Is this what “green energy” is supposed to look like? This is a question I keep asking myself, and would like to pose to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli.
As a writer of an environment-themed column I should be pleased to see the fruits of the provincial government’s Ontario Green Energy Act sprouting up all over our municipality.
Instead, as yet another wind farm project has been approved for the area, I find myself dismayed. I am also heartsick for the residents who have fought so hard to oppose these developments and who will be impacted the most by their presence.
While I realize wind turbines utilize an unlimited resource and produce energy that does not create pollution (at least the operational turbine itself) I have never been convinced they are the Holy Grail of clean energy. There are too many cons, such as unstudied health risks, environmental impacts and effects on energy costs.
But some of the biggest concerns I have with the “green energy” the provincial government has been installing in Ontario are the unquantifiable costs.
What I think Queen’s Park has been ignoring is the impact this program is having on Ontarians’ lives.
By denying municipalities the right of refusal in their jurisdictions, and seemingly disregarding opposition to wind projects, an environment of distrust and anger has been created. Unwilling host communities have lost trust in the process, in the government and the corporations who are developing these installations.
By not giving a meaningful voice to individuals who are impacted by neighbours’ decisions to option land, animosity and distrust have been created between former friends.
Communities have been divided.
Too many reports of ill health effects and lives disrupted have come to the forefront. Too often these same families are left unable to escape because of their inability to sell properties that fall within the boundaries of wind developments.
Pro-wind agents will argue that no health effects have been proven. However, even if no physical impacts truly exist (which I’m not convinced is the case) what about the emotional and psychological effects on these families? What about the anguish people have faced, the feelings of helplessness as massive mechanical structures are erected around their properties, and the stress in knowing their homes are now largely unsellable?
The Kincardine area is already inundated with wind development. To the south there are the 38 turbines of Ripley Wind, to the north 115, when combining the towers of Enbridge Bruce and the handful from Huron Wind. From some vantage points in the municipality there are turbines in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
The recently approved Armow Wind project will see another 92 towers erected in the north east of the municipality, almost doubling the number of turbines already in existence north of town. Compounding this is the fact that these towers will be markedly bigger than those already in place.
What the government refuses to acknowledge is that these benignly labelled “wind farms” are in reality large industrial installations, huge pieces of machinery being erected in great numbers across our rural landscape, amongst people’s homes. The province is essentially turning our municipality into a big factory.
Lives in host communities are being impacted significantly, whether it is health-wise, financially or socially.
If I could, I would invite Premier Wynne and Minister Chiarelli to actually stand amongst the turbines, take it all in and attempt to comprehend the impact of masses of towers sprawling off in every direction, with scores more to come.
I would then ask them to look at every one of the lives that have been so wrongly disrupted, imagine their own loved ones in the same position and ask “is this really what green energy is supposed to look like?”
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