Volunteer group Wind Concerns Kneehill County presented these petition results to the municipal council March 26 regarding the proposed Lone Pine windfarm. ECA Review/SubmittedStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kneehill County council heard some resident’s strong opposition to a looming windfarm in the municipality. The presentation was made at the March 26 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard from a group calling themselves Wind Concerns Kneehill County, which was represented by Kelly Tamsh and Pam Maroney; they provided a well-organized visual presentation combined with details about their concerns over the proposed Lone Pine project.

Tamsh stated she and many other residents who live west of the Town of Three Hills, the proposed project area, became concerned about this in Oct., 2023 after attending a Torrington open house with Capstone, the company proposing Lone Pine. Tamsh stated people immediately began organizing a petition, which grew into an effort to canvass virtually every residence in and around the project area.

Tamsh showed results of a petition that, excluding nine property owners that have agreed to have wind turbine built on their property, noted 93 per cent of residents polled opposed the Lone Pine project. Tamsh noted there are 22 residents whom volunteers were not able to locate.

In total volunteers contacted about 600 people in person, not online, who subsequently signed the petition.

According to the presentation material, the group stated they feel these projects are not developed because they’re efficient or effective but because taxpayer dollars are available to subsidize them.

Tamsh discussed effects the group feels Kneehill County will experience if Lone Pine is developed. Tamsh stated agriculture can’t help but be affected by the project which will feature many turbines climbing to over 680 feet high each, about the height of the Calgary Tower; she stated quality, productive farmland will host these turbines, plus the roads, lines and substations that will be developed alongside them. Tamsh noted the group estimates Lone Pine will occupy two full quarters of farmland.

She stated wildlife will also be affected by a project this big; Tamsh noted wind turbines kill birds through rotating blades, and Kneehill County has raptors such as Golden Eagles at Keiver Lake. Bats are also at risk from the turbines, which are cited as a major risk to this animal.

Tamsh noted she wondered if animals such as deer and coyotes would stay in the area with this many huge turbines.

Human health, noted Tamsh, can also be affected by windfarms as people who live near them report a variety of issues. Some suspect low-frequency noise, shadow flicker or other factors as causes.

The volunteers stated property values will likely drop rather than climb if the project is approved, as they suspect no one will want to live next to these turbines.

Tamsh observed quite a few volunteers are getting involved in speaking out against the Lone Pine project. “We are disappointed and angry that our lives will change drastically,” said Tamsh, who noted many people have stated they’re not happy that nine property owners committing to hosting turbines have essentially made this decision on behalf of everyone in the community. She further added the majority of those who signed up to host turbines are absent property owners and won’t have to deal with any negative consequences if Lone Pine is approved.

Tamsh noted that, due to setback rules, some neighbours may not be able to use all of their property if a turbine is within a certain distance.

She stated the volunteer group hopes Kneehill County will stand behind its residents if Lone Pine goes before the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), the government approval agency; she further suggested a bylaw that prohibits windfarms in Kneehill County.

Coun. Laura Lee Machell-Cunningham commended the volunteers for speaking up and assured them they can make a difference by doing so. Machell-Cunningham added she recently stood at the bottom of the Calgary Tower and was astounded that so many turbines the same height may be proposed in Kneehill County.

Coun. Faye McGhee asked if the volunteers had presented anywhere else to which Tamsh stated no, this was the first presentation. However, Tamsh stated the volunteers have hosted a number of well-attended meetings, have spoken to legal counsel and are planning another open house as the volunteers feel Three Hills residents are “woefully uninformed” regarding the proposal. Tamsh stated Capstone doesn’t meet with large groups.

Coun. Jerry Wittstock stated if this project was being built near his house, he’d be concerned too. “I think when you have the opportunity to address the AUC please take that opportunity,” said Wittstock. “I think the AUC needs to hear this.” Wittstock added, though, that Kneehill County doesn’t have authority over windfarms.

Tamsh pointed out volunteers feel everyone should speak up, whether that’s residents or municipalities, when they’re concerned about renewable energy developments rather than throw their arms in the air and say there’s no point in making a ruckus.

“I disagree with that,” said Tamsh. “When that is the mentality, then that’s what will happen.”

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 03, 2024 at 13:15

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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