Harnessing the wind

Dave Bartlett
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Public meeting probes proposed turbine regulations for St. John’s

Gerry Skinner of Labrador Coastal Equipment Limited was the only person who spoke at a public meeting at St. John’s city hall Wednesday night on proposed regulations for wind turbines in the city. — Photo by Dave Bartlett, The Telegram.

Should the city of St. John’s allow small-scale wind turbines to be erected within the city?

And if so, where should they be allowed and what guidelines should be considered?

Those were the questions put to the public Wednesday night at a sparsely attended public meeting at city hall.

Gerry Skinner was the only person who spoke to the handful of city staff and news reporters in attendance.

Skinner’s company — Labrador Coastal Equipment Ltd.  — proposed last April to build a turbine for a commercial business on Kenmount Road near Kelsey Drive, which led council to discuss the need for regulations for wind turbines.

Council turned down that project at the time. The main reason was the turbine would have been too close to the Blue Buoy building and the city wanted a drop zone established around the turbine one-and-a-half times its height.

That way, if it ever fell over, it wouldn’t damage nearby properties, buildings or come down upon roadways.

City staff gathered information about what rules govern turbines in other jurisdictions and drew up a draft list of regulations, which were presented at the beginning of the meeting.

The city is suggesting that only small wind turbines be allowed, with a maximum output of 300 kilowatts, that they only be allowed in commercial, industrial or open space zones and not allowed in any residential areas.

Any proposed wind turbine would have to go through a land use assessment report process which would have to look at everything from height and distance from neighbouring properties, buildings and roads to noise and a plan to remediate the property once the wind turbine was beyond its life expectancy.

Although the meeting dealt with overall regulations for wind turbines, Skinner based his presentation on his previous proposal, which he suggested he would bring before council again — with some modifications — once the news rules are adopted

While he promoted the environmental reasons for wind power, he also showed how his client would benefit if the city allows the turbine.

“The client will receive an 80 per cent savings (on their power bill) over the first 25 years,” said Skinner. “A project this size would save the owner $63,000 in the first year of operation.”

He went on to say the total savings over 25 years would be about $6.3 million. And Skinner said that is after all maintenance costs are included.

He said the turbines are sturdy and safe; with features built in to prevent things such as ice buildup on the blades. He also said they are quiet, no louder than the traffic would be on Kenmount Road.

Skinner said the city should allow turbines in high traffic areas such as Kenmount Road to showcase them as a way to encourage others to consider wind power for their commercial or industrial operations.

He also said that both Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland Hydro are willing to buy excess power from privately owned turbines for the province’s power grid.

City council will vote on the proposed regulations for wind turbines at an upcoming council meeting.




Organizations: Labrador Coastal Equipment

Geographic location: Kenmount Road

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Recent comments

  • jeremy
    October 01, 2014 - 19:46

    typical ignorance of the masses. i've come to expect that of newfoundland anyway now... you can get windmills that are only 18" tall and are not the bladed ones, they are great in high winds and look pretty neat. also instead of fear mongering about noise(which is proven to be psychosomatic) and parts flying off(planes fall apart as well but we allow them to pass over our heads), how about support something that aids in cutting our fossil fuel dependance, which is not exactly healthy for the planet.

  • Ben Dover
    March 01, 2012 - 22:52

    People, please learn from others' experience. See: http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/46519 or http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/more-testimonies/ just for starters

  • Jeremiah
    March 01, 2012 - 14:25

    Not anywhere near residential areas. They can be noisy even when running properly. If a bearing or a bushing wears a little look out. Not that easy to fix either.

  • Huh
    March 01, 2012 - 12:58

    You guys live on a barren rock in the middle of the north atlantic. Why would you want to put up wind towers in the middle of one of the only two pretty cities on the whole island. That's perhaps the dumbest thing I've seen on this site. There's tons of barren rock around in places where nobody lives. Go put the things there.

  • yo mama
    March 01, 2012 - 12:37

    Cynic, I agree, for some reason every OTHER province in Canada allows residential wind turbines, and to be tied into the grid. NL power has no problem setting this up but our insurance companies don't want to insure the home. Anyone know why?

    March 01, 2012 - 12:34


    • Devil's Advocate
      March 01, 2012 - 13:09

      What, like how that monstrosity of a building (the rooms) improved the skyline? It looks like a giant house, so out of place. Or how writing in all caps ruined the view of this comment thread?

  • Jack
    March 01, 2012 - 09:56

    The City of St. John's should allow wind turbines in their cities, but not in high density areas. In other words, have them placed in the outer city or city limit areas. If you visit Halifax, you'll notice the city's outskirts or suburban areas have wind turbines and there are no problems. However, in parts of Halifax, such as the Halifax Peninsula, Wind Turbines are prohibited for safety reasons.

    March 01, 2012 - 08:47

    I say go for it.. but keep it out of earshot or you'll "never hear the end of it" if you know what I mean. This could make or break mainstream wind energy in this province so tread carefully!

  • joan
    March 01, 2012 - 08:25

    I agree its about time, with all the wind that we here in Newfoundland get I am so happy to hear that someone finally thinks we should put it to some good use. It seems to work in other countries, why not here?

  • JW
    March 01, 2012 - 07:48

    About time. All the money to be allocated to the Muskrat falls project should be used to help people erect wind turbines on their own properties instead. They come in all sizes and wattage, not just 300 feet high.

  • Ken Harvey
    March 01, 2012 - 06:47

    Keep them out of the city. They are a blight. They are an eye sore, they are unreliable, expensive and make a lot of noise. They don't work in High wind, or low wind, it has to be just right. So I would be very leery if I was investing in one of these. Check with other cities that have them, ask the people who bought them if they work, and provide that kind of savings

    • cynic
      March 01, 2012 - 07:52

      In the 1930s, many people in outports had windchargers. The technolopgy in those days was pretty basic, but people ere able to generate enough power to run their radios and perhaps a lightbulb or two. And that was 80 years ago. We seem to have forgotten that, like we have forgotten much of what life actually was like here before Joey convinced us that Confederation delivered us from theDark Ages. Now, wind generators are a "blight", an "eyesore", and not economically feasible. Really? Perhaps for commercial putrposes, that might be true. But the windchargers of 80 years ago have gone high tech now, and there are many models intended for private domestic use. Perhaps instead of building even small scale commercial ones, we should be looking at individual homeowners being able to set windchargers on their own property and generate their own electricity, just like their grandparents did before people convinced them that kind of thing was somehow "primitive".