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NEWS ALERT: Wind turbines in Collingwood will create perfect storm (Toronto Sun)

(February 28, 2013) Great column in the Toronto Sun on wpd Canada’s proposal to build 500 foot wind turbines on a flight path of the Collingwood Airport. Click on the link below for the full column.

 

Wind turbines in Collingwood will create perfect storm

BY CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, QMI AGENCY
FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2013 05:22 PM EST | UPDATED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2013 05:55 PM EST

TORONTO - Talk about a wing and a prayer.

As if the soaring cost of wind energy weren’t enough, a plan to put 152-metre (500-feet) tall wind turbines next to Collingwood Regional Airport is just plain dumb.

Pilots and community members are up in arms, fearing the turbines will not only pose a safety hazard to planes, they’ll limit the growth of the airport and hurt the region’s economy — just as tourism is growing.

Their MPP says the massive towers — as high as the TD Centre — will intrude on airspace.

Worse, they’ll be painted white.

Hello? Is anyone thinking? Collingwood is in the snowbelt.

Pilots landing in poor visibility will have difficulty seeing the turbines.

“Local people don’t want these eyesores so close to the Escarpment and in God’s country,” said Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson.

“It could eventually shut down the airport.”

Pilot Kevin Elwood is the largest hangar owner and aircraft operator at the airport.

The turbines will put planes at risk, he says, and require the airport to modify procedures.

The airport currently has standard arrival and departure procedures. The turbines will force them to make modifications.

“We will become non-standard, which always increases the risk to safety,” he said.

“Four of the turbines penetrate outer limit airspace which is airspace protected for the arrival and departure of aircraft,” he said.

Charlie Tatham is chair of the Collingwood Airport Services Board.

He says the airport is well-established and well-equipped — and vital to the area’s economy.

The turbines will protrude into the airport’s “obstacle limitation surface” — an imaginary disc that extends on a 3.2-km (two-mile) radius from the airport, 46 metres (150 feet) off the ground.

“The whole idea of that surface is to give a pilot the confidence if he were approaching the airport under distress, he would have the knowledge that once he was within two miles of the airport, he could drop down to as low as 200 feet (61 metres) and be clear of any obstructions,” Tatham explained.

Collingwood gets huge amounts of lake effect snow.

Streamers come in suddenly from Georgian Bay, rapidly reducing visibility.

“You can get yourself in a real jam here with the weather very quickly,” Tatham explained.

It’s not just pilots who are upset. Farmers in the area are already absorbing the high cost of wind energy.

A recent report from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) said surplus wind energy is costing users an extra $200 million a year.

Dairy farmers and chicken farmers need a lot of electricity to run their farms, says Wilson.

“Not only are we not a willing host community, but our hydro rates have gone through the roof over the past few years under the McGuinty-Wynne government.

“Clearly if you’re paying up to 15 times more for wind energy than you are for what we’re producing at our hydro electric and nuclear plants then that’s going to continue to make our hydro rates skyrocket,” Wilson said.

It all sounds like a perfect Collingwood storm.

High-priced wind energy is forcing up the cost of doing business for farmers.

Meanwhile, the airport can’t expand because someone had the bright idea of putting massive turbines at the end of the runway.

That means the area’s other industry — tourism — takes a hit.

Is it any wonder people in rural ridings tossed out all the Liberals in the last election?

It’ll take more than lip service and the premier calling herself the agriculture minister for rural voters to trust the Liberals.

Their government is destroying a way of life.

You can’t rebuild that with empty gestures.

 

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