I find Mr. Schwenk’s letter, titled The politics of wind generation, pg. 6, Nov. 16, 2017, in my opinion, rife with misinformation, partial truths and more than a bit of conspiracy theory.
He claims that Capital Power has been working quietly for the last two years. Not true. The Capital Power website has been very up front about their goal to increase the number and size of the turbines for Phase 2 in the Halkirk wind farm, and it’s been public knowledge for a fair long time.
The ground disturbance for wind turbines is temporary around the foundations and minimal once the foundations are set. The companies putting wind turbines up have been exemplary in preventing long term damage to the flow of groundwater in the area as a direct result of their construction of turbines as well.
Schwenk claims there’s no way to know how water flows will be affected. Apparently he forgot the current 87 turbines in the area that have been turning since 2012.
The only way larger towers have bigger ground disturbance, is via the fact they’ll have larger foundations. Foundations considerably smaller than those you’ll find under a coal-fired plant, it’s parking lot and open pit mines. Wind turbines to not aggravate asthma in kids and adults, unlike the coal fired plants in the area do on a regular basis.
It never fails to amaze me how those who obsess over fossil fuels being the only permitted power generation option, are exponentially harder on the green projects they oppose, than over their pet coal-fired plants and leaky pipelines that have been the bane of this province for decades now.
Wind turbine farms do, in fact, face extremely stringent ecological studies before they’re sited nowadays. This reduces impacts to birds and bats by placing them away from main migration routes, as well as having the option of having slowly turning turbine blades, which give far more time for birds and bats to evade strikes, unlike turbine models from even 20 years ago. Technology and science of wind farm placement is very careful to minimize potential negative impacts to the environment. Far more so than any fantasy of “clean coal” could ever manage! Coal kills far more birds than wind turbines when you compare the death per megawatt generated.
There are some shocking statistics. For example, the top two causes of bird deaths in Canada are windows (97 to 976 million strikes/year) and feral cats (over 500 million).
Other causes of avian mortality include communication towers (between five and 50 million), high tension lines (174 million), hunting (15 million), car strikes (60 million), oil and gas (500,000 to one million), oil and gas waste water pits (as a separate number, two million), coal (7.9 million) and poisons (72 million plus) and oddly enough, these all outnumber wind turbines on their own.
Turbines aren’t completely innocent and there are around 33,000 birds killed by them each year. This is a number that’s going down as wind farms are located away from migratory routes and changed to slower moving turbine blades. It’s ironic that the only industry expected to try to rectify this is that of wind turbines. As math goes, it’s pretty clear that the big culprits aren’t wind turbines.
Wind Turbine Syndrome is a myth, has zero reputable medical evidence to support it, and at 100 metres, your own heart puts out more “infranoise” than a wind turbine does. Driving in the afternoon by a forest causes more “flicker” than turbines do as well. It’s quite the odd that when people start getting paid to have turbines around, the “symptoms” disappear entirely.
The simple fact is that extensive studies have found that there is no actual health issue to being in proximity to wind turbines. That cannot be said of coal fired plants, which are hot, dirty, noisy and very dangerous to work in. I can walk my dog underneath a wind turbine, without even needing hearing protection by comparison.
I would encourage the local folks looking at this issue, to look at reputable sources for information on the topic. The Union of Concerned Scientists, or the Canadian Wind Energy Association for a couple of examples.