by BETTER FARMING STAFF
The Pembina Institute is introducing a new voice to the wind energy debate in Ontario. Alberta horse rancher Heidi Eijgel has lived next to a large wind development in Pincher Creek, Alta. for 10 years and institute respresentatives thought it might be educational for her to share her experiences with people in Ontario. Representatives of the not-for-profit sustainable energy think tank are also interested to hear what people here think about wind development.
Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency policy at the institute, says Eijgel will speak from the perspective of someone “who has had real experience” living with wind.
“She’s had a good experience with wind,” Weis says, “but it’s not meant to be necessarily just one side or the other. She will say, ‘Here’s what my experience has been and here are the questions I asked and here is how to avoid bad situations.'”
Weis says Albertans are generally favourable toward wind. “The story in Ontario seems to be quite a bit different than the story here in Alberta,” he says. “When it comes to wind energy development in particular, we are actually working with groups in Alberta who are campaigning and looking for ways to bring wind energy to their communities.” He also says Alberta farms are larger and farmers are used to seeing oil and gas developments on their land, all of which makes wind more attractive.
Weis, an engineer, says a recent institute study showed renewable energy is more expensive than energy from natural gas over the short term, but in the longer term, about 15 years, it is less expensive. It is also cheaper than building new nuclear plants.
Eijgel will be speaking Monday at the Alhambra Hall in Grand Bend, Tuesday at the Aeolian Hall in London and Wednesday at the Sunset Lounge in Chatham. All events start at 7 p.m.
The sessions are being paid for by the institute through grants from independent foundations. There is no industry sponsorship, Weis says.
The Pembina Institute’s mission, according to its website, is “to advance sustainable energy solutions through innovative research, education, consulting and advocacy.” It has offices in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. BF