Ontario’s most powerful farm lobby is calling on the province to suspend expansion of rural-based wind turbines until issues of farmer compensation and rural politics are settled.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has urged a halt to “the invasion of rural Ontario with industrial wind turbines.”
With almost 2,000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity, almost all in rural Ontario, the province is responsible for more than one-third of Canada’s wind turbine industry.
“The development of green energy, primarily wind, has happened faster than the electricity grid’s ability to handle it,” OFA president Mark Wales said. “It also has highlighted society’s inability to deal with the fundamental issue because it is happening so fast.”
He said there are issues of farmer payment, but the large windmills also bring conflict to rural areas.
“Most disconcerting of all is the impact wind turbines are having on the relationships across rural communities,” Wales said in a published commentary on the issue.
“When wind developments come to a community, neighbours are pitted against neighbours. The issue of industrial wind turbine development is preoccupying the rural agenda.”
The national wind power lobby took issue with the OFA position.
“We are surprised and disappointed the OFA is proposing to put thousands of jobs at risk in Ontario and limit the ability of farmers to participate in Ontario’s clean energy economy,” Canadian Wind Energy Association president Robert Hornung said in a statement issued after the OFA announcement.
Wales said the OFA is calling for a moratorium until some of the issues can be resolved. Among them are the fact that wind turbine energy is often generated at night when electricity demand is low and the power generation is lost.
“Green energy is going to be part of the solution, probably forever, and farmers will be part of it,” he said.
“But is there a way to store it to make it available? Is there a way to make sure farmers are properly compensated? Can we deal with local conflicts?”
He said in Ontario windmills tend to be near residential areas and that can lead to complaints about noise, landscape blight and injury to birds.
On the Prairies, wind turbines are usually far from communities.