I attended the Annual meeting for the Ontario Soils and Crops Association. Today’s Farmer had a report on this meeting and below is my response to this article.
I was told by the president of the Association afterwards, the only thing of concern for him was whether this grower was happy with his turbines. I guess if you are situated a min. of 3000 ft (approx. 1 km) and have already received your full years payment after only 2 months of operation, there is not much to be unhappy about.
This letter is in response to the article reporting on the Ontario Soils and Crops Annual meeting which had a presentation from Mr Ed VanDeWynckel, a grower in the Port Alma area living with 4 wind turbines on his 100 acre parcel of land. I attended this meeting and was far from impressed with the information presented. Mr. VanDeWynckel seemed to have little knowledge with regards to his contract in comparison to the technical aspects of the construction of the turbines. He even admitted that there were several aspects about the contract that he ignored despite his lawyers recommendations.
One of these recommendations was in regards to the often included clause of “first rights of refusal”. Our lawyer highly recommended that this stipulation be removed unless the company was willing to offer similar rights to us. Instead this grower’s company (Kruger) conceded that this would not be an issue if the land was to go to a family member. The main issue for Kruger was one where the land lease agreement would continue, once the land was transfered. This is understandable, however this grower failed to relay whether or not this was included in the contract or whether the next owner would benefit from the revenues along with the lease transfer. Like our lawyer warned us, if it’s not in the contract, the company is not obligated to provide you with anything.
Further into his presentation I came to find out Mr VanDeWynckel is at least 3000 ft (that’s almost 1 km) away from the closest turbine and in his estimation he only hears them once every 2 weeks. What he fails to realize is that his neighbours, who have no protection through government regulation if there are post construction problems, are more than likely situated much closer than this. The majority of these turbines are being placed between 300 to 600 metres away from residents, which will more than likely drive people out of their homes such as it has done in the areas of Ripley, Shelburne, Goderich and Melancthon. These people are suffering most likely from a scientifically documented problem called Vibroacoustic Disease, a condition created by low frequency noise. In Ripley because of poor design people are suffering from nose bleeds, ear vibrations, migraines and mini eye strokes all linked to stray voltage issues. When asked how far the turbines were from neighbouring lot lines or homes, he had no definitive answer. Lakeshore municipality in Essex County are allowing turbines right against lot lines, simply because a grower signed a land option agreement. Signing this kind of agreement, makes a landowner subject to whatever development the company sees fit be it roadway’s, transmission lines, switching stations, substations etc. In addition, you have no guarantees that you will host a turbine nor receive any kind of compensation, despite having your neighbour’s turbine abutted to your lot line, sweeping over your crops.
When this grower was asked what will happen at the of end of his lease, his answer simply relayed that this would happen after he died. What this grower fails to realize, come time to settle his estate, family members will have many problems trying to discharge this agreement needed to settle any kind of land transfer. He should also note that companies use a clause which stipulates a lease period of 20 years with an automatic renewal for an additional 20 years. This allows companies to get around the Planning Act which says that anything longer than 20 years must be registered as an easement, an expense that the company is cleverly getting around if this was a straight 40 year agreement. Mr. VanDeWynckel’s knowledge was sketchy at best with regards to this renewal period, alluding that he had more than one day to renegotiate Renegotiate what? These contracts are usually a straight percentage or outright yearly payment over the whole term of the agreement.
To top things off in looking at the South West Ag. Conference, at Ridgetown, I found out Mr. VanDeWynckel is again presenting along with another bought and paid for grower from the Port Burwell area. Supposedly they will be counterbalanced by Ted Cowan an OFA employee strongly promoting Industrial Wind Energy despite the fact that he is fully aware of the stray voltage problems that exist in many rural areas of Ontario. The only sage piece of advice Mr. VanDeWynckel relayed during his whole presentation, was that grower’s within a slated project should work together to get the best deal for all concerned. I couldn’t agree more, because I believe with shared knowledge these growers would come to realize that Industrial Wind Development is not all that it is cracked up to be.