Opposition to industrial wind arms hasn’t waned, but the Canadian Wind Energy Association is reporting a growing demand for small wind generators in Canada and apparently world-wide.
That might seem like encouraging news for anyone fighting further development of large-scale wind farms, but it doesn’t mean much to Betsy and Jim Collin, who are in the process of expanding their 300-acre spinach plantation to 500 acres on both sides of the Mono- Amaranth town line at 15 Sideroad.
The existing 300 acres under cultivation, along with the B.J. Collin Limited warehouse and the new $1-million Collin home, is directly across the town line from the proposed WPDCanada Corp.’s 6.9 megawatt wind farm – the three 2.3 MW turbines that led to formation of the Whittington Coalition of residents opposed to the development.
The couple is playing host to a meeting of the coalition and its lawyer next Wednesday evening, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Collin warehouse.
Betsy’s concern about the giant turbines is manifold. Apart from the standard opposition based on perceived health problems from low-level sound and the effects of wind turbulence from the proximity of the towers directly to the west, she says the position of the towers would forever destroy a valuable property for agricultural purposes.
“This is prime agricultural land. There aren’t many pockets (of land ideally suited to spinach and such) in Ontario. It would totally disrupt our ability to expand in future,” she said in an interview.
As well, she said the turbines – although still at the proposal stage – have already affected property values. “A neighbour has had three offers on her property fall through. Real estate agents have to tell prospective buyers about the turbines,” she said.
Betsy is also concerned that the turbine proponent used outdated maps at a recent open house. She said certain buildings were not identified on the maps, and she questions whether the 550-metre setbacks were accurately displayed.
How would the wind farm destroy a prime piece of agricultural land? Betsy could speak only to the Collin approach to cultivation. Among other things, she said the access roads and the towers would render it impossible to irrigate with modern equipment.
What of the emerging small-turbine market?
The small turbines are generally classed as having a nameplate capacity of 300 or fewer kilowatts, considered adequate for the demand of individual homes or farms.
CanWEA says the small-scale industry has grown by 55 per cent in the past year. In the meantime, however, there are wind generating projects totalling 754-MW at various stages of development across Canada. By the end of 2011, wind-energy capacity is expected to reach four gigawatts.
One Ontario producer is looking to Europe. Ottawa-based Wind Works Power Corp. has signed an option agreement to acquire a 50% interest in the 6-MW Wind Park Burg II near Magdeburg, Germany. As well, the company has announced a second venture – to develop a new 20-MW farm in Germany.
Greenpeace, meantime, has released a report saying that “Canada can create tens of thousands of green jobs while providing over 90% of the country’s electricity and heating needs from renewable sources by 2050.”
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