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Communities should generate wind projects

THERE'S TROUBLE brewing in Nova Scotia's quest for wind energy. We all know the importance of developing our valuable abundance of clean, green renewable energy in order to offset the greenhouse gases produced by Nova Scotia Power's coal-fired generation plants. Our government has legislated aggressive renewable energy targets for the near future. So wind energy is good, right? Well not always, according to many of the folks from Pugwash.


THERE'S TROUBLE brewing in Nova Scotia's quest for wind energy.

We all know the importance of developing our valuable abundance of clean, green renewable energy in order to offset the greenhouse gases produced by Nova Scotia Power's coal-fired generation plants. Our government has legislated aggressive renewable energy targets for the near future.

So wind energy is good, right?

Well not always, according to many of the folks from Pugwash. That coastal community is the proposed site of a large wind farm. Atlantic Wind Power, in conjunction with Cobequid Area Wind Farms, is proposing a 20-something turbine facility that would produce enough coal-replacing energy to power 10,000 to 15,000 homes.

Recently, the wind farm developers hosted a community consultation session in Pugwash and over 100 people attended.

The developers took the time to inform the residents of construction particulars, scheduling, costs, environmental advantages and economic and tax spinoffs. But the residents who spoke weren't too interested in these things.

They supported the positive environmental effects, but they were more concerned about the effects that the wind farm might have on the community. Specifically, they had... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  


THERE'S TROUBLE brewing in Nova Scotia's quest for wind energy.

We all know the importance of developing our valuable abundance of clean, green renewable energy in order to offset the greenhouse gases produced by Nova Scotia Power's coal-fired generation plants. Our government has legislated aggressive renewable energy targets for the near future.

So wind energy is good, right?

Well not always, according to many of the folks from Pugwash. That coastal community is the proposed site of a large wind farm. Atlantic Wind Power, in conjunction with Cobequid Area Wind Farms, is proposing a 20-something turbine facility that would produce enough coal-replacing energy to power 10,000 to 15,000 homes.

Recently, the wind farm developers hosted a community consultation session in Pugwash and over 100 people attended.

The developers took the time to inform the residents of construction particulars, scheduling, costs, environmental advantages and economic and tax spinoffs. But the residents who spoke weren't too interested in these things.

They supported the positive environmental effects, but they were more concerned about the effects that the wind farm might have on the community. Specifically, they had concerns about noise, shadow flicker, alterations to local views and other issues.

Tops on the list were concerns about community identity and property values. It seems Pugwash and the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore are undergoing substantial property value increases.

Peter Finley, a real estate agent, said real estate has become a major industry with "property values doubling several times over the recent years." He said the wind farm announcement has resulted in a significant negative change in his business.

Concern was also expressed regarding communication between the community and the developers. There was resentment that the community was never given the opportunity to be part of the planning process. One attempt at providing some level of communication and awareness was addressed by local resident, Lisa Betts. Last November, she started a weblog at www.pugwashwindfarm.blogspot.com.

One resident stated the Pugwash case most effectively. He said the community is expected to accept all the possible downsides of a wind farm. He then asked, "So what is the tangible benefit to the residents of Pugwash?"

He expressed the view that it didn't seem appropriate that all the profits generated by this project would flow out of the community, while residents would be left to deal with whatever detrimental fallout there may be. His feeling was that if there was risk of fallout to the community, then residents should have a chance to be stakeholders.

And the developers face a dilemma as well. They are simply in the business of developing wind energy projects, which are for the most part considered to be environmentally sound and conducive to general health and safety.

There are only so many of those spots readily available and Pugwash is one of them. However, if the community resistance becomes too great, or regulations are adopted that make the project unfeasible, the risk of abandonment is significant.

It has been a common historical occurrence in the development of wind power throughout the world. Not everybody likes the idea of living next to a big wind farm. And it is a safe bet that similar community resistance will continue to take place within Nova Scotia whenever similar conflicting circumstances and values occur.

But there is a solution proven to work. Encourage residents to be stakeholders. In many European countries, particularly Denmark and Germany, this has been the approach that has resulted in the fastest and least-resisted growth of renewable energy in the world. Over 100,000 Danish and 300,000 German households own shares in wind energy projects.

Under such a model, communities initiate suitable projects rather than having the projects forced upon them. An ownership group is formed, a share offering is put together, a developer is brought on board and the project is developed. Commonly, owners can be farmers, co-operatives, First Nations, municipalities or a joint venture of various interests.

Such projects face less resistance

The key to the success of this approach is governmental policies and mechanisms that stimulate locally owned projects through financing support and an attractive return on investment.

When the revenues generated by these community-owned projects flow back into the local shareholders pockets, the whole community benefits from the economic spinoffs.

Now think about how much value there is in the wind, ocean and sun energy surrounding our communities. Then picture that monetary value flowing back into those communities for the next 20 years and beyond. Even ACOA couldn't come up with a better rural economic develop initiative than that.

The Nova Scotia Co-operative Council is working with government and other interested groups to facilitate more local renewable energy investment opportunities at a community level. Let's hope we're successful and the Pugwash situation remains an unusual occurrence while Nova Scotia continues to develop environmental friendly renewable energy that supports our environment as well as our communities.

Bob Williams is the director of operations for the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council.



Source: http://thechronicleherald.c...

MAY 2 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/8619-communities-should-generate-wind-projects
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