The Energy Corporation is planning to develop 30 MW of wind energy in Eastern Kings this year. Unfortunately, I am seeing very little on the positive impacts of this wind farm from the local papers or on social media. Instead, in my opinion, I’m seeing a gross over exaggeration of the damage the project will have on the local environment and a lack of appreciation for the consultation, design work, and environmental assessment that has gone into the project.
The province, through the PEI Energy Corporation, has developed three wind farms so far on PEI. They sell the energy to Maritime Electric and that generates revenue for the province. Investing in renewable energy to generate revenue is a good government investment. Producing more of our power locally, lowering our dependence on imports, while also reducing our carbon footprint is also positive. Renewable energy will ultimately result in more stable energy prices. All of the energy produced from the government owned wind farms stays on PEI.
Some people have expressed sensational concern over environmental impacts from the project. I hope those with concerns will take the time to read the almost 300 page Environmental Impact Statement for the project. Within its pages are very detailed descriptions of the processes used to determine the impacts.
I will highlight just a few things; the project footprint is 14 hectares (35 acres) and while it does lie in an area of unbroken forest, of which there are not many left on PEI, this is in no way the result of wind development. I have watched as thousands of acres have been clear cut in my area, in the name of agriculture, which undoubtedly results in long-term ecological damage and wildlife displacement. Yet, there were no public consultations before this clearing on private land, and no public outcry when the wildlife disappeared. And, certainly no one doing studies to identify and protect rare flora and fauna, as they do with wind project development. Extensive bird and bat studies have been conducted at the proposed wind farm site, and monitoring is ongoing at existing wind farms. Also, the assessment of the wetland areas has resulted in reconfiguration of the turbine layout. Despite there being claims that wetland areas are going to be greatly impacted, this is not the case. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clearly states that only one corner of one turbine site encroaches on a wetland and no roads or collector lines will cross wetlands. A significant amount of consultation, site assessment and engineering goes into a project like this, even though some say the PEI Energy Corporation wants to “plunk down turbines wherever it wants”.
Finally, this project will produce, from its seven turbines, 120 GWh (120 million kWh) of electricity per year! That will offset 90,000 metric tonnes of CO2 or roughly 20,000 cars off the road per year. In comparison, each hectare of forest in this area sequesters six metric tonnes of CO2 per year.
Climate change and air pollution are impacting our lives daily, and I am pleased that PEI has become a leader in this country when it comes to renewable energy. Once completed, this project will result in PEI producing 30 per cent of its energy from wind. With the incredible positive environmental outcome these turbines will have, I believe the pros outweigh the cons. And while I acknowledge there is some opposition to the project, there are over 40 landowners who have signed on to participate in the project. The community and landowners will receive a share of the revenues from the project. So let’s also acknowledge that although the opposing voices are sometimes the loudest, they do not necessarily represent the majority of people, or the facts that are so crucial when determining a projects value.