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Too many turbines

A resolution against wind power from a nearby municipality found a receptive audience at Norfolk council this week.

The Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich is campaigning against the Wynne government’s plan this year to invite applications for an additional 300 megawatts of wind-powered electricity generation. It would take about 150 industrial wind turbines to produce this much power.

Dutton-Dunwich is located along the Lake Erie shoreline west of St. Thomas. It fears a large number of these turbines could be imposed on its residents. A green energy firm is lobbying for a wind farm in Dutton-Dunwich.

Naturalists are concerned because Dutton-Dunwich is an important, unobstructed flyway for migrating birds and bats. As well, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nations have not endorsed the project.

Dutton-Dunwich is also concerned because the Wynne government is intent on building green energy capacity at a time of declining demand in Ontario. The municipality says Ontario increased its generating capacity by 19 per cent over the past eight years while provincial demand in the same period fell 7.5 per cent.

And the capacity Ontario has added is expensive. Citing a scathing Auditor-General’s report issued in December, Dutton-Dunwich says Ontarians are paying twice as much for wind-generated electricity as other jurisdictions. The high cost of electricity in Ontario is hurting the province’s ability to compete and create jobs.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce reports that the escalating price of electricity is undermining their members’ capacity to grow, hire new workers and attract new investment,” the Dutton-Dunwich resolution says. “Ontario’s electricity costs are among the highest in North America, making the province uncompetitive for business growth.”

Norfolk council supported the Dutton-Dunwich resolution over the objections of Simcoe Coun. Peter Black and Windham Coun. Jim Oliver. Black said the county should keep its nose out of provincial affairs.

“What I’m hearing from the people of Ontario is they want more green energy,” Black said at Tuesday’s meeting. “They want more wind.”

Oliver conceded that green energy is expensive but that the price is steadily falling. He predicted the cost will soon rival more conventional sources of generation.

“That was then,” Oliver said. “This is now.”

The Dutton-Dunwich motion was brought to the floor by Port Dover Coun. John Wells. He said Ontario’s green-energy program is wrecking the province’s economy while making no discernible contribution in the area of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation.

“I am living in the now,” Wells said. “And we are not competitive with other markets across the water in India and China. They are opening new coal-fired plants every week. They’re booming, and that’s where our jobs are going.”

Waterford Coun. Harold Sonnenberg pointed out that green-energy policies are aggravating poverty in Norfolk and elsewhere. Too many households, he said, have to choose these days between buying food and keeping warm.

Norfolk’s position will be forwarded to Premier Kathleen Wynne, energy minister Bob Chiarelli, local MPP Toby Barrett and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.