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Toyota dealership eyes wind turbine; Owner says it could power 500 homes  

Hot air at a car dealership is one thing, a wind turbine quite another.

But Bob Jackson doesn’t think it’s so unusual, and he wants a turbine at Jackson’s Toyota on Mapleview Drive West in Barrie’s south end.

On Sept. 13, Jackson will unveil his proposal to build a multi-million-dollar wind turbine power generation project. He’s looking at a 1.5-megawatt tower, which he says will power as many as 500 city homes.

“This will stop the production of 2,400 tonnes of C02, equal to the emission of 572 automobiles a year,” he said. “This is about the greenest way to create power, and I hope it’s just the beginning.”

Wind power is a clean, renewable resource, and turbines reduce the need for electricity generated by fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming.

Jackson, who is the father of Ward 3 councillor Rodney Jackson, says this initiative is not only in line with his personal values, but also fits well with his current Toyota franchise – which offers hybrid versions of the Camry and Highlander.

He says the only hurdle left is approval from Barrie city council to exceed the height restriction placed on the property by its current zoning.

City planning staff say the Jackson’s Toyota property is zoned service industrial, which has a height restriction of 14 metres, or about 46 feet.

Jackson’s tower would be as tall as 85 metres, or about 279 feet, according to Indigo Wind Energy Systems, which would supply hardware. The blades themselves are about 40 metres or 131 feet in length.

Since this council has identified ‘positioning Barrie at the forefront of environmental issues’ as a strategic priority, Jackson says he is confident the exemption will be granted.

Whether a wind turbine is a permitted use on his property could pose another roadblock, however.

Jackson plans to host an information, along with question-and-answer, session for neighbouring businesses, politicians and interested parties on Thursday, Sept. 13, at his Toyota dealership, at 4:30 p.m. Officials from Indigo and The Jones Consulting Group will be on hand to answer any questions that may come up.

Last May, Barrie councillors decided to study electricity generating by wind turbines at Sandy Hollow landfill site, by beginning the process to install a meteorological tower with wind monitoring equipment.

Barry Thompson, the city’s energy and environmental officer, says one turbine could power about 250 households.

Since the study could involve two turbines, that could be 500 homes in Barrie which would be off the electrical grid. Each turbine can generate about two megawatts, Thompson said.

He said the city’s wind turbine, if approved, would be about the same size as Jackson is planning.

“We’re looking at 80 metres, maybe 85, when we decide on the actual turbine we put up,” Thompson said.

He said the cost of each wind turbine could be as much as $3.2 million.

The city is preparing to erect a 50-60 foot (15-18 metres) tower at the landfill which will measure wind speed and frequency, to help determine if a wind turbine is economical.

Last year, a feasibility study determined there were five potential sites that could be used for installing a renewable power facility in Barrie.

Sandy Hollow was chosen and public reaction was tested by The Barrie Windcatchers, a not-for-profit renewable energy co-op with 46 members formed last fall. This grass-roots based citizens group is in the process of developing wind-generated energy in Barrie.

The Windcatchers surveyed 200 people, and none were opposed to using the landfill as a future site for wind power.

An open house held April 21 was attended by more than 50 people. There were no objections then to the landfill project either.

Before the open house, members of The Windcatchers went door-to-door in the Benson Avenue/Browning Trail area, which is near Sandy Hollow, to tell them what is being proposed.

City staff have applied for 50 per cent of the study’s $55,000 cost from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Funds program. A decision on that funding should be known this fall.

Barrie Hydro is also considering supporting this project with funding of $25,000 through its conservation and demand management funding programs.

By Bob Bruton

The Barrie Examiner

6 September 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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