About 200 people gathered at a public meeting Saturday called to raise alarm about wind turbine projects proposed for the Bruce Peninsula.
Preneal Canada hopes to build up to 75 turbines generating up to 200 megawatts in Northern Bruce Peninsula. Tribute Resources has announced plans to erect 125 turbines in South Bruce Peninsula. No applications have been made in South Bruce Peninsula as of yet, the municipality confirmed Monday.
The Ontario Power Authority website says the application window for large, green-energy contracts, which would provide guaranteed prices for renewable energy for 20 years, has yet to be announced for 2012. More than 1,000 megawatts of green energy contracts were awarded to 19 companies in 2011.
The protest meeting was organized by a loose association of people which includes John Wright, Gord Henrich, former South Bruce Peninsula councillor Ana Vukovic and Jim Halliday. At the meeting, people signed anti-turbine petitions to be presented to South Bruce Peninsula council, where a resolution calling for no turbines on the Bruce Peninsula will be requested. A similar petition will be sent to Queen’s Park.
“We are very alarmed at the industrialization of the Bruce Peninsula,” Wright said, noting the area includes the Niagara Escarpment, which is designated a biosphere reserve.
It was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 1990, one of 16 across Canada. These internationally recognized designations acknowledged “the important ecological and cultural values in an area,” the Niagara Escarpment Commission website said.
“This is a very sensitive environmental area, the peninsula,” Wright said. “And it’s going to set neighbour against neighbour, which has already happened; those that sign up and get money and those who are adjacent to the properties which will lose value with those industrial machines corrupting the open skies of the peninsula.”
Wright said no one spoke in favour of the turbines at the meeting held in the Hepworth Legion.
He said realtor Mike McMurray told the meeting the presence of wind turbines discourages buyers of recreational properties.
Wright said Barbara Ashbee told the group she and her family started suffering severe illnesses after wind turbines started functioning, forcing them to leave their Mono home near Orangeville. She said they suffered sleep deprivation, ear aches, bleeding from the nose, heart palpitations and thyroid problems from low frequency vibrations, Wright said.
A letter of support from Progressive Conservative Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker was read at the meeting, Wright said.
It called for a moratorium on wind farm construction, Wright said, until the results of a Health Canada study on suspected wind turbine-related health effects on people are available, likely in 2014.
Members of the group will be guests on former local Conservative MPP Bill Murdoch’s Owen Sound morning radio program Wednesday on CFOS.
“There is a civil uprising,” in rural Ontario to fight against “this industrialization of rural Ontario. And Mr. McGuinty (Liberal Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty) faces two bi-elections and this uprising may be a factor in those bi-elections,” Wright said.
The Green Energy Act removed local authority governing approval of wind-energy projects.
Consultation is required but ultimately, people or municipal councils can’t turn the projects down.
Wright said the lack of electricity transmission lines is one obstacle for turbine construction on the peninsula.
He said a new transmission corridor would be required to feed the wind-generated power to the provincial electricity grid.
The Ontario Power Authority has confirmed there are no plans to build a new power corridor on the peninsula and so it would be up to the wind farm proponents to do so. Wright said that corridor would be another industrial addition to the scenic landscape, which residents opposing the turbines also oppose.
The Ontario government announced in March after a review of the feed-in tariff program was completed and wind-energy prices would be reduced by about 15% that “more than 20,000 clean energy jobs have been created and the province is on track to create 50,000 jobs.”
“Building a clean energy system is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to create and support jobs for Ontario families while ensuring we have the electricity we need to power our homes, schools, hospitals and our economy.”
The Ontario Power Authority website says priority for granting contracts will be based on project type, municipal support, Aboriginal support, project readiness and electricity system benefit.
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