If I understood correctly, it seems that wind won’t play as major a role in Alberta’s energy future as it might elsewhere. Apparently, unless your trees are growing crooked from the consistent winds in your area, wind is probably not the best option for you to source energy.

Not all energy is created equal. Certainly, in different contexts, the valuable implementation of these energies will be dramatically different.

I heard a story about a small rural township in Ontario that was transformed by the installation of wind turbines. While the energy source is fairly reliable. The way it was implemented has pitted neighbour against neighbour. Each landowner was left to negotiate for him/herself. They were all paid radically different amounts for the same agreements. Plus, most only agreed to having a wind turbine placed on his/her property if they could be placed away from his/her home. In some cases, this resulted in the turbines being built in very close proximity to neighbour homes. Because of existing regulations around development within a certain radius of a wind turbine, these decisions have also left neighbours unable to develop their land or even sell it at the same rate. Now, long time members of the community that one collaborated and worked together, no longer speak to each other.

Power stuggles tear at the fabric of social life. In this case, the ‘landman’ negotiating a good deal for his employer, unravelled several generations of relationships in one fell swoops. Are there ways to legislate against this type of practice and demand that as new energy systems are implemented, that they are done in care-filled ways that nurture stronger more dynamic social relations?

I find it interesting that people can imagine all sorts of sci-fi possibilities for technology and its limitless power in the future, but many scoffs at how unrealistic a proposition it is to demand that we treat others in fair and equitable ways. I question the assumption that one of those propositions is possible and the other is not. And, every chance I have to collect evidence that the latter is possible, I’m doing so. The future will be much more certain, if we are able to rely on one another to behave in socially sustainable ways, whether the magic technological solutions of the future that many are hoping for, are ever developed, or not.

(Image: Photo of wind turbine.)


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© 2019 Sheena Wilson, Associate Professor, University of Alberta
Principal Investigator: Feminist Energy Futures; Future Energy Systems’ Energy Humanities: Speculative Energy Futures and iDoc Projects
Co-founder and co-director of Petrocultures Research Group
Editor-in-chief, Imaginations Journal



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