It’s a moot question whether one should laugh or cry at the notion of putting a ” WindTamer ” in Meaford Harbour. No doubt our Municipal Council wishes to show its green colours in some fashion and this looks like a perfectly innocuous symbol of its good intentions. After all, the wind is free, right?
Well….no, not even close, not even remotely close! Wind energy, on a small scale can be useful to pre-heat your hot water or recharge a battery, but as a contribution to the hydro grid it’s quite literally more laughable than filling your swimming pool with a eyedropper. So, what’s wrong with a symbol? Where’s the harm?
It’s to that question I want to address myself. A WindTamer would, after all, be a symbol for the industrial wind turbines which are now threatening to invade our countryside just as they are already doing in other parts of Ontario.
Nearly a year’s time of researching this issue has turned up some amazing results. Rather than finding a perfect solution to air pollution, global warming, the “peak oil” energy crunch, declining employment opportunities in Ontario ( even more so in our neck of the woods ) not to mention the political needs of an Ontario Liberal Party badly in need of a new sales pitch, what I discovered was a reality so vastly different from the promised land of abundant cheap clean energy that I am somewhat ashamed at my own gullibility in swallowing the bait, hook line and sinker. I even went to the ploughing match in Teeswater 3 or 4 years ago with the idea of getting all the info so I could buy my very own wind turbine and help save the world. How things have changed! Now, rather than regale you with a long history of how that dream turned into a nightmare, here are some simple facts as well as the latest developments in this quickly accelerating story.
1. Ontario has not needed, does not need now and will not need for many years a single kilowatt of wind turbine generated electricity.
2. Even if the maximum number of wind turbines now planned or dreamt of are built, their input into the grid will never be more than symbolic. ( 7% )
3. That symbol will cost over thirty Billion $ in totally wasteful spending.
4. That spending is wasteful because industrial wind turbines ( IWT) produce only between 25% and 27% of their plated capacity.
5. Only about 1/3 of that amount actually produced is useful to the needs of the grid. That’s because there is often no wind when demand is high, or lots of wind but no demand.Also because our grid was built to take electricity from a few large suppliers to millions of customers. It is very expensive to rebuild so as to accommodate thousands of suppliers. The “smart grid” isn’t as smart as expected. Solar producers remain unconnected. Government is required to come up with 50 million $ new money to find solutions to fix the dumb grid. That means all the costs ( 1000 tons of cement and 100 tons of steel per turbine, supply roads and new grid construction ) produce just 10% of the plated capacity. Cement and steel production is very heat-intensive, creating much CO2 for very little electricity. But… this all started as a plan to reduce CO2 production! Also,what is the real price we pay per USEFUL kilowatt? Is it 13 cents or somewhere close to 40 cents?
6. That output is even less in Ontario than elsewhere because summertime wind speeds, when electricity use peaks, is considerably lower here than elsewhere.
7. While CO2 levels in the atmosphere were higher than before in 2010, world temperature has not increased in the last 10 years. Is there a link, or are we now committed to an incredibly expensive wild goose chase that could bankrupt our province?
8. Companies will do whatever they can to assure and increase their profits, within the law. It’s their nature. Governments, on the other hand, have the responsibility to put the citizens’ interest first, even minorities, even rural minorities whose interests might be sacrificed to gain votes in urban areas.
9. Everyone in Ontario will pay for this insanity, through taxes and hydro rates. Meaford and Owen Sound have good reason to start paying attention.
10. Manufacturing has been on a steady decline in this area. Tourism is our future. Retirees who come to settle here are as good as 52 full week tourists, bringing their pension and their spending with them. Thornbury to Wasaga already has a fair amount of this, as does the Bruce Peninsula. Just imagine 500 to 1000 IWT’s 500 ft high in our now pristine area, and then try to imagine how many tourists will want to spend time here, in winter or summer or full-time?
11. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, some people are made very sick in close proximity to IWT. If the companies believe, as they claim, that the close proximity of wind turbines has no effect real estate values, why don’t they buy such affected properties at the pre-turbine appraisal value and then resell?
It wouldn’t cost them a penny, unless they are lying through their teeth of course. Better yet, why doesn’t the Government of Ontario make them?
As for Meaford Council, what will it take to get you off the fence and take a stand? Is it so difficult for counsellors from Meaford town to understand that your rural residents are facing an invasion of sorts, why the vast majority of us (nearly all those not benefiting directly) are deeply committed to stopping this?
Will you please do some research so that next time an emissary from a pro-development NGO like CAPE (Council of Physicians for the Environment) comes before you and spouts inanities like ” 300 Ontarians die each year from coal-dust pollution”, you might ask whether it isn’t Premier McGuinty who is keeping the Nanticoke coal-fired generating station operating (the dirtiest in North America), while refusing to clean up its smoke-stacks? Whether, as a purported spokesperson for physicians, she should repeatedly get away with answers like ” I can’t answer that because I am not a physician”.
Only one of you showed real interest or acquaintance with the facts of the matter. Put yourselves in our shoes, even if you live in town.
Andre Den Tandt, Owen Sound