The Gartner Lee engineering firm, in conjunction with Toronto Hydro and The Ministry of Natural Resources, is considering the feasibility of putting an industrial wind farm 3 kilometres out in lake Ontario. The first wind turbines will be placed just off shore from the Guild Inn. The plan is to have a row of these turbines stretching from the Don Valley all the way to Ajax. Our Bluffs are approximately 200 feet tall. These structures will be at least as tall as or taller than the windmill at the CNE. That structure is 350 ft. tall. Because of their height and location, they will require revolving beacons on top.
Presently, Gartner Lee has applied for funds from the federal government to build an anemometer to measure wind. This structure is to be placed close to the shore of the former Guild Inn. Although this project flies under the Green banner and as such qualifies for generous grants, there are hidden costs, which will affect you and your neighbourhood.
1. Your property values will fall.
International property consultant Savills states “the value of a farmhouse may be affected by as much as 30% if it is in close proximity to a wind turbine.” North American records show similar percentages as well as many properties that can’t be sold because of the presence of wind turbines in the vicinity.
2. Your electricity bill will go up.
“Wind energy is intermittent, volatile, and largely unpredictable.” Back-up generators must be ready at all times to balance the unreliable wind generation. Because these generators must ramp up and down to balance the electricity grid, they are working at less than full capacity. That costs you money. That adds pollution. Generators operating in this mode emit more CO2 than they would if working at full capacity.
Wind-farm owners are not responsible for providing the generators or the transmission lines that carry the electricity. That cost will be provided by Toronto Hydro and passed on to you. The cost of subsidies and tax breaks given to the wind-farm owners are also passed on to you. Wind-farm owners in Ontario are paid 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, about double the current price homeowner’s pay for reliable on-demand power. In addition to this, the Ontario government recently proposed to pay the wind-farm company an additional bonus for wind energy that is actually available during peak demand. Guess who’s going to pay for that?
3. You may experience health problems.
The sounds emitted by the blades, being of low frequency, travel easily and vary according to the wind. The French Academy of Medicine warn that these sounds constitute a permanent risk for people exposed to them.
Ernie Marshall, who lives near a wind farm in Goderich, Ontario, said that once the turbines got rolling, his health began to suffer. “I had problems with my heart, with my eyes, my digestive system,” Marshall told CTV News. “It traumatizes the whole body.”
4. The environmental and ecological impact on the Bluffs and on our neighbourhood will be disastrous.
The low frequency noise emitted by blades will drive the wild life away from the bluffs into our living area where they may be killed by cars or become a nuisance to homeowners. We live in the path of thousands of migrating birds that will be killed by the blades of the turbines. Although wind-farm developers claim that wind-turbines kill only a small number of birds each year, the statistics compiled by the National Audubon Society say otherwise. Dr. Michael Fry of The American Bird Conservancy stated that at the present rate, the wind industry will be killing 900,000 to 1.8 million birds per year.
In North America many of the bird species being killed are already declining for other reasons but losing more than a million birds each year would exacerbate these unexplained declines. In Ontario the government has failed to protect migratory birds by failing to stipulate that wind turbines must not be placed in the vicinity of migratory bird stopovers, diurnal and seasonal migration routes and important bird areas
We know that our bluffs are fragile, consisting of layers of clay and sand and are thus subject to considerable natural erosion, with no interference from us. Having vertical structures sticking out of the lake in close proximity to the cliffs will, especially in winter when ice floes collect, change the currents and will possibly increase the rate of erosion.
Longevity? Even the very best of industrial turbines last 20 years, and most 15. What happens at the end of their lifetime? They are too expensive to deconstruct so usually they are left to rot or the top part may be cut off. That would leave the base permanently stuck in Lake Ontario, the source of our drinking water. Also, given that a severe winter storm could damage the turbines and/or the transmission lines, disrupting production and delaying repairs for days (the turbines are to be serviced from barges), the undisclosed final costs, including further damages inflicted upon the environment, would mount enormously.
The final blow!
The wind-farm, even if it functions at its “maximum efficiency”, would produce far less than 1% of the electricity needed in Toronto.
David White, energy consultant to governments in Europe and in the U.S.A., states that “it is imperative that the Auditor General’s Office investigate this wasteful investment of public funds (wind-farms) and that Ontario’s Legislature place an immediate moratorium on the building of new wind turbine facilities in the province as well as end subsidies and tax incentives paid to the wind industry.”
Given the above concerns, is it really worth the costs? What do you think?
Pam Erickson (Guildwood resident)