The Survey Says

I attended a conference sponsored by the Canadian Wind Energy Association in London on Tuesday.  The most interesting presentation was made by Tom McLaren, or Stakeholder Strategies, who commisioned a study on public attitudes towards wind energy.

The survey was conducted in parts of Ontario that either have wind already installed, or have wind installations proposed.  The areas surveyed included Essex, Huron, Bruce, and other areas in the Great Lakes areas.  While I do not recall of the statistics precisely, the data will released publicly within a week or two.

It would appear that despite the best efforts of the forces of status quo to discredit wind energy, the people are too smart, and have figured out that wind is indeed a source of clean energy, and that we need more.

Interestingly, the closer people lived to existing wind farms, the more positive the feelings were toward wind.  So those that really know, because they live with them, like them.  Overwhelmingly.  If I recall, 89% of people living within 1 mile of wind turbines liked them.  When did 89% of Canadians ever agree on anything?  Wind energy seems to be up there with motherhood and apple pie.

The conference was very well run, and very well attended, with about 250 people.  Probably 70% of the attendees were municipal politicians and planners, with the balance from the wind business.  It seems many municipal councillors are doing their homework on wind energy, and sorting out the myths from the facts.  An informed councillor will make better decisions.

Don Tench of the IESO presented the findings of the first year of wind.  It was the most positive presentation I have seen from the IESO on wind.  It seems they had no difficulty integrating wind into the grid in the first year.  And the wind farms contributed 900 GWh of power over the past year.  This is 6 tenths of 1 percent of Ontario’s supply.  Mr. Tench even pointed out that on the peak summer day last August, when supply was desparately needed, Ontario’s wind farms were producing at a very respectable 42%.  He also pointed out what seems obvious.  Supply must always equal demand, and so when the wind blows more than expected, the IESO simply balances the supply by storing waterpower to release later.  He talked about how they and the large Ontario wind farms were working on improving forecasting.  Improved forecasting will allow an even more optimal dispatch of generation for Ontario.  He was pleased with the performance of wind in its first significant year.

Good conference CanWEA.  Providing information to local planners and politicians will be invaluable in assisting well reasoned planning policies and decisions in the future.

The wind was blowing.  The corn and beans looked good.  On the way home, driving though the heart of rural Ontario, I passed a sign that said, “Book your soil testing, and get a free Toque”.    Classic Canadian farm country.

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