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Wind turbines stir controversy in RM of South Qu’Appelle

The thought of a windturbine farm in the RM of South Qu’Appelle is stirring up a mix of reaction in the community.

“We don’t want it,” said Renalda Pickering, a resident of the RM.

She is opposed to a windturbine farm because she says there are too many risk factors associated with such projects.

Jeannie DesRocher, reeve for the RM of South Qu’Appelle, said she is doing what she believes is best for the RM.

“I am an elected official, somebody who is trying to do good stewardship of our RM and doing what’s best for our RM,” she said.

DesRocher said she believes in sustainable energy, but that when the wind-turbine company approached her about the project she decided to do her own research into wind turbine farms.

She encourages others to do the same.

Pickering says she has done research, which is why she is opposed to the project.

She said a wind-turbine farm can cause a number of health effects, including a condition called electric hypersensitivity.

“Essentially it would be like living inside a microwave,” said Pickering about the condition.

She said wind turbines create vibrations that can negatively impact animals – particularly dairy cows.

Pickering said the proposed catchment area for the wind farm is near Avonlea and Edgely, where there are three dairy farms.

She said in the winter months, ice can build up on the blades and when in motion the ice could be thrown long distances, which is another safety hazard called ice throw.

Pickering said she’s not the only one opposed to the wind-turbine project. She has presented the RM with a petition with the signatures of 120 ratepayers.

DesRocher said the RM is aware there is opposition to the project.

However, she said to get a wind farm up and running takes a long time, and this project is in the very early stages.

“There was a company that started contacting farmers a year ago to look at if there was any interest (by farmers) and (to see) if they would be able to secure enough land to put up a fairly significant wind farm,” said DesRocher. “Ultimately all (the company) has done, so far, is to look at weather systems, and it looks like there’s quite a bit of wind in this area.”

She said the company had a meeting with area farmers to see if they had enough landowner support to get to the next phase, which is to put up a meteorological test tower.

“(The tower) has to run for a year for them to see if the wind is of a good enough quality and measure to put up a farm,” said DesRocher.

However, before a tower can be put in place the RM would need to amend its zoning bylaws, and because of the division the project has created, the RM council wants to hear from the community.

DesRocher said a public hearing about the project is scheduled for Feb. 25 at the McLean School.

“We are going to have it chaired by a neutral body, by someone not from the RM,” she said.

DesRocher said everyone, including all those who support and oppose the project, will have five minutes to speak.

At the end of the hearing the council will decide whether to move ahead with the project.