Editorial: Wind turbine woes won’t be forgotten
By Peter Epp, Postmedia Network
When Premier Kathleen Wynne announced 14 months ago that her government was suspending Ontario’s renewable energy procurement process, she and her Liberal colleagues were caught in the middle of a public backlash against skyrocketing electricity bills. Halting a costly plan that promoted wind turbine farms was a quick, convenient response. Indeed, Wynne’s own energy minister admitted Ontario didn’t need the electricity that would be produced by new turbines.
But there was a problem. Six months earlier, several wind turbine projects had been approved, and the September announcement didn’t mean they would be cancelled. The contracts would be honoured. Ontario would be allowing the development of wind turbines to produce electricity that wasn’t needed.
Among those projects are two in Chatham-Kent and another in Elgin County. One has become an enormous public relations problem for the Wynne government, while the other two have the potential to become the same.
The first project is almost complete; but the others should be halted before they begin.
The North Kent 1 wind project was mired in controversy even before Wynne announced suspension of the renewable program. Construction activity is believed to have fouled or clogged at least 16 water wells because of interference to the area’s unique geology. Residents with damaged wells have made arrangements to have clean water trucked to their property.
The problems at the North Kent 1 project have stirred up fears a few kilometres away, at the Otter Creek project. Work has yet to begin, but residents are worried the same problems will affect their water. They’re also worried proposed turbine towers, the tallest in Canada, will be erected in an important migratory bird flight path.
Local MPP Monte McNaughton (PC — Lambton-Kent-Middleses) wants Otter Creek halted.
“These turbines are being built to generate electricity we don’t need, and they’re only going to contribute to driving hydro prices even higher,” he said.
In Elgin County, meanwhile, residents in Dutton Dunwich continue to campaign against a wind farm that has yet to be built.
Kathleen Wynne may have hoped rural Ontario’s long-held discontent with the Green Energy Plan would be forgotten by the June 2018 provincial election. But that’s not about to happen as the remnants of that multibillion-dollar campaign, and its varied controversies, continue to be revealed.