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Lighthouse Wind offers little benefit at too much cost to the community

Posted 30 November 2017 at 10:22 am

Editor:

As a supporter of Save Ontario Shores (SOS), I took special note of recent accusations about SOS information gathering and dissemination tactics, relating to Virginia based Apex Clean Energy’s Project Lighthouse Wind.

This project was proposed over 4 years ago, and will involve the installation of approximately 70 giant 600-foot Industrial Wind Turbines along a 12-mile stretch of Lake Ontario Shore in the towns of Somerset and Yates.

Apparently, the information being disseminated is having an effect not to the liking of Apex and their supporters. Rather than respond, SOS is labeled as “aggressive and the spreader of misinformation.” Trash the messenger and ignore the message is the response. SOS is accomplishing its stated goals by addressing the health, safety and welfare of those being affected by Apex. SOS is to be congratulated. They are doing an excellent job. All the facts are getting out!

A wealth of information is now available due to the good graces of SOS and others, relating to the physical and environmental impacts of industrial wind turbines. The noise, visual pollution, shadow flicker, degradation of property values, infrasound effects, bird and bat kill, disruption of normal farming operations, loss of property rights and construction damage are all well documented. The effects are real. People who are living among industrial wind turbines are speaking out. Clearly our quality of life is at issue!

Three independent surveys show public opposition by a factor of more than two to one. A recent online survey by Business First also reflects, by a similar margin, the negative attitude of the public toward industrial wind turbines. It is clear, our community does not want the noise, our community does not want the visual pollution, our community does not want to experience shadow flicker, our community does not want property values to drop, our community understands the negative health effects of infrasound, our community does not want indiscriminate bird and bat slaughter. The list goes on and on.

Supporters point to economic benefits. So far, much talk and very little in the way of specifics. Apex has generously volunteered to pay $1.6 million in local property taxes. How can it be that they decide how they shall be taxed? Do any of us have that opportunity? No!! This figure is to be divided among 6 taxing jurisdictions diminishing its impact.

Further, an estimate of the taxes that should be paid based on the full value of the investment in Lighthouse Wind shows this figure to low by a factor of 5 or more. So from the outset, we get short changed.

In addition, the hidden tax breaks such as feed in tariffs, production tax credits, power purchase agreements, accelerated write offs, and grants continue to quietly drain the public purse, thus erasing any financial gain that might have occurred.

Permanent employment by Apex’s own admission will only be a handful of individuals.

The construction period will employ transient personnel from outside our area. The majority of equipment will come from outside the area and even outside the country. Much physical and environmental impact will take place as these monstrous structures are brought in and assembled. There is no way this project will replace the tax base that has been lost by State energy policies that are forcing Somerset Station to close by 2020. Somerset Station was at one time, one of the largest taxpayers in the area. This facility should be converted to clean burning natural gas.

We hear about a Host Community Agreement with no inkling of what this might be or of what benefit it will be to our area. The lack of anything specific on this matter says much.

In summary, after four years in our community, what Apex Clean Energy is offering our community is not buying, and the opposition has grown. The issues are well understood.

The environmental and physical impacts are detrimental. The economic benefits are nil. The power is not needed. The power is not clean. The power is not reliable. There are other ways to save our planet. Project Lighthouse Wind is the wrong project in the wrong place. Apex should go home!!

James Hoffman

Somerset