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Wind farm mapping project welcomed by turbine opponents

The opponents of a proposed wind turbine project here say the efforts of an Ohio-based blogger to provide detailed maps of turbine projects in Ontario fill an important gap in the information chain.

Wayne Gulden, creator of the website Ontario Wind Turbines, uses Google Maps technology to indicate the site and scale of wind farms, both existing and proposed, across the province – including the NextEra Energy site in Mapleton as well as other projects near Belwood and Arthur.

Gulden’s main residence is Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is not currently the site of any existing or proposed turbine projects. However, he has a cottage on Amherst Island, an Ontario community in the middle of a region where numerous projects are either in operation or on the drawing board.

The lack of detailed information on a province-wide basis has been a sore point among turbine opponents for some time.

“It’s important that people know where they are,” said Janet Vallery, spokesperson for the Oppose Belwood Wind Farm Association.

She suggested the Ontario Power Authority has the information but is hesitant to release it because it will reveal the government’s plans to “industrialize” rural Ontario.

“I think the government just doesn’t want people to know how bad it is,” said Vallery.

The government doesn’t make a consolidated map of projects available to the public, but the Minister of Energy says the information is available.

“The contracts are publicly posted,” Energy Minister Chris Bentley told the CBC earlier this month. “They’re available. Who has the contracts is public information. Every company establishing wind turbines has to go through public consultation.

“It’s out there for the people in the community and municipality.”

However Gulden said gathering detailed information on turbines requires some serious detective work that not everyone interested in the developments is able to do.

“You almost have to have the individual coordinates,” he said. Gulden uses site descriptions, noise studies and other published information to create his maps, but concedes he is limited by time and lack of published resources

Gulden’s map illustrates not just where projects are located, but the number of turbines on the site, and brings the scale of development into clearer focus, says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

“I think it’s extremely valuable and it shows really well the growing area it’s happening in,” she states.

Wilson feels neither the government, nor wind power proponents want to put a consolidated map in front of the public.

“I would say, to put it out there, that it’s intentional, because they really don’t want people to know how many projects there are going to be and the scale of them,” she stated.

For his part, Gulden would be happy to have the government take over the project and would happily turn over his programs and information to assist with the project.

“I really think that it would be nice to have the government doing this,” he said.

Gulden, a retired computer networking specialist, keeps the maps as updated as possible, based on information he searches out himself, or is supplied to him by followers of his blogs, including Wind Farm Realities and Amherst Island Wind Info.

He recently added the NextEra Energy location in Mapleton to his Ontario Wind Turbines website, but as of Tuesday, the site did not yet show either the existing project in Arthur or the proposed project in Belwood.

Vallery welcomes any attempt to provide a map that displays the density and location of wind turbines, which she called “unreliable” and “eyesores” that have a negative impact on tourism and prime farmland.

“It will show the extent of the damage that’s going to be done,” she said of Gulden’s mapping project.

“Once the turbines are up, they’re up for 20 years.”

Gulden’s mapping information can be found at http://ontario-wind-turbines.org.

– with files from Chris Daponte