A recent survey says Ontarians are pretty evenly split when it comes to wind turbines.
The poll done by Mainstreet Research and Postmedia was published June 7. It had 2,537 people respond to questions about turbines.
The survey determined that 43 per cent of people do not like turbines, 43 per cent do and the remaining 14 per cent don’t know.
Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs said she hears more negative comments and concerns than positive remarks.
When the township was against the first wave of five turbines, residents fought for them and thought it was a great idea.
“I just don’t hear that anymore,” said Jeffs.
Because of the larger expansion of the industrial wind farm, Fleeters are having second thoughts.
It’s partially a case of not realizing the consequences of the infrastructure necessary for turbines, said Jeffs.
“I don’t think any of us quite realized the amount of transmission lines and such,” she said.
She said when the first turbines went up, there weren’t many issues. With this current larger project, which involves Wainfleet, West Lincoln and Lincoln, there have been many.
West Lincoln Mayor Douglas Joyner said, “The countryside of West Lincoln will never be the same.”
For his residents, it’s largely about where you live that determines feelings about the turbines. In areas such as Wellandport, residents are not happy.
Tree cutting to make way for transmission lines in March is one thing that has really upset residents. Joyner said it has made them feel like what they want doesn’t matter and it’s all about what the government wants.
“I think that was a real turning point for a lot of people,” said Jeffs.
But she said people don’t understand how cutting down trees fits into the idea of green energy.
Tony Shaw, Brock University professor of geography and its cool climate oenology and viticulture institute, said location is one of the biggest objections for wind turbines.
“Absolutely nothing is wrong with wind power, but it’s where they’re located,” he said.
“A lot of people love them if it’s not in their backyard.”
He said it makes sense for people to be upset about how they detract from scenic beauty because they’re so big and need so much space. People wanting to get away from urban sprawl don’t want to be staring at a massive piece of technology.
Wainfleet Ald. Betty Konc said the community has “been so whitewashed with green” to distract people from the problems turbines cause.
Konc said Ontarians are being treated like “guinea pigs” and are suffering because of it. Health issues are a big reason she’s against them.
She said one family moved citing wind turbine-related health issues.
Shaw said, “It’s really not clear as to whether these things create health problems.”
Some people are more sensitive to the sounds and air pressures created by the turbines, but not everyone is.
Residents from both areas also have complaints about rising hydro rates. Konc said she predicts rates are going to skyrocket in the coming years and turbines aren’t doing their job.
“They just don’t produce what they say they can produce,” she said. “To continue to put them into the ground is asinine.”
She said not being able to store the power they produce is “even dumber.”
Joyner said since the turbines are already in the area, there’s no point in continuing the conversation about them.
Hydro rates, which he said have doubled four times in the last year, are the bigger issue that people want answers for.
The problem with the hydro rates, said Shaw, isn’t the fault of wind power.
He said wind power is highly subsidized and hydro rates have gone up because the cost is passed onto the consumer.
Wind energy is not the problem, he said. The way the hydro system works is.
Tom Rankin of Rankin Construction Inc., which had involvement with turbines in Niagara, declined to comment.
Niagara Windfarm Project, which is involved in the production happening now, did not respond by deadline.