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Wind projects wrecks Manitoulin culture

Some of the most beautiful areas in Northern Ontario can be found where the land meets the water. An especially striking example is the area around Manitoulin Island, McGregor Bay and Killarney.

My family and I have a summer camp on Lake Manitou. We enjoy boating, hiking, cycling and travelling throughout the area, primarily during the spring, summer and fall.

Given its natural beauty, why would anyone want to erect 43 steel towers on this landscape? According to the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives, the wind turbines destined for McLean’s Mountain will be 26 stories high.

With the additional height of turbine blades (another 15 stories when vertical), the tower and blades combined will be more than 40 stories high. That’s one-third the height of Sudbury’s Super Stack, but there are plans for 43 of these monstrosities on top of McLean’s Mountain.

An industrial-scale wind turbine installation does not suit this landscape.

The turbines won’t hide discretely behind hills or in valleys. They will stand on prominent heights of land where there is more wind. The blades will turn relentlessly and they will dwarf the tallest trees. There will be strobe lights at night, so that even on the darkest night you won’t forget them.

Trees will be cleared and farmland carved up so service roads can be built to each tower to support heavy machinery and trucks. The towers will be anchored by concrete footings set 20 feet into the ground.

These projects would not be viable without the financial and legislative support of the McGuinty government. They will pay the wind power companies more than two times the current going rate for electricity. But the government isn’t on the hook for this multimillion-dollar subsidy; we’ll be forced to cover the cost through escalating charges on our power bills. And you thought your power bill was already high.

It would be nice if they had consulted with us before they made this significant commitment of our disposable income, but they didn’t. Instead of encouraging a well-informed dialogue, the government passed the Green Energy Act, which overrides the checks and balances that were put in place to protect the environment and allow citizens to voice their concerns whenever a new development is being considered in their backyard. Why are they in such a hurry?

The government says green energy will create jobs. However, contrary to government claims, there is evidence from well-established projects in Europe that heavily subsidized renewable energy programs lead to job losses. This is because expensive electricity is a job-killer.

You have to go no further than Timmins for an example. Xstrata moved hundreds of jobs from Timmins to Quebec to gain access to cheaper power. For those concerned about global warming, there is little evidence of a decline in CO2 emissions from wind projects because of inefficiencies inherent with wind power and the need for back-up power when the wind isn’t blowing.

If you feel the way I do, you can write, call, or e-mail your local MPP, Brad Duguid (minister of Energy), Dwight Duncan (minister of Finance), Premier Dalton McGuinty, and tell all like-minded friends to do the same.

I also suggest visiting the website for Wind Concerns Ontario and the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives.

Robert Chown