December 2, 2010

Parade targeted wind energy policies

By Wes Keller, Freelance Reporter, Orangeville Citizen, 2 December 2010

Do some people get sick “from” or just sick “of” industrial wind turbines?

Given a juxtaposition of one sign at a Saturday parade against turbines and a finding of an investigation into complaints, and setting aside economics and the Green Energy Act, that might be a critical question that demands an answer.

The sign carried by one protester at Saturday’s parade in Orangeville read, “If wind energy is green, why are so many people getting sick?” The parade had attracted enough people to occupy the sidewalk for the entire length of a block.

A statement from Dr. Robert McCunney, reporting on the 2010 wind industry’s expert panel investigating health issues, is that people are 13% more likely to report annoyance from turbines if they don’t like them.

Many of the placards at the parade indicated a connection with Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a lobby group opposing turbines generally, but the impetus for the parade was a proposed three-turbine, 6.9-megawatt wind installation near the Mono- Amaranth Townline and 15 Sideroad.

David White, a spokesman for the Whittington Coalition for our Right to a Healthy Environment (WCORHE) in opposition to the wind farm, said the installation is surrounded by wetlands and bird habitat.

The perceived threat to avian life is in addition to previously stated concerns about devaluation of homes ranging in value to close to a million dollars.

Mr. White cited the 200-MW Wolfe Island project’s avian mortality experience where, he said, nearly 2,000 birds had been killed by the wind turbines in a period of six months.

(The data are circulated by WCO and sourced to Nature Canada. The number is noted as seven birds per turbine in a six-month period.)

Economics of electricity entered the mix, and at least one person accused the provincial government of “bribing us with our own money” with the plan to reduce electricity bills by 10 per cent while, by government estimates, costs will rise by something in the order of 3.5 per cent annually.

The accusation came at a time when, according to media reports, the government is virtually pounding the pavement to promote its 10% reduction proposal.

Other concerns expressed at the parade included the perception that the government is eroding democracy with its Green Energy Act. Meantime, the wind industry association applauds the Act but warns members that it sets out only minimum standards of practice.

Saturday’s parade ended at the offices of MPP Sylvia Jones, where Ms. Jones assured Mr. White that his input into the Progressive Conservative energy policies would be welcomed.

The McGuinty government, meantime, is accusing PC leader Tim Hudak of not having any alternatives to the Liberal energy plans.

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