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Public opinion watch: Ontarians: Wind power one of safest forms of electricity generation

Public opinion watch: Ontarians: Wind power one of safest forms of electricity generation

In the Canadian province of Ontario, where the health effects of wind turbine sound have been hotly debated for many months, the public doesn't seem convinced that there's a problem.

According to a public opinion poll commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) and conducted by Oracle Research, 78 percent of Ontarians responding said wind "is one of the safest forms of electricity generation."  The poll was conducted between February 22-29 and has a margin for error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

“This poll indicates that the majority of Ontarians clearly believe wind energy is a safe form of electricity generation despite a minority voice that suggests otherwise. We will continue to ensure wind energy is developed in a safe and responsible manner for the benefit of all Ontarians,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.

Ontario is the current provincial leader with close to 2,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity – enough to power over 600,000 homes in Ontario. In fact, 2011 was a record year for wind energy development in Ontario with the installation of 522 MW across the province.

“It is time to embrace renewable energy in all of its forms, including solar and wind powered energy. Ontarians with asthma and other chronic lung disease are already benefiting from the closure of coal plants and looking forward to the decommissioning of the last one as soon as possible,” commented Dr. Robert Oliphant, President and CEO, Asthma Society of Canada, in a statement. “If for no other reason, we should support renewable energy generation because it does not harm the air we breathe. In all forms, renewable energy is a safe and healthy alternative to fossil fuels.”

Wind energy projects bring direct investment, new high-value jobs, and economic growth to rural areas as well as a new source of taxes for municipalities.

“New jobs and investment from wind energy mean a brighter future for our local economy. Farmers, landowners and municipalities have the opportunity to participate in Ontario’s world-leading green energy economy. By using a small amount of land, we provide the clean energy that Ontarians want and realize very localized benefits at the same time. I’m proud that Chatham-Kent is on the cutting-edge of seeking new economic opportunities,” said Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope.

According to a report by ClearSky Advisors, Ontario is expected to install more than 5,600 MW of new, clean wind energy capacity by 2018, creating 80,000 person-years of employment, attracting C$16.4 billion of private investments (with more than half of that invested in the province), and contributing more than C$1.1 billion of revenue to municipalities and landowners in the form of taxes and lease payments over the 20-year lifespan of the projects.

“Wind energy has created thousands of jobs for our IBEW members and affiliate organizations in Ontario and is providing green electricity for the families of the many communities we live in. These highly skilled jobs help build our local economies and provide new work opportunities for our future generation,” said Phil Flemming, International Vice-President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Ontario’s stable policy for wind energy has attracted millions of dollars in new investments and jobs in manufacturing in areas of the province hit hard by economic challenges.

“We have established an office in Toronto and look forward to continuing to provide jobs and investments as we help build wind and other renewable energy projects throughout Canada. Ontario, specifically, is a growing market and with a stable, long-term policy, the wind industry will continue to provide significant economic benefits to communities throughout Ontario and beyond,” said Mark Donahue, Vice-President and General Manager of Mortenson Construction.  

The poll can be found online at: http://www.canwea.ca/wind-energy/talkingaboutwind_e.php.

Related articles:

Review of wind turbine sound studies gives debate needed balance, February 28, 2012
Public Opinion Watch: Wind farms poll best in survey of attitudes toward energy projects, October 18, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Marylanders back offshore wind, October 12, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Vermonters choose wind power, August 17, 2011
Two-thirds of consumers would pay more for products made with wind energy, global survey finds, July 6, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Iowa voters overwhelmingly back wind energy, July 1, 2011
Public Opinion Watch: Wisconsin says "Yes!" to wind power, April 25, 2011

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