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Green energy debate: Are wind turbines safe?  

Credit:  Patrick Brennan | The Chronicle | Friday, March 1, 2013 | www.thechronicle-online.com ~~

DUTTON – Wind turbines and solar panels may represent the green energy wave of the future, but for now that does not mean residents of Dutton/Dunwich are convinced they want to endorse them.

Approximately 80 resident attended a green energy information night and workshop last week at the Dutton Community Centre to hear a presentation on the subject.

The evening was sponsored by Dutton/Dunwich council who wanted to get the word out on what green energy options there were out there.

Green energy is quickly becoming a hot topic in the municipality. While there are no wind turbines and maybe a handful of small scale solar panels in Dutton/Dunwich, several property owners have signed agreements to lease land to developers to erect turbines.

But before that happens, developers have to comply with the regulatory approval process set out by Ontario’s Ministry of Energy.

Residents who heard the presentation, listened to William Pol, a planner who specializes in wind turbines.

Most of their questions concerned the safety of the turbines and the challenges they posed to rural areas.

Some residents passed on bitter stories from Austria and Germany where experts claim wind turbines are directly related to health issues.

The Ontario government emphatically denies there is any proof in the province turbines and health issues are related.

“We know not all your questions will be answered tonight,” said Dutton/Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam.

Pol commended residents for coming to he meeting before any wind turbines are approved for their community.

The goal is for Pol to collect all the comments into a report for council.

While there are three forms of green energy currently available, wind turbines, solar panels and biogas, wind is the one which suits Dutton/Dunwich most because of its proximity to Lake Erie and local wind patterns.

The type of turbine used in this area is at least 80 metres high – about the size of a 40-storey building.

Wind turbines claim to be big energy producers, generating enough power for 330 homes.

A wind turbine takes approximately one acre of land out of production and the power it produces is transported to the closest substation and on to the provincial power grid.

Turbines generate about 50 decibels of noise while operating, compared to 35 decibels of noise one would find in the average bedroom.

“It’s less noise than a busy office,” Pol said. “It’s a different kind of noise.”

Ontario has prohibited them on highly valued Class 1, 2 and 3 farmland.

Currently regulations require them to be setback a minimum of the height of the tower (about 80 metres) from homes.

“The risk of a turbine falling down is extremely remote,” Pol said.

Wind turbines do represent a potentially lucrative source of revenue for many interests.

Land owners can earn up to $220,000 over 20 years from leases and turbines can generate $3,500 a year in taxes for municipalities.

Source:  Patrick Brennan | The Chronicle | Friday, March 1, 2013 | www.thechronicle-online.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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