You’ve got to wonder.
The CBC quotes Nova Scotia’s consumer advocates saying wind power is coming on too strong and that could lead to higher power rates. Yet battles continue to crop up over this form of green energy.
Bill Mahody and John Merrick say the energy department already has all of the projects it needs to meet its target of 25 per cent of our electricity coming from green sources by 2015.
Existing wind farms and new players are responding to a request for proposals to supply an extra 300 gigawatt hours to the provincial grid.
Writing in a submission to the renewable energy administrator, the two advocates said extra gigawatt hours, will “unnecessarily increase annual ratepayer bills by millions of dollars, by acquiring far too much renewable energy.”
Furthermore they estimate ratepayers could be on the hook for an unnecessary $50 million in three years, if the province doesn’t reduce the amount of wind power it is seeking.
Just last month though protesters were marching through the village of Pugwash calling for a veto on a proposed wind farm. The Gulf Shore Preservation Association just brought in an expert from Ontario to help fight an $85-million turbine project.
Some area residents are convinced the turbines will lower property values in an area attractive to retirees and that they will cause noise. The Pugwash Wind Farm intends to file for environmental approval soon and a decision from the Department of Environment is expected sometime in March. If it is positive, the company will go to the renewable electricity administrator for final approval. Construction could begin by 2013.
The new wind farm between Sackville, N.B. and Amherst, which is due to produce power by April, is proving controversial and another proposal for 43 turbines on the Tantramar Marsh is adding to the uproar.
Of course, we have some upset here due to a proposed large-scale wind turbine for a landlocked property in Greenfield atop the South Mountain.
Scotian WindFields Inc. chief operating officer Daniel Roscoe calls the project very much homegrown. I’m told nearby residents would not agree with that description. And Kings County’s large-scale wind turbine bylaw has never really been tested.
Fortunately, Roscoe said his firm is committed to holding more public consultation when it know for sure there’s going to be a permanent wind project in Greenfield. A presentation to Kings County council is scheduled for Feb. 21.
Ironically, at the end of January, escalating concerns about industrial wind turbines prompted the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to urge that province to suspend further developments until farm families and rural residents are assured their interests are adequately protected.
Starting back in 2007, when the development of industrial wind turbines began in Ontario, the federation worked with the government on regulations, cautioned members on the pitfalls of wind leases and expressed concerns about pricing. Now the association is saying many of their issues have not been addressed, causing tremendous tension among rural residents and community neighbours.
“We are hearing very clearly from our members that the wind turbine situation is coming to a head – seriously dividing rural communities and even jeopardizing farm succession planning,” said federation president Mark Wales.
Former Wind Concerns Ontario president John Laforet believes wind farms were a factor during last fall’s Ontario election. He said as many as 11 Liberal MLAs were not returned in communities that were divided over wind power. Among them was former Environment Minister John Wilkinson.
According to the Toronto Star, activist voices dogged Premier Dalton McGuinty when he campaigned in rural communities where wind turbine projects have been installed or are planned. Voters told him the low-frequency noise from the turbines causes health problems such as nosebleeds and headaches.
Seventy-eight municipal councils in Ontario passed moratoria calling on the government to stop foisting industrial wind development on communities until proper independent health studies have been done to inform safe setbacks and local democracy is restored.
Ontario has had five years to get politicized over wind power. Here in Nova Scotia, it seems like the debate is just getting underway. Opponents of the Greenfield project are trying to inform the public. This Saturday they are screening a documentary called Windfall. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at Gaspereau School. They tell me it’s an eye-opener.
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