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Communication key issue for wind farm

The developers of the Melancthon Wind Project agree with opponents when they say residents should get the straight facts about wind generation.

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They just hope that any effort to better educate residents in Amaranth and Melancthon will help dispel some of the misconceptions circulating around those communities.

"We have heard a few things with regards to the Melancthon projects that are just not true," said Geoff Carnegie of Canadian Hydro Developers. "We just want to make this process engaging and transparent enough that people understand that we are here for the long run."

A group of angry Amaranth property owners told councillors last week that they will do their best to keep residents informed about phase two of the Melancthon wind project.

They charged that unlike their counterparts in the County of Grey Highlands (Blue Mountain), who since being tagged as a possible site for wind generation have held seven public meetings on the issue, councillors in Amaranth have kept low key about their participation in the Melancthon wind project.

As a result, the ad hoc group, headed by Amaranth farmer Ian Reed, proposes to host a number of public information sessions that are independent of both the town and CHD.

"They (County of Grey Highlands) have now had seven public meetings up there between council and the people to formulate a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
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They just hope that any effort to better educate residents in Amaranth and Melancthon will help dispel some of the misconceptions circulating around those communities.
 
"We have heard a few things with regards to the Melancthon projects that are just not true," said Geoff Carnegie of Canadian Hydro Developers. "We just want to make this process engaging and transparent enough that people understand that we are here for the long run."
 
A group of angry Amaranth property owners told councillors last week that they will do their best to keep residents informed about phase two of the Melancthon wind project.
 
They charged that unlike their counterparts in the County of Grey Highlands (Blue Mountain), who since being tagged as a possible site for wind generation have held seven public meetings on the issue, councillors in Amaranth have kept low key about their participation in the Melancthon wind project.
 
As a result, the ad hoc group, headed by Amaranth farmer Ian Reed, proposes to host a number of public information sessions that are independent of both the town and CHD.
 
"They (County of Grey Highlands) have now had seven public meetings up there between council and the people to formulate a plan that if wind generation does come to the township they'll get it right. And they're still not finished," Reed told the roughly two dozen people in attendance. "I am quite alarmed that Amaranth has only had two public meetings and they were hosted by Canadian Hydro Developers. To my knowledge we have had no public meetings to give the people information to make a decision on this. This is probably the biggest thing to happen to this township and something that will have the biggest impact. Council is here for the people and not the hydro developers."
 
Last week's meeting in Amaranth was the latest in a series of sparring matches between local stakeholders. In April, roughly 50 people packed into Melancthon council chambers to vent their frustrations about the 45 turbines in the first phase of the wind farm.
 
And although the wind farms have been years in the making it is only in recent months that a clear line between those for or against the turbines has begun to take shape.
 
"The public opinion surveys (on wind power) demonstrate that 70 per cent of the population is in favour of wind technology," Reed said of unspecified public opinion surveys on wind generation. "These surveys are of a general nature and questions are not site specific -- those who live beside them have a much lower opinion. And people who have answered these surveys have been found to be ill informed and think that wind generation is cheap or even free."
 
Whether or not a wind farm is the ideal way of generating power is not clear cut and the debate will likely rage on well into the future.
 
Company officials say they welcome open discussion on the matter and hope it will help clear up a lot of the "coffee shop talk" going around the community
 
For instance, company officials say some residents question them on whether or not the wind farms even work. During recent public meetings, some have argued that the company has misjudged the level of wind passing through north Dufferin and that very little energy (and cash) has been generated so far.
 
Carnegie says the company wouldn't be here if the wind wasn't strong enough.
 
"With those years of monitoring that we had done in advance of the project and the monitoring we are continuing to do now, things are performing as anticipated," Carnegie told The Banner. "And that's backed up by the fact that we wouldn't have invested all this money in to the wind farm if it wasn't intended to perform as it was designed and to date things are performing as they are designed to perform."
 
Another point of contention with regard to the wind farm has been property values.
 
Carnegie said that one of the most prevalent concerns residents have is that property values will be the first casualty once turbines are set up.
 
He said that there is no evidence to suggest that a home's value plummets as a result of being near a wind farm. In fact, he added, according to some U.S. studies (no formal study of this nature has been conducted in Canada) property values in wind farm areas have actually increased.
 
"Studies there have found no adverse material which suggests property values have decreased as a result of a wind farm."
 
As part of the second phase, Carnegie explains, CHD retained an independent appraiser from Orangeville to review the amount of property sales within Melancthon township. He said that in a 12-month period, starting from the date the company was awarded the renewable energy supply contract for Melancthon I (November 2004), to when the turbines were finally erected (November 2005 ), the appraiser that 27 properties had been sold within Melancthon Township at comparable prices to earlier sales.
 
Carnegie reiterated that CHD is committed to the community and is working hard and want to make this process as inclusive as possible.
 
Reed said meetings independent of the township and CHD will be slated in coming weeks

Source: http://www.northpeel.com/b...

MAY 12 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2601-communication-key-issue-for-wind-farm
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