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Wind power: He said, she said

Much ink has been spilled and hot air blown over the Green Energy Act.

We’ve heard plenty from both sides of the political spectrum on the highly subsidized incentives being offered to green energy proponents, such as the developers hoping to build a 20-meagwatt wind farm in North Gower.

If you ask Nepean-Carleton Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod, she’ll tell you rural communities are being assaulted by big business and big government when it comes to wind power.

Four issues of concern for her include the stripping away of local decision-making with little public consultation, plummeting property values in affected communities, the unsustainable high subsidies being offered to developers and, for her, the bottom line is the pocketbook.

“It’s really important that people in urban centres understand that their hydro rates and their electricity bills are going to double if they haven’t already and more increases are going to come,” MacLeod said, citing HST, green energy subsidies and required infrastructure upgrades to handle more power as the main culprits.

“When these big wind turbines – that are going to be unsightly, ungodly and unwanted – are erected in North Gower, the business owner in Bells Corners is going to be paying skyrocketing rates, as is the single mother living in Barrhaven. That’s what’s unjust about it and it’s also what’s sneaky about it.”

“As an MPP who represents the urban, suburban and rural I see it hitting everybody … the senior on a fixed income or even the double-income family that thought they might have enough money for a certain car payment and then all of a sudden, well, no, hold on.”

Liberal Energy Minister Chris Bentley boasts the growing clean technology economy, pulling out of coal and anticipated reduced health care costs associated with air pollution as net benefits of wind and other green energy projects.

“Over the past two years, there’s been a really substantial investment in Ontario … about $27 billion in investments made or committed, 20,000-plus jobs already on track to 50,000 by the end of this year, about 30 manufacturing plants either set up or committed.”

“You’ll see more sun, bio and wind energy hooked up over the next two years … by Ontario workers with parts made in Ontario than ever in our history. It’s never going to be all of our power, but it’s helping to accelerate our getting out of coal.”

“What’s missed quite often in this conversation is … about a quarter of our energy mix in 2003 was coal. Burning coal creates dirty air and dirty air makes people sick. And we were spending $4 billion a year in 2003 and 2004 for the health and environmental costs of dirty air.”

“I don’t think we’ve ever said that cleaning up the air and getting out of coal would either be easy or as cheap as coal appears to be … the cost increases that you’re seeing are very much a result, for the most part, of the investment that was required in our transmission and generation system to make sure we had enough. Remember, we had brownouts in 2003 and 2004.”