Finding a Home for Electric Windmills

Since the disasters at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Love Canal, the popular refrain heard from the public when it came to nuclear energy was NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard. People tend to be all for certain forms of energy until it begins to impact their lives directly. One of the most popular mantras heard from environmentalists over the years is that the public, by and large, is in full support of green technologies. The truth, however, if often far different than what we have been lead to believe. Take, for example, a recent meeting in Scarborough, Ontario about setting up a series of electric windmills offshore to harvest the continual and inexhaustible natural energy that comes from the Great Lakes. Who, pray tell, would have a problem with an offshore wind farm that is scheduled to be built a full two kilometers away from land?

The answer, was, of course, those that feel that they are going to be impacted by such a construction project. Questions were raised about noise issues, the ability to see the electric windmills offshore from seaside homes and the impact the array would have on property values. Overall, the community supported the project, but the future of the array is now uncertain, as is the future of larger, land based wind farms. Simply put, people don't want the massive electric windmills on their land or even in their sight lines, but they sure want to reap the benefits of clean, renewable energy. This Catch-22 has put the wind industry in a bit of a bind. If a wind farm can't be built two kilometers offshore and not raise objections, where can it be built?

In Southern Alberta, the answer may be on a dedicated patch of farmland with only a handful of homes nearby. Building wind farms in such an environment helps to appease the side of the equation that wishes to remove wind turbines from populated areas, but when you remove the electric windmills from the people who need the energy, the project suddenly becomes much less cost effective since you then need to lay extra cable to connect the power to the public.

800 Million Dollar Wind Project

In nearby Manitoba, the progressive provincial government just gave a go ahead to a $800 million dollar project that would build the largest wind farm in the country. Support for the wind farm has been strong, with only a fraction of the local residents protesting in favor of nuclear. Environmentalists say that the impact from the new wind farm is the equivalent of taking almost 150,000 cars off the road in Canada and that similar electric windmill arrays could be built all over the flat, and often windy, province.

Even with the falling costs of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, there are still other energy options like coal and nuclear that are more affordable, but if communities around the world are serious about going green, sacrifices are going to need to be made to build wind farms in areas in which they are needed, even if they end up in your back yard. It is a small price to pay for a lifetime of clean, renewable power.

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One Response to “Finding a Home for Electric Windmills”

  1. madhu ramanujam Says:


    I am interested in using alternative energy in my house. I live in NY about 10miles west of Manhattan in a 2-story attached house. I have been interested in solar , wind and geo-thermal , but I don’t know which will work best in my area.

    We currently use an oil based boiler/furnace for steam heat and hot water (6 cast-iron radiators – only 5 are in use) (2 showers + 3 sinks).

    I need some help in finding the best system for our house.
    Provide enough renewable electric energy
    Heat for the winter months w/ cooling during summer
    Hot water for the shower and sinks

    Thank you
    Madhu Ramanujam

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