[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

when your community is targeted

Get weekly updates

RSS feeds and more

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate via Stripe

Donate via Paypal

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Campaign Material

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

Wind Watch is a registered educational charity, founded in 2005.

News Watch Home

Questions remain about wind energy 

Members of Chatham-Kent council who have expressed some hesitation about the proliferation of wind turbines within the municipality are right to be worried.

According to the municipality’s planning consultant, Chatham-Kent could receive proposals to build as many as “650 to 700 additional turbines,” although just 200 to 250 turbines in Chatham-Kent AND nearby Essex County can be supported right now by the electricity grid.

Yet a land rush mentality appears to be sweeping through those companies that are considering turbine development, and several are expressing great interest in erecting these massive windmills here.

I have no problem with Ontario’s wind industry, nor do I think these wind turbines are without their charms. But like the ethanol boom that exists in the U.S., I wonder if government policy in Ontario is creating an industry that can’t be supported by the forces of the free market.

In the U.S., federal and state governments have relentlessly promoted corn-to-fuel ethanol production, to the point where approximately 300 of the plants have been built.

But the investment on the newer plants isn’t being returned as quickly as it was to those plants built at the start of the boom, and it’s been reported that U.S. banks are not lending money to ethanol plant start-ups.

The rationale for ethanol has always been its politically acceptance as a “green” fuel, and that its made-in-America production would ostensibly keep reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fuel.

But ethanol is neither of these things. Studies have since shown that its production from corn involves the expenditure of a lot of energy. Sugar cane is said to be twice as efficient, and switchgrass is also more efficient than corn.

As well, most of the foreign oil imported to the U.S. comes from Alberta.
Ethanol is highly subsidized in the U.S., and there are tariffs in place to give domestic ethanol a cost advantage over Brazilian ethanol, much of which comes from sugar cane.

The point is that the ethanol industry is a creature of government, and that if left unprotected from the forces of a free market, it probably wouldn’t survive. Does ethanol have some environmental benefit? Yes.

But would people buy ethanol-blended gasoline if it wasn’t government-mandated, and if the cost wasn’t subsidized? Probably not, and especially if it was more expensive.

That might be the same case for wind-generated electricity. Ontario’s industry is part of government policy and there are incentives in place.
Those companies that are building turbines in Chatham-Kent have long-term agreements with electricity companies, and will make money under current conditions.

But wind energy won’t solve all of our energy challenges. Interest in their development was only launched by the McGuinty government four years ago, after the Liberals had won the election and had promised to close Ontario’s coal-fired plants by 2007. It was a decision made entirely because of political idealism.

It was a rash promise, but part of the public’s imagination was piqued by the idea of harnessing the wind. Yet most Ontarians probably don’t care how their electricity is generated, so long as it’s cheap and abundant.

There is some promise in wind energy but, like ethanol, it’s not the complete answer. We could pave Ontario with wind turbines, and their collective energy production wouldn’t be enough.

Should there ever come a day when the province loses its political interest in the wind industry, the industry will have to stand alone.
For the sake of Chatham-Kent and the wind turbines that have been approved for development here, I would hope the wind industry would do better than the ethanol industry is doing in the U.S.

Perhaps both will eventually do very well. But right now they are supported by government policy, and government policies change.

Peter Epp

Chatham This Week

23 April 2008

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Contributions
   Donate via Stripe
(via Stripe)
Donate via Paypal
(via Paypal)


e-mail X FB LI M TG TS G Share

News Watch Home

Get the Facts
© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.


Wind Watch on X Wind Watch on Facebook Wind Watch on Linked In

Wind Watch on Mastodon Wind Watch on Truth Social

Wind Watch on Gab Wind Watch on Bluesky