Mayors not sold on offshore wind turbines

By Tyler Kula, London Free Press

SARNIA — The mayors of the three Lambton County municipalities bordering Lake Huron are cool to the idea of erecting offshore wind turbines.

Mike Bradley of Sarnia, Lonny Napper of Plympton-Wyoming and Bill Weber of Lambton Shores responded with caution to a recent Conference Board of Canada report on offshore wind power generation.

Financed by manufacturer Vestas Offshore, the report says raising provincial capacity to 2,000 megawatts could create 4,000 jobs annually for 14 years and add $4.8 billion to Ontario’s GDP.  But Weber said erecting wind turbines in Lake Huron five kilometres from the shore — The minimum distance proposed by Ontario’s environment ministry in June — would be costly and environmentally hazardous.

“The added cost of putting it there, it just doesn’t seem efficient,” he said, adding he is also concerned about turbines being an eyesore.

Three companies have submitted 12 Lake Huron offshore project applications to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, ranging in distance from 50 metres to 30 kilometres from shore.

Ontario has guaranteed 19 cents per kilowatt-hour for offshore electricity, compared to 13.5 cents for onshore wind generation.

Bradley said the farther turbines are locate from shore the less chance of profitability.

“All I want to see is proper safeguards and proper public engagement in whatever is decided,” he said.

No offshore wind farms are in operation or under construction in North America, the report says, but two major projects near Kingston that would add 714 megawatts of capacity are nearing implementation.

Bradley said building turbines on the lake bed could impact shipping, recreational boating and the drinking water supply. Before any proceed the government should undertake a full environmental assessment, he said.

“I believe strongly wind has a role in Ontario’s energy policy,” he said. “There’s no question. It’s just ensuring there’s a proper process.”

Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper said he’s concerned about the potential environmental impact of the massive turbines.

“I have a bit of a problem with that. I think that the lakes are pretty vulnerable,” he said.

Lambton County has 10 inland turbines in operation near Forest and plans are on the table for another 300 in Lambton Shores, Plympton-Wyoming, Enniskillen Township, Dawn-Euphemia and Brooke-Alvinston.

Napper said he wants the health impacts on residents living near turbines studied before more are built.

2 thoughts on “Mayors not sold on offshore wind turbines

  1. It is difficult to understand how the Conference Board of Canada got the numbers reported in their news release. The news release states the report’s outcomes were based on 2,000 MW renewable capacity when it is impossible and wrong to consider the 2,000 MW from industrial wind turbines to be any sort of capacity. This is more than an irritation as capacity within the energy sector has a specific meaning and industrial wind power is not considered capacity. To say so is false so any reported outcomes based on industrial wind as a “capacity” is unrealistic.
    “…there would be 4.8 billion dollars added to Ontario’s GDP”. This is rather amusing as the Conference Board of Canada site indicates 4.8 to 5.5 billion dollars would be added to Ontario’s economy between the 2013 – 2026 time frames, not annually. So how does the news release translate that to mean 4.8 billion in GDP? How much will it cost Ontario to generate the 4.8 billion? The main product being sold is “wind power” which is expensive for Ontario consumers to buy. Wind companies are paid higher prices even if producing when excess power has to be sold outside of Ontario at a net loss or when utilities are paid to take the excess power off the grid at even a larger net loss to Ontario. Of the money, made from Ontario consumers by wind companies, only a small portion would be used to support jobs. There will be increased costs associated with higher electricity prices to produce other consumer goods, including food and storage in Ontario. Keeping heat and lights on in the retail sector means many more jobs are at risk with increased electricity costs. Too often wind companies are allowed to use misleading facts that do not take into account the big picture. The people of Ontario should be interested in the big picture analysis and only interested in energy companies that provide “reliable” power. Industrial wind has a track record of delivering more hype or “wind” than power. It appears the Conference Board of Canada was directed to provide only the pros and none of the cons, which exist in any business venture. The authors either did not report negative impacts or negative impacts were edited out. Either way it is not quite the “Insight You Can Count On” from the Conference Board of Canada one should expect.

  2. Lambton county is also home to CANADA’s LARGEST DUMP courtesy of Dalton McGunity. Enough with the NIMBYism, we have all the worst of industrialization in our back yard without having to accept Industrial Wind Turbines to pollute our farmed lands and open waters.

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