Newspapers recently carried the story of some individuals around Stayner who are building small structures, about 16 by 20 feet, to delay or obstruct the construction of wind-powered turbines.
“The residents have been sprinkling mini-houses … in the path of proposed turbines – knowing that provincial rules forbid turbines from being erected within 550 metres of a dwelling.” So far there are 7 small dwellings “that are either built, permitted, or under construction.” About 100 people have contributed $750,000 to this misguided exercise.
I think local residents are perfectly entitled to raise objections to specific issues related to turbines, such as size and appropriate sites, but it’s sad to see so much money used so irresponsibly. It would be better, in my mind, to know first what possible alternative these protesters would support. Would they be happier with a gas-fired generator? Perhaps a sprawling, multi-billion dollar nuclear plant?
The cost of solar has plunged by as much as 80% over the last 5 years according to some reports. But costs are higher in Ontario due to the local content requirement. A quick online search suggests that a 10 kW rooftop solar installation might cost about $53,000 installed. If so, the 100 objectors in Stayner could have equipped about 14 residences with solar panels, generating a total of 180,000 kWh/year. C02 equivalent emissions would be reduced by 58,000 kg for each 10 kW installation over the operating lifetime.
If the installations took part in the government’s FIT program, the 14 participant households might be receiving a total of $144,000 per year (published revenue estimates were based on a Toronto location) for their community based electric power generation. That would be a tidy economic boost for Clearview Township, which has a population of about 15,000.
The NIMBY attitude in Clearview is in stark contrast to the younger generation that recognizes a real need for change and is keen to make a difference. Reporter, Tyler Hamilton, wrote that, “A professor at University of Guelph said he’s noticed that more students are choosing areas of study linked to environmental sustainability. “I’d say one out of three kids wants to do something related to green innovation.”
In Ottawa, our federal government has moved from indifference to open hostility toward environmentalists. It has abandoned a leadership role, domestically and internationally, on environmental and sustainability issues. The protesters in Clearview, and the federal government are on the wrong side of history. According to the Globe and Mail (July 2010) “More fresh electricity capacity was added to the electricity grids of both the United States and Europe last year  from wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable sources than from conventional power plants run on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.”
The company proposing the wind farm project will “detail its plans toward the end of summer”.
Who Can Stop the Wind? These residents are trying, Toronto Star, April 20, 2012
Green young minds solve dirty old problems, Tyler Hamilton, Toronto Star, April 28, 2012