completion date, a decommissioning plan, a plan for addressing complaints, and a property value protection plan, which would guarantee the value of the property of all non-participating property owners within two miles. Turbines would be limited to 450 feet in height.

Brasen said the “stickiest” issue for the board was the distance from the tower to any primary structure. The board set the distance at one-half mile, but allowed for the property owner to request a waiver. The turbines must also be set back from adjacent property of non-participants by at least three times tower tip height.

Brasen said under the current plans for Walnut Ridge, the ordinance would affect two turbines, but there could be more in the future, including some with the proposed Green River Wind Farm on the village’s north edge.

Commission member Gary Sarver said he had heard that if the village passes the ordinance, the developers will simply stay outside the 1.5 mile ring.

Brasen said that after the ordinance is passed, the county can’t override the village and approve any turbines within the 1.5 mile radius. The village can approve the ordinance because it has an existing zoning ordinance, unlike many other small towns.

Planning commission members had several concerns. Chairman Steve Schlumpf wanted a guarantee to restore all roads and other structures within six months to be increased to one year, following a full freeze and thaw cycle.

Committee member Ron VonHolten suggested several changes, including eliminating a section that would have allowed shadow flicker problems to be addressed with plantings or awnings. He also said complaints should include shutting down the turbine from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. until the problem is fixed.

“If it’s noise issues, you can’t say, ‘Well, in 60 days, I get to sleep,’” he said.

Quoting Dr. Carl Phillips, who recently testified at the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals, VonHolten said the setback from non-participating property owners should be at least one mile due to health issues affecting 20 percent of residents.

Schlumpf also questioned the property value protection plan. Brasen said no one else currently has the plan, but that it would be binding.

The commission unanimously approved a list of changes to be sent back to the village board for consideration. Brasen said the board would review the changes, and return the final form to the commission at a meeting set for 7 p.m. Nov. 15.

Brasen said the village board can approve the ordinance without the commission’s approval, but it would take a 75 percent vote instead of the usual majority.

9/24/11 Wisconsn wind rules still up in the air, turbines planned near Racine


Credit:  By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com

October 23, 2011

In Columbia County, the biggest wind farm in the state is nearly complete.

Ninety turbines are being erected by Wisconsin contractors including the Boldt Co., Edgerton Contractors and Michels Corp., in a $367 million project. On a typical day this year, about 175 workers have been on the job, pouring foundations, constructing towers and hoisting turbines and blades into place.

The activity comes despite a stalemate on wind turbine siting that wind power supporters say threatens to make the We Energies Glacier Hills Wind Park not only the largest but the last major wind farm to go up in the state.

But wind developers are expressing hope that a logjam can be broken, after recent conversations between the governor and several wind development firms.

Since this year, wind industry representatives say five companies have suspended or canceled work on projects in Wisconsin.

At issue is the Walker administration’s work to address pressure from opponents of wind farms, including the Wisconsin Realtors Association, who say that wind projects are interfering with private property rights of homeowners who live near turbines – and the effects of noise and shadow flicker from the turbines.

Gov. Scott Walker was backed by wind farm opponents in his 2010 election campaign and included a bill to restrict wind farm development in the jobs package he unveiled in his first weeks in office.

But concern about stalling all development and business for Wisconsin firms resulted in pushback against the Walker bill, which ended up being the only piece of legislation that was left to die out of the initial jobs special session.

Criticism of wind turbine siting persists, with state Sen. Frank Lasee, a possible candidate for U.S. Senate, recently unveiling a bill calling for a statewide moratorium on wind turbine construction until more research is done on the health effects of the devices.

“We met with Gov. Walker to discuss how we can work together to allow the economic benefits of wind energy to help boost Wisconsin’s economy,” said Mike Arndt, a Wisconsin native who now is vice president of Element Power, a company developing projects around the country. Arndt was one of the wind industry representatives who met with Walker two weeks ago.

Among Element’s projects is $300 million to $400 million wind farm in Manitowoc and Kewaunee counties.

The Walker administration is now sending signals that it’s seeking middle ground on the wind controversy.

“Gov. Walker is committed to finding a resolution to this issue,” said Cullen Werwie, the governor’s spokesman. “We are hopeful that moving forward we’ll be able to find a reasonable compromise that protects property rights while allowing appropriate wind farm development.”

Now under the leadership of former Republican state Rep. Phil Montgomery, the Public Service Commission has been taking the lead in trying to forge a compromise – holding discussions with wind developers and wind critics, said utility spokeswoman Kristin Ruesch.

“Negotiations between the parties are still going on, and the PSC is trying to help find consensus,” Ruesch said.

Details of a possible compromise aren’t known, and it’s too early to tell if the parties can come to an agreement. Realtors and landowner representatives who sat on the PSC’s wind siting task force in 2010 dissented from the final rules developed by the agency.

Meanwhile, wind development activity continues apace around the country, with some of the most active states being Wisconsin’s nearest neighbors.

When state policies stymied wind farm development in Wisconsin, the Illinois Wind Energy Association touted his state as a land of opportunity for developers to pursue projects.

“Illinois is open for business,” the group’s executive director said earlier this year, seeking to capitalize on Walker’s new state slogan. “In light of Wisconsin’s War on Wind,” the group said, “we introduce a call for wind developers to ‘Escape to Illinois.’ ”

In 2010, nearly 500 megawatts of wind capacity went online in Illinois, far more than the 20 megawatts built in Wisconsin. According to an Illinois State University study, wind development in Illinois has generated $18 million in property taxes, $8.3 million in income for landowners and created nearly 500 permanent jobs.

So far this year, no wind projects have gone online in Wisconsin, while another 390 megawatts have been installed in Illinois, with a comparable amount developed in Minnesota as well. Together, the two states have built more wind projects this year than Wisconsin has built in the 12 years since the first turbine was erected here.

There is no immediate pressure on utilities to build more wind farms after Glacier Hills goes online this year, because they are all on track to comply with the state’s renewable energy standard. That requires utilities to secure 10% of Wisconsin’s electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

But the Wisconsin renewable mandate will grow after 2015, along with rising demand for electricity. We Energies, which supports the siting rule developed by the PSC, will need more renewable energy by 2017, utility spokesman Brian Manthey said.

Whether a compromise can be reached is unclear.

In addition to backlash from wind energy companies that are seeking to invest in the state, voters in public opinion surveys have expressed support for wind power.

But with the specter of a recall election looming, Walker may seek to return to his supporters, including the Realtors – one of the governor’s biggest backers in terms of campaign donations last year.

During last year’s campaign, Walker was more strident in his opposition to wind power, documents released to the Journal Sentinel under the state’s open records law show.

“I will fight government policies that further infringe on the rights of property owners,” Walker said in a campaign letter last summer. “Wind turbines have proved to be an expensive, inefficient source of electricity and thus any further construction of turbines simply is not a policy goal or objective that should be pursued further.”

With the administration now talking compromise, one of the wind industry executives who recently met with Walker is now sounding an upbeat tone.

Construction of the two We Energies wind farms led to creation of 22 permanent jobs for Vestas, said Art Ondrejka, site manager in Wisconsin for Vestas, the world’s leading turbine supplier. Nationwide, Vestas says it’s created 2,000 jobs since 2008.

“We hire our people from nearby,” he said. “It’s by design. It gets the community more involved with them and gets local people to take some ownership in the long-term viability of the project.”

Susan Innis, Vestas senior manager of government relations, said she is hopeful a compromise can be reached, based on the recent discussions she, Arndt and others had with Walker.

“Wisconsin’s been a great state to do business, and we’d really love to do more,” she said.



By Janet Hoff,

Source WRJN, www.wrn.com

October 24 2011

Residents in the Village of Mount Pleasant, located near Racine, are speaking out against plans to build three wind turbines at an SC Johnson facility there.

The company is seeking approval from the Village to build the turbines, which would generate up to 10 million kilowatt hours of electricity. It’s enough to provide the company’s Waxdale facility with about 15-percent of its energy needs.

Resident Tom Joy says the noise would be like having a lawn mower running all the time, and he believes residents will end up subsidizing the project with falling property values. Joy says there are also health concerns about the turbines being so close to homes.

Gail Johnson is urging the company to continue being a good neighbor and scrap this idea. She says the noise is a real concern and other alternatives should be considered.

Mount Pleasant Community Development Planner Logan Martin says SC Johnson is following the PSC’s wind turbine guidelines from earlier this year, which may not be the permanent rules the state enacts. The permanent rules have been delayed because of debate in the state Legislature.

10/17/11 From Ontario to Vermont to Wisconsin, Big Wind equals Big Problems

From Ontario


SOURCE CTVNews.ca Staff, www.ctv.ca (WATCH VIDEO HERE)

October 16 2011 

A rural family in southwestern Ontario has launched a lawsuit against a nearby wind farm, claiming the turbines are damaging their health. They are demanding the farm be shut down.

Lisa and Michel Michaud, and their two adult children, say they have no intention of moving away from their home and want an injunction to shut down the Kent Breeze wind farm, developed by a Suncor Energy Services unit.

They also want to be compensated for damages to the tune of $1.5 million, plus other costs.

The Michaud family says their peaceful lives at the 12.5-acre farm, near Chatham, changed in early May when the eight turbines on the nearby wind farms started turning.

First, Lisa Michaud, 46, says she got sick with vertigo.

“It is like when you have the flu or something and you have a chill. It is similar to that going through your skin all the time,” she tells CTV News.

Then, her husband Michel, 53, began having symptoms.

“There’s ringing in the ears. At night, you have trouble sleeping. You feel a vibration in the chest,” he says.

Not long after, their son Joshua, 21, complained of vertigo and balance problems.

“It’s constant there is no reprieve,” he says.

They’re suing Suncor, claiming the turbines triggered their now non-stop health problems.

“It’s not a question of money. We want our health back. We want to keep our place. We just want these things gone,” Michel says.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

This is not the first time that people have described complaints from living near wind turbines. But most studies to date say the sounds and vibrations coming from these units simply can’t be linked to health problems.

“There is no science to implicate wind turbine noise in adverse health effects and there is no credible epidemiological data to implicate this,” says Dr. David Colby, the Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent.

Suncor says it engaged “in a comprehensive regulatory process to obtain an Ontario renewable energy approval to build and operate the Kent Breeze wind power facility” and “operates Kent Breeze with strict compliance to established regulations.”

It also notes that the Environmental Review Tribunal in a lengthy appeal examined health issues related to this wind farm and found “the evidence did not demonstrate that the Kent Breeze project, as approved, causes serious harm to human health.”

“We are confident that the large body of scientific and medical research presented at the tribunal from scientific experts around the world has not shown a direct correlation and should not defer from wind development,” the company said in a statement to CTV News.

Can WEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, says it doesn’t want to comment on the lawsuit while it is still before the courts, but says it too is confident that wind turbines have no direct effect on health.

“The balance of scientific and medical reviews around the world have concluded that sounds or vibrations emitted from wind turbines are not unique and have no direct adverse effect on human health,” the group said in a statement to CTV News.

“This is backed in Ontario by the findings of Chief Medical Officer of Health Arlene King in a May 2010 report.”

They added that they will continue to review new information on the subject as it is made available.

The family’s lawyer says other families in the area are coming forward with similar complaints. They say they plan to stay rooted to their farm, while the legal battle decides whether the turbines stay or go.

“I’m not against being green, but when you are sick all the time, it’s not fun,” says Michel.

With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip

From Vermont


by Justin Cook,

The Manchester Journal, www.manchesterjournal.com

October 10, 2011

The small, but stately Lowell Mountain range, rising above the Black River in Vermont’s northeast kingdom, spans a region that has been called one of the most pristine geo-tourism sites on Earth by National Geographic.

The range will be destroyed this fall with an estimated 700,000 pounds of explosives by the Green Mountain Power Company, a Canadian-owned subsidiary of Gaz Metro. Green Mountain Power received approval to install an industrial wind “farm” on top of the range, and the building cost will be subsidized by U.S. taxpayers by $51 million.

One of the largest highways in the state will cut across the top of the flattened range, and 150 acres are already being clear-cut for the 21 wind turbines that stand 469 feet tall, higher than the Statue of Liberty, and which will decimate migrating birds and raptors in the region, presently home to a concentration of bald eagles.

Vermont’s Public Service Board, a three-person panel, approved the Kingdom Community Wind (KCW) project on May 31, 2011. The PSB’s stated mission is to protect the public’s interest, but in an almost comic disregard for due process, it has permitted all GMP appeals, while refusing all appeals raised by groups opposed to KCW, including for hearings on stormwater-runoff issues, particularly in the wake of extreme weather; a conventional two-year bird study by a neutral third party; and the effect of fragmenting the Lowell range habitat corridor on the black bear and moose populations.

In an effort to accommodate GMP, which will receive an additional federal giveaway in the form of Production Tax Credits (2.2 Cents per KWH) if the project is completed by Dec. 31, 2012, the PSB simply fast-tracked the permitting process with waivers and mitigation agreements or extensions for anything that might hold it up. (GMP has said publicly that it won’t build the project without those tax credits, therefore, the pressure is on).

The panel has ignored the many compelling arguments against Lowell, including Vermont’s paltry wind resources (fifth from last in the nation), and the obvious point that because the turbines only spin 20 percent of the time they will require 100 percent conventional energy as backup, thereby actually increasing Vermont’s carbon footprint.

The roughly 20,000 homes dependent on Lowell will still need another source of energy on-call when the wind isn’t blowing and conventional energy costs more to ramp up and ramp down than if the wind farm were not even connected to the grid. This is a technical reality that no amount of public relations can change. Worst of all, GMP admits it could purchase green, hydro power directly from Hydro Quebec for less than half what it will cost to generate it at the Lowell facility, but because of the Federal subsidy money and the tax credits – our money – it’s pure profit for them, and worth destroying the mountain range.

In a cynical manipulation of the well-meaning public, which is desperate for progress with renewable energy, gov. Peter Shumlin and GMP are justifying the destruction of the Lowell Mountains as “green” and “local.” Shumlin argues that he is diversifying Vermont’s energy portfolio, and that this mountain range must be sacrificed because Vermont Yankee is closing. He is giving Vermonters a false choice.

That same Federal subsidy money could dramatically increase energy conservation by employing local contractors to upgrade homes and businesses. That money could also defray the cost of solar arrays and allow individuals to feed energy back into the grid. Because solar power isn’t as intermittent as wind, a conventional energy backup source can operate efficiently. Interestingly, in the Northeast Kingdom, among renewable energy choices, solar is more popular than wind power, but that reality is being ignored.

Shumlin has deeply disappointed his green supporters by ignoring the troublesome facts about wind power in Vermont. Our one existing facility in Searsburg has an average capacity factor over 13 years of 22.4 percent, meaning that’s how much of the time the turbines actually produce energy. What GMP refuses to reveal, however, is the energy required to run the turbines themselves – the electronics, hydraulic brakes, blade-pitch control, blade de-icing heater, etc.

The best estimate, done by the Royal Academy of Engineers, puts it at 12.5 percent, reducing actual energy produced by an industrial wind installation to a mere 9.9 percent. To put this into perspective, three miniature hydro-electric dams equivalent in length to the dam at Dufresne pond would produce the same energy as the entire Lowell Community Kingdom project with none of the environmental devastation.

As for Shumlin and GMP’s final sleight of hand, presenting the Lowell industrial wind project as helping Vermont’s “local” economy, the truth is the opposite. The Vestas turbines are being manufactured in Denmark; the crews which will blast the mountains, build the highway, and install the turbines are coming from Maine; and the $51 million in U.S. subsidy money will be going straight to Canada. The one local job we’ll be able to count on, like the one typically advertised by other New England wind-power companies, will be to pick up the dead birds before school children arrive on their field trips to see the wind “farm” – a patently Orwellian misuse of the word – to describe a place that grows nothing and destroys nature in order to “save” it.

This tragedy is likely to be heading our way under the present administration which is committed to promoting industrial wind on Vermont’s ridgelines. The Agency of Natural Resources in the past did not support industrial wind for environmental reasons. Now, under Deb Markowitz, the ANR has not only reversed its own precedent, but is actively working with wind developers before their applications reach the PSB to ensure the permits go through. Sites like Little Equinox and Glebe Mountain which have been protected by their communities in the past are again vulnerable. With Little Equinox mountain, the PSB approved Endless Energy Corporation’s meteorological tower through 2010, and it appears to still be there, ensuring one less step in any future permitting process.

Write to Governor Shumlin and your representatives in Montpelier and insist that Vermont’s energy be smart and green. Industrial wind projects have no place here. We cannot afford boondoggles to erect showpieces of “renewable” energy at the expense of our state.

Justine Cook lives in Dorset.

10/4/11 Too Loud? Too bad.

NOTE: The World Health Organization has set 35 dbA as the decibel level for healthy sleep. Each increase of 10 decibels doubles the noise output.

From New York State



Observer-Dispatch, www.uticaod.com

October 3, 2011

For the second time this year, a study will be conducted to address concerns about sound levels at the Hardscrabble Wind Farm.

After 37 turbines began operating on Jan. 31 in the Herkimer County towns of Fairfield and Norway, some residents started complaining about the turbines producing too much noise.

A study conducted earlier this year found that the noise level in some instances went above the 50-decibel level required in the permits for the turbines, Fairfield town Supervisor Richard Souza said.

Another, more extensive study will be conducted starting in late October or early November, Souza said.

“We’ll have a better idea of what the noise level is, and we’ll be able to sit down with the company and get it corrected,” he said.

The wind project developer Iberdrola Renewables paid for the first study to be conducted earlier this year at the request of town officials and landowners. The second study also will be paid for by the developer, town and company officials said.

A noise level of 50 decibels is often compared to the sound from a refrigerator motor running. The decibel level of a “normal conversation” is about 60 decibels, according to information provided by Iberdrola.

The first study showed noise levels reaching 60 to 65 decibels in some instances, and the permits restrict the decibel level from going above 50 – including the turbines and background noise combined, Souza said.

But the instances in the study when the noise levels were higher than 50 decibels were primarily when there were extreme wind speeds, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said. The sounds were largely due to other factors from the wind speed such as the rustling of leaves, he said.

“We didn’t consider that to be attributable to the wind farm,” he said.

That means the developers believe they’re not in violation of the wind ordinances, but the issue does warrant further studying, Copleman said.

Fairfield resident Jimmy Salamone, who lives near turbines on Davis Road in Fairfield, said the noise level has become an ongoing problem for many people in the area.

“The noise is really bad on Davis Road – very hard to live with,” Salamone said. “It’s way too loud, and it gets louder at night for some reason.”

But Salamone thinks that instead of conducting another study, something should be done to address the noise levels found in the other study earlier this year, he said.

Donald Dixon, 75, who has two wind turbines on his property at Route 170 in Fairfield, said he doesn’t believe a noise study is necessary.

“To be honest with you, I don’t even notice them,” Dixon said.

Dixon believes the people complaining about noise are the same people who complained before the turbines were put up and that they just want to continue with their complaints, he said.

Souza said he has dealt with “quite a few” complaints scattered throughout the town. It should take about three weeks to complete the study once it begins, he said. The angle and speed of the turbine blades could potentially be altered in response to the results if necessary, he said.

The first study looked at three sites in Fairfield and one in Norway, Souza said. The new study will review five sites in Fairfield and one in Norway, while also looking into more details about the time of the day and factors in the noise levels, he said.

10/1/11 Property Values and Wind Turbines: How long will the wind industry continue to deny the obvious?

From Canada:


By John Nicol and Dave Seglins,

SOURCE: CBC News, www.cbc.ca

October 1, 2011

The government and the wind energy industry have long maintained turbines have no adverse effects on property values, health or the environment.

The CBC has documented scores of families who’ve discovered their property values are not only going downward, but also some who are unable to sell and have even abandoned their homes because of concerns nearby turbines are affecting their health.

Ontario’s rapid expansion in wind power projects has provoked a backlash from rural residents living near industrial wind turbines who say their property values are plummeting and they are unable to sell their homes, a CBC News investigation has found.

The government and the wind energy industry have long maintained turbines have no adverse effects on property values, health or the environment.

The CBC has documented scores of families who’ve discovered their property values are not only going downward, but also some who are unable to sell and have even abandoned their homes because of concerns nearby turbines are affecting their health.

“I have to tell you not a soul has come to look at it,” says Stephana Johnston, 81, of Clear Creek, a hamlet on the north shore of Lake Erie about 60 kilometres southeast of London.

Johnston, a retired Toronto teacher, moved here six years ago to build what she thought would be her dream home. But in 2008, 18 industrial wind turbines sprung up near her property and she put the one-floor, wheelchair-accessible home up for sale.

“My hunch is that people look at them and say: ‘As nice as the property is going south, looking at the lake, we don’t want to be surrounded by those turbines.’ Can’t say that I blame them.”

Johnston says she has suffered so many ill health effects, including an inability to sleep — which she believes stem from the noise and vibration of the turbines— that she now sleeps on a couch in her son’s trailer, 12 kilometres away, and only returns to her house to eat breakfast and dinner and use the internet.

Industry rejects claims of lower land values

Meanwhile, the industry rejects claims of lower land values.

“Multiple studies, and particularly some very comprehensive ones from the United States have consistently shown the presence of wind turbines does not have any statistically significant impact on property values,” says Robert Hornung of the Ottawa-based Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANWEA).

While acknowledging a lack of peer-reviewed studies in Ontario, Hornung says CANWEA commissioned a study of the Chatham-Kent area, where new wind turbines are appearing, and found no evidence of any impact on property values.

“In fact,” says Hornung, “we’ve recently seen evidence coming from Re/Max indicating that we’re seeing farm values throughout Ontario, including the Chatham-Kent area, increasing significantly this year as wind energy is being developed in the area at the same time.”

However, Ron VandenBussche, a Re/Max agent along the Lake Erie shore, said the reality is that the wind turbines reduce the pool of interested buyers, and ultimately the price of properties.

“It’s going to make my life more difficult,” says VandenBussche, who has been a realtor for 38 years. “There’s going to be people that would love to buy this particular place, but because the turbines are there, it’s going to make it more difficult, no doubt.”

Kay Armstrong is one example. She put her two-acre, waterfront property up for sale before the turbines appeared in Clear Creek, for what three agents said was a reasonable price of $270,000.

Two years after the turbines appeared, she took $175,000, and she felt lucky to do that — the property went to someone who only wanted to grow marijuana there for legal uses.

“I had to get out,” said Armstrong. “It was getting so, so bad. And I had to disclose the health issues I had. I was told by two prominent lawyers that I would be sued if the ensuing purchasers were to develop health problems.”

Realtor association finds 20 to 40 per cent drops in value

Armstrong’s experience is backed up in a study by Brampton-based realtor Chris Luxemburger. The president of the Brampton Real Estate Board examined real estate listings and sales figures for the Melancthon-Amaranth area, home to 133 turbines in what is Ontario’s first and largest industrial wind farm.

“Homes inside the windmill zones were selling for less and taking longer to sell than the homes outside the windmill zones,” said Luxemburger.

On average, from 2007 to 2010, he says properties adjacent to turbines sold for between 20 and 40 per cent less than comparable properties that were out of sight from the windmills.

Power company sells at a loss

Land registry documents obtained by CBC News show that some property owners who complained about noise and health issues and threatened legal action did well if they convinced the turbine companies to buy them out.

Canadian Hydro Developers bought out four different owners for $500,000, $350,000, $305,000 and $302,670. The company then resold each property, respectively, for $288,400, $175,000, $278,000 and $215,000.

In total, Canadian Hydro absorbed just over half a million dollars in losses on those four properties.

The new buyers were required to sign agreements acknowledging that the wind turbine facilities may affect the buyer’s “living environment” and that the power company will not be responsible for or liable from any of the buyer’s “complaints, claims, demands, suits, actions or causes of action of every kind known or unknown which may arise directly or indirectly from the Transferee’s wind turbine facilities.”

The energy company admits the impacts may include “heat, sound, vibration, shadow flickering of light, noise (including grey noise) or any other adverse effect or combination thereof resulting directly or indirectly from the operation.”

TransAlta, the company that took over for Canadian Hydro, refused to discuss the specific properties it bought and then resold at a loss in Melancthon. But in an email to CBC, spokesman Glen Whelan cited the recession and other “business considerations” that “influence the cost at which we buy or sell properties, and to attribute purchase or sale prices to any one factor would be impossible.”

Province says no change to tax base

Ontario’s ministers of Energy, Municipal Affairs and Finance, all in the midst of an election campaign, declined requests for an interview.

A spokesperson for Municipal Affairs says his ministry has no studies or information about the potential impact wind turbines are having on rural property values.

However, last February, before an environmental review tribunal in Chatham, Environment Ministry lawyer Frederika Rotter said: “We will see in the course of this hearing that lots of people are worried about windmills. They may not like the noise, they may think the noise makes them sick, but really what makes them sick is just the windmills being on the land because it does impact their property values.

“That’s what makes them sick is that, you know, they’ll get less money for their properties, and that’s what’s causing all this annoyance and frustration and all of that.”

When Energy Minister Brad Duguid declined comment, his staff referred CBC News to the Ministry of Finance, which oversees MPAC (the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), which sets values on land for taxation purposes. They indicated that MPAC has no evidence wind turbines are driving down assessed values.

However, CBC found one household in Melancthon was awarded a 50-per-cent reduction in property tax because the house sat next to a transformer station for the turbines.

Losing the rural life

Almost all the people interviewed by the CBC rue the division between neighbours for and against the turbines, and said what they have lost is a sense of home and the idyllic life of living in the countryside.

Tracy Whitworth, who has a historic home in Clear Creek, refuses to sell it and instead has become a nomad, renting from place to place with her son, to avoid the ill effects of the turbines.

“My house sits empty — it’s been vandalized,” says Whitworth, a Clear Creek resident who teaches high school in Delhi. “I’ve had a couple of ‘Stop the wind turbine’ signs knocked down, mailbox broken off.

“I lived out there for a reason. It was out in the country. School’s very busy. When I come home, I like peace and quiet. Now, we have the turbines and the noise. Absolutely no wildlife. I used to go out in the morning, tend to my dogs, let my dogs run, and I’d hear the geese go over.

“And ugh! Now there’s no deer, no geese, no wild turkeys. Nothing.”

For the octogenarian Johnston, the fight is all more than she bargained for. She sank all her life savings, about $500,000, into the house, and she says she does not have the money to be able to hire a lawyer to fight for a buyout. But she is coming to the conclusion she must get a mortgage to try the legal route.

“I love being near the water and I thought, what a way to spend the rest of my days — every view is precious,” she said, as tears filled her eyes. “And I would not have that any more.

“And that is hard to reconcile and accept.”

Getting a mortgage on her house might not be that easy. CBC News has learned that already one bank in the Melancthon area is not allowing lines of credit to be secured by houses situated near wind turbines. In a letter to one family situated close to the turbines, the bank wrote, “we find your property a high risk and its future marketability may be jeopardized.”