It's been almost 10 years since the first wind turbines began to sprout in rural Ontario, and at first they had few if any detractors. Wind represented a clean future; Ontario would pattern itself after northern European countries like Denmark and generate electricity in a benign and friendly fashion.
What could possibly go wrong?
Turns out a lot. Seven years after the Green Energy Act was introduced, and a decade after the first turbines were erected, the province's citizenry is in sharp disagreement over wind energy.
A new Mainstreet/Postmedia poll finds 43 per cent of the survey's 2,537 respondents have a positive view of wind energy, while 43 per cent have a negative view.
Those who don't like wind energy are very much opposed, while those who like wind power "are only somewhat OK with it," according to Mainstreet's David Valentin.
He says part of the reason for the weak support is rising electricity bills, as well as mishandling of contracts and reports of disputes involving wind energy developers.
Indeed, the poll found more than 60 per cent of respondents believe wind energy has contributed to higher electricity bills, and 59 per cent expect charges will continue to climb over the next year.
If there's good survey news for governing Liberals, it's greatest acceptance of wind energy in Ontario comes from Toronto, where most of the Liberals' political support resides and where, perhaps not coincidentally, only one wind turbine is located.
But the Liberals shouldn't have to depend on one part of Ontario's geography for political support. Because it is clean, because it is benign, wind energy should be a unifying force. That it's become a source of division is mostly fault of the government, which has bungled the project from the start.
That began with the Green Energy Act and its centralized planning. All development decisions are still made in Toronto, but the projects are sited almost exclusively in rural Ontario, no matter the views of residents and their elected municipal councils.
That Soviet-style approach might have been grudgingly accepted had the GTA shared in the proximity of energy infrastructure. But when even a whiff of opposition against natural gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville was detected, the Liberals quickly intervened and cancelled those projects.
If there's any shared burden, it's rising electricity bills. Ontarians are reminded about green energy with every bill.
But that's a unifying force that creates little comfort for the Liberals, and even less for Ontario's citizens.