Ill wind blows for turbines if Tories win: Wilson
Simcoe-Grey Progressive Conservative candidate Jim Wilson (second from right) makes a campaign announcement during a stop at the Collingwood Regional Airport, Friday, May 23, 2014. With Wilson are, from left, pilot Alexander Younger, pilot and airport board chair Charlie Tatham, and pilot Kevin Elwood. Morgan Ian Adams/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin/QMI Agency
CLEARVIEW Twp. —The Progressive Conservative candidate for Simcoe-Grey says he’d put a stop to a company’s plans to erect wind turbines near the local airport should his party form the next government.
In a campaign stop at the Collingwood Regional Airport Friday morning, during which he slammed the existing Green Energy Act and the impact he says it has had on electricity bills, Jim Wilson promised a Progressive Conservative government would do what it could to halt WPD Canada’s plans to erect turbines near the facility should his party win the June 12 provincial election.
WPD’s proposal is to erect eight turbines in the area north of County Road 91; at least two of the proposed 500-foot-tall turbines are within an area the municipal services board that manages the airport say are a potential safety hazard to aircraft, especially in the landing or take-off phase, while another three turbines are considered on the edge of that area.
WPD’s plans are presently under technical review by the Ministry of Environment.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to stop WPD Canada from putting the wind turbines in this vicinity,” said Wilson. “It is in process, and it may end up in a lawsuit, but we just can’t allow it.”
“If you’re going to prevent death, you do everything you can to do that — you have a moral obligation to do that.”
The airport board, and several landowners in the area, have been fighting the proposal for several years; both Collingwood and Clearview Township municipal councils have also voiced their opposition.
One of those landowners, Kevin Ellwood — who has a private aerodrome on his farm on County Road 91, and is faced with the prospect of having a turbine in the path of his landing strip — has filed 39 access-to-information requests of various ministries on WPD’s proposal.
Some of those requests are now before an adjudicator to see if the information will be released.
The turbines, said Ellwood, are “dangerous and significant threats to pilots and their passengers.”
Ellwood and Wilson both point to a crash in South Dakota in April that killed four, after a Piper 32 aircraft collided with a turbine in poor weather conditions. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, but authorities have not released any details on the crash.
Regional airport board chair Charlie Tatham, who was on hand for Wilson’s announcement, said he’s tried to point out to provincial officials that the location of the turbines “pose a lethal danger… yet they choose to ignore it.
“To ignore it could lead to someone’s death at some point,” he said.
WPD’s position has been the location of the turbines will have a negligible effect on airport movements.
Wilson, however, remains unconvinced, and says the location of the turbines is just one of the problems with the Green Energy Act, which the Conservatives claim will cost electricity customers $46 billion over the next 20 years, paying out contracts for wind and solar power at rates that far exceed current electricity prices.
“Hopefully we can stop it, that there’s some escape clauses (in the agreements)... but I don’t know the full extent of these (contracts and what’s hidden in them,” said Wilson. “There are thousands, tens of thousands of these contracts that are essentially secret and covered up from the public. This one just keeps on rolling ahead and (government) doesn’t seem to be listening to anybody.”
Wilson said a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister warned the legal costs of putting a halt to some of these contracts would be in the billions of dollars, but that point is irrelevant when considering the long-term cost of paying out energy contracts — or worse, if someone dies because a plane hits a wind turbine located close to the airport.
“It’s a lot cheaper than paying people 20 years of contracts when they get paid whether the wind blows or the sun shines. It’s going to bankrupt the province, so you might as well just cut your losses,” said Wilson.
“It’s a moral choice, it’s an expensive choice, but it’s one we’re going to have to make. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this on day-one (of a new government)... it may require that we talk to our lawyers, it may require new legislation to undo the Green Energy Act, and if we have to do that… well (the legislature) is supreme.”