Wind Energy is Reliable
Adam Randell’s article “Blowing in the wind,” The Packet, May 3, 2012 offers some insight into how green sustainable energy production could look in the future. Todd Shirran’s initiative to build and operate a wind turbine deserves praise as a true, local initiative, green project.
Similarly efforts by the town of Bonavista to renew efforts to establish a wind farm on Burnt Ridge should be encouraged and promoted. What is required to make these projects financially successful is something known as Feed-in Tariff legislation. This enabling legislation, now in place in Ontario and Nova Scotia, permits governments to set rates for electricity production from renewable energy sources and requires utility operators to purchase the excess electricity at those rates which afford the producers a modest profit.
Many communities on the Bonavista Peninsula have access to high quality wind resources and could benefit from producing and selling wind-generated electricity. Also it would offer many of them a sense of self- sufficiency to not be totally dependent on external electricity sources especially during winter months.
In some parts of the Atlantic Provinces wind energy has proven to be fairly profitable. Recently the Town of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, reported annual profit of $18,000,000 from its four large wind turbines. The town is now moving to reduce costs of recreation facilities to its residents ( Source: CBC News, Charlottetown, PEI, March 27, 2012).
Being innovators in electricity production is not new to the Bonavista Peninsula. It was one of the first areas outside St. John’s to have electricity, with the formation of the Union Electric Light and Power Company by the Fishermen’s Protective Union in 1916.
Electricity production technology using renewable energy such as wind power has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Similarly the cost of such technology has declined significantly making green energy very competitive with other forms of energy.
The notion that wind energy is intermittent and therefore unreliable is somewhat misleading. It has been shown conclusively in other jurisdictions that as the number of wind turbines and wind farms increases, the occurrence of intermittent power from wind decreases. When combined with another energy source such as hydro it is non-existent. In Newfoundland and Labrador we have very few wind farms and they are literally hundreds of miles apart - hence the comment that they are intermittent.
Newfoundland and Labrador has the comparative advantage of possessing some of the most powerful and reliable wind energy resources in North America. Such clean energy should be harnessed as it will provide inexpensive electricity for present and future generations. Over the past few years various municipalities have expressed interest in these forms of electricity. In places like Ontario the move to decentralized green renewable energy has created many new local jobs in that province. We think it should be given serious consideration here.
Fred Winsor is the Conservation Chair of Sierra Club Canada, St. John’s, Newfoundland