27 June 2012

The windmill next door

As a citizen of Alberta, Canada's oil province and the birthplace of wind energy in Canada, I have perhaps less innate concern about windmills than citizens from other provinces. Indeed, the first time I walked up to a windmill, I was favourably impressed. Although I found its size somewhat intimidating, I found the rhythmic swish of its blades as soothing as ocean waves on the beach.

I often wonder about the reaction in Holland when the first windmills were built there centuries ago. Was there debate between those who appreciated the clean energy and those who saw the great ungainly things as blots on the landscape? Will the sleek modern models we see now become, like their ancient cousins, tourist attractions, the stuff of postcards home?

The Pembina Institute isn't hoping for anything that grand, but it is hoping to improve the image of the machines in Ontario. It has arranged for Heidi Eijgel, an Alberta rancher who has lived next to a wind farm for a decade, to tour Southern Ontario this week and share her experiences. It is at least a better message than tar sands.

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