Families want answers on health effects of wind farms

Plans to build a wind farm in the rural area near Trochu and Huxley face objections from residents who are worried about effects on their health.

Plans to build a wind farm in the rural area near Trochu and Huxley face objections from residents who are worried about effects on their health.

Ontario-based FPLE Canadian Wind, a subsidiary of Florida-based FPL Energy, is in the early stages of planning the Ghost Pine Windfarm. It would include 54 wind turbines generating 81 megawatts.

A file for the application has been opened with the Alberta Utilities Commission, but AUC officials have not yet received a completed application, public affairs officer Jim Law said.

The towers are going to be too close to people’s homes, say Huxley-area property owner Dale and Dianne Moran.

Dale Moran said he has seen enough evidence to suggest that noise and vibration from the turbines, mounted on 122-metre towers, would cause serious health issues for people living nearby.

“We’re not against it, but there’s got to be some common sense going on,” Moran said.

He feels wind projects should be placed in more sparsely populated areas, like Calgary-based Greengate Power’s project underway at Halkirk, east of Stettler.

The Morans and two other families who share their concerns have filed an objection with the AUC. They also presented their concerns in May to a meeting of Kneehill County council.

The county filed a letter with AUC in December 2008 stating that it would support the project in general, as long as it fit within municipal bylaws and the Municipal Government Act and there were no “significant” public concerns.

Objections the group first raised are now gaining support from a rising number of people who he feels were not fully informed when the company started signing up property owners interested in having turbines erected on their land, said Moran.

“I’ve got three pages of people’s names . . . that want their concerns known.”

People did not get the full story during one-on-one sessions with company representatives who hosted open houses to discuss their project and solicit support, he said.

The AUC will not take any action on the Ghost Pine project until it has received a completed application, including a report on public meetings held to discuss the proposal, said Law.

Once the application is received, the AUC will publish a notice inviting input from people who may be affected by the project, he said.

If there are objections, the AUC will hold a public hearing to gather evidence both for and against the project.

The AUC provides funding to any people or groups who can show that they will be directly affected, said Law. The funding is meant to help them hire witnesses and perform any other tasks that will help them build a solid case, he said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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