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Politicians Vote on Wind Energy: Don't Blow it!

On Thursday Ontario politicians have the chance to halt industrial wind turbines in the province. Wind energy is the opposite of green technology. Conservation -- Reduce, Re-use, Recycle -- is green, a frugal approach that makes sense. Wind energy -- Unreliable, Inefficient, Expensive -- is-green, a wasteful approach that makes no sense.

Our politicians have a sanity-check scheduled for tomorrow's session at Queen's Park. For the fifth time, they're being given the chance to give their heads a shake. Common sense can prevail if -- and only if -- the NDP show up this time for the therapy session. Tens of thousands of people across the province, especially in rural Ontario, will be watching closely. For many, their future depends on MPP Lisa Thompson's Private Member's motion calling for a halt to industrial wind turbines in Ontario.

The Canadian Auto Workers' wind turbine in Port Elgin is too close to homes.
Karen Hunter
The Canadian Auto Workers' wind turbine in Port Elgin is too close to homes.

A lot has happened since the December 1 defeat of MPP Todd Smith's Private Member's Bill to restore municipal planning powers under the Green Energy Act (GEA). Soon after, in a scathing renewable energy report, the Auditor General highlighted the "growing public-health concerns about wind turbines, particularly with regard to the noise." A seismic shift occurred in January when the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) -- representing 38,000 families across 79 municipalities -- together with the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO), called on the provincial government "to suspend the invasion of rural Ontario with industrial wind turbines."

In February, the Drummond Report, though according to some, read "as if it was written by government bureaucrats defending the indefensible," continued wind energy's scrutiny. Last week's protest walk-out by municipal leaders at Toronto's ROMA Conference forced McGuinty to concede that he "will be adopting some of the recommendations put forward by rural Ontario so we can achieve a better balance." Over the past four months, across the province, wind protests and legal proceedings have focused attention on the fallacy and folly of the government's green ideology.

Wind energy is, in fact, the opposite of green and is currently doing more harm than good to the environment. Conservation -- Reduce, Re-use, Recycle -- is green, a frugal approach that makes sense. Wind energy -- Unreliable, Inefficient, Expensive -- is anti-green, a wasteful approach that makes no sense. According to columnist Kevin Myers for the Irish Independent: "Wind can often be not so much a Renewable as an Unusable, and also an Unpredictable, an Unstorable, and -- normally when it's very cold -- an Unmovable." The only green in wind energy is money: profits for large wind developers. Wind turbines are the provincial government's solution to a problem that didn't exist, an integral part of a "policy-created power crisis."

The government's current power strategy would be better described as the Red Energy Act. The accumulating debt caused by the government's costly Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program stands to bankrupt the province. Consumers will also find it increasingly hard to balance their budgets. According to a recent editorial in the National Post: "If the Ontario government were to stop now, the province's consumers would still likely have to pay power costs 20% to 30% higher than in 2008 -- the year before the Green Energy Act (GEA) -- for the rest of this decade, just to pay for the failed initiatives to date." And red-faced anger will continue in municipalities where residents have been stripped of their democratic rights by the GEA and had wind turbines shoved down their throats.

Thursday's vote isn't just a sanity-check; it's a conscience vote for people's health. Back in January, the OFA exposed the government's dirty little secret; industrial wind turbines are destroying rural Ontario. Neighbours are being pitted against neighbours in win-lose battles. For each FIT contract's financial gain, there is a multitude of possible health issues among windpower's victims: Chronic sleep disruption, fatigue, nausea, vertigo, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations. It's just a matter of time before thousands more turbines will litter Ontario's fertile lands and victimize even more rural communities.

The Canadian Auto Worker's industrial wind turbine in Port Elgin is a prime example of the harmful impact. Despite the province's 550m setback policy, CAW located its turbine less than half that distance from people. The soon-to-be-operational turbine, in the heart of a densely-populated neighbourhood, will impact the health and safety of about 100 families, CAW employees, and children in an on-site daycare. Over 4,000 people located within 2000m of the turbine -- as well as schools, a retirement home, and the local airport -- are at risk. Despite wind company standards that stipulate a 305m safety setback, people will be as close as 50m. The people of Port Elgin are just another windsanity casualty.

Without a doubt, many people will attend Thursday's vote from municipalities across Ontario. Cautiously optimistic, they've become vocal, if not radical, about the need to stop wind turbine development. The stakes are high, the vote will be recorded for easy reference, and all eyes will be on the NDP.

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