Editorial: Wind power, yes, but also water power
Orillia Packet (ON)
Posted January 28, 2008
The six wind turbines officially launched in Ravenswood in Eastern Ontario Wednesday come as a surprise to many first-time viewers, who look up in shock or disapproval at their novelty, their height and their massive, mesmerizing blades.
But love them or hate them, they represent the start of a new era in energy generation.
Five years ago, Ontario produced less than 15 megawatts of wind power. Today, with this 10-megawatt wind farm straddling Highway 21 feeding the grid, this province's wind capacity has surpassed the 500-megawatt mark - enough to power 130,000 homes for a year.
That's still small potatoes compared to a nuclear reactor or a coal-fired power plant. But the Ravenswood project is just one of 200 contracts awarded in the past 14 months through Ontario's renewable energy standard offer program.
Designed to encourage small, local renewable energy projects, the program is helping the Liberal government fulfill its promise of replacing coal with green energy.
Last week, the province took the next step when it announced it was lifting a moratorium on offshore wind farms.
Ontario and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been quietly evaluating offshore wind potential on the Great Lakes over the past year. They've studied wind speeds on Huron, Erie and Ontario and drafted guidance documents to protect birds and bats from offshore turbines. Every effort is being made to limit any negative impact.
The government must not forget older technology in its bid to find sources of renewable energy. This week The Packet published a story in which Orillia Power Corp. president John Mattinson said studies show power production could be increased by as much as 20 per cent at generating stations along the Trent-Severn Waterway if water levels were controlled by a more sophisticated system which would create a steadier flow. That's nothing to sneeze at. There are 20 hydroelectric plants on the waterway, pumping out a steady stream of tens of thousands of kilowatts.
When all is said and done, this is the way of the future. We may not like the appearance of giant windmills and cottagers get very nervous about river power, but we will appreciate the cleaner air that we end up breathing as a result of their presence.