We have gathered a few frequently asked questions (FAQ) about wind energy and Scotian WindFields. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at: gharley@scotianwindfields.ca. We will get back to you as soon as possible with an answer and post the answers here to share with everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions: Wind Energy

Are turbines cost effective?

Once a turbine is installed, it produces reliable electricity. Turbines produce energy at a fixed price for 20 years. Wind power offers Nova Scotians a way of ensuring that their electricity bills won’t be tied to the price of fossil fuels, while promising to keep more of our energy dollars within the province. Nova Scotia Power Executive Robin McAdam explained the math recently in his blog about renewable energy:

Coal prices have been driving up electricity prices. Our cost per tonne of coal has gone up more than 70% over the past eight years alone. Each year, we spend about $250 million of our customers’ money buying foreign coal. It’s much better for our economy to spend that money on local energy sources, creating jobs and economic opportunities here in Nova Scotia.  http://cleaner.nspower.ca/        

How common are turbines in Nova Scotia?

There are more than 160 utility scale wind turbines in Nova Scotia.

What does ComFIT stand for?

ComFIT stands for Community Feed-in-Tariff. The ComFIT is a program of the Nova Scotia Provincial government that was developed after years of consultation and study of models of renewable energy development throughout the world.  Under the ComFIT program, electricity produced by turbines will be consumed at a local level directly within the community. You can learn more about the program and renewable energy in Nova Scotia at: http://nsrenewables.ca/

How do wind turbines help to combat climate change?

When turbines produce energy, the electricity they produce displaces the need for fossil fuel production on the grid. Energy produced by wind decreases the amount of fossil fuel burned to meet the needs of energy consumers in Nova Scotia. Wind energy is a fuel-less source of energy. After the carbon footprint from their manufacture and installation is covered within the first year, every kilowatt of energy produced is virtually carbon free.

How does a community dividend for a ComFIT project work?

More than 800 Nova Scotian families share ownership of Scotian WindFields. They want to share the dividends with the communities where projects are located. That is why Scotian WindFields is committed to donate 1% of the gross revenue from projects to local communities for their chosen use. This dividend could be as much as $10,000, annually and could be used for community projects such as school programs, local scholarships, community recreation programs or facilities. The use of proceeds will be up to the community to decide.

Do turbines harm birds?

Climate change poses a far greater risk to birds than wind turbines. The Audubon Society is North America’s oldest and most well regarded bird watching society and authority on the conservation of bird species. They have issued a carefully considered position paper that declares their support for wind energy. You can read more about their position and studies regarding birds and wind turbines at: http://policy.audubon.org/audubon-statement-wind-power

Of the approximately 500 million to 1 billion birds killed annually in the US from all human-influenced causes, an estimated 0.003% are killed by wind turbines, compared to 82% by cats and collisions with buildings and power lines, 8% by vehicles, and 7% by pesticides (Erickson et al. 2005).


How much noise do turbines make?

Technology has greatly improved since wind turbines for electricity were first conceived. There are now over 68,000 operational wind turbines. The sound produced by modern turbines is minimal. The sound chart below compares turbine noise to everyday objects. Turbines must follow setback guidelines from properties to ensure sound will be unnoticeable to residents.  In addition to following setback guidelines turbines will pass environmental assessments before installation.


Do wind turbines cause harmful health effects?

Independent studies confirm that wind turbines do not cause health issues to those who live near them. In 2010, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario conducted a thorough study on the health effects of wind turbines and concluded:

The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects, although some people may find it annoying.

More recently in January 2012 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released a report prepared by a panel of leading experts in environmental health and epidemiology from Harvard and Boston Universities. The panel concluded that there was no evidence of ill health effects from wind.

See “Studies and Reports” for more information and direct links to download health studies and peer-reviewed academic literature.

I heard that turbine blades cause shadow flicker. What is that and how will it affect me?

Shadow flicker refers to the effect of shadows moving as the sun shines through the rotating turbine blades. The position of the sun relative to a specific location can be easily predicted. Software programs have been developed to provide detailed predictions of the location and timing of potential wind turbine shadows and at today’s setback distances and sophisticated siting techniques, shadow flicker is avoided.