By Dan Reid, Owen Sound Sun Times
I have followed the debate over the construction of the wind turbine at the CAW ‘Family Learning Centre’ in Port Elgin for the last few months and I must admit that I am left with a dilemma. It’s difficult to clearly ascertain if the CAW is completely uninformed about the concept of wind energy, or they understand the reality of industrial wind but diligently attempt to mislead the community on its virtues. Let me try to illustrate.
About two weeks ago I heard Mr Ken Bondy from the CAW on a CBC morning radio program. Mr Bondy opened the interview with a firm expression of gratitude for his timely appearance given that he had just read a Canadian Press release outlining the ongoing increase of global CO2 emissions. Mr Bondy suggested that this announcement was absolute reinforcement and somewhat of a vindication for the CAW decision to invest in their turbine project and combat this trend. What Mr Bondy is apparently not aware of, or seemed to overlook, is the fact that the accelerated increase in CO2 emissions globally, directly coincides with the exponential rise in industrial wind complexes around the world.
Currently there are over 100,000 turbines operating around the globe. The highest concentration of which are located in Europe. Germany is the most prolific user with over 21,000 turbines in a land space about one-third the size of Ontario. Their rapid growth in operational turbines has occurred over the past two decades, with a four hundred percent increase in installed generation capacity. Unfortunately, there has been no appreciable change in Germany’s world- wide position as a contributor to CO2 emissions. The only year that Germany has realized a notable reduction in emissions was 2010. According to German publications this achievement is attributable to a decline in economic activity throughout Europe with no mention of wind energy. If the CAW therefore, does provide some scientific proof that the Port Elgin turbine has made any contribution to a decline in CO2 emissions it will earn the unique distinction of being the only turbine on the planet to do so. All the best with that!
In addition to public radio, there are a number of written statements describing the CAW’s enthusiasm to invest in a ‘renewable sustainable energy future for Ontario’. Interestingly, once the Port Elgin turbine becomes operational, the CAW can earn as much as 13.2 cents per kilowatt hour for the production of power. Once produced, it will be dumped onto the grid. At that point it becomes a ‘crap-shoot’ as to whether or not the power gets used in Ontario. Industrial wind turbines have a very poor track record for creating power at times when it is not needed and vice versa. However, let’s assume that it finds its way to my house where I will pay anywhere from about 6 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour to consume depending what time of day I use it. Alternatively, it will be sold for export on the spot market at somewhere between 4 and 5.5 cents a kilowatt hour. How does the process of creating a product for over 13 cents per unit and selling it for 30% to 60% less, constitute anything that could be construed as sustainable?
The ambiguity of this notion of sustainability however, need not concern the CAW. Under the direction of Ken Lewenza, President, the CAW has made the successful transition to one of the proletariat with the construction of their turbine. They now own a means of production and as such, have transcended from the working class to the ruling class with their new found corporate peers in the burgeoning green energy sector. In that regard, they can refocus their efforts from negotiation to exploitation and capitalize on what I suspect they always understood about the real ‘greeness’ of their initiative. For those who have united in resisting the development of industrial wind turbines, through legitimate claims about health concerns, decreasing real estate values, desecrated landscape vistas and degraded natural environments, they can be brushed aside as collateral damage by the CAW with their new status and with the complete support of our current Ontario Government.
The CAW has created quite a legacy for the Family Learning Center in Port Elgin. It is certainly not a positive story but unfortunately, a familiar one. So it begs the question; what exactly have we learned?
Regards, Dan Reid
RR#1, Owen Sound