Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Residents concerned over vagueness (Article on Energy Farming Ontario)

Posted By Peggy Armstrong, Lindsay Post Reporter
Posted 1 day ago
MANVERS TWP. - Energy Farming Ontario has blown into the City of Kawartha Lakes to trumpet wind farms, but the lack of details of the proposal has frustrated residents and the fact that the company has been quiet about itself.
"They were very vague last night," Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Rick Johnson told The Lindsay Post regarding Energy Farming's answers at a public town hall held by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh on Sept. 28.
Johnson provided reassurance that the Ontario Power Authority ensures that "anybody who puts power into the grid has to be sound."
He said that the province has a process "that will quickly screen out anybody that is not a legitimate company."
Energy Farming has to provide financial guarantees, Johnson said, and go through the "hoops" of the new renewable energy approval process, which was passed by the province last month.
The REA process requires approval not only from the Ministry of Environment, but also the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Transportation.
The two principals of Energy Farming are Ingo Stuckmann and Kelly Campbell. Campbell is also project manager.
Stuckmann told the audience of about 500 on Sept. 28 that the company is seeking local investors for the project, which could build a total of as many as 30 wind turbines in communities including Pontypool, Orono, Norwood and Millbrook.
Although the company has been light on details, an Internet search reveals that Energy Farming Ontario Inc., based in Brighton, is a subsidiary of the German wind project developer Energy Farming International GmbH.
Another subsidiary is Energy Farming Invest (EFI) Inc. Kelly Campbell is named as director of Energy Farming Invest in a press release from February of this year.
At the time, EFI Inc. signed a limited partnership agreement with Schneider Power Inc. regarding the construction of four wind projects in Ontario.

According to the press release, "Under the terms of the definitive agreements Schneider Power will retain a 20% interest in each project and receive a development fee of up to $2.3 million ($1.4 million guaranteed)."
Energy Farming International GmbH is in turn a subsidiary of SeeBA Energy Farming Ltd.
The SeeBA website, translated to English from German, provides Dr. Ingo Stuckmann as a contact to get information on wind projects. His email address is istuckmann@energyfarming .com .
According to the company site, EFI Energy Farming International AG was founded in 2002 by Dr. Ingo Tschiesche Stuckmann and one other person. It joined forces with SeeBA Energy Systems GmbH in 2007.
The company says it has been the worldwide market leader in lattice-type turbine towers for the past 10 years.
It also stresses that one of its key strategies "is information transparency.
The objective of this strategy is to assure that its activity is as open as possible, and that the interests of its investors, partners and stakeholders are respected."
It continues: "The general objective of transparency is achieved by following these guidelines:
- Transmitting the companies' overall corporate strategies externally as well as those specific to each of the companies' business areas.
- Projecting the group's business reality and assuring that the group is recognized as being sound and well managed inside and outside of Germany.
- Maintaining a fluent relationship with external agents, business partners, societies.
- Information of media representatives.”
It concludes with: "Transparency shows success!"
Also part of Energy Farming Ontario's team is Todd Wilen, an engineering consultant. He identified his independent company to The Post at the meeting as Gigawatt Consulting but would say only that it is based in the United States.
A search finds that Todd Wilen is also chief operations officer of PlainStates Energy. According to the PlainStates website, it "is engaged in the development of wind power in various small communities in Minnesota that have been called 'community wind power.' Our ultimate goals include the development and construction of medium to large-scale wind farms jointly owned by local communities, farm owners and our company."
"These projects are owned by residents of Minnesota (project founders) who invest seed capital to bring these projects through the development process. PlainStates will serve as a special purpose entity to facilitate financing, construction, operations and maintenance through long-term (O&M) contracts and direct investment into PlainStates by private equity."
The website shows a copyright of 2009 by Todd Wilen.
Wilen describes himself: "Todd Wilen has worked in the energy industry for more than 18 years on four continents. He has experience in operation and maintenance of plants, preventive and predictive maintenance, condition monitoring systems and condition-based maintenance.
"Todd has worked with Boeing, Acciona, Energy Farming International, Global Winds Harvest, among others. He has worked in all stages of renewable energy from early development work on through to operation and maintenance. Additionally, Todd has a Master of Science in Maintenance and Reliability Engineering, and uses his education in combination with his extensive experience to facilitate high degrees of reliability and availability. He is a resident of rural North Dakota."
Another point of frustration for the people who attended the wind meeting was not knowing on which properties the turbines might be built. Energy Farming explained at the meeting it will go public once all contracts are in place with the land owners, which are typically farmers.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture supports green energy initiatives on its website, but cautions farmers on several legal issues to protect themselves when signing a contract with wind companies. It notes that some contracts contain clauses that end "even your right to speak in public on wind power questions."
"Any such clause should be stricken from the agreement," it advises.