Up to two dozen more wind turbines are being proposed again for an installation in the middle of Essex County, and critics can’t be blamed for being unenthusiastic about the new plan. GDP Suez Canada Inc. is behind the Blue Sky Wind Project, its second proposed wind farm for the same area.
The latest, slightly downsized proposal is to erect 20 to 25 turbines southwest of the Town of Essex. The installation would be roughly enclosed by a triangle formed by Walker Road on the west, South Malden Road on the southeast, and on the northeast by Highway 3 between Oldcastle and Essex.
A similar GDP Suez proposal for 27 turbines failed to win the support of the Town of Essex in 2012. But under Ontario’s blatantly pro-turbine approval process, that doesn’t necessarily end a project.
The Ontario government has suspended normal planning rules in the case of renewable energy projects, allowing proponents to trample local concerns all over the province. The Liberal government grudgingly began to allow more local input two years ago. But their attempt to mollify the critics still denies residents real veto power over unwanted projects.
After its last rebuff, GDP Suez said it was “determined” about the project. It’s opponents are, too. And this time they have an additional weapon at their disposal: cost.
Wind farm opponents invariably cite the alleged health effects caused by vibration and strobe effects. There is also alleged noise pollution. Finally, the visual impact of the looming machines is considered an imposition by many, and too many birds are said to be killed by the machines.
But isn’t the economic impact of wind turbines the issue of biggest concern to the most people? Turbines are a hugely expensive way to produce limited and unreliable power. The more that are approved, the higher everyone’s bills will be. They cause economic hardship and job losses. That should be reason enough to oppose adding two dozen more to the local grid.
Ontario’s controversial green energy schemes have saddled consumers and employers alike with growing bills, with little to show for them other than a questionable green pride on the part of the government of the day.
Wind farm owners are well rewarded for their investments, the farmer landlords a little less so. But consumers are stuck with paying hundreds of millions above market rates for the power produced, and one employer after another has cited rising rates as a reason they aren’t hiring. To add insult to injury, consumers are even forced to pay to dump wind power at a loss into the U.S. grid when it isn’t needed, because the contracts are so one-sided.
Essex County has embraced efforts to green the grid and accepted the installation of 170 turbines between Amherstburg and Tilbury. But if the main effect of them is merely higher power rates, perhaps enough is enough.
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