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Calgary residents outraged about school’s wind turbine plans

CALGARY – Some Calgary residents are outraged over a plan to install a 47-metre-tall wind turbine on a school ground, saying they were not “properly informed” of the Calgary Board of Education’s plan.

While board officials defended the proposal as a learning tool for students, staff and residents, visitors to the open house at E.P. Scarlett High School accused the board officials of not being transparent.

“It really aggravates me that the board doesn’t bother to notify people of these things in a public way,” said Christine Ingham, who attended the Wednesday open house.

“And then, we get here and see there is no balanced information, just how great they think it is.”

“There are health issues and animal issues and those are not being addressed here, just dismissed,” Ingham said.

Others agreed.

Dorothy Cornwall, who attended the open house to report to the Southwood Community Association, said she is concerned that in eight days the board plans to apply for a development permit from the city.

“Is that enough time for everyone to be informed?” asked Cornwall. “I like the idea and if it does help the CBE pay the bills and teach the kids, that’s great. But I wonder if enough people even know or had a chance to speak out.”

Ingham and Cornwall were two of about 50 people who attended the open house aimed at providing the community with information about the proposed $290,000, single-tower, three-blade wind turbine.

It’s slated to be installed behind the high school and be operational by the summer, if all goes according to plan.

Frank Coppinger, superintendent of facilities and environment services for the CBE, said not only will the wind turbine pay for itself in 20 years, the educational opportunities for students are invaluable.

“This is an ideal opportunity for this school, because it has an environmental club, to really get an appreciation for renewal energy and what’s involved,” he said. “Ultimately, we’d like all our students to be environmentally literate, to be aware of renewable energy opportunities and some of them hopefully will go into a related career.”

Coppinger described the turbine as very quiet.

“If you are within 65 metres, the sound is like the wind itself, so you won’t notice any difference,” he said.

He also said the cost savings for the school, which has a $175,000 annual power bill, amounts to about 10 per cent, or $17,500 a year.