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Wind power fight in Ontario's Niagara Region

A view from under one of the wind turbines.
WBFO News file photo
A view from under one of the wind turbines.

There is a long-running fight in Ontario's Niagara Region over wind towers being used to generate electricity, while nearby, a series of companies are starting factories to make the components of wind generators. 

The most visible of the plants is theTSP Canada Towersplant in Thorold, Ontario which may eventually have 250 workers making the towers for windmills. It's basically a Chinese company with a track record in producing the towers.

In nearby Welland, German REpower is starting up a plant to make the giant blades used to generate electricity and hoping to ship some out on the Welland Canal. The company is to hire as many as 200 employees. There is also a company to make the actual generators and another making the electrical controls.

Valerie Kuhns is the sector manager for Niagara Regional Economic Development. Kuhns says the goal is to build on existing skills.

"Some of the newer skills...the companies will do some training itself," said Kuhns.

Nearby Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs says she appreciates the job coming to the neighborhood but says her community remains opposed to planned wind towers.

While the new jobs sound good, a Fort Erie plant owned by an American company shut down last year when it couldn't get enough business making the wind towers.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.