MPP, Councillor to host forum on wind energy

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Fred Groves

An Essex councillor and a new MPP are teaming up to engage the public in the merits of wind energy.

Tonight (Thursday, Mar. 15), at 7:00 p.m., Ward 1 councillor Randy Voakes, and NDP MPP Taras Natyshak will hold an open forum on Wind Power Energy in the Shaheen Room of the Essex Arena.

“We are both advocates of wind energy and the employment opportunities,” said Voakes.

Essex has several wind turbines. Some of them, although seen from Essex Centre, are actually in the neighbouring municipality of Lakeshore. That brings up the debate of whether individual municipalities or the province should regulate the construction of the turbines.

“I think the province should take on that responsibility from start to finish,” said Voakes.

Natyshak has spoken openly in the past about wind power generation and has said he does not want municipalities to have veto power of where they are built.

The wind turbines are located on farmland and newly elected Essex County Federation of Agriculture president Mark Balkwill said that his organization would remain neutral on the issue.

Wind power has raised a lot of controversy across the province, not only about whose responsibility construction should be, but whether or not they pose a health risk.

“We are hoping for a good turnout. I don’t think the word is opposition. It is more hearing and listening,” said Voakes.

The councillor said he is not representing Essex council at this forum and said that any grievances brought to the forum will not be dismissed.

“We want to hear from the advocates. It’s a two-headed coin. We want to hear from both sides,” said Voakes.

In June 2010, Essex MP Jeff Watson announced that the federal government would be investing $11.2 million over 10 years through the ecoEnergy program towards the Harrow Wind Farm which will have as many as 24 turbines and be able to generate 39.6 MW of energy.

A cluster of six wind turbines can produce enough power for up to 3,000 homes.


3 Responses to MPP, Councillor to host forum on wind energy

  1. What many do not realize is that a modern society is based on our ability to produce electrical POWER. This is related to controlled performance expectations: when we throw the switch we expect the stove to go on 100% of the time — not just when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. What most believe is there is an equivalence between wind and solar to conventional power sources. (That is the basis for such claims that XYX wind project will power 1000 homes.) This is false from several perspectives. Wind and solar cannot provide power to any homes: 24/7. It might not provide power for even 1 home 24/7. Conventional sources (e.g. nuclear) have a Capacity Value of about 99%. Wind has a Capacity Value of about 0% because we cannot call upon it when needed. On a yearly avg. it provides only 25% of Capacity (solar ranges between 12%-15%). I.E. Wind & solar JUST DON’T CUT IT! The result is having to build redundant backup generation in the form of Natural Gas generators that must stay in spinning reserve to counter wind’s fickle, unreliable, intermittent, non-dispatchable generation. What I have found is that promoting wind and solar is a political agenda that is divorced from true science. True science is based on real world data — not carefully massaged computer models, which are the mainstay of anti-science agenda evangelists.

    Colette McLean
    March 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

  2. Well the outcome of this meeting was pretty well what was expected. Some of the claims from the pro-wind side included:

    – noise is no louder than 60 dBA, that’s the same as your Fridge. If you take measurements out in the county, you will find noise lower than 60 dBA. (No documented proof of measurements were provided, NOTE: MOE guidelines allow for a max. of 51 dBA from Industrial Wind turbines)
    – Sea levels are going to rise above 25 metres with global warming, we have to keep up with installing solar panels and wind turbines. (Owner of a solar panel installation company)
    – The problem is one of fear against the unknown, that is why people are experiencing health problems. Marc Bartlett CAW environmental committee who has a BA in Liberal and Professional Studies.
    – People need to get their facts straight and talk to the people who install wind turbines. I’ve been installing turbines for 2 years now and have suffered no symptoms. There is something else going on with people who claim they are suffering-Colin Robson, a wind turbine technician who could not dilvuge the company he worked for,
    – The reason why there are problems with stray voltage, is because the transmission systems are not being installed properly. Tim Stratichuk, electrician by trade
    – “I live in the same area as P. Jackson ( a resident who is suffering from the noise from the 5 turbine array outside the town of Essex), and I have no problems”, Randy Voakes, councillor for the Municipality of Essex and active CAW member.

    When handed information with full references and searchable websites, on contractual issues and wind’s unreliable performance, MPP Taras Natyshak asked if he was being handed facts yet he asked for nothing in terms of supportive data for any of the above claims coming from the pro-wind side.

    Colette McLean
    March 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm


    In fact, this is a highly problematic claim. While wind energy is cheaper than other, more ineffective renewables, such as solar, tidal and ethanol, it is nowhere near competitive. If it were, we wouldn’t have to keep spending significant sums to subsidise it.

    In the UK, for example, wind remains significantly more costly than other energy sources. Using the UK Electricity Generation Costs 2010 update and measuring in cost per produced kw-hour, wind is still 20-200% more expensive than the cheapest fossil-fuel options. And this is a significant underestimate.

    As the UK and other developed countries have rushed to build more wind turbines, they have naturally started with the windiest places, leaving poorer sites for later. At the same time, people increasingly protest against the wind farms in their backyards. Local opposition has tripled over the past three years, and local approval rates for new wind farms have sunk to an all-time low.

    Most people believe that a few wind turbines can be attractive, but it is an entirely different matter when turbines are scattered across the countryside, or when massive, industrial wind farms extend for miles. Complaints have also increased about enormous new wind turbines’ low-frequency noise.

    Given souring public sentiment, most of the future increase in wind turbines is expected to take place offshore, where there is less opposition, but where costs are much higher.

    With its ’20-20-20′ policy, the EU has promised that, by 2020, it will cut its carbon emissions by 20% below 1990 levels, and increase reliance on renewables by 20%. For the UK, this needs a dramatic rise in wind power, especially offshore.

    This will be surprisingly costly. The UK Carbon Trust estimates that the cost of expanding wind turbines to 40 gigawatts, in order to provide 31% of electricity by 2020, could run as high as £75 billion ($120 billion).

    And the benefits, in terms of tackling global warming, would be measly: a reduction of just 86 megatons of CO2 per year for two decades. In terms of averted rise in temperature, this would be completely insignificant. Using a standard climate model, by 2100, the UK’s huge outlay will have postponed global warming by just over 10 days.

    Moreover, this estimate is undoubtedly too optimistic. Wind frequently does not blow when we need it. For example, as the BBC reported, the cold weather on December 21, 2010, was typical of a prolonged cold front, with high-pressure areas and little wind. Whereas wind power, on average, supplies 5% of the UK’s electricity, its share fell to just 0.04% that day. With demand understandably peaking, other sources, such as coal and gas, had to fill the gap.

    Making up for a 5% shortfall in supply is manageable, but the situation will change dramatically as the UK increases its reliance on wind power to reach the 31% target by 2020. Wind power becomes much more expensive when we factor in the large supplies of power that must be created for backup whenever the wind dies down

    Colette McLean
    March 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm