Wind farm meeting stirs up mixed opinionsFriday, September 07, 2012 by: Darren Taylor
There is a clear difference in opinion about wind farms in Algoma.
That difference was evident last night at Aweres Public School, the site of a public meeting regarding the proposed Bow Lake Wind Farm.
Calgary-based BluEarth Renewables, with offices in Ontario, is seeking a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ontario government.
Its intent is to erect 36 wind turbines approximately 80 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, close to Lake Superior’s eastern shore and south of the Montreal River, lying within Batchewana First Nation traditional territory.
The project, if approved, would be completed by 2014.
BluEarth Renewables Vice President of Communications Kelly Matheson told SooToday.com, “the project is a really excellent example of a responsibly developed wind project that’s going to help Ontario meet its renewable energy goals that have been set in a very proactive and forward looking manner by the Ontario government.”
But Matheson says she knows there is a “mix” in opinion about the proposed development.
Within that mix is the group of area residents known as Save Ontario’s Algoma Region, better known as SOAR.
Gillan Richards of SOAR told SooToday.com, “it’s a concern because we found out two years ago people in Algoma simply did not know what was planned for the generation of wind energy in this area."
"We believe in our heritage coast, in preserving its natural state, without the intrusion of any industrial development. Period. We want tourism to be the major industry in Algoma,” said Richards.
“We are not, as a group, against renewable energy, but we are concerned about the placement of this particular project," she said. " We are mostly concerned that people didn’t know, and its been our job to bring the information to the public as accurately as we can, to bring their concerns to BluEarth and the government of Ontario."
"The government of Ontario has put the onus on the renewable energy developers to announce the projects, the dates, the concerns, and report back to the government," Richards said. "The government of Ontario should have taken that responsibility itself.”
BluEarth says the 36 wind turbines combined will produce enough electricity to power up approximately 30,000 homes.
Matheson said BluEarth knows there is a lot of information, especially online, about the perceived effect of wind turbines on wildlife, also causing headaches and sleeplessness in people who live near wind farms, but stated that a lot of online research was unreliable and was encouraged that people were attending the public meeting and asking questions for themselves.
Project Development Lead Scott Hossie said, “we’ll be focusing on local employment. There will be 60 to 80 jobs in the construction period locally, and once operational, four to six permanent employees to operate the plant.”
Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers says the project is a winner for his people.
“We found through our own research that wind energy would have the least impact on the land. It’s going to have a minimal footprint on our land. We’ve embraced the opportunity to economically benefit from it," Sayers said.
"We have a strong commitment that a lot of our people will be able to fill those construction jobs, there will be training opportunities. There’s 26 kilometres of road involved, we have people being trained right now to be bulldozer operators, driving the equipment, showing people how to use a gravel crusher.”
“We know it will be profitable.”
Hossie said “we’re hoping to hold our second public meeting before the end of this year, then get our REA in early 2013, start construction summer 2013, and have both phases 1 and 2 of the project done by spring 2014.”
A second public meeting about the Bow Lake Wind Farm will be held before the end of this year. Details about the time and place of that meeting are not yet known.
shorty38 9/7/2012 8:55:24 AM Report
There should only be one answere to the discussion of wind turbines anywhere, it is NO, NO,and NO.
If Chief Sayers was thinking of the people and the enviroment instead of the short range money for a few people he would also say no.
Remember the old saying, follow the money, that is what is leading this wind farm frenzie, not energy for homes.
ryeandcoke 9/7/2012 9:19:16 AM Report
CHIEF DEAN SAYERS IS A JOKE!!!! HE IS LOOKING FOR A PAY CHECK. IF HE CARED THEN HE WOULD SAY NO!!!
Nanax5 9/7/2012 9:34:53 AM Report
Places in England who have had wind turbines for many years are fed up with them. No!no!no!
Dreamer 9/7/2012 9:49:53 AM Report
Well, if the Chief wasn't getting the cheque someone would be there with their hand streched out ? May as well be the Chief.
GoulaisMa*Pa 9/7/2012 9:54:17 AM Report
Knee-jerk responses pit people against each other instead of providing an opportunity for informed discussion. Heaven forbid that!
The_claw 9/7/2012 10:00:05 AM Report
Perhaps we should have a few more nuclear power plants and maybe some coal one's as well.
WAKE UP PEOPLE ..power is a must and blowing are selfs up with nuclear energy is retarded. and coal is no better when it comes to polution.
so all you na sayers have you really thought about what these other options are... I think not.
Most of these oppostions are politically motivated or finacially motived. That facts about nuclear and coal energy are exactly that, "fact" These forms of energy need to be replaced, end of story.
benz1 9/7/2012 10:10:51 AM Report
The windfarms equate to quick cash grabs, minimal short term economic boosts, false promises that wind power is the solution to our power deficiencies and long term damaging effects to our prized Lake Superior coastline. Our government has opened the door to unfavourable changes in the way we will see the Lake Superior coast forever and it's sad we don't strive to protect a totally unique area. It's disappointing Chief Sayers can't see the big picture past all the $$$$$.
jimbobdog1 9/7/2012 10:11:57 AM Report
I have a problem with the type of turbine that is used in these wind farms. They require extensive circuitry to enable them to respond to changes in wind direction and are NOISY!
If they used a turbine with a vertical shaft and a squirrel cage (think of the fan in your furnace turned on end) it could operate with any direction of wind and would certainly make less noise than the whump, whump of the present design.
Is it possible that the design is the one favoured by GE and promoted by government?
JediMindTrick 9/7/2012 10:42:07 AM Report
just build them and let the same backwards people cry wolf about things. we need renewable and sustainable energy, here is a piece of the solution. we want them, we need them, but refuse to take the burden of having them in the area. stop with your NIMBY rhetoric.
Mr Cloudy 9/7/2012 11:08:13 AM Report
Chief Dean Sayers, Does not make this decision solely, He is a representative or spokes person if you will for the wishes of all our members. One of which I happen to be. I definitely agree with the decision to obtain clean energy. We live in a city where people agreed that it was okay to build a steel mill, paper mill and flake board plant directly on our lakes disposing pollution into our air, water and lands, for the sake of jobs. Noisy, stinky eye soars spreading cancers with the amount of pollution its pumping out. We as native people try to earn an income and do it in an environmentally friendly ways as possible and because what a few people say its an eyes soar we should shut it all down. I think NOT!! I believe this to be a great opportunity for our community. There are to many benefits to be gained from this project to withdraw for the sake of footprints created. On the contrary hopefully people will see the benefits of such a project and follow in those footprints. I know some of the benefits I would like to look forward to along with anyone else who pays an electric bill is a reduction in that cost. On another note with the training of our community members with such equipment and money being generated in our community maybe we will see a day here in Batchewana were we can afford infrastructure, such basic luxuries that non reserve members take for granted such as side walks, cross walks, street lights and schools. That will help keep our community and children there in safe. Thats my 2$ lol inflation.
Zarm27 9/7/2012 11:32:28 AM Report
I think it's a great idea for that reserve, as it was mentioned it would enable many perks to having it around. Since the government has been limiting funding towards northern reserves, it only makes sense that it's a great idea to have ways for the communities to have ways to support their infrastructure instead of relying on possible cancelled cheques from the government. The sound isn't too loud, although if it was too close to houses I could imagine it getting annoying. Also I'd wonder where they'd be positioned in general, there's some out on Manitoulin Island and they just look alien in nature since there's only a couple slighly hidden amongst a green forest. MrCloudy the $2 made me laugh, mainly since I haven't gotten mine in a long time.
RonBes 9/7/2012 12:04:22 PM Report
Ah, wind farm NIMBYs - because clearly burning coal and other fossil fuels, or finding a place to store spent fuel rods for a nuclear facility would be a better use of our Lake Superior coast. /sarcasm
But you did know that, right? That they want to store spend rods in mineshafts around the lake? Shouldn't you be out protesting that, instead of relatively clean and infinitely renewable wind power?
I have seen these things up close, and yes, they do make a small whistling and swishing noise, and sometimes a low hum of an electric motor, as they turn to meet the wind, but both those things are inaudible from a short distance. The swishing and whistling is only audible if you're right next to them, and the motor sound can be heard a little further, but then only if the wind changes direction. No big deal, people.
If you have a problem with the unproven health effects from being so near the electric field caused by the generator, I guess you'd better stop driving your car too, because you're also too near the one from your vehicle's alternator, also a generator. And while we're at it, why don't you put down that cell phone - because unlike the negative health effects of wind farms - there is actually evidence to suggest a cell phone may be harmful.
Not that those arguments even hold water here - nobody lives anywhere close enough our wind farms (proposed or operational) - to suffer any of these alleged effects.
As for the eyesore factor, I personally think they look really neat, when I can actually see them at all. You can see them faintly on the horizon on a really clear day from a few high points in town, or in a few spots on the boardwalk (if you look past the real eyesore - the steel plant), and on the highway heading south, you can see them for about 20 seconds between Mahler Road and Hwy 552. Big deal. I doubt you'll even ever see Bow Lake unless you really go looking for it.
You also don't seem to have a problem with the far-uglier red-and-white cell phone towers popping up everywhere on the hillsides though. Why is that? Why don't you raise a big stink about those? There are no meetings, no protest, no nothing about those. Could it be that you just want something to complain about? Or that the benefits of wider cell coverage are more tangible in your lives? I'll tell you, when all you're breathing is smog from fossil fuel burning electricity and we're facing rolling brownouts or blackouts, the benefits of these wind towers would be pretty tangible, too.
Rant done. Good day, sirs (and madams).
1130 9/7/2012 12:13:31 PM Report
Wind farms , solar farms who really cares , the power goes else where anyways , Im surounded by panels that took down hundreds of acres of trees , and they promised the world to local resedents to only crap out on the finished product , and wind turbines are noisey, also you get those great red light flashing all night to help you sleep like your at a 10 dollar motel.
beachpea 9/7/2012 1:15:53 PM Report
I was unable to attend the meeting, so thank you for giving me a forum to speak. I appreciate the bands embracement of an “environmentally friendly” economic project for their land. It is, of course, their choice, and I am sure that the revenues they garner from it will be put to many worthy projects for their people. But I don’t for a second believe it is a good choice for the earth. I live on Goulais Bay near the existing wind farm, and up until the wind farm was built, the only sounds I heard at night were the gentle (or sometimes furious) sound of the lake; the sound of twigs cracking under the footsteps of animals as they travel through the bush on their nightly rounds, the sound of wind rushing across the bay and then creeping through the trees. I am blessed with good hearing so perhaps not everyone experiences what I do, but now I am awakened at night by the repetitive thud of the turbine blades. It makes me cry to know the loss this is for future generations. Is it a case of “not in my backyard”? Perhaps it is. But, I see my backyard as all of the unspoiled lands of the north. It is exactly because of the previously mentioned “steel mill, paper mill and flake board plant directly on our lakes disposing pollution into our air, water and lands” that I feel so strongly about protecting what is left. This power is meant for the cities and industry, where land has lost any claim to “natural”. So why not put these windmills on disturbed and developed land? Why do they have to be erected in a place of such natural beauty? It is because Canada prospers on her raw materials, and those areas that are not heavily populated (as in, with the least votes) are designated as areas where “anything and everything” is up for sale. I don’t believe we can stop “progress”, just don’t try to convince me that it is not having a detrimental impact on the land I grew up on. I don’t know what effect the sound of the turbines has on the people and wildlife of our area (that is for scientists to determine), but I know for myself, the sound of the blades slicing through the air also cuts through my heart.
Timbob 9/7/2012 3:20:18 PM Report
There sure are a lot of people yapping about things they are completely ignorant about.
First, today's nuclear and new coal fired generating stations are every bit as "clean, green, and environmentally conscious" (use whatever trendy words you want) as the wind farms. That's not wishful thinking, that's a fact.
They also produce 1000x the power in a smaller, less invasive footprint than wind or solar. They are also 10x-100x more economical. Yes, that's ONE HUNDRED TIMES more economical - think about that for a minute.
In addition, when you generate power close to the place of major consumption (i.e. Southern Ontario) you have substantially less line/energy loss. Instead, this idiotic plan generates a relatively miniscule amount of power just about as far away as anyone could possibly imagine from the heavy consumption.
Wind power is also complicated to push through the existing power distribution system because it comes in surges (i.e. the wind generates power when the wind blows). The existing distribution system requires substantial upgrades and changes to handle this type of power properly.
SO, please tell me who the freakin' GENIUSES are who devised this plan in the first place?! I mean, seriously, you'd have to be a third rate idiot to think this is a good plan.
The next issue, the emotional one, is every bit as valid. The destruction of one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
These wind farms will completely desecrate the natural coastline of Lake Superior - forever! And that includes the exact location where Canada's famous "Group of 7" painted their landscapes.
In fact, it's very telling that our First Nations people support this program. It really proves how "environmentally conscious" and "close to the land" they are!
Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers says "...We’ve embraced the opportunity to economically benefit from it," Sayers said.
No kidding. He gets a nice royalty cheque every month deposited directly into the band's bank account. Or will it go directly into his bank account? I know one thing - it doesn't go into my bank account or my non-"native" Canadian neighbor's account!
And for those talking about the economic gain for the area. After a few months of construction there will be 3 or 4 permanent jobs. Yes, three or four. Wow, that's really impressive.
If you want to subsidize another financially unsound project just so you can brag that Ontario might produce less than 0.5% of its electricity with "green" technology - then go ahead, be my guest. But, don't ask me to contribute.
The only economic benefit to this region will be that 80,000+ people will see substantial increases in their monthly power bills, just to pay for this nonsense!
RonBes 9/7/2012 3:33:51 PM Report
Okay Timbob, if nuclear and so-called "clean" coal generation are so great, why don't you offer to store the spent nuclear fuel on your property? Or live next door to a coal-fired plant?
Given the choice, I'll take wind and solar, despite their physical footprint, over nasty, ugly(er), and carbon-spewing fossil fuels. Not adding to generation capacity is not an option - I wish it were. If we were more conscious of conservation of energy as a society, it might not be an issue, but people generally don't care and will just pay up to keep the juice on. Folks gotta have their A/C.
Mind you, the nuclear issue could be greatly alleviated if we used Thorium-based reactors, but for some reason, nobody is all that interested in those.
UrsaMajor 9/7/2012 5:29:22 PM Report
I live next to the steel plant. Complaining about noise from a windmill makes you look like a tool.
mallet 9/7/2012 5:34:13 PM Report
I am taking their own words ... they hope to have the REA by spring of 2013 and start construction in summer of 2013 and have the project up and running spring of 2014, so let me see.. thats 9 months. Mr Sayers says there will be employment for his Band members, 60 to 80 jobs, mmm, we will see, don't remember being that many at Prince windfarm, however they didn't have to build much of a road. I don't think theres a concrete plant at Batchawana, so no jobs there, once the road is built and pads poured, erecting the towers and turbines and blades is a pretty specialised job, don't think there will be much employment at that time. I guess I am one of the NIMBY's if desecrating one of the country's unique and beautiful areas is what people want for a financial gain. If this is all on reserve land, then that is your responsibility, and any problems that occur are yours to solve, however if it is not on reserve land it is all of our problems to solve, and that is why I do not believe it should be allowed..
tcowen 9/7/2012 6:28:10 PM Report
Maybe Chief Sayers could get little Andrew a job & keep him out of people's liquor cabinets when they're not home.
Just sayin.. honest jobs are hard to come by.
joshua_r_b 9/7/2012 8:37:46 PM Report
If the chief likes them so much, have them all built on the reserve. I live in one of the proposed areas and I definitely do not want them around my house. They are loud, ugly, kill wildlife and the majority and the money they make, including the initial funding leaves Canada. Other then the short term construction. Say no the wind farms.
Ernest Raymond 9/8/2012 11:08:32 AM Report
So this new wind farm will power about 30,000 homes?
Okay, where exactly are these 30,000 homes, and why don't these 30,000 homeowners just put up their own rooftop windmills and let the Batchewana band collect the money if these windmills are so nice and quiet?
Never mind, the Batchewana windmills are probably just part of some land claim settlement anyway.
Cashmier 9/10/2012 3:38:58 PM Report
I also don't understand the big objection to Wind and Solar power. Seeing that we need to increase generation, why wouldn't we invest in renewable energy?
It is true that there is a slight loss when moving power extensive distances through the grid, however most of what is generated in Northern Ontario is used in Northern Ontario. I will admit that the solar farms don't entirely make sense to me, but there is a reason that certain locations are chosen for wind power - because wind studies show favorable wind patterns in certain areas, which is a more effective use of resources. I'm not sure if the solar farms do something similar, but I have never thought of the Sault as being a sunny place...
In addition, it amazes me how much we all complain about wind towers tucked away from sight and sound when I see them all over the farmers fields when travelling in the US. Doesn't seem to bother their animals too much.
And, coal is not clean - they may have dramatically reduced their emissions in the generation process, but the coal extraction and transportation process causes significant polution. And I'm just not ready for nuclear... still too much risk considering the severity of the potential impacts.