Once again, corporations attempting to fulfill their renewable energy goals are doing so on the backs of rural Albertans.
Tech giant Amazon has announced that it is investing in its first Canadian wind factory, a 495-megawatt capacity project to be built in Vulcan County in southern Alberta.1 Amazon already has four renewable energy projects in Canada, including the Travers Solar Project, also located in southern Alberta, and is the largest solar farm ever constructed in Canada.
But rural citizens are, once again, the sacrificial lambs. Angela Tabak, who is heading a citizens group to protect the mountain views, tourism, and residences near Waterton, Alberta from a TransAlta wind project, says these corporations needs to stop their damage to our provincial countryside and its people.
Amazon’s recent announcement that they will be building a 495 megawatt capacity wind farm in Vulcan County, is yet another example of rural Albertans bearing the brunt of large multi-national’s aspirations to be ‘net-zero’. While, in all likelihood, none of the Albertans directly impacted by this large power generation project and its subsequent transmission lines will directly benefit from the power produced, they will most definitely be negatively impacted.Angela Tabak, Chair, Riplinger Wind Concerned Citizens, November 16, 2023
Whether it is through the destruction of pristine landscapes, property values, the slaughter of migratory birds and bats, or the now established serious health effects associated with large turbines, it has become a question of whether industrial wind turbines are even a moral option, says Wind Concerns Editor in Chief, Mark Mallett.
Most people view wind turbines as “saving the planet”, but it’s anything but. The damage to the environment, to people, wildlife, and other important species is becoming an international issue that’s starting to be recognized in the courts. We support Premier Danielle Smith’s move to explore alternative energy options, but industrial wind factories have to be taken off the table. The cost to rural citizens and to our ecology far outweighs the intermittent benefits of wind. This new government cannot afford to sit on their hands on this issue as there appears to be no end in site of wind developers eager to enter this province.Mark Mallett, Editor in Chief, Wind Concerns, November 16, 2023
A “pause” on approving major renewable energy projects until February 29, 2024 was declared earlier this year in the province. While this produced an outcry from “green” energy lobbyists, columnist Will Verboven says the pause is needed “to extensively scrutinize every aspect of the renewable energy business” and the “out-of-control development” here.
To discredit the moratorium, the lobby makes over-the-top allegations that companies will now take their billions to more favourable jurisdictions. Really? Where exactly are they going to take their billions? The reality is there is no more favourable place in the Western world that is so conducive to unrestricted windmill and solar energy factory development than Alberta. Those in the global REI (renewable energy industry) know what a gold mine of project development Alberta is — they aren’t going anywhere because there is no better place to go.Will Verboven, The Calgary Herald, August 19, 2023
But he adds, “What would be the reaction of Calgary citizens if it was announced that six Calgary Tower-sized windmills were to be erected on Nose Hill Park?”
Verboven notes that developers are usually foreign entities that operate through surrogate companies in Alberta, who seem to profit from government tax incentives, grants and premium tariff rates that subsidize the projects. He asks:
What about those new transmission lines to Montana? Are they for sending our renewable energy to global corporate giants like Microsoft, Amazon and others who willingly pay premiums for Alberta renewable energy to greenwash their corporate images? What about all the carbon credits from projects sold to U.S. corporations and California utilities? Shouldn’t Alberta get a continuous royalty from those credits? It appears Alberta is being played for a sucker by global REI financial bandits. Alberta desperately needs this moratorium and investigation.Ibid.
But so far, says Mallett, the AUC’s investigation has produced little opportunity for rural Albertans to engage in any meaningful way, creating lengthy forms on their website that demand extensive research and documentation.
However, Premier Smith has recently cut to the chase, raising concerns over industrial wind factories and their interference of pristine landscapes, the use of prime agricultural land, bats and birds, as well as property rights.2 Still, there have been no assurances at either the legislative or regulatory level that anything is going to change soon.
“But there is no time to lose,” says Mallett. “The pause is over in three and a half months. Approvals begin the next day. Municipalities tell us they are helpless and that the AUC will do whatever it wants. There is no one left to defend Albertans but the Premier and ministries charged with protecting the environment and our people. The consequences of allowing Big Wind to continue to run roughshod over family farms, good land, property values, our beautiful lakes, rivers, and mountains — and our human rights — will last for generations. It’s not hyperbole — just look at the nightmare that Ontario’s green ambitions have left behind. Why on earth does Alberta want to repeat them?”
The unreliability of wind, the cost to taxpayers, and the environmental, human and animal health impacts led Premier Doug Ford of Ontario to finally declare a moratorium on future wind development in 2019.3
I’m proud that we actually saved the taxpayers $790 million when we cancelled those terrible, terrible, terrible wind turbines that really, for the last 15 years, have destroyed our energy file… if we had the chance to get rid of all the windmills, we would.Premier Doug Ford, CBC News, November 21, 2019
As Wind Concerns reported last month, many rural Ontarians were driven from their homes, some which remain evacuated to this day. Nonetheless, rural Alberta appears to be the new Ontario.
We would strongly encourage these behemoth corporations to look for more socially responsible ways to reach their ‘net-zero’ goals than saddling rural communities with intrusive, unreliable and unwanted power generation plants.Angela Tabak, Chair, Riplinger Wind Concerned Citizens, November 16, 2023
Rural Municipalities of Alberta President, Paul McLauchlin, called for a moratorium on solar projects on certain types of farmland this past April.4 Wind Concerns reached out to Mr. McLauchlin via phone and email for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.
“It’s time to call for a moratorium on industrial wind factories as well,” says Mallett. “The ‘climate change’ fear narrative is one that, as we’ve seen from Ottawa, is willing to push provinces into energy poverty and destabilize energy grids; to destroy our environment for generations in order to satisfy corporations’ opportunity to buy or sell carbon credits —which does nothing for the environment and plenty for their pocketbooks. It’s among the most astonishing lapses in common sense and of recklessness in our nation’s history, and a great majority of the public is clueless.”
“The question now is which politician is going to blink first and simply say “No more”?”