Ontario has the potential to develop more wind power. In 2006, the Ontario Power Authority contracted Helimax Energy Inc. to analyze the future for wind farm development in Ontario. Helimax produced two reports that identify potential sites for land-based and offshore wind farm locations throughout the province.
Helimax identified 60 onshore and 64 offshore locations that had favourable wind conditions, capacity, road access, and existing infrastructure, among other assets. None of these locations were allowed north of the 50th parallel, in shallow water, or in areas of environmental concern or protection (including parks and wetlands). Each site was ranked according to its desirability and presented to the OPA as a viable location. Nine of the potential locations are on Lake Ontario.
The Helimax studies reveal that Ontario has the capacity to generate over 40,000 MW of wind power without building turbines in sensitive or northern communities. The Ontario government's target is more modest: between 5000 and 8000 MW of wind power by 2025.
With so many desirable wind farm sites available, it is not surprising that communities raise concerns when wind projects are proposed for less desirable locations. We are seeing controversy now near Wolfe Island, Main Duck Island, Prince Edward County, and on the Scarborough Bluffs (to name a few Lake Ontario locations). It is a sign that we could also have better wind projects in Ontario.
As Waterkeeper Mark Mattson says,
I want to see more wind in Ontario, but I want to see better wind projects in Ontario. If we get bad wind projects, we're not going to meet our potential because people will point to the bad projects as precautionary tales in the future.
Even Energy Minister George Smitherman admits the province could do a better job selecting its wind farm locations. As he told one national newspaper:
Instead of having that discussion in 50 different places in the province at the same time, but with different participants, let's try to make sure on a leadership level that we create more of the conditions to where wind farms really, really make sense.
There is no question that Ontario needs to generate clean power, and that wind can be an essential part of our energy mix. There are a lot of questions, however, about where those turbines should go. That's the dilemma we tackle on this week’s episode of Living at the Barricades.
Wind Projects in Ontario: More and Better (Nov. 18, 2008)
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
This week Mark and Krystyn take us through one of the hottest topics in the media today: wind power in Ontario. We also speak with some residents of communities where windfarms have already been installed, and find out about the effects the new projects have had.
Music on this weeks show:
Birds-by Dawn Blythe and Dave Clark
September 28 2000- by Runcible Spoon
Short symphony in three pieces- by Sheila Gruner
I killed yer god- by the Woodchopper's Association