What Happened to Our Councillors?

The families of the Northern Valley near Elk Point, Alberta were going about their quiet business a year ago when suddenly they were notified by mail that a massive industrial wind factory was proposed for their quiet, pristine rural residential neighborhood. Shock and anger would aptly describe initial reactions followed by anxiety and fear of what the impacts would be.

Those impacts have been assiduously studied, documented, and presented now by Wind Concerns to the councils of St. Paul County, Alberta and the Town of Elk Point (as well as the Premier in a face-to-face meeting). We have covered the impacts on human and animal health, impacts which have been succesfully recognized in several courts of law1 and an Ontario Tribunal.

…the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree. The question that should be asked is: What protections, such as permissible noise levels or setback distances, are appropriate to protect human health?

Environmental Review Tribunal, Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, July 18, 2011, p. 207

The answer to their question, according to the most recent and relevant studies that we showed the councils, was either 10km,2 12km,3 or 15km from human beings.4 It appears to depend upon turbine height. Danish Acousticians Møller & Pedersen, published in peer-reviewed Acoustics Journal, found that larger turbines emit more low frequency noise proportionately compared to smaller turbines, based on actual noise measurements, rather than models.5

Some councillors listened intently to us while one, observers noted, rolled his eyes. Duly noted.

We also addressed how several independent real estate surveys across Canada and the United States have shown property values to drop by 25-40%6 — while some homes have been abandoned until this day.7 We explained how industrial wind factories are decimating bat and insect populations, with yet unknown impacts on our ecosystems. We noted how turbines are killing large migratory birds in the millions, drying out soil, driving away earthworms, and impacting water tables, as documented in other provinces. And of course, we asked why on earth our counties would sterilize prime agricultural farmland while destroying pristine landscapes?

Who in their right mind thinks that building huge industrial wind farms in pristine natural environments is in any way acceptable?

Jason Endfield, environmental freelancer writer

And all of this has been met thus far with resounding silence.

A Moral Failure

North Saskatchewan River Valley which runs through
the County of St. Paul is slated for an industrial wind factory

Not a peep from the Town of Elk Point, which stands to see both economic and health impacts, since studies show that “hilly or mountainous topographies, where valleys act as natural channels for noise” are at even higher risk of adverse impacts.8

Not a peep from the County of St. Paul who have been repeatedly addressed on wind development in this region since at least 2022. Except for their retort that the Alberta Utilties Commission (AUC) will simply override them anyway, and so, what’s the use?

Way to stick up for your community.

Chris Habiak was among the first to raise concerns to the County of St. Paul over industrial wind factories some six years ago. He is fed up by the ensuing failure of leadership after he brought to the Council serious concerns in 2022.

Instead, they quickly passed into the bylaws allowing industrial wind turbines into the county, making sure to include that all county assets are protected. And gave no protection to the residents, stating the AUC will decide. What? You’re our councillors, elected by us to represent us! We bring these legitimate concerns forward to them… and nothing! We know that they have the power to put these protections in place like many other countries and counties have, and still nothing. Words cannot describe the utter disappointment I have for the County Council and their inaction. Actions speak louder than words, and not doing anything is an action.

Chris Habiak, Letter to Wind Concerns, February 16, 2024

While there is truth that the AUC is infamous for rubber-stamping renewable energy projects in this province with little regard for municipal, business, and residential concerns, it is also true that the recent “pause” has brought this dysfunctional regulatory body under an uncomfortable limelight. Public video testimony has been brutal, exposing the AUC’s myopic view of Alberta’s beautiful landscapes and prime farmland and their indifference to destroying rural life on a mass scale. Why? Well, what do you think?

The publication Alberta Beef Producers sums it up rather well.

Almost 10 years ago, the government in power pushed for an increase in solar projects, but understanding if these companies faced the bulk of the regulatory burdens and requirements like oil and gas companies, investors would consider the risks too high to secure funding. “To compensate, they were left outside many of the regulations other industries had to adhere to,” says Mark Lyseng, Government Relations and Policy Lead for Alberta Beef Producers. “Heavy incentivization acted as a support or subsidy. The risks were placed squarely on the backs of the landowners and the county.”

ABP, February 12, 2024

In a word, money. Wind and solar, abetted by the AUC, and without being held to the same standards as the oil industry, are running over rural communities faster than any province in the country. But none of this is possible without making the victims first pay for it. As Canadian economist Prof. Ross Mekitrick put it, wind turbines “don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies.”9

The AUC process isn’t working, especially for land owners concerned about property values, environmental impacts, and so forth. The regulatory body clearly needs to be rethought at this point.

David Hanson, Former Alberta MLA; comment to Wind Concerns, August 23, 2023

In the meantime, U.S. media is reporting the opposite — that American counties are stepping up to the plate and taking a stand against the utter destruction of their rural way of life (see Counties are Stopping Wind and Solar Factories).

A Crisis of Leadership

The County of St. Paul’s website boasts of how they offer the “The Un-city Experience.” If stepping aside to allow the county to be overrun by industrial wind factories is their idea of a rural utopia, I missed the memo when I moved here a year and a half ago. No surprise that we’ve been told behind the scenes that some councillors have been bedazzled by the money (and wine and caviar?). If so, shame on them.

The County of St. Paul and the Town of Elk Point, which will face offshore-sized 207m tall turbines if the impudent Elemental Energy gets their way, have dropped the ball on those whom they are charged to represent. Wind Concerns have put them on notice regarding the health and financial impacts that the families in this county are being made to bear. We have also put our law firm on notice that we are ready for a class action lawsuit against our governments and these consciousless corporations who would turn our community into a human experiment. What have we got to lose if we potentially face losing our property values and even health?

Display at Element Energy’s
town “consultation”
promoting $35 million in tax revenue to the counties

Moreover, we are collaborating with citizens across this province in the same boat. We aren’t NIMBY’s (“not in my backyard”.) The evidence against turbines suggests they shouldn’t be in anyone’s backyard.

The one politician who stands out in all of this is Scott Cyr, our MLA, who gave a solid and clear defense for the region he represents. He helped coordinate a meeting of Wind Concerns with the Premier, who listened intently and genuinely to our serious concerns. We wait to see how Ms. Smith and her caucus will respond.

But as for local councillors… we are no longer asking where they are in all this, but when the next election is.

  1. https://www.windconcerns.com/supreme-court-win-on-noise-disturbance/[]
  2. Dr. Sarah Laurie, MD, found “hypertension in conjunction with turbine operation up to 5km away, and body vibration and nocturnal wakening in a panicked state up to 10km.” Submission to the Australian Federal Senate Inquiry on Rural Wind Farms, Feb. 10, 2011[]
  3. “We have identified the wind turbine acoustic signature in a home 12km away from the closest wind turbine”, Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise (ILFN), YouTube.com[]
  4. Ill health effects were documented up to 15km and diminishing up to 20km in a recent study by the Finnish Association for Environmental Health. See Turbine Sickness: How Far Away is Safe? Study: https://suomenymparistoterveys.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/syte-pilot-study-2016-2.pdf[]
  5. Moller H, Pedersen CS, Low Frequency Noise from Large Wind Turbines in J. Acous. Soc. of Am. 129 (6) June 2011 pp 3727-3744[]
  6. Property Values: Gone With the Wind[]
  7. see Ontarian’s Turbine Nightmare Continues[]
  8. Your Guide to Wind Turbine Syndrome” by Dr. Calvin Martin Luther, p. 19, July 2010[]
  9. cf. documentary Down Wind[]
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Website | + posts

Mark Mallett is a former award-winning reporter with CTV Edmonton and an independent researcher and author. His family homesteaded between Vermilion and Cold Lake, Alberta, and now resides in the Lakeland region. Mark is Editor in Chief of Wind Concerns.

One Comment

  1. https://gather2030.substack.com/p/deputation-in-huntsville-by-peggy?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=1689806&post_id=141204418&utm_campaign=email-post-title&isFreemail=true&r=1fr1k1&utm_medium=email Deputation in Huntsville by Peggy Pederson assisted by Shelagh McFarlane gather2030.substack.com
    Is it possible that your Councillors are in the same situation as the Councillors in Ontario’s municipalities?
    Please watch this deputation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *