Ontario Clean Air Alliance says Great Lakes wind power a “clean energy gold mine”

Wind turbines at Henley First Nation on eastern Georgian Bay. Photo © Douglas Hunter

Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) is calling on the province of Ontario to lift a 2011 moratorium on offshore wind farms on the Great Lakes as Ohio prepares its first wind turbine installation off Cleveland. OCAA claims Ontario’s 34,500-mW offshore wind potential could supply more than 100 percent of the electricity consumed in the province in 2022, but that would require the development of 27 sites in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, 25 in Lake Erie, 9 in Lake Ontario and 3 in Lake Superior.

To date, wind farms in Ontario have only been installed on land, with several large installations having been placed in Great Lakes shore areas, such as the First Nations-owned wind farm at Henley Inlet on northeastern Georgian Bay. Offshore wind farms became a political hot potato more than a decade ago, and the hue and cry in particular over a proposed installation off the Scarborough Bluffs in Lake Ontario moved the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty to introduce the moratorium. The enthusiasm of the Conservative government of Doug Ford for green energy projects has been tepid at best, but OCAA says offshore wind farms make ecological and financial sense. Installation costs have dropped considerably, well below that of nuclear, and OCAA downplays the off-cited negative impact on bats and birds. Wind turbines kill about one million birds a year in the United States, it says, compared to the one billion killed by building strikes and 2.4 billion killed by house cats. It argues mitigation measures can reduce the bird and bat kills, and that where mitigation measures are not possible, wind farms should not be built.

UPDATE: maybe it wasn’t the best timing for OCAA’s call for a whole bunch of offshore wind turbines in Ontario that a former consultant to the wind energy industry in Nova Scotia has just said the cost of a proposed project there is too high for birds.

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