Half the Story

Sometimes presenting half the story confuses and agitates readers. The latest ad in the Peninsula Press is designed to do just that. It is like telling the story of the Ugly Duckling, without the tranformation into a swan.

The paid adverstisement speaks of a proposal to develop transmission facilities on the Bruce Peninsula to carry the electricity output from wind farms that might be developed. The proposal was part of the Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP), a document prepared by the Ontario Power Authority for submission to the Ontario Energy Board. But here is the part that is missing from the ad. The IPSP was submitted in 2007. The total document was over 2700 pages, and was very comprehensive, including new nuclear, transmission re-inforcement, wind, conservation etc. And it has never been approved by the Ontario Energy Board. Word inside the Ministry of Energy is that it never will be approved. In other words, it is a dead proposal. In fact, it never moved from the “draft for approval” stage. But a title “Wind Turbines in Singing Sands” would of course be alarming.

When trying to create an agitated public, telling only half the story is the more alarming method isn’t it?

In “informing” the public about proposals for wind on the Peninsula, there has been another major piece missing. And that is feedback from companies that have proposals in the area. Has anyone called the companies to ask their area of interest? Why is it that the flyers say that this group will let you “look at maps of planned sites”, when they have even talked to the companies to see where the planned location of wind turbines are? After all, the Ontario Power Authority doesn’t build new generation capacity. From what I know, the area of interest in Northern Bruce Peninsula includes the Ferndale and Linsday Flats – the area around Lindsay road 5. That would leave out Singing Sands, Dorcas Bay, Cameron Lake – all of the hot button areas that the opponents of wind are trying to tell you will host wind turbines.

There are more important pieces of information missing from the ad. In the defunct 2007 proposal, the expected in service date was 2015. Consultation with the public, which has not yet started, was to commence in the second quarter of 2009. And there were three proposals, two of which ended in the mid Peninsula, not Singing Sands. Why was that information left out?

There is another important piece of the puzzle. The Bruce enabler line cannot be put into service until the Bruce to Milton is line is completed. This line is still in development. The environmental assessment is not completed. The earliest in service date is the end of 2011. Everybody I know in the electricity business believes this in service date will not be reached. In other words, we are at the start of a long process. We have time to gather real and complete information. And we should not jump to conclusions until we know the whole truth.

Finally, a word about wind resources, and project economics. Wind production is better over open areas. Wind accelerates as it crosses flat open land, and so these areas tend to be preferred. Trees, even when the wind turbine is above the tree line cause turbulence, which reduce the output, which affects project economics. The area north of the Lindsay Flats has lots of trees. It is not the area that I would choose to locate a wind farm. Cliffs too are bad turbine locations, as cliffs also cause turbulence.

The stress level of some people on the Peninsula is being compromised by unfounded fears based on partial information. We have years before plans unfold. Meantime, we should save our health, reduce our stress level, and spend our time worrying about real threats. Or maybe just enjoy life. How about that for a good idea?

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