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9. How can I develop wind power that is not intrusive to the community?

     The future, and what it holds, is immensely difficult to predict. This is as true in the energy area as it is anywhere else.

     Predictions as to the future of Ontario 's electricity marketplace and electricity industry are made even more difficult by the current state of the industry. Power shortages are looming. Conservation and greater efficiency are essential. Air quality issues need to be addressed.

     The Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition is obviously not in a position to develop a comprehensive and sound solution to the myriad of questions surrounding Ontario 's current electricity industry difficulties. What we can share, however, are our own thoughts as to how the residents of our community can assist in the introduction of wind-generated electricity to the Ontario market while at the same time maintaining our community as a desirable place to live and preserving the natural features of our cherished local environment.

     We believe that a balanced approach to wind power development in our community is what is necessary. By “balanced approach” we mean an approach which facilitates an appropriate scale and scope of wind power development while also allowing for the preservation of the attributes of our community which we treasure, i.e. , its solitude, its natural beauty, its diverse ecosystems and its lovely rural residential character. It would not be appropriate to simply reject the possibility of any and all wind power development in our community. At the same time, however, we do not support the notion that large-scale commercial development of our community's wind resource by a profit-maximizing non-resident developer should be our first and only choice in terms of how our community's wind resource should be developed. Yes, an appropriate degree of wind power development should be supported. But no, unbridled wind power development under the guise of “green” or “renewable” energy should not be supported. What we need to find is the right balance.

     The Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition believes that the key to finding the right balance lies in encouraging the installation of what the wind industry refers to as “small wind” turbine systems. These can range from systems which will, subject to intermittency, generate enough power for a single home to systems which will, again subject to intermittency, generate enough power for a medium-sized dairy or poultry operation. “Small wind” systems can also be established by groups of residents so as to generate the power required by, for example, a small hamlet. Finally, a “small wind” system can, subject to the creation by the Ontario Government of the required regulatory environment, serve to generate power for the individual resident while also allowing that resident to sell his or her excess power into the electrical grid.

     The benefit of such an approach ( i.e ., encouragement for “small wind” systems within our community) is that such an emphasis will permit an appreciable degree of wind power development within our community while also permitting the maintenance of our community's attributes which make it such a desirable place to live in the first place. Indeed, the development of “small wind” systems within our community could, over time, present some significant benefits for our community and its residents, benefits which would not accrue to the benefit of the local community and its residents under the current Brascan/SWEI proposal. Subject to the development of an appropriate regulatory environment by the Ontario Government and evolution in the Ontario electricity marketplace, the benefits of “small wind” power development within our community could include (i) self-sufficiency in terms of our local use of electricity relative to the amount of electricity we produce locally, (ii) the use of locally-generated electricity within our community (rather than just exporting the power to other areas of the Province through the high voltage transmission system), (iii) community-based investment in wind power development, which would result in a higher percentage of wind power sales revenues being retained within the community (rather than merely 2% or 3% as provided for in the Brascan/SWEI lease), (iv) the preservation of the aesthetics of the community which we call home, and (v) the preservation of the diverse ecosystems present within our community.

     The Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition encourages all interested residents of our community to look carefully at the opportunities presented, at both an individual resident and at a community level, by “small wind” systems. Based on our research to date, there are certain regulatory and economic impediments to the installation of “small wind” systems in our community, and these will need to be addressed by the Ontario Government in order to make these systems viable for the average landowner. However, we consider it responsible for our community and its residents to give serious consideration to “small wind” installations within our community. There are hurdles to overcome, but common sense tells us that, with the passage of time, with higher electricity prices in the future, and with improvements in wind power technology, “small wind” systems hold significant potential for the realization of significant local benefits without the disadvantages associated with large-scale commercial development by a non-resident, profit maximizing developer like Brascan/SWEI.

     For those residents interested in investigating the viability of small wind systems on your property, we want (as a starting point) to draw your attention to the Federal Government's publication “Stand-Alone Wind Energy Sytems: A Buyer's Guide” (Natural Resources Canada 2000). Further information on “small wind” systems is available through Natural Resources Canada, Renewable and Electrical Energy Division, 580 Booth Street , 17th Floor, Ottawa , Ontario , K1A 0E4 .

     In short, the Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition believes that wind power development within our community can be part of our community's future - so long as the development is properly controlled and so long as the benefits are realized here - by our community and its residents.

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Copyright, The Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition, 2004.  All rights reserved.