Where will wind power blow? Local group hosts meeting of province-wide coalition

November 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

While Innisfil ponders the fate of one wind-farm proposal, another wind-energy company is looking to set up shop in the town.

A public meeting was held recently to discuss Schneider Power’s plans for a five-turbine wind farm near Line 5 and Highway 400. Innisfil town staff are expected to release their report on that proposal in the new year.

Now a Toronto company called SkyPower Corporation wants to rezone an area near Highway 11 and Line 14 for a meteorological tower to study wind data.

The tower would collect information to see if the area is suitable for wind turbines.

A public meeting on the proposal has been scheduled for Nov. 12 at the town offices, beginning at 7:15 p.m.

“We are concerned that there has been little communication of this public meeting and its potential impact on people within the vicinity of the proposed site and Fennels Corners residents,” said Gaye Trombley, of Innisfil Windwatchers.

Windwatchers is a group of Innisfil residents concerned with the proposed installation of industrial wind turbines in Innisfil.

“This is a critical first step in the commencement of another wind turbine plant sitting in Innisfil and the public needs to be aware of the impacts of industrial wind power facilities on our health, environment, economy and quality of life,” Trombley said.

SkyPower officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Trombley said the Windwatchers hope residents to go to the meeting and “request that SkyPower Corporation clearly indicates the scope and intent of their proposal,” she said, adding that interested parties can register with the town to be informed of the decision-making process.

The group wants a moratorium on all proposals for meteorological towers until both Simcoe County and the Town of Innisfil have the opportunity to thoroughly research the impact of wind turbines.

Windwatchers is also a member the new province-wide coalition called Wind Concerns Ontario, which includes 22 wind action groups across the province representing Ontario citizens concerned with wind-power installations.

The Innisfil group recently hosted a meeting of Wind Concerns members.

“We have been communicating over the past year with these other groups across the province and they wanted to meet at a central location. We suggested Innisfil and it was agreed,” said Trombley.

“We planned for a group of about 30 people but over 40 showed up. As we speak, the coalition is increasing and other groups in other provinces, such as Alberta, are also interested in a Canada wide coalition.”

Wind Concerns Ontario proponents say along with wind turbines’ transformers, transmission lines, overhead distribution wires and substations, the industrial wind turbines “threaten people and the environment in serene, historic, rural communities, on prime agricultural land, migratory bird paths, close to sensitive wetlands, designated wildlife areas and pristine shorelines,” said Trombley.

The coalition’s first meeting was an important one, according to Wind Concerns spokesperson Beth Harrington.

“It’s the first time various leaders of the regional groups had gotten together with a unified voice who believe that industrial wind power generation is not worth the risk involved.

“If the Ontario government’s projections are right, by 2025 (thousands) of them could be spinning around rural Ontario. We’re talking about rural Ontario here,” she said.

“We want to put our side of the debate out there,” she added.

As Wind Concerns Ontario gets ready for a fight, the Ontario government Thursday was celebrating a Canadian wind power generation milestone.

Ontario is now the leader in wind power in Canada, with yesterday’s launch of the second phase of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre near Shelburne.

The announcement propels Ontario’s total wind capacity to 617.5 megawatts (MW), topping second-place Alberta, which has 545 MW of wind capacity.

Quebec is in third place, with 422 MW of capacity.

When fully operational, the $409-million, 133-turbine Melancthon project will have a total capacity of 199.5 MW, enough emission-free electricity to power more than 52,000 homes.

George Smitherman, deputy premier and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure described the project as a “victory” for boosting non-polluting power.

Trombley remains skeptical.

“There is enough substantive research now which seriously puts in question the renewable energy policies and current significant financial giveaway of this government to the wind turbine industry,” she said in a letter this week.

“With the challenges of our economy today I trust that you will take a more in depth look at the ‘green washing” associated with industrial wind turbines and listen to the communities that have given you the mandate to serve,” she wrote.

The Nov. 12 public meeting regarding the SkyPower meteorological tower begins at 7:15 p.m.

For more information, visit www.windconcernsontario.org.

Wind Concerns Ontario members to date:

Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County

Amaranth Group

Bruce Highlands Concerned Citizens

Bruce Area Wind Action Group

Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group

Coalition to Protect Amherst Island

Coalition of Residents –Tiny

Dawn-Euphemia Action Group

Dufferin Wind Action

Essex County Wind Action Group

Friends of Arran Lake

Grey Highlands Wind Action Group

Innisfil Windwatchers

Melancthon Group

Middlesex Wind Action group

MVWF

Oxford Wind Action Group

Preserve Grey Highlands

SOS Renfrew County

Skydive Toronto Inc.

Vestige Group

Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment

By Ian McInroy

Innisfil Examiner

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Smitherman Disappointed with Moratorium SOS shows potential health effects from wind turbines with new film

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