It is fair to say, if you have an idea for a new business project, someone, someplace, will think it’s a crappy thought. Friends. Relatives. Bankers. Somebody always has their two cents.

And even if all are on board and gung ho to support you, if somebody else thinks your idea might affect them badly in some way, you can bet they will beat the bushes, rightly or wrongly, to end plans.

So, about 100 people turned out to hear about the ABO Smoky River wind turbine farm. Not one raised a hand in support when asked.

Such situations are often called NIMBY, or Not In My Back Yard. Mostly protests are peaceful. In a few rare cases involving confrontations, like blockades, there are peaceful and not so peaceful protests. And sometimes, best intentions lead to outright disaster.

Following the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, a well-meaning Germany decided to get rid of its nuclear power plants. Before that, Germany was producing over 30 per cent of electricity by nuclear, slowly phasing out its coal-fired generators with natural gas, nuclear and renewables. The Ukraine-Russia war disrupted gas supplies from Russia. Germany had to start up its old coal plants. Renewables like solar and wind filling Germany’s needs is still a dream. So much for good intentions!

These days, only countries like Sweden and France, which have robust nuclear plants, have any hope reaching climate goals.

Another good intention happened right here in Alberta. A “clean” option to supply Fort McMurray oilsands plants with nuclear electricity, and enough power for two million Alberta homes, derailed even before Fukushima. The Peace River proposal was blasted by environment activists, and most citizens and community leaders agreed. Even Dawson Creek got into the act, with CBC sniffing “it is a mere 16 km from the Alberta border.”

Interestingly, Ontario has operating plants a similar distance from downtown Toronto. Saskatchewan thinks nuclear plants are a good idea but still has none. New Brunswick has a plant, Curiously, it opposes natural gas pipelines as too dangerous.

Meanwhile, the ABO project gets criticism. Bird strikes are a big deal. But some studies count up bird deaths from other power sources. Wind power is at the far low end of deaths. Failure to recycle? Life cycle studies have wind power as one of the lowest total environment costs. Plus, at present over 80 per cent of a worn out tower setup can be recycled today. Reliability? Complaining wind or solar isn’t reliable is like vegetarians complaining Popeye’s is opening in town.

Which brings us to tax benefits. Low end estimates say perhaps $2.25 million per year will come to all of Smoky River. That’s almost one-third of the money the M.D. nets from all taxes right now. Tax cuts. More roads. More recreation. More safety. More of everything.

The Alberta Utilities Commission has the final say (approval) on the matter. It is said public input will be considered in its decision.

Let Smoky River voters have their say. They aren’t always right by some lights, but majorities still rule, and this is still a democracy.

by Jeff Burgar

This item copyrighted by / South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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