POWASSAN – Tears and outrage poured from the crowd as they listened to wind turbine testimonials last Thursday night.
“I thought I was coming here to hear about the health effects of wind turbines, but knowing my husband could lose his job really hits home,” said Gloria Nelson, her eyes filled with tears after hearing of the plight of industrial companies suffering the consequences of the Green Energy Act.
Nelson’s husband works at Fabrene in North Bay. One of the companies hit hard by the ripple effect caused by Ontario’s wind and solar energy industry – an industry that is attempting to set up shop in Powassan.
On June 28, STOMP – Stop Turbines On Maplehill Powassan – held its second town hall meeting, attended by more than 100 area residents, in opposition of wind turbines proposed to be erected by Anemos Energy of Hamilton.
Although members of STOMP said they have yet to receive a response from Anemos Energy representatives in regard to their stance, company president Rob Parsons said he has never been contacted.
“As was the case with the town hall meeting, which took place at the end of April, Anemos Energy was not informed about nor invited to the Thursday night meeting by the organizers, nor have we been asked to provide any information about the proposed project or about wind turbines or wind energy in general,” Parsons said in an email. “It seems that the invited speakers are opponents of wind energy. Supportive or neutral speakers were not invited to either meeting.”
Invited speaker Nipissing MPP and PC Energy Critic Vic Fedeli spoke of the economic impacts of wind energy, while Barbara Ashbee of Victims of Wind and researcher Carmen Krogh discussed the health impacts.
Anemos Energy has contacted the Municipality of Powassan for support on the project, having completed one year of wind measurement on the Maplehill Road property, which is slated for completion in 2015. The Municipality has no say on the project, which is governed solely by the Province. But if the company can get municipal support, it raises the chances of the company’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) application being approved.
Ashbee hit a nerve in the crowd, as she recalled the horrific symptoms she and her husband experienced after wind turbines were installed near their Amaranth, Ont. home. Symptoms included rashes and bleeding on her face, which required liquid nitrogen treatments, heart palpitations, sleep deprivation, and tinnitus.
“One of our dogs would just sit in the living room and cry. It was very disturbing,” said Ashbee as she began to tear up. “I know it was because of the vibration because we felt it too.”
Ashbee said the final straw was when she found her cat hiding and covered in its own vomit.
“All of these health effects are not a coincidence,” she said. “They are the same stories heard around the world.”
Ashbee said she tried to set up a meeting with the health minister and was turned away and told to speak to the Ministry of the Environment instead.
Ashbee told the crowd Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, didn’t interview any affected families when she conducted research on wind turbines.
“She’s betrayed us all,” said Ashbee. “There’s no recourse for the affected families.”
Karen Chadbourn told the crowd she bought her home on Hemlock Road in Trout Creek this past October.
“I didn’t even know about this project,” she said. “Now what do I do? This is my dream home.”
Chadbourn said Ashbee’s story “touched her heart.”
“We need to put Dalton McGuinty in her home and see what happens to him,” she said.
Krogh, a retired pharmacist, has been conducting her own research on the health affects, which has been published in multiple peer-reviewed articles. She says the government and energy companies aren’t telling the whole story.
“I know too many people who have been adversely affected and I’m quite disturbed by that,” she said. “There’s a significant difference in our tolerance to wind turbine noise compared to industrial noise.”
That point was driven home soon after the crowd filled the room.
The sound of a wind turbine was heard over the PA up until the meeting began. It wasn’t until the humming was turned off that it was obvious just how deafening it was.
According to Krogh, a 10-decibel difference is equal to double the sound to the human ear.
She said the Province allows between 40 to 51 dB. Krogh says the experts say anything over 32 dB can cause significant health issues in humans and animals. Krogh said the intermittent swoosh-swoosh sound is actually harder on the human ear than constant sound.
Also, she said the vibrations could affect human health and keep livestock from producing. She also noted concerns of stray voltage from the turbines.
“We have the right to the highest standard of health,” said Krogh. “What we need is a pause. To put a hold on everything until we deal with the problems we have in front of us.”
Parsons said most of the claims made during the meetings are not verifiable, or are “anecdotal” and therefore not representative of a larger population.
“Most of the same claims or assertions are addressed in publicly accessible peer-reviewed studies, reports, published articles, and statements,” he said.
Krogh argues these studies have been contracted by the government. She wants an independent study completed before any more wind farms are approved.
STOMP is currently collecting signatures on its petition asking for no more application approvals until an independent study can be completed. Having invested more than $5,000 of their own money, members are also looking for donations.
During the meeting, Fedeli said Fabrene is one of many employers facing the possibility of closure after the implementation of global adjustments, which he says are a government cash grab to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars lost annually since the Green Energy Act and FIT program were launched.
In one year alone, he said Fabrene was charged $1-million in global adjustment fees.
In order to entice companies to jump onboard, the FIT program guarantees higher rates for energy generated from renewable sources, like wind turbines.
“They needed such an outlandish number to jump-start an entire industry overnight,” said Fedeli, explaining the 80-cent per kilowatt-hour subsidy offered to some solar energy producers, as compared to the eight-cent charge to users.
“Even a kid with a lemonade stand knows you can’t buy a lemon for 80 cents and sell the lemonade for eight. Somebody has to pick up the 72-cent difference,” he said. “Under this green dream your hydro bills have doubled.”
Fedeli said the province is currently making more energy than ever before.
“We are paying the highest subsidies in the world to green energy companies to make power we just don’t need,” he said.
According to Fedeli, after paying out the subsidies to create the energy, the Province then pays Quebec and the United States to take it. Additionally, when energy production is at its peak, hydro collection is then halted at Niagara Falls and nuclear power plants are temporarily shut down.
“We lost $300-million last year letting power run over Niagara Falls,” he said, noting water is a clean and renewable energy source that he fully supports.
As electricity becomes more expensive, industry in Ontario has been shutting down, putting more and more people out of work and driving the need for energy lower and lower.
Fedeli said when it comes to wind energy opposition the response in the legislature is less than favourable.
“In Toronto, if you speak against wind power, you’re some kind of a horrible person,” he said. “Every time we talk about this, we get booed. They act as if we’re against green energy. All they want to do is shroud themselves in green and feel good about themselves.”
Fedeli also noted the negative effect on property values. He said there are farmers who have been prevented from using planes to spray their crops because of the close proximity to wind turbines, essentially killing their livelihood.
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