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The Toronto Star reports that the Province of Ontario has placed a temporary freeze on applications for new Great Lakes wind farms.

Toronto Star: Ontario Freezes Wind Projects

Background:  Ontario recently enacted a plan to provide a 19 cent per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff for offshore wind projects in the province.  For an explanation of feed-in tariffs, see the link below:

Wikipedia: Feed-in Tariffs

The freeze is testament to the success of the program, but it is probably a good move, given the fact that the project is so new.  Better to get this done correctly than make mistakes on a grand scale.

Ever since Ontario enacted this feed-in tariff, corporations have raced to Lake Erie to take advantage.

Samsung announced plans for 200 wind turbines near Nanticoke:

Samsung Wind Farm

Canadian Hydro presented plans for 880 wind turbines near Long Point:

Canadian Hydro Wind Farm Plans

A company called Southpoint is planning three wind farms in Lake Erie:

Southpoint Wind Farms

I scan more than 350+ regional news feeds for environmental/outdoor news, and I have read about proposals for more than a thousand wind turbines in Lake Erie.  And the Toronto Star article notes that there are at least 100 separate proposals for more than 500 projects.

This overwhelming wave of proposals has caused the province to stop taking new applications until March.  Ontario needs more time to process these applications.  There also seems to be a desire to think this entire process through before agreeing to a wholesale reconfiguration of the lake.

I have some conflicting feelings about this story.

On one hand, I find this process to be exciting.  From my home county of Monroe, MI, I can see the coast of Ontario trailing off to the horizon.  And Ontario waters are only a dozen miles or so away from almost the entire length of the Monroe County shore.

The Ontario waters of Lake Erie have, apparently, room for 7,000 to 8,000 wind turbines.  I would expect that the construction of these turbines would create jobs for Monroe County.  And, in fact, a wind tower production facility is planned for the City of Monroe.  A wind tower research facility is planned for SW Detroit.  And ports all along the Great Lakes are gearing up for wind farm production.

This doesn't even mention the many, less-developed proposals for wind farms along and in U.S. waters.

The negative aspects of the story include my concern that Michigan, Ohio and other states might be left behind as Ontario pushes ahead.  This concern, however, is small.  God knows that there are enough coal power plants on both sides of the lakes that could be replaced by wind turbines.  There will be enough of this business for everyone.

I do also have environmental concerns.  I love to hike along Lake Erie.  And there is no way that 8,000 wind turbines can be constructed along the lake without impacting wildlife, the environment and aesthetics.

Will future generations curse the wind turbines that kill birds, circulate polluted bottom muck and ruin the aesthetics needed for a tourism-based economy?

Probably one of the best things that wind power in the Lake Erie West Region has going for it is desperation.  Throughout our area's history, we have welcomed coal plants, nuke facilities, and auto and cement plants because we have often been economically desperate.  Environmental and aesthetic concerns have always taken a back seat to jobs.

And I see the same thing happening with the wind boom.  Many areas of the country will reject wind turbines because they look bad, create noise concerns, etc.  However, our region will not say, "No."  That is a competitive advantage.

Note: My final paragraph initially included a throwaway comment about possible wind turbine bird kills.  I have read studies both pro and con related to wind tower impacts on birds, but feel persuaded that these facilities can be operated safely in that regard.  I am less confident of the impact on polluted Great Lakes bottom muck and the general industrial support network needed to build 8,000 turbines on the lake.  These turbines would, undoubtedly be better than any coal power plant in existence.

Originally posted to DingellDem on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 10:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I think of all the sites on "my side" of Erie, (6+ / 0-)

      ...where the coal trains empty their cago into monstrous heaps of black, waiting to be loaded into the ore-ships and moved outward to feed those coal-devouring power plants.

      I think of the mountains leveled and the valleys buried; the upland streams where, as a child, I learned to fly-fish; the beauty of being miles away from another human, but surrounded by the natural urbanity of all other things native to that region, that Appalachia; millions of years' worth of Mama Earth's handiwork, wiped from existence for yet more millions of years, all in the name of the profit that comes from building those monstrous heaps of harvested coal along the southern shores of Erie.

      I think of these, and then I imagine a mountain that, someday, will not be blasted into the mists of history by the profiteers who make coal their bread and butter.

      Erie will survive the turbines, and the mountains will cease to die....

      The only good freeper is the one found at the bottom of an ocean....

      by Liberal Panzer on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 10:34:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ps You might want to edit the title. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger

      My initial understanding was that Ontario wanted to freeze the Great Lakes, if wind energy could be used.

  •  Having seen with my own eyes windfarms (11+ / 0-)

    in Holland, Germany and Denmark let me assure you that any bird that would fly into a wind turbine was not long for this world anyway.  If they would fly into a wind turbine they would fly into trees, buildings, mountains or any obstacle.

    The turbines do not rotate at high RPMs like a house fan.  They are also enormous and easily seen.

    I don't know where the notion of birds being killed by wind turbines came from, but anyone who tries to tell me that will get nothing but a hearty laugh.

  •  Shout out to Monroe, Michigan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dougymi, ozsea1, Bob Duck

    home of George Armstrong Custer

  •  Tourism-based economy? (3+ / 0-)

    Since when is the shore of Lake Erie a tourism-based economy?

    I grew up outside of Detroit, and have spent a lot of time in and around the Great Lakes. With the exception of Cedar Point, I can't think of any large-scale tourist attractions around Lake Erie, and I don't think the coaster-riders at Cedar Point are there to look at the view. The economy in the area is manufacturing-based, not tourism-based. Any tourist industry was killed off by water pollution in the mid-20th century and has never really recovered.

    I understand your love for hiking, but please don't let it get in the way of clean energy for the country. The Great Lakes are home to the best wind energy resources in the Midwest.

    O it is excellent to have a giant's strength: but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. --Measure for Measure, II.2

    by RogueStage on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 10:29:38 AM PDT

  •  NIMBYism here will insure that America (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, RunawayRose, ozsea1

    loses the race to become the global leader in renewable energy.  By the time all of the lawsuits are resolved across the country filed by groups who agree in principle with green energy development as long as it takes place in someone else's neck of the woods, China will have already grabbed the brass ring, and we will be buying this technolgy from them, along with our socks, T-shirts, lawn mowers and TV's.

    Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. H. L. Mencken

    by Keith930 on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 10:30:14 AM PDT

  •  Wind energy is a part of everybody's future. (6+ / 0-)

    Here in Europe, they are popping up like mushrooms. For example, around 30 giant turbines have been installed alongside the A10 between Paris and Orleans, spaced about one every 100 metres or so. In Germany, they are sprouting in clumps usually 5 or 10 in a group.

    By 2020, Germany expects to be 30% renewable for its electricity, of which half will come from wind.

    Here is a photo of a major open cast coal mine near Dusseldorf, but notice the wind farms built on the scarred landscape

    garz turbines

  •  Mitigating the cost to wildlife (6+ / 0-)

    A couple google searches turned up the following two posts.

    The first is about bird deaths and the impact of the Tar Sands on wildlife in general.  I only point this out that if there was a switch to energy production from wind and away from fossil then there would be some (significant, I hope!) :) decrease in wildlife impact due to the reduction in the latter.

    Bird Deaths Related to Tar Sands

    The second is about using radar to mitigate bird deaths by shutting down wind farms in weather situations in which bird deaths would be likely.

    Radar moderated wind farms

    I'm pro wind power and I hope TN and NC will get on the bandwagon to avoid things like the recent TVA Coal Ash disaster.

    Videos of Coal Ash disaster

  •  Just as a suggestion: (0+ / 0-)

    Saying a project in Canada is a good thing because it will create jobs in the US to construct that project?  Not a good move.

    •  Once a turbine is built and installed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      there is virtually no more labour input. This is one of the reaons that the marginal cost of wind power is close to zero.

      •  I don't think that's completely correct (4+ / 0-)

        At least one WA State community college near the Columbia Gorge has developed a program to train wind farm technicians (post-installation), and I would expect there to be on-going maintenance issues, just as there are in hydro or coal-fired generation.

        I don't expect the number of jobs is huge, but large wind installations are usually in lightly-populated rural areas, where the impact of even 20 or 30 decent paying jobs  has a lot more significance than in an urban area. And there are a lot of turbines in the Gorge already, with more coming.

        Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

        by badger on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 11:46:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Some thoughts (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, dougymi

      According to 2008 data, the Port of Detroit accounted for $137 billion in trade.  Much of this came across the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit/Windsor Tunnel.

      Port of Detroit Stats

      We actually are starting to see infrastructure for wind turbines being built on the U.S. side.  And the 1,000 to 2,000 wind turbines already announced on both sides of the border - Michigan, Ohio and New York have announced projects as well - and potential for thousands more will create possibilities for jobs in Michigan.

      This is not a zero sum game.  And just because this region is subdivided by an international border doesn't mean that our solutions can't cross that border.

      Ontario incentives will certainly help this area more than, say an incentive in a U.S. state outside the Midwest.

      http://twitter.com/mikeingels

      by DingellDem on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 11:21:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Monroe Wind Tower Factory (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose

      Here is a link for the announced $19 million wind tower factory planned for the Port of Monroe on the U.S. side.

      Monroe Wind Tower Factory

      From the Port of Monroe, it is straight out ten miles on a boat to Ontario waters.

      <iframe width="300" height="300" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=41.896144,-83.126678&spn=0.61333,0.823975&z=9&output=embed"></iframe>

      http://twitter.com/mikeingels

      by DingellDem on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 11:47:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why not? Jobs are jobs. (0+ / 0-)

      Saying a project in Canada is a good thing because it will create jobs in the US to construct that project?  Not a good move.

      Why would exporting wind turbine parts be any worse than making something else to be exported, like airplanes or agricultural machinery?

      Renewable energy brings national security.

      by Calamity Jean on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:09:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Look at a Map (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose

    Why wouldn't Canada be part of the solution for Michigan?

    http://twitter.com/mikeingels

    by DingellDem on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 10:57:43 AM PDT

  •  I Grew Up Sailing Lake Erie. Screw the Aesthetics (5+ / 0-)

    Wind farms are vastly less destructive of aesthetics than the acres of orange oily river water, tumored carp and dead rats that used to define rust belt Lake Erie.

    A while earlier the Lakes were the leading shipping region of the country, more ships were being built for the Lakes than for the sea. Ferry runs were everywhere.

    Besides, wind turbines can be taken down a whale of a lot faster than heavy metal sludge can be cleaned out of the lake bottoms. If we find ourselves awash in clean energy a century from now those turbines can be pulled up straightforwardly.

    There are ecological issues but we can't let ourselves go all Nantucket on this region.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 11:43:25 AM PDT

    •  Screw the environment - we're saving the (0+ / 0-)

      environment!

      There are ecological issues but we can't let ourselves go all Nantucket on this region.

    •  It's also the path of least resistance. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      The reality is that it will always be a tough sell to place any new industrial area in a location with affluent, active citizens with a lot of options.  They will organize and fight that development off.

      But Michigan is perfect because the people are desperate for jobs and will do pretty much anything to get them.

      That's why we have one of the handful of largest coal burners in Monroe right now that churns out a hundred plus pounds of mercury every year.

      It brought jobs to the area in the 60s and 70s.  The environment was an afterthought.  But could the area honestly have said, "No?"  I highly doubt it, given the working class nature of the town.

      If it's decided that wind is the way to go, I think that I know where these farms will be built on a large scale.

      BTW, I love the idea of locally-grown power.  Affluent communities need to know where their power comes from.  And they would probably make better decisions if they knew a smoke stack, nuke tower, windmill or solar field would have to be constructed in the lot next door to turn the lights on.

      http://twitter.com/mikeingels

      by DingellDem on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:35:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Any time you find a hard a core anti-winder they (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    are usually connected to a Big Oil/Coal funded group.

  •  There is a mistake in your article: (0+ / 0-)

    Ontario Hydro presented plans for 880 wind turbines near Long Point:

    Ontario Hydro Wind Farm Plans

    Ontario Hydro, has not existed for 10 years. The article refers to Canadian Hydro Developers which is an unrelated company.

    Canadian Hydro Developers has been taken over for $654 MM by Transalta who presumably want more renewable energy in their mix.

    $0.19 / kWHr - Nice!

  •  Thx (0+ / 0-)

    http://twitter.com/mikeingels

    by DingellDem on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:23:39 PM PDT

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