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Land owners could face huge turbine costs

GODERICH – Land owners considering allowing wind turbines to be built on their property should put a hold on signing any deal with an energy company until after the provincial election, a University of Guelph economics professor warned Saturday.

“If you haven’t put a shovel in the ground, my advice is to wait,” said Prof. Glenn Fox.

For those that have already have turbines, Fox’s advice is to cross their fingers.

With lucrative prices guaranteed by the province, wind farms have sprung up across Southern Ontario.

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak, leading in the polls, has promised to end the subsidies if he wins the election.

While some have argued it would be reprehensible for a new government to rip up the contracts, Fox said it has happened before, such as when the federal government canceled a military helicopter deal.

Without the subsidies, solar and wind farms in Ontario could end up abandoned as has happened in some places in Europe, Fox said.

“It is not inconceivable that it could happen in Ontario,” he said.

Speaking to a meeting organized by the anti-wind energy group, Wind Concerns Ontario, Fox said land owners could be left with the removal and disposal costs of wind turbines if the energy company goes bankrupt.

“That (cost) would be just astronomical,” he said.

Ben Lansink, a London real estate appraiser, said wind turbines will lower the value of not only the farm where they are built, but neighbouring ones as well.

“It is a major and significant problem that is here and is going to get worse,” he said.

Required set backs from the turbines mean livestock facilities and homes can’t be built in the area.

When there are restrictions, the market value of the property is reduced, he said.