A group in Owen Sound is pushing wind-generated electricity.
By Teviah Moro
London Free Press
A green-energy enthusiast with an innovative plan is trying
to blow life into Ontario's fledgling wind power industry.
"We've barely scratched the surface," Kevin Best
said of Ontario's potential for wind-generated electricity.
Best founded the Grey Bruce Renewable Energy Co-operative,
a not-for-profit group based in Owen Sound, and is pushing
wind power as an environmentally-friendly alternative
to traditional Ontario power sources.
He's convinced wind power could help meet energy demands
if the province and big business considered it.
A provincial report this week said Ontario's coal-fired
power plants -- one is near Sarnia -- will have to remain
in use, despite a Liberal election campaign vow to close
them, to meet a looming energy crisis as early as 2006.
Ontario relies on a mix of power sources for electricity
--dams, nuclear stations and coal-fired plants, the latter
under growing criticism by environmentalists because their
emissions contribute to smog and global warming.
The warning Ontario could face a power crisis within
two years gives Best more reason to promote wind power
as an eco-friendly alternative through the co-operative's
green flag program.
The program, which began in 2002, is a way people can
directly support renewable energy, he said.
The co-op buys green tags, with each tag representing
a specific amount of energy, from environmentally-friendly
generators, which in turn place their electricity on the
The co-operative then sells the tags to consumers wanting
to play their part in ensuring a cleaner energy supply
by displacing coal-generated power.
In 2002, the group sold 500 tags, said Best, his operations
affiliated with wind turbines on the Bruce Peninsula and
in Port Albert.
The initiative is just one effort to promote wind power.
Planners of a major 100-turbine wind farm, to be built
on the shores of Lake Erie, hope to have it up and running
"We've actually started the design and engineering
work," Jay Wilgar, co-founder of ATM Powergen Corp.,
the Toronto-based group behind the $235-million project
that will generate enough electricity to power 60,000
Though wind generation alone can't solve Ontario's energy
crunch, it can play a strong role, Wilgar said.
"It can be a great supporter source of energy."
Ontario has 13 wind turbines, including six operated
by Ontario Power Generation and Huron Power at Pickering
and on the Bruce Peninsula.
Still, the economic benefits of coal-generated electricity
are hard to ignore, said Derek Blair, vice-president of
the energy division at Ipsos-Reid, a market research and
"Coal-fired generation is the cheapest type of power,"
Though green generation doesn't have to be expensive,
Blair said maintenance costs of wind turbines are high
and they can't do much to suppress prices or generate
enough power to meet Ontario's growing needs.
A compromise between fossil-fuel generation and cleaner
alternatives, such as wind power, will have to be achieved,
"A healthy balance is something Ontarians would
support and do support," he said.
Best disagrees with such a cost-benefit analysis.
Calculations of the costs of wind power typically don't
include health and environmental costs, Best said.
"You've got to look at the cost of coal on medicare
and environmentally," he said, noting dirty air kills
thousands of Ontarians each year.
Wind power is also a long-term solution that will pay
off in the end, even in terms of economics, said Best.
As a renewable resource, wind provides an economic stability
that non-renewable resources such as coal cannot, he said,
drawing an analogy to a cost many Ontarians know -- their