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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wind Power Installations

Wind Power Installations and Questions
I am confused.
I am confused about the positive benefits and negative impacts of industrial scale wind power installations.
Since driving by the fifteen 90-metre tall wind turbines located near Amherst, Nova Scotia, a wind farm expected to be producing power by the end of this month, I’ve been searching for information on these benefits and impacts.   Accurate information based on science and study is a challenge to locate.  I am confused and have discovered that “induced confusion” in the general public seems to be encouraged by promoters of the wind industry itself.  They've got me there.

I have found information re: concerns from the general public about noise and health and environmental issues.  One example:  It is currently permissible to have a minimum set-back distance from the nearest dwelling of 500-700 metres, while in Scotland and some US states a minimum distance of 2 miles is standard.   The wind farm on the Tantramar marsh is in the backyards of farms and houses in Amherst.
There are concerns from the general public about property values and civil rights.  What happens to the values of residential properties affected by the installation of industrial scale wind farms?
I’ve read about concerns re: visual impact and loss of heritage landscape.   Visual impact, yes, the wind turbines look like aliens advancing across the marsh.  The only visual advantage of the wind turbines is that of taking one’s attention away from the sewage lagoons being dug beside the wind farm.  And, why choose to build in a location that is a busy bird migration route, an archaeological site, a potential flood zone and a heritage landscape, such as the Tantramar marshes?
There are those who claim that wind farms provide a clean, renewable source of energy that helps combat climate change, bring jobs (though many are short term, ending with the installation of the turbines), use local goods and services, provide royalties to the landowners and supplement farmers’ incomes.
Where is the balance point between alternative or renewable energy and scientific methodology with common sense scrutiny?    Where are the long range energy policies that are responsible, consultative and demonstrably effective?
Where is the accurate, accessible, unconfusing information, the truth about the positive benefits and the negative impacts of industrial scale wind power installations?
I can’t find it and I’ve been searching. 

And I’m still confused.

Helpful questions and information can be found at:  Brief from “Friends of the Tantramar Marsh” and from CBC news.    If you click on words in red, you will go to another site with additional information.
Photos are mine.


Crafty Green Poet said...

I'm confused too. I think industrial sized wind turbine installations are fine if they're on for example the site of an old coal mine that isn't near bird migration routes. I think small wind farms are fine (again as long as they're not near bird migration routes). But in the wrong place, or at too large a scale for the location wind farms are not something I like to see. Wind turbines aren't (as far as I know) even efficient at producing electricity. Then there are many examples in Scotland of wind farms being switched off when the wind gets too fast! So yes, it's confusing!

Anonymous said...

I am puzzled how people have so easily accepted all the hydro transmission towers, poles and lines for so long and now have trouble with the windmills. Those items don't have to be on the surface and a very good practical argument could be made for burying them. Just ask those who lived through the ice storm in Ottawa, Quebec and parts of the northern States.

As for the sound they make, I have honestly never heard them make any noise but surely their noise cannot compete with the whistle of a train going through town at all hours of the night. ...and it amazes me how some people have been trained to think of that as romantic. Would they be similarly enthralled with a transport truck blowing its horn at 2:00 AM? Or how about the noise of jets taking off. I am told by some who have lived near them that people get used to trains going by and planes taking off to the point where they fail to hear the noise after a while.

Anonymous said...

I am ignorant of the reasons why they have made rules about the distance from homes but perhaps it is the same thing with the hydro transmission towers or communication towers. If you really want to have something in the neighbourhood to worry about though, you have to try a nuclear plant on for size. There are ample incidents in our past to make people somewhat wary of that technology, yet they get continually convinced that things have now improved and that it is a necessity.

I believe that it is time we accepted electricity as a necessity and a very good one, at that. It is relatively cheap to produce, is easily transported and is the most easily produced form of power we have in that it can be created from so many different sources. Perhaps we also have to face the issue that whatever you do to a large scale is going to have repercussions.

My current favourite way to produce electricity is by burning waste/garbage and by using up methane gas. They have the technology to do this with minimal impact on the environment but some methods are costly. So, either we should say the cost is worth it to us (and charge accordingly, of course) or we should live with that pollution and be thankful that we are avoiding others which are likely worse. As it stands, by continually burying garbage or by taking it out to sea on barges to pollute the ocean, we are poisoning our drinking water and destroying our food sources. So, it should be reuse, recycle and burn.

Carol Steel said...


Thanks for your comment. It is difficult to obtain balanced information. That fact alone makes me anxious.

Carol Steel said...

Hi Anonymous,

You make a good point about our acceptance of the visuals of transmission lines. Certainly, there is a simple sculptural beauty to the wind turbines.

I have been unable to find information about the sound of the turbines, so can't comment upon that. I will keep searching for data.

Carol Steel said...

Hello Anonymous #2,

Thank you for your comments. I admit to having inadequate knowledge about the benefits and hazards of various electricity production methods. You raise interesting points and press me to do better homework on these issues...which I am doing.

Anonymous said...

I am just as confused as you are.
I have just begun my research on this issue and am happy I landed here. Perhaps you (or another blogger) can answer a question that I have. I must say, this is not what I would call a difficult or complex question, but trying to find the answers through Nova Scotia power or the NS Gov't is next to impossible.

Where exactly is the power going?

Despite guarantees from our gov't to have power rates down 40% in the next 7-8 years, we have yet to see any sign of such. In fact, a 6% increase in the works now, despite a recent 6% increase (plus a 3% fuel adjustment hike). 40% OVER THE PAST FEW DECADES with no sign of stopping. I have a hard time believing that this wind farm is for the benefit of Nova Scotia citizens.

Keep up the good work and keep an eye open for protests in the near future.

Cheers from Amherst.


Carol Steel said...

Dear J. in Amherst,

Thank you for your comment. I hope you find the information you seek. I agree that obtaining facts and getting at the truth seems difficult.