The prospect of wind energy development in Essex County received mixed reviews Wednesday during a public meeting to hear comments on the county’s proposed policy for commercial wind farms.
Visual and noise impact, whether or not wind energy is a viable solution to global warming and other issues dominated the session attended by about 300 people, as well as county councillors.
Amherstburg lawyer Anthony Leardi warned that wind turbine developments are not public utilities, and if they go bankrupt the cost of decommissioning them could be borne by the municipality.
“In that case you will be left with these turbines,” he said. Leardi said turbines should be prohibited in favour of other forms of renewable energy, but if they are approved, there should be conditions such as a height limit of 100 feet.
“It is based on the topography of this county,” Leardi said. “One hundred feet may actually be dangerous.”
Joy Purdy of Harrow cited possible adverse environmental effects of the proposed turbines.
‘NO ADVERSE EFFECTS’
But Raymond Duhamel of Jones Consulting, which is working with the county on the proposed wind energy policy, said policy-makers are trying to avoid those.
“We hope these policies will ensure there are no adverse effects,” he said.
Colette McLean of Harrow questioned whether wind energy really can have an impact on global warming, and said the turbines are “the definition of adverse effects. It affects all of us as taxpayers.”
Joe Ouellette of Amherstbug questioned the impact of turbine electricity generation on microwave transmission and airport radar, and said companies should be notified in advance of plans for wind turbines.
“Essex County must adopt a comprehensive policy,” he said. “If a link (from turbine generation to microwave transmission) is found … I do believe notification should be given to the company.”
One of the few speakers to totally support the wind turbines was Ted Gorski, a Harrow farmer and businessman.
“We live in some very challenging times,” he said, citing global energy concerns. “I am in favour of wind farms. Renewable energy is a must. If we don’t act we won’t be able to afford it.”
Duhamel said the county has to consider several factors in developing a wind energy policy, including natural resources and “cultural” assets such as winery routes. He also acknowledged the subject is controversial.
“This issue has become very divisive wherever I go.”
Bob Sylvester, deputy mayor of Lakeshore, warned that the new energy production may have infrastructure problems.
“The most unappealing parts of wind farms was the transmission lines,” he said of his own tours of wind energy sites in the province.
County council is to deal with it renewable energy policy on May 21.
Doug Williamson, Windsor Star
8 May 2008
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