By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is calling on the provincial government to suspend the invasion of rural Ontario with industrial wind turbines.
Earlier this week OFA took a hard look at our own concerns with wind turbines. We have always been concerned with the price paid for wind power and the fact that it is not dispatchable – it is not stored for use during peak demand periods, making it highly inefficient. This was noted by Ontario’s Auditor General in his recent Annual Report in December 2011.
In addition, our technical concerns with regard to setback issues, induced current and noise impacts remain unaddressed.
OFA believes that the amendments to the Planning Act made under the authority of the Green Energy Act are not having the desired effect of providing for good planning. Removal of municipal input into industrial wind turbine projects has alienated the rural population and ignored competing community needs and policies.
All of these issues have been emphasized clearly by our members. Over the past few weeks we have clearly heard OFA members tell us of health concerns, concerns over the loss of farmland, encumbrances on their farm properties and many more issues related to the imposition of wind turbines across our rural landscape.
Most disconcerting of all is the impact wind turbines are having on the relationships across rural communities. When wind developments come to a community neighbours are pitted against neighbours. The issue of industrial wind turbine development is preoccupying the rural agenda.
OFA is telling the Ontario government our members have had enough. Rural Ontario cannot continue to be torn apart by wind turbines. The province needs to immediately suspend any further developments until our farm families and rural residents can be assured their interests are protected.
On behalf of rural Ontario, OFA needs to see the government enable community involvement in wind developments to ensure local planning issues and priorities are addressed. We need wind power to be priced right and made dispatchable so it can be used when we need it, rather than selling it at a loss during the nighttime. We need health and nuisance concerns addressed immediately and we need serious studies done on reasonable setback distances for the newer and larger turbines being planned.
The onus is on our provincial government to ensure the interests of rural Ontarians are protected. Our members are clearly telling us now that they are not. There are very serious concerns with wind energy as it is currently rolling out.
OFA supports green energy – Ontario needs a reliable, affordable source of renewable energy for our future. But we all need to work to ensure that green energy projects will respect concerns for noise, community involvement and price, balanced against the effective provision of that power.