Wind power isn't a new buzz word in the world of green power generation, but a recent proposal by the City of Saskatoon to install a project at the City's landfill has some residents wind-milling their arms in distress.
The fact the project is being pitched as a "good symbol" for the city leads directly to the heart of the ludicrousness of these proposals.
It's more about how it "looks" than about how it "works." The idea residents can look across the cityscape and feel all warm and fuzzy about their municipality's dedication to the "green" movement, takes precedence over the fact these structures have no place in an urban environment.
Prairie residents are all aware the wind can roar, it can howl, it can rock and roll. When the wind is harnessed for power it takes on a new dimension of sound that isn't only heard but felt, even indoors.
A couple in England was forced to leave their dream farm when a wind power project went up a less than a kilometre from their home. They describe the experience of living close to the constant pulsating beat and whoomp, whoomp, whoomp of these monsters as a nightmare. They couldn't sleep and lived on the edge of nervous breakdown throughout each day.
Their claims are not exaggerated. Anyone who has sensitivity to noise will not enjoy living near a wind tower. Blessedly the one installed at Fort Battleford was picked up at a garage sale and seems to be out of commission more often than it is operational. When it is working, however, it makes life highly unpleasant for those living close by and camping at Eiling Kramer campground.
It too is a "symbol" of green power initiatives at Fort Battleford's visitor information centre.
In addition to the noise, there are safety concerns. No manmade structure is 100 per cent infallible. The prospect of having individuals or property struck by all or a portion of one of those blades isn't outside the realm of possibility.
Such initiatives obviously have their merit, but the crux of the issue is, wind towers do not have to be located near the consumers of the energy they produce. They can be situated anywhere and feed power into the grid and benefit whatever organization is footing the bill for their installation.
SaskPower currently has three programs - Green Options, Small Power Producers and Net Metering - which allow power producers to benefit from the electricity they feed into the Crown Corporation's distribution grid.
There are no stipulations in any of these programs as to where a wind tower must be located.
There is a reason SaskPower's current wind generation sites are located in sparsely populated areas of southwestern Saskatchewan. In addition to identifying this area as one of the most consistently windiest in the province, the turbines have few, if any, people to annoy.
Wind power has its place in modern power generation strategies, but there is no need to erect them where they will cause annoyance and hardship just so they can be a "symbol" of progress. If a symbol is needed, why not take a photo and use it on letterhead or other promotional materials. That way the warm and fuzzy can be melded with the practical.