Sunday, 29 April 2012

March a record month for home sales Grey Bruce Owen Sound

Source: RAGBOS

Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound
April 16, 2012

For the full news release click here.

A news release from RAGBOS appears to demonstrate that real estate activity and prices are doing quite well right in the midst of wind turbine country.

According to the RAGBOS website, they represent approximately 360 REALTORS® registered with its member offices. The geographical area served by the Association is in southwestern Ontario, bordered by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay including Bruce and Grey Counties, and part of Wellington County.

Of course, that area is also the home to some of Ontario's largest existing and proposed wind farms.  As a matter of fact, when you read the news release, it appears that the RAGBOS realtors and their clients  must be pretty happy.

"Residential sales activity recorded through the MLS® System of the REALTORS® Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound came in well above year-ago levels for the third consecutive month in March 2012.

Home sales numbered 206 units in March 2012, up 31 per cent from the same month last year. This represents the best March sales figure ever reported. Sales of all property types numbered 261 units in March 2012, up 27 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

On a year-to-date basis, sales activity was running 25 per cent ahead of the first three months of 2011.

The average price of homes sold in March 2012 was $225,087, rising 11 per cent from a year earlier.

New residential listings on the Association’s MLS® System numbered 640 units in March 2012, an increase of 44 per cent compared to March 2011. The large increases in new listings have been holding steady with increases in demand, which is keeping the market in balance.

The overall supply of homes for sale on the market also remains elevated. Active residential listings totalled 1,794 units at the end of March, rising 22 per cent from the same month in 2011.

The number of months of inventory stood at 8.8 at the end of March 2012 on a seasonally adjusted basis, down from 9.8 months at the end of February. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

The dollar value of all home sales in March 2012 was $46.4 million, up 46 per cent on a year-over-year basis. The total value of all properties sold in March 2012 was $59.8 million, a 45 per cent gain from a year earlier."

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Farmers to earn $1 billion in land-leases

Farm Credit Canada
April 27, 2012
Owen Roberts

For the article, click here.

Wind energy predictions hit new highs

Wind energy raises hackles with some rural Canadians and farm organizations concerned about health and the environment, but there's no question it's becoming entrenched as a source of green energy.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association, or CanWEA, says Canada is on track for another record year for wind energy development in 2012. Rural Ontario will lead the way for new installations, it says, and farmers will continue their pivotal role as land-lease holders in the wind energy system.

Last week, CanWEA predicted approximately 1,500 megawatts of new installed capacity will be added this year. The country is sixth in the world for new installed wind energy capacity, and now has 5,403 megawatts of total wind power, enough to service more than 1.2 million homes.

"Canada, and in particular Ontario, has emerged as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally," says Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. "This industry represents billions of dollars in new investments across the manufacturing and construction sectors."

Canada's wind energy industry realized a record year in 2011 with about 1,267 megawatts of new wind energy capacity, representing an investment of $3.1 billion and creating 13,000 person-years of employment.

CanWEA says Ontario leads Canada in installed wind energy capacity, accounting for 1,970 megawatts of wind energy installations. Quebec, with just over 1,000 megawatts, and Alberta with 891 megawatts, follow. Nova Scotia and British Columbia are also seeing new developments with a total of 286 megawatts and 248 megawatts respectively now in place.

Farmers, says the organization, "play the most vital role in Ontario's endeavor to create a cleaner, more modern electricity system." It points to the wind energy benefits farmers derive through land-lease arrangements, with Ontario landowners alone on track to earn more than $1.1 billion in payments over the 20-year lifespan of wind projects to be contracted between now and 2018.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wind farm ecologist defends bird safety

ABC News
April 24, 2012
Click here for the article.
An ecologist says there is no evidence wind farms are threatening the future of native bird populations.
A dead wedge-tailed eagle has been found not far from the base of a wind turbine at the Waterloo wind farm in the mid-north of South Australia.
Dr Cindy Hull, who works for renewable energy producer Hydro Tasmania, says some birds fly into blades but wind farms do not affect habitats or migration patterns.
"There's been a lot of work trying to assess whether it's impacting on the fate of the species and it isn't," she said.
"The wind industry is actually the only electricity generators that monitor their impact on wildlife, no-one else does.
"So just because nothing's been reported from the other types of electricity generation, doesn't mean impacts aren't occurring, they're just not being measured."
Environmental consultant Travis How of consultancy company EBS Ecology says there are wedge-tailed eagles and peregrine falcons at the proposed Stony Gap wind farm site, south of Burra.
"We've worked with TRUenergy to then design infrastructure around that so potential habitat and the known populations aren't impacted upon at all," he said.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Public back wind farm subsidies, survey suggests

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News
April 23, 2012

More Britons than not regard subsidies for wind power development as a good deal, an opinion poll suggests.
Commissioned by trade body RenewableUK, the Ipsos-Mori poll found that 43% see the UK subsidy as good value for money against 18% who do not.
Another survey has also found a big majority in favour of renewable energy.
The poll comes ahead of the Clean Energy Ministerial which will bring ministers from more than 20 nations to London to discuss low-carbon energy.
Among various initiatives there, the UK and US are announcing a joint push to develop floating wind turbines.
On Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron will make what is being trailed as his first "green" speech since taking office on a pledge to lead the "greenest government ever".
A recent opinion poll found that only 2% of the public believed the government was living up to that billing.
Recent months have seen an escalation in the battle of words in and outside Westminster over wind power.
In February, 100 MPs wrote to Mr Cameron asking that wind subsidies be slashed.
Newspapers including the Daily Mail have run many articles criticising the technology, US property magnate Donald Trump is campaigning against it in Scotland, and last week saw the launch of a new anti-wind campaign group, National Opposition to Windfarms.
But the public appears to be supportive of wind and other renewables.
Earlier this month, Ipsos-Mori asked a representative sample of just over 1,000 adults to what extent they favoured wind power.
Sixty-six per cent were either "strongly in favour of" or "tended to favour" the technology, against just 8% who were opposed.
Two-thirds also found turbines' impact on the landscape acceptable.
'2p per day'
Clean energy development is subsidised through the Renewables Obligation, which obliges electricity companies to buy a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources.
The additional cost is passed onto the consumer.
According to the regulator Ofgem, the cost of this in 2010-11 amounted to £15.15 per household per year. Just over half - £7.74 - was accounted for by wind power.
Ipsos-Mori asked people "to what extent do you consider this good or poor value for UK energy consumers?"
RenewableUK has just released the responses to this question - 43% thought it was either "very good" or "fairly good" value, against 18% who found it "fairly poor" or "very poor".
Asked why they approved of wind power, a majority of respondents said it helps curb greenhouse gas emissions, helps tackle climate change, and contributes to the UK's energy security.
"The misleading refrain that wind energy is an expensive burden on the public was disproved by recent figures from Ofgem," said Maria McCaffery, Renewable UK's chief executive.
"In fact it adds just 2p per day per household to energy bills through the government's Renewables Obligation. Wind energy is a fantastic investment that brings broad benefits and the public knows it."
Scottish power
However, the price of building offshore wind farms is rising.
Companies are constructing ever bigger turbines, which should prove more economic in the long run despite their higher initial costs; and are moving into locations where construction is more difficult, for example in deeper water.
Ofgem calculations indicate that the £7.44 annual figure is likely to rise to £12.75 for 2012-13.
Further endorsement for renewables came in another poll, this time by YouGov, commissioned by Friends of the Earth.
The survey asked a representative sample of 2,884 UK adults which sources of energy they would most like to see providing more electricity in 10 years' time.
Sixty-four per cent backed renewables - wind, wave, tidal and solar - while just two per cent wanted a gas-led supply.
Support was higher in Scotland, where 88% wanted a future based on renewables.
The Scottish government plans to generate all of its electricity from renewables by 2020; and with further capacity due to be added after that date, it is set to become a net exporter of electricity to England.
Recent moves by the UK government, however, suggest an expansion of gas-fuelled generation, with generating companies assured that new and existing gas plants will not face limits on CO2 emissions until 2045.
Details of Mr Cameron's speech are being kept under wraps, though Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has described it as "a major policy intervention".
The government has revealed that the UK and US will sign a memorandum of understanding on the joint development of floating wind turbines.
A number of prototypes have been built and tested, with Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden among the countries involved.
In principle floating machines can access the higher wind speeds found further offshore, but many engineering issues remain to be resolved.
The coming week will also see the launch of several reports on clean energy in the UK and globally.

Monday, 23 April 2012

More on the Kenney vs. MPAC case

This is a guest blog entry by Roger Short

It appears that some people are never satisfied, no matter how fair the outcome, nor how much they irritate (former) friends while costing them and others in the process.

The issue has to do with a retired couple, both former Civil Servants, who objected to wind turbines on Wolfe Island a couple of years after start up.

They asserted that their property had suffered devaluation as a direct consequence of the turbines being installed (strictly according to regulations, by the way).  They then raised a formal complaint against The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and the Township of Frontenac using Ontario's Assessment Review Board and asked for their property assessment, and thereby taxes, be reduced.

The finding after considerable investigation, was that  the current value of the property was fair and consistent.

A day or two after the decision, one of the complainants was interviewed on CBC radio on the matter.  He repeated that the hearing was biased, that the defendants had each used high-powered lawyers to make their case and that he was left with little support.

Specifically, as part of his rationale, he asserted along the lines, "....well, properties always go up, don't they?"

During the radio interview, it was evident that he was devoid of solid facts to make his case. There was plenty of subjective opinion, but without any consideration of the large body of independent expert work supporting the view that real estate valuations are unaffected.

The complainants apparently had it in mind for years, and had been opposed to the Project as part of a small group of Opponents.  In this instance they had insisted on getting a letter stating that their taxes would be reduced, and that the cause was the Wind Turbines. 

As part of the appeal process, before the decision was handed down, a specific noise study was carried out.   We have learned that over an 8 week period, the results confirmed the noise model information and that the level was 37dBA.

What was left unsaid was that it cost the Township $40,000 in expenses, while it cost the defendants  virtually nothing.  When asked in the same interview what they planned to do next, he replied along the lines of, "we'll probably appeal, it will only cost $150 to file and try again".

What this suggests is that they have estranged former friends, cost the Township time and money, ignored what "a reasonable person" might have accepted, and are all set to waste more public time and money, regardless of its merits but probably rather to quell their frustration.

You be the judge.

Shame on Collingwood-area residents building tiny houses to block wind farm

The Star, April 22, 2012
Heather Mallick
Click here for the article.
What won’t people do to keep wind turbines out of their backyard, or somewhere farther away from their backyard, or a greater distance than that?
Nothing, apparently.
People who live near Collingwood, Ont., will travel beyond ridicule and into public humiliation so that someone else will have to stare at the tall white structures that create clean energy. They are building tiny little houses in a planned wind farm’s mapped-out path in order to invoke and abuse the regulations that keep the turbines 550 metres away from private homes.
Seriously, several Clearview Township residents are building birdhouses to human size, with electricity, running water and a septic system, to preserve their pristine view, the Star has reported. The itty-bitty homes look like slave quarters on a plantation.
And in light of the terrible lack of affordable rental housing in Toronto, it does grind country dirt in the faces of Ontarians to know that there are homes available but only for the esthetic assistance of wealthy rural residents with no thought to the future.
We humans have no idea how we will cope with climate change. If we think our missing winters and painfully uncomfortable summers are weird now, imagine life in 40 years. The Ontario government is indeed trying to imagine it. They’re preparing for the future, which is the greatest task of all governments. Green energy has to start somewhere.
They can’t go on the horizon of Lake Ontario, city dwellers having declared themselves offended by the sight of the elegant towers with their extended starfish arms. And now they can’t go in the countryside because cranky localtons are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars planting little Monopoly houses in their way.
I look at a photo of three Clearview elders, Kevin Elwood, Michael Dickinson and Chuck Magwood, posing in front of a fake houselet like farmers in Grant Wood’s 1930 American Gothic. All that’s missing is a pitchfork. The pinched expressions are the same.
And yes, Magwood is the man who was in charge of building the Rogers Centre, Toronto’s biggest concrete eyesore and a concert venue so clanging that it turns all music into a wall of sound. From huts to hangars, this man irritates me.
“I don’t like what they look like,” Magwood says of wind farms. “I don’t like the political game plan. And the economic model is a joke.”
Elwood, a tree farmer and commercial pilot, doesn’t like the turbines interfering with the flight path on his private landing strip. It’s risky, he says.
“They’re trying to ram it down the wrong people’s throats,” says Dickinson, charmingly. Hey, you turbines, get off my lawn!
These men will be long dead by the time climate change begins to make human life crushingly difficult. I will be in my grave as well. But the point about 2050 isn’t coffin-dodgers like us. It’s the billions alive and yet to be born, desperate for water, coolness, energy, food and respite.
What is to be done? I ask this in despair and anger. Six of the eight turbines in the proposed wind farm development will be on the land of a good man named John Beattie. He’s thinking of the future. Someone has to.
“I will do whatever I can to help save the planet for my children and grandchildren,” he told the Star. “I am proud to be part of a green energy project. And if more green energy projects come along, I will jump into them with both feet.”
It stirs my soul to hear Beattie’s words, such a change from standard-issue NIMBYism. How we fool ourselves, as if our resolute wrecking of our children’s future is some kind of guarantee that we will live forever in endless moneyed comfort.
It won’t work out that way. We live inside a planetary dome. It will grow hotter and hotter in those turbine-hostile dollhouses. If only their owners were forced to actually live in them, a Big Brother test case of how well — or how badly — we’ll endure a pressure-cooked future.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Dilbert on syndromes

Dilbert: Chronic Cubicle Syndrome
Season 2, Episode 16, Aired July 18, 2000

Treat yourself to this courtesy of Youtube.

Sometimes a few minutes of satire is worth a 100 pages of rebuttal.  And look at when this was published - before "Wind Turbine Syndrome" was invented.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Wind turbines don't affect property assessment

Toronto Star
John Spears
April 09, 2012

A Wolfe Island coupleʼs argument that nearby wind turbines significantly
decreased their homeʼs value has been rejected by Ontarioʼs assessment
review board.

The appeal by Ed and Gail Kenney was being closely watched in rural
Ontario, where turbine developments have provoked both support and
opposition in local communities.

But the board said the Kenneys had failed to prove that the turbines scattered
around their waterfront home have reduced its value.

“Weʼre incredibly disappointed,” Ed Kenney said in an interview.

“Weʼre not dissuaded,” he said. “We have concerns that our rights to fair and
unbiased representation in the face of a province completely driven by the
current agenda have been trampled.”

MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., assessed the property
near Kingston, Ont., at $357,000 in 2009.

That was up from the earlier level of $200,000, which had been set before a major wind power development came to Wolfe Island.

The Kenneys, both in their 70s, have been fighting the assessment ever since.

There are three turbines within a kilometre of their home, and 27 within three kilometres. Wolfe Island has 86 turbines in all, concentrated on the west end of the island, where they catch the winds sweeping the length of Lake Ontario.

The Kenneys say noise from the turbines forces them to keep their windows closed, even in summer.

They say the sound ranges from a low swoosh to the noise made by a jet plane flying overhead — but one that never passes.

But MPAC told the review board that proximity to wind turbines is not built into the model the corporation uses to assess properties.

While the Kenneys — who represented themselves at the hearings — said both their health and property values were affected by the turbines and their noise, the review board rejected their pleas.

“The board finds there is no evidence before this panel of the board to show the effect, if any, that these concerns have had on the current value of the Kenneysʼ property.”

The sides had informal talks about a possible settlement during the hearings, Ed Kenney said, but MPAC had insisted that any settlement agreement should have no mention of wind turbines. In the end, no agreement was reached and the case was decided by a two-member review board panel.

The Kenneys are considering whether to appeal the decision, which he says contains factual errors. For example, he said, it refers to his 0.72-acre property as a “farm.” It also says the property has a barn and a detached garage. Kenney says he has neither. The case would go to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

John Andrew, real estate professor at Queenʼs Universityʼs School of Business, said the decision by the review board isnʼt surprising.

Putting a value on external factors like wind turbines, a nearby airport, or concentrations of student housing can be tricky, he said in an interview.

“People could run to MPAC and say: ʻHey, Iʼve got a whole bunch of student houses on my street and theyʼre partying ʼtil one in the morning and my property value should reflect that,ʼ ” Andrew said.

The marketplace does actually price those factors in for properties where there are lots of sales, he said.

But thatʼs not necessarily the case with wind turbines.
“When youʼre talking about a rural community with very few transactions, thereʼs no mechanism for the market to price that properly,” Andrew said. “It would have been a slippery slope. It would have opened the floodgates for a whole bunch of appeals.”