South Peace News
About 150 people jammed Club Alouette in Falher June 21 to hear a presentation by Smoky River Wind Concerns Group regarding the proposed wind project in the area.
While many statements from the presenters drew applause, a few in the audience spoke in favour of the project, one woman telling presenters Scott Ritchie and Carol Fischer it was the most one-sided and biased presentation ever heard.
Each time people spoke in opposition of the project, Ritchie and Fischer responded they were not experts, merely concerned citizens with questions. They urged everyone to seek answers themselves regarding the project.
However, it did not take away from the fact the presentation was one-sided, not surprising since the presentation was hosted by the wind concerns group.
ABO Wind Canada Ltd. is proposing the project north of Falher. The wind power project plans will include a 160-megawatt renewable wind project, inclusive of between 25 and 27 wind turbines, that stretches between Falher and the village of Nampa, and is set to help produce enough clean energy to power roughly 65,000 homes. Construction is tentatively set to begin in 2025.
The wind concerns group does not want to shut down the project entirely, but has asked the M.D of Smoky River to amend its current bylaw allowing wind turbines increased to 2,000 metres from the current 800 metres from homes. The amendment if passed, would obviously force the company to alter its plans.
Ritchie did most of the talking during the presentation which he called an information session. He did tell people to research the matter themselves, but admitted the group does have its views.
Ritchie lives where he calls “in the middle” of the proposed project.
“The more research we did, the more concerns we have,” he said, citing health effects such as Wind Turbine Syndrome and decreased property values.
He also added not everyone is affected the same way by wind turbines.
Fischer spoke about health effects – much the same as at the M.D. of Smoky River meeting June 14. She talked about Wind Turbine Syndrome which can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, ringing of the ears, insomnia, internal quivering and more. She asked if people residing near turbines suffered the symptoms because of the turbines.
“If you’re saying it’s not, prove it to me,” said Fischer.
One woman did, saying a published Health Canada report disputed the negative effects of wind turbines. She told Ritchie and Fischer to read the report themselves.
One woman identifying herself as Wendy spoke. She told the audience she was having trouble selling her home. Real estate agents were cancelling appointments with prospective buyers and people have “pulled back” after hearing about the wind project.
While that doesn’t prove wind turbines are harmful, it apparently has raised enough concerns from some people. The woman warned the same fears could result if current homeowners in the area tried to sell their property.
Smoky River Wind Concerns Group also questioned the non-disclosure agreement ABO Wind makes everyone sign if approving the project, asking what ABO was trying to hide.
However, one resident was quick to respond they were offered no “hush money.”
Another woman questioned the non-disclosure agreement.
“That’s wrong, totally,” she said to applause.
One person favouring the project asked the wind concerns group if they had anything good to say about the project.
“They do produce power,” said Fischer multiple times.
She added it was also a source of tax revenue for the M.D. of Smoky River, although the amount generated from the assessment was not disclosed, if known.
Several other quick points were made by those in favour and against the project.
“Use Google Scholar, not YouTube and Google,” said one woman, for more accurate information.
“You can get a study to say anything,” noted Ritchie.
Another man said ABO was not going to say anything negative about the project and cited a story. Decades ago, the tobacco companies said smoking was not harmful to one’s health but has since been proven to be false. Could the same happen with wind turbines, he asked.
ABO Wind’s anticipation is to submit their application to the Alberta Utilities Commission in the second half of 2023.
Members of the M.D. of Smoky River recently toured central and southern Alberta to examine wind farms first-hand and talk to local people to learn more about the issue. They will present their findings to the public at what they are calling a renewable energy information meeting at the Guy Hall June 28 at 7 p.m.
Brochu told the group at the June 14 M.D. meeting the Alberta Utilities Commission, not council, makes the final say.
“They are God.”