Nova Scotia must dramatically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity.
We burn coal to generate over half of the electricity we consume in this province. That coal is primarily imported from South American countries at ever increasing prices. As long as Nova Scotia relies on fossil fuels to keep the lights on, Nova Scotians will be at the mercy of the rising prices and market volatility that go hand-in-hand with dwindling, non-renewable resources.
Wind energy has a critical role to play in a future fuel mix that will keep pace with energy demand and keep prices stable.
Rates for electricity produced from renewable sources are initially higher than rates for electricity produced from fossil fuels. This is largely because fossil fuels have a structural foothold in our economy: our entire system is built around combusting coal or oil or natural gas for energy. We must invest in wind power and other renewable technologies now so that electricity produced from renewable sources is cheaper five years from now. Once those prices stabilize, they will remain the same indefinitely. We’re not likely to run out of wind anytime this millennium.
Of all the means of energy production available to us, wind turbines have almost the least impact on human health and the environment.
While wind turbines are new to many communities in Nova Scotia, they are not a new technology. Communities and individuals around the world have been living beside them for nearly thirty years. Over those decades, a wealth of scientific study has found no credible evidence that wind turbines have a significant impact on human health. Relative to the millions of documented impacts to individual health from fossil fuel combustion, the number of individuals that experience discomfort from proximity to wind turbines is extremely small.
It is estimated that wind turbines kill between 10 and 40 thousand birds in the USA every year. House cats kill approximately 700 million; power lines approximately 150 million.
Wind turbines do not produce greenhouse gases or other toxic emissions, they do not pollute surrounding water, they do not flood large areas of the surrounding landscape, and they have a relatively small footprint – people and wildlife can walk and play safely in a wind farm, and they often become tourist attractions.
Proper siting and meaningful citizen engagement is crucial to avoiding potential impacts on the environment and communities.
Industrial-scale wind turbines must be sited in a considerate and informed manner, with the input of community members and a thorough understanding of the landscape and ecology of the proposed site. The Province has a role to play in providing municipalities and constituents with up-to-date and credible information on the current state of knowledge surrounding wind energy. Community members have a right to transparency and inclusion in all levels of the decision-making process.
Saying no to wind is saying yes to coal.