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Bad neighbors build wind turbines

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On Friday when I was driving up to Thornbury, I ended up taking a route that goes through Shelburne, Ontario. I’ve taken this route at some point before, but I don’t remember seeing so many wind turbines. I guess it must have been before this particular wind farm had been built out.

It turns out that these wind turbines belong to the Melancthon wind facility, which is the largest installation in Canada. The facility contains 133 wind turbines and has the capacity to generate 545,000 megawatt hours each year – enough renewable energy to power roughly 70,000 households. The facility is owned and operated by TransAlta and they’ve entered into a 20-year contract to supply renewable energy to the Ontario Power Authority.

But what I also happened to notice were the many signs posted around with wording like the title of this post: “Bad neighbors build wind turbines.” And after speaking about it with people over the course of this weekend, I very quickly learned that there was fierce community opposition to this project.

The concern with wind turbines is typically twofold. People don’t like the way they look and they worry about the noise that they will generate. There’s even an alleged condition called “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”

I personally think they look quite beautiful. They seem so symbolic of the future and progress. But I am intrigued by the noise concern and so I decided to do a bit of research. I found this video from the UK. The big takeaways are that living beside a main road is generally much louder than living beside a wind turbine, and that a wind turbine isn’t usually that much louder than a quiet suburb, until you get fairly close to it. So I wonder if it’s really as bad as people are making it out to be.

Either way, the issue at hand is incredibly important. We’re talking about renewable energy. And while you may not like the look of wind turbines scattered across the horizon as much as I do, I strongly believe that we need to figure out ways to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. It’s for this reason that I’m a big supporter of both wind and solar power.

So perhaps the counter to those signs scattered around Shelburne is the following: Responsible communities build wind turbines.

Image: Wikipedia

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