Walmart wind plan has locals spinning: Woloshyn

by TED WOLOSHYN, Toronto Sun

It’s not just Walmart’s prices that are dropping in Burlington these days, the store’s popularity is tumbling even faster thanks to a planned 24-metre-high wind turbine at its Fairview Street location.

Much to the shock of local residents, the giant retailer recently placed an announcement in The Burlington Spectator that they were applying to the Ministry of Environment for approval of the turbine, and the locals want to know why they have not been consulted.

Frankly I don’t blame them, and Walmart should have thought this through because nobody wants to feel like big business is running their neighbourhood, especially when it’s a U.S.-based company.

Walmart says it’s one part of their three long-term sustainability goals, along with zero waste and the sale of products that sustain the environment and people. It’s all about the 100% supply of renewable energies.

Like all wise corporations, they’re determined to be seen as eco-friendly; but the people of Ward 2 in Burlington aren’t buying it.

They are concerned about possible health issues, risks to birds and what effect the turbine could have on property values. Some feel it’s not really about energy, it’s about brand visibility.

Marketability concerns

“If Walmart asked the city for the same size sign it wouldn’t be allowed,” said John Lawson, the property manager of Emshih Developments, who own property adjacent to the store. Although he says the company has no immediate plans for a high rise, he admits there are concerns about the marketability of future projects.

He’s spot on. Who wants an apartment overlooking six-metre-long blades?

Lawson is also concerned about how effective the turbine would be considering the location is a low wind area and is zoned for high density high rises. And if two large buildings are erected there will be even less wind to propel the blades.

Andrew Pelletier, Walmart’s v-p of corporate affairs and sustainability told me the location was specifically selected.

“The Burlington store is our environmental demonstration store which houses a range of state-of-the-art environmental techniques,” he said.

The store is also touted as being 60% more energy efficient than a typical Walmart store.

And what of the advertising potential in a towering 24-metre turbine that would be visible from many kilometres away?

“That was part of the original proposal,” Pelletier said.

However he added they are not tied to that decision and will review it internally.

Pelletier is quite disappointed with the reaction Walmart has received.

“It’s a bit frustrating when good intentions can sometimes be seen as something else locally,” he said.

But there’s frustration on both sides of this issue.

Ironically what could have been a major election issue has galvanized all candidates in the ward who admit their fight will probably be lost should the province approve Walmart’s plans, because the government’s decision would supersede any objection the city has.

However the province recently recanted earlier plans for a power station in neighbouring Oakville after a great deal of protest, so they may be a little more cautious in their decision-making process.

Should they side with Walmart and grant approval, it could cost them votes in next year’s election.

And if Walmart doesn’t consult with local residents it will definitely cost them shoppers.

8 thoughts on “Walmart wind plan has locals spinning: Woloshyn

  1. Lack of consultation with local residents won’t matter one bit. Most consumers want “cheap”. Most Wal-mart shoppers probably don’t live in the next building either.
    The area is zoned for high-rise anyway. So what’s their problem? I read somewhere this proposed turbine would run 20 toasters. They should get educated and learn what an industrial wind turbine development is all about. Ted Woloshyn could do this.
    The best plan would galvanize voters to vote against the Liberals. They’ve lost their civil rights just like the rural areas. I wonder how they feel.

  2. How much will it cost Wal-Mart for liability insurance for this store location? Wind turbines do throw ice and their own blades. Shoppers had better look out when they shop at this location.

  3. The issue here in probably a safety issue with a 24 meter turbine on the property.

    Can any city/town issue a license to operate a business when said business is also operating a device at their business location which is a potential danger to their customers/ or the public safety?

    Even a small chunk of ice traveling at high speed can kill a person.

  4. Welcome to rural Ont, this is the way it is , the government keeps everything in the dark and then surprises you with these things and there is nothing you can do about it. They don’t care about the people they represent in this province.

  5. When would Wally-Mart really need a break on their electricity bill and how could the break be past on to the consumer?

    It would be during a day or on those days when the temperature(s) is/are surpassing 80 degrees. Most people are not aware of the actual amount of wind that is actually blowing on a very warm or to hot day, in most cases there is next to none. How many times, now think about this, on a hot day where you have found yourself working outside doing what ever, where you have thought. “wouldn’t a cool breeze go nice about now” you might also be thinking about a cold Beer to go along with that breeze as well.

    We all know, it can get so hot that one cannot really do anything and we seek a cooler shelter, shade and or an alternative cooling source. Yes, we have all experienced days like those that I have described, I believe the answer would be yes, and how many times we have sought shelter in air-conditioned malls and or buildings to escape the heat? I think we all would be guilty to some degree.

    Now lets just think about Wally-Mart and how nice it is to shop at a facility where everything can be had under one roof, on one of those plus 80 to 90 degree day’s. Now lets envision a planned 24-metre-high wind turbine at the Wally-Mart Fairview Street location on one of those 80 – 90 degree day’s and or at any Wally-Mart location.

    How much of a saving is it going to be for Wally-Mart on one of those days when their wind turbine(s) is/are not turning (not generating electricity)?

    If the Wally-Mart people had any brains (which I would bet money on, that they don’t) would go Solar on top of their roof(s). On those days that the offset is most needed the electricity is being produced on demand by Solar energy. This is basic logic, shear fact what ever you want to call it. If Wally-Mart is interested in passing on savings to their customers then they have to go Solar. However if they continue to think wind turbines as a cost cutting measure then the Wally-Mart people are STUPID, Wind power can not be relied upon as a renewable energy source in supplementing the grid with electricity upon it’s demand. When the demand for electricity is high, the major demand is being generated from the city’s on those hot days. Remember Wally-Mart is not looking to impress it’s customers, Wally-Mart is only interested in impressing politicians.

    Impress the politicians by making it look like your lowering your (Wally-Marts overall) Carbon Foot Print, then there’s a better chance building even more Wally-Mart stores throughout Ontario, because in the end it’s all about the cash.

  6. Our newly elected Ward Councillor has started a petition as a first-step. Fingers crossed that we can get this stopped. The petition is posted here:

    According to the City of Burlingtons Director of Planning “Wal-Mart has not approached the City with the proposal” so we may still have some time to fight this.

    As a long time boycotter of Walmart I’m enraged at their arrogance. Also enraged with our government for putting peoples health at risk.

    Keep up the good fight – this is a great website.

  7. Maybe it should be roof-mounted. 🙂

    “What about micro-generation? If you plop one of those mini-
    turbines on your roof, what energy can you expect it to deliver?

    Assuming a windspeed of 6 m/s, which, as I said before, is above the av-
    erage for most parts of Britain; and assuming a diameter of 1 m, the power
    delivered would be 50 W. That’s 1.3 kWh per day – not very much. And in
    reality, in a typical urban location in England, a microturbine delivers just
    0.2 kWh per day – see p66.

    Perhaps the worst windmills in the world are a set in Tsukuba City,
    Japan, which actually consume more power than they generate. Their in-
    stallers were so embarrassed by the stationary turbines that they imported
    power to make them spin so that they looked like they were working!

  8. And a little more on that Tsukuba project…

    “Welcome to Tsukuba, the town that prides itself on being the most hallowed scientific research centre in Japan and the site of perhaps the worst electricity wind farm in the world: in the 12 months it has been operating, its million-pound windmills have consumed 43 times more power than they have generated.

    The project to make Tsukuba a self-sufficient showpiece for green energy has failed, heaping scorn upon the central government programme to test alternative sources. It is likely to be used as ammunition by sceptics elsewhere, including Britain, where the Government this week published its energy review. Tsukuba is now locked into a spiral of civil litigation, criminal investigations and an unprecedented attack on the academic reputation of Waseda University, Japan’s most respected seat of learning.

    Faced with the embarrassment of its stagnant windmills and what a city representative called a “negative image problem” for Tsukuba, the scene has descended into farce. To give the impression of a functioning alternative energy programme, on parent-teacher evenings and for visits by outside dignitaries, the generators are reversed to become motors and the sails are made to turn artificially.”


Comments are closed.