Curiosity about some clearing on nearby
property has led a Powassan couple on a journey of discovery.
After extensive research, Anne and
Kevin Smith found out that a proposed industrial wind turbine project
is to be built on Maple Hill, just off from Highway 11. That prompted
them to form STOMP (Stop Turbines on Maple Hill Powassan).
“We did a lot of research and found
that Anemos Energy had leased 400 acres. We asked for a meeting, with
about a dozen neighbours, since no one knew anything about it. We
educated ourselves and now we are horrified,” Kevin said.
The clearing on the property was
presumed to be for a house but then a meteorological tower was
erected to measure wind speed.
“What will be going up is 10,
400-foot wind turbines. We didn’t know anything about them until we
were driving by another community. When we saw these monstrosities,
we nearly went off the road,” he said.
The research led them to others in the
province who are fighting the establishment of wind farms.
“The more we learn, the more upset we
get so we had to get involved in the fight,” Kevin said.
Their opposition goes beyond the NIMBY
(not in my backyard) attitude. They question the province for
supporting green initiatives, like turbines and solar panels, which
require huge subsidies.
“Why do we spend so much money across
Ontario in order to bring in a product that can’t run without being
subsidized?” Kevin said. “Financially, it is not a sound
Currently, the government’s Feed-in
Tariff (FIT) programs pay well over the market value per kilowatt
hour (kWh) for wind, solar and other green energy producers.
The province’s global adjustment
charge, included on all energy bills – commercial, residential and
institutional – is the difference between what the government pays
for energy and what it sells it for. Over the past few years, the
global adjustment charges have been more than what customers pay for
“Our global adjustment charge is
double our actual hydro bill so now we realize what the Green Energy
Act actually costs,” Kevin said. “We had to start knocking on
doors and educating people around us and that is how STOMP started.”
The Smiths contacted MPP Vic Fedeli
(Nipissing – PC), who also serves as his party’s energy critic.
“The province wanted to be a green
leader but it turned out to be anything but,” Fedeli said.
“The first thing the province decided
is that it will overpay for the green energy. They came out with 80
cents a kilowatt hour for power that sells for eight cents.
“The wind doesn’t always blow and
the sun doesn’t always shine. But they give the producers a
contract for 20 years that pays them whenever they make it, even if
we don’t need it.”
Wind, he said, blows predominately at
night and in the winter. Consumers need energy mostly during the day
and in the summer.
“It is absolutely counter-productive
to what we need.”
Fedeli said the Green Energy Act strips
the municipal-decision making powers.
“You need a zoning meeting to put up
a Tim Hortons but now you can’t have one for a 400-foot wind
tower,” he said.
The Smiths also found out the act also
supersedes the Endangered Species Act. Bald eagles and bobblings,
both protected species, are found in the area where the turbines are
to be erected.
“We thought we had a way around the
turbines because a project for an industrial park here was not
allowed to go ahead because nesting bobblings were found in the
area,” Kevin said.
“But recently the government passed
legislation that exempts the Green Energy Act from the Endangered
Species Act. The government doesn’t want to listen because a lot of
money is involved.”
A wind turbine project is also planned
for the neighbouring community of Trout Creek and STOMP has been
lending its support to opposition there.
In addition to the financial issues,
the Smiths have been researching the health effects of the wind
turbines and have had speakers address those issues at meetings.
Flickering from the blades can project
for more than 10 kilometres and Powassan is only four kilometers
Effects from vibrations and intrasound
– below ear hearing – have also been common complaints from those
living near the turbines.
STOMP wants a moratorium on the
turbines until the federal government completes a study on the health
effects from them. The results are expected in 2014.
The group also wants the provincial
government to look at bigger setbacks for the turbines from
neighbouring homes. Currently they are at 550 metres while other
jurisdictions, such as in Europe, are one to 1.5 kilometres.
“We phoned McGuinty’s office and
asked where that number came from. There was no response. We think it
is because the way concessions and lots are set up in Ontario. It is
not based on health but the ability to access properties,” Kevin
STOMP also received the backing of
Powassan’s municipal council to request a wind turbine moratorium
until health and other concerns are addressed.
“Powassan and other communities are
not getting anything out of this,” he said. “There might be some
tax benefits but they aren’t getting rich.”
When it comes to suppliers getting the
best return on kWh, Ontario offers the most.
“It’s like a life insurance policy,
an annuity, for the suppliers. It is a fabulous business, if you want
to be part of what is bankrupting Ontario,” Fedeli said.
“In Europe, governments are
retracting from green energy because of the cost. But here, we are
“It is just killing the province