May 17, 2012
Opinions, Quebec, Vermont

Wind turbines and common sense

Jean-François Nadeau | Stanstead Journal | 16 May 2012

Rules of civilized neighborhood are not a question of borders but of common sense. In fact, it is precisely the principle by which the AQPER (Association québécoise de la production d’énergie renouvelable), a group heavily in support of renewed energy in Quebec, has voiced its opposition to the project targeting the installation of industrial wind turbines at the Quebec border with Vermont.

The AQPER, usually an avid promoter of wind turbines, has stated in an open letter addressed to the media last week that this American led initiative intending to install windmills at the border of Vermont and Quebec is a mistake. In order to generate and sustain new forms of energy, there must be public buy-in, projects like the Derby-Standstead venture is a perfect example of damaging the communities’ sentiment vis-à-vis this otherwise ingenious wind process. Jean-François Samray, president of the organization has also expressed his opposition to the project in alignment with the professional advice of an expert in wind mills who used to work as a major consultant for Hydro Quebec.

Why is it such a bad project? One needs to say it over and again to clearly be heard. These turbines are much too close for comfort. To be more precise, the project actually is a word breaking record of proximity to households, genuine homes. To name but a few of their known risks, during the winter season, these enormous structures have the potential of projecting ice breakages onto to the surrounding community therefore endangering the safety and security of residents within the community. Another known risk is the potential health hazards caused by the sound emanating from the windmills. Not to say anything about the important loss in values for homes.

One may ask whether there is any truth in these issues and risks or whether they are merely theoretical possibilities. The true believers in wind turbines may answer the latter, and that the chances of the risks manifesting themselves are minute. However, should we follow their beliefs like the blind lead by the blind and blatantly disregard any of the unfavorable effects? If a risk is present why take any chances at all? Since Vermont is a very large state, the project could very well seek other areas where no such public health hazards or public safety would be in cause.

In its last issue, The Stanstead Journal pointed out that wind turbines may grow someday on the Quebec side of the border which is a true fact. Let it be known that there are already many wind turbines in Quebec, such as in Vermont and many other places around the world. Once again, one must be careful not to translate that the high presence of wind turbines across the world means that these structures have found their rightful place in society and award them carte blanche to be set anytime, anywhere anyhow around the world, as is the debate in Derby.

I spoke last week for quite a long time with Chad Farell and Nick Richardson of Encore Redevelopment. «In all honesty, would you personally live so close to the wind turbines», I asked them? I was pleased to hear a clear «No».

I was also comforted to hear how they admitted having made mistakes on evaluating the consequences of their project for the life of Canadians. They went as far as stating that they are already considering reducing the number of turbines to one as opposed to the two they had originally planned for. Nevertheless, to be pleased and comforted is not sufficient. Joined by my fellow Stanstead citizens and neighbors, we will only be happy once they clearly understand the negative impacts their project will have on our community and once they rethink the location. To target the border is an error.

Encore Redevelopment is a company still at its beginnings with a tremendous potential to grow into a solid venture. At the start of any business, sometimes the wrong calls can be made with devastating long term effects. Other times, a wrong call can quickly be turned around and no damage was done. As a «green» company aiming growth and success, I urge them to recognize a “bad call” when they see it and hope they come to their senses, sooner rather than later.

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