Saturday November 22, 2014

EDITORIAL: City should have green energy policy

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There is renewed interest in what is termed as “green energy” in Weyburn, with the issue of a wind turbine being disallowed by city council raising a lot of public comments and interest.

The issue centred on a turbine that Dustin and Vanessa Storle had installed in the yard of their home on Brown Crescent in the city’s northeast corner. They put it up in 2010, initially on a one-year trial basis; the city, for whatever reason, did not follow up on it a year later as they were told, and then in the ensuing years as the “boom” hit Weyburn and area, the Brown Crescent area filled in with a lot more homes and families.

The neighbours in that area began to have a problem with the large “egg-beater” turbine; one neighbour had the shadow of the turbine on her patio window giving a strobe-like effect, while others had safety concerns when they saw the turbine wobbling in strong winds.

In the end, city council listened to the neighbours’ concerns, and have told the Storles they have until mid-summer to take the turbine down and remove it from the city neighbourhood. Safety maybe wasn’t the main issue, as the Storles assured council that there are many engineering studies and certificates that this turbine is a safe one.

The outcry from the public over this decision arose afterwards, instead of during the time period when council was considering this issue — but it shows that the public-at-large do have ideas and concerns about environmentally-friendly energy sources, or “green energy”; maybe this is an area that council should study and make a policy. Up to this incident, there was no official policy in place for the city to make reference to, other than now councillors were fairly clear they don’t want something this big twirling around in their neighbourhoods.

There are alternatives that could be considered; for example, there are smaller, more compact turbines that would be less obtrusive and less objectionable, not to mention there is solar energy, where panels can be set up that are not visually a problem as the Storles’ turbine apparently was.

With some research, other sources of green energy could be looked into (like geothermal heat sources) and would fit into a residential neighbourhood. Meantime, it seems the village of Lake Alma has more tolerance for turbines, as they have said they would accept it. Perhaps for Weyburn a policy could be built up what is acceptable here.

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