Construction underway on Harrow wind farm

Construction is well underway at the first major wind farm in Ontario's Essex County, despite concerns of some local residents about the project.
The AIM Harrow Wind Farm in Essex, Ont., includes 24 turbines, each requiring a massive concrete pedestal base like the one pictured above. ((Tom Taylor/CBC))
Construction is well underway at the first major wind farm in Ontario's Essex County, despite reservations by some residents about the project.

The $82-million AIM Harrow Wind Farm will include 24 turbines each 120 metres tall and with blades 47 metres long. Together, they're expected to generate enough electricity to power 350,000 homes, according to Paul Robinson, the construction site manager.

'The viability of our farm is at stake,' said Colette McLean, who lives next door to the wind farm project and opposes it. ((Tom Taylor/CBC))
Between 90 and 130 workers broke ground on the project on Oct. 14, and have since built approximately 11 kilometres of roads in the rural area to accommodate heavy construction vehicles and equipment. They have also poured thousands of cubic metres of concrete for the turbines' massive concrete pedestal bases. The turbines themselves lie in pieces on the frozen ground, waiting to be erected.

The project is slated to be complete by the middle of May, with a "target date for completion in putting power back into the grid [at] the end of June," said Robinson.

Neighbours upset

But some nearby residents doubt it will be that easy to get the project up and running.

"It's an incredibly unreliable intermittent source of energy," local resident Colette McLean told CBC News. "Because of that we have to rely on — guess what? — fossil fuel generators for backup.

"It's my health, my family's health, the viability of our farm, the value of our farm," said McLean, whose farm on Gore Road is next door to the new farm. "That's everything to me.

"Everything my husband, and my son and I have worked for, it's going to be gone," she said.

Robinson argues that wind farms "are kind of pleasing to the eye," and says "there's no impact on the area that would be detrimental" to local residents.

"I mean, I have not seen anything that can confirm that that's what's really happening out there," said Robinson. "It's good, clean power."