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A Windy Skyline

Wolfe Island Wind Farm
The last time I mentioned the Wolfe Island wind farm , I honestly hoped that the project would be delayed due to the growing concern from Island residents. It’s not as though I’m opposed to the idea of alternative energy, or wind turbines on the Island, but I certainly do not want the concerns of local residents cast aside without due process. Is this simply a case of David vs Goliath, or do the developers and Provincial Officials know something we don’t? I walk along the waterfront each and every day, and lately I’ve been noticing a large number of construction vehicles being ferried over on a private barge. This got me searching for answers, and I soon discovered that pieces of the wind turbines have already begun to arrive on the Island. It looks as though there’s no stopping Kingston’s windy skyline.

The Wolfe Island wind turbines are being shipped from Denmark and pulled up the St. Lawrence River by tugboat from Ogdensburg, NY. Seeing one of the six pieces of these massive turbines really puts the scope of the project into perspective. From the base of the tower to tip of the outer most blade, each turbine measures a staggering 125 metres. With pieces arriving steadily during the next 14 weeks, and construction already begun on a network of gravel roads around the generation site, the 86-turbine farm is set to be completed in March 2009. When they are finally turned on, they will generate enough energy to power 75,000 homes.

You can imagine the kind of impact this is having on the local residents . Loads of construction equipment and materials, as well as droves of construction workers, have essentially hijacked their relatively quiet community. That alone is enough to upset the population, but the kicker is the fact that their concerns have yet to be dealt with, and probably never will. I don’t think anyone on Wolfe Island wants to say “I told you so”, if the turbines kill off the bird population, but what else can you do? These are threatened habitats, and their loss may put yet another species on some forgotten endangered list. Is this what we call progress?

I can’t imagine what the view will look like. Although these turbines are massive and will probably be visible during the right conditions, I doubt they’ll really be looming over the Kingston skyline. That said, I am fearful for how this is going to turn out, for both the Wolfe Islanders and our feathered friends.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “A Windy Skyline

  • August 13, 2008 at 7:22 am
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    I think I was the only one who commented last time…and I still disagree. This project is a good thing, and the evidenec is not there to prove that their will be a negative impact on birds. Do you know which side of the island their loading and unloading? I’d love to see how big the pieces really are.

  • August 16, 2008 at 10:28 pm
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    The windmill construction people are using the winter dock to unload and they have a barge at the kingston/wolfe island ferry dock where they often load up their trucks etc.

    The windmills are hugely controversial on the island and I can see both sides. I can see how it would be upsetting to have the entire skyline changed and the community altered when the Island is a deeply rooted place where many can trace their families back 6 generations or more.

  • August 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm
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    There will be a public information session this Wed. 7pm at the Prince Edward County Community Centre in Picton.

    For the record, in general I’m for windmills.

  • August 21, 2008 at 3:28 pm
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    Most residents of Wolfe Island, myself included, are not against “green energy”, and most despise the accusation of NIMBYism. What upsets many of us is the way the Wind Turbines were presented to us. The project has been in the works for years, much longer than we were led to believe. They have been forced down our throats by a selfish and too eager council. Other than the rent paid to the landowners who will be ‘hosts’ to the obtrusive giants, the residents of the island are getting nothing in return (other than a token tax revenue) as we sit by and watch our beloved island torn asunder. Look up the statistics on the reality of the efficiency of wind power. Theoretically it can be appealing, but the reality is quite different. Only now that the turbines are arriving–piece by piece because they are so massive–are people beginning to realize that perhaps a big mistake has been made. And to quote Joni Mitchell, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

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