The proposed Montney Wind Energy Project is causing grief among residents who fear the wind turbines will lower the value of their homes, and put their health at risk.
Although project proponent Renewable Energy Systems Canada has held two public meetings on the project, Montney resident Delbert Benterud wasn’t satisfied with the way they were conducted.
“The public meeting… was not really what I call a public forum,” said Benterud in an interview with the Alaska Highway News.
“It was one-on-one, and you come and you talk to that individual, and they answer your question or they don’t answer your question… then, of course, other people walked up to them and they started talking with them.”
Benterud is organizing another meeting for his neighbours in order to share his concerns, and to invite others to do the same. RES Canada has been invited, as have local government officials.
The project would see five to seven wind turbines built on private land in Montney.
The turbines will be between 80 and 100 metres tall, with turbine blades 50 metres long. They’ll produce enough electricity to power between 4,500 and 5,000 households.
“Those windmills will be right in our bedroom windows and dining room windows, and you’ll be able to see them as bold as the sun, because they are that big,” said Benterud.
He’s against the project because he sees no benefit to the immediate local community, or to the broader community of the North Peace.
“I just see an economic benefit to the company itself and to the individuals who (own the land) where they’re located,” he said.
Benterud, whose house is located about one mile from the proposed wind turbines, fears his home will depreciate by as much as 25 per cent if the project goes ahead. It’s a figure he’s garnered from Internet research about areas like Ontario and Europe, where wind energy is more prevalent.
He’s also concerned that health issues will crop up because of the low frequency noise and vibrations created by the turbines.
While Benterud is against the project, he’s open to clarification and information that could ease his concerns.
“Maybe I’m wrong about some of these things, I don’t know if I am… but I do have these concerns,” he said.
Patrick Henn, development manager with RES Canada, said the public meetings the company hosted in July and October were well attended, with about 35 residents at each meeting.
“There’s not many people that actually came twice, so in the end I think the community around there, Montney, it’s a good number of folks that ended up having information,” he said.
Henn added that concerns about health and property value depreciation are commonly brought up at public events on wind farms, but says the concerns are unfounded.
“Some things that come up quite often is the health question, which is something that for me still is a bit surprising to hear, because there are very good studies and credible experts that came out and published some studies on health showing that there is no link between any type of health effects and wind turbines,” he said.
Similar studies, he says, have debunked the idea that property values will go down.
“The reality is… these studies conclude that there is no impact on the sale price,” said Henn.
However, he explained that wind turbines nearby could factor into an individual’s decision to purchase or not purchase a property.
“To be fair… it’s true that perhaps some individuals would not want to buy a property if they have, let’s say they’re seeing a wind turbine. Different persons have different requirements when they’re buying a property or a house… perhaps you wouldn’t buy one, or maybe, for example, I wouldn’t mind.”
The Agricultural Land Commission approved the land for non-farm use in August, but the company still needs approval from the Peace River Regional District.
“It does still have to come to the board, and it will have to go out for a public meeting because… if it goes ahead it will need to be rezoned,” said Area B Director Karen Goodings.
Benterud’s neighbourhood meeting will be held at Montney Hall on Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Benterud will give a presentation, as will Arthur Hadland, former director for Area C.
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