Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CONCERNED PARAGLIDERS – Joel Brennan launches Saturday at the Haeckel Hill Paragliding Fly-in, with one of the two existing wind turbines on the hill in the background. Paragliders are concerned the proposal for three new turbines would make the site unsafe to launch from.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

NICE VIEW – Paraglider Logan Small enjoys the view shortly after launching from Haeckel Hill on Saturday.

Turbines would endanger paragliders, group says

Paragliders are asking the territory’s assessment board to reject a proposal for a new wind farm on Haeckel Hill.

By Chuck Tobin on May 15, 2017

Paragliders are asking the territory’s assessment board to reject a proposal for a new wind farm on Haeckel Hill.

They maintain three new turbines will ruin what is being described as one of the best launch sites in Canada for a sport that’s growing in popularity internationally.

The potential for Haeckel Hill to serve as an anchor to draw in paragliders from around Canada and the world is very real, they maintain.

Haeckel Hill, the paragliders point out in their written submissions to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, was the launch site for the Canadian long distance flight record – 250 kilometres to Pelly Crossing.

Russell Bamford, president of the Association of Yukon Paragliders and Hang Gliders, suggests the wind farm could be placed on nearby Mount Sumanik.

Mount Sumanik has a similar exposure to wind, so placing the three turbines there would result in a similar production of energy, Bamford wrote in his submission to the board.

“I believe the proposed turbines will make Haeckel Hill unsafe for paragliding and we will lose a special flying site that is open all year to local and visiting pilots from all over Canada and the world,” the association’s president wrote in his submission.

“We have pilots fly at Haeckel Hill from B.C., Alberta, Nova Scotia, U.S.A., Austria, France, Switzerland, to name a few.”

The paragliding association hosted a Haeckel Hill Paragliding Fly-in on Saturday, though the turnout was less than expected because of the weather conditions.

Volunteer members of the association laid down 10,000 square feet of sod in 2015 to improve the launch site, with the assistance of a $9,000 grant from Lotteries Yukon, Bamford points out in his submission.

He said both Yukon Energy and Nav Canada approved the improvements to the launch site.

Northern Energy Capital of Whitehorse is proposing to put up three, 900-kilowatt wind turbines with enough combined capacity to power 525 homes.

The company has entered into a sublease for the site with Yukon Energy.

Yukon Energy installed the first wind turbine on Haeckel Hill in 1993, though the 150-kilowatt Bonus turbine has been inoperable for several years.

The 660-kilowatt Vestas turbine, installed in 2000, is still in use. Icing on the blades during winters has been somewhat of a challenge.

Northern Energy’s $14-million proposal before the assessment board notes that each of the three new turbines would be state-of-the-art with de-icing mechanisms built into the blades.

The company put up a 70-metre meteorological tower on Haeckel Hill last fall to gather additional information.

The board is currently in the final stages of reviewing the company’s proposal. The deadline for submissions was May 2.

Paragliding instructor Trevor Mead-Robins of Fly Yukon Paragliding says the project as proposed would destroy Haeckel Hill as a viable launch site.

It would have a negative impact on his flying school and the economic potential associated with developing the sport of paragliding, mead-Robins writes in his submission to the board.

Whitehorse biologist Brian Slough submitted to the board that much more needs to be known about the impact the wind turbines would have on birds and bats.

Information presented in Northern Energy’s proposal about the potential impact is insufficient, says the veteran biologist of 35 years.

He says in his submission it’s estimated 888,000 bats are killed by wind turbines in North America every year – of which 47,400 are killed in Canada.

“With regards to bird and bat use of the area, there needs to be a proper impact assessment based on pre-construction monitoring, followed by a plan for post-construction monitoring and mitigation through adaptive management,” Slough wrote.

He says there are ways to reduce bat mortality without losing more than one per cent of generating potential.

Northern Energy president Malek Tawashy said this morning the company did have a representative at Saturday’s fly-in to meet with paragliders to discuss their concerns.

“We are looking for mutual beneficial outcomes in using the hill and maximizing enjoyment without obstruction,” Tawashy said of the potential of finding means of addressing the concerns while maintaining the viability of the wind project.

Mead-Robins said this morning he is open to working together with the company in an effort to come up with a suitable arrangement.

Fifteen to 20 pilots are expected in Dawson City for the Victoria Day long weekend to fly off the Dome, he said.

Comments (35)

Up 3 Down 0

Nick Smith on May 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm

This project cannot happen without MASSIVE government funding period. The wind power factor in Canada is 28% (see link below); which means the wind turbines rated at 2.7 megawatts can only be expected to produce 756 Kilowatts on average. Add in temperatures well below the Southern Canada average, Rime Ice, High Winds, Etc and the power factor on Haeckel Hill is guaranteed to be much lower.
Working with numbers that are higher than what should be expected: 756kw X 24 hours per day X $0.083/kW.h wholesale rate that Yukon Energy gets paid from Atco Electric Yukon (see link below); and these units might generate $1500 per day or $45000 per month in income. Sounds good unless you want to pay back the original 14 Million Dollar investment. Payments at 0 interest over ten years are $116,000 per month. At 4% they jump to $140,000 per month (note 4% was the lowest Government subsidized rate that I could find in Canada). This project is completely unfeasible without Ontario Style Government involvement; and we can clearly see the problems that has caused over the last 15 years.




Up 4 Down 0

dd on May 20, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Did this horse-s**t actually make it into print ?

Up 4 Down 2

north_of_60 on May 19, 2017 at 4:01 pm

@ Clifford
If you take the time to read the links I posted on on May 15, 2017 at 5:50 pm you should be able to understand that the problems with wind turbines have only increased. Wind power is a failed experiment all over the world. Wind Won't Work.

Wind and solar have no applications on the Yukon grid which is already 97% renewable. However there is significant potential for solar applications in off-grid communities which are presently relying almost entirely on non-renewable energy supplies.

When comparing Solar and Wind, solar is a much better option. A few factors to consider:
The sun shines more often than the wind blows, and usable sunshine occurs in more places.
Solar arrays have almost no moving parts, less maintenance, and longer serviceable lifetimes.
The capitalization cost per kWh produced is much lower with solar panels.
A solar array can be more easily and cheaply transported to a remote site.
In most cases solar panels can be installed with manual labor and don't require cranes and expensive site preparation.
Building wind turbines creates significantly more toxic pollution.

As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke .

It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.

A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. That's being environmentally irresponsible on a grand scale.

Up 16 Down 1

Barry Smith on May 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

people who jump off mountains under a curtain of silk are afraid of crashing into wind turbines ?


Up 5 Down 6

Clifford---@N 60 (supplemental) on May 18, 2017 at 5:59 pm

My submitted link and information is dated Jan 14 2015
Your link and information are dated Nov 24 2011
I think we can all agree that technology has made considerable advances and will continue to do so since 2011. Knowing all this, why would the protagonists for the three wind generator project be into losing money? Oil is obsolete and is being phased out. Elon Musk and electric cars back this claim. The future looks bright without fossil fuel consumption destroying the hydrological cycle and in turn life itself.

Up 6 Down 6

Clifford---@N 60 (back at you) on May 18, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Wind power might not only be better for the environment than offshore drilling, it might make more economic sense too. A new study from Oceana, an environmental advocacy group, calculates that if wind farms were located off the Eastern coast of America, they could generate more energy in just 13 years than all the recoverable offshore oil and gas reserves in the Atlantic Ocean. What’s more, offshore wind would create 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling in 20 years.

Up 15 Down 8

Hugh Mungus on May 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm

@Stu Miner
There are no other mountains with an access road to the top and a pole line down, plus turbines already exist there. This is a no brainer.

Up 15 Down 4

north_of_60 on May 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm


Green Debacle by Jonathan Benson

Literal beacons of the "green" energy movement, giant wind turbines have been one of the renewable energy sources of choice for the US government, which has spent billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing their construction and use across the country.

But high maintenance costs, high rates of failure, and fluctuating weather conditions that affect energy production render wind turbines expensive and inefficient, which is why more than 14,000 of them have since been abandoned.
... the costs of maintaining and operating wind turbines far outweighs the minimal power they generate in many areas, which has left a patchwork of wind turbine graveyards in many of the most popular wind farming areas of the US.

"Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California 'big three' locations which include Altamont Pass, Tehachapin and San Gorgonio, considered among the world's best wind sites," writes Andrew Walden of the American Thinker. "In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills."

Walden speaks, of course, about the birds, bats, and other air creatures that routinely get tangled in and killed by wind turbine propellers.
And as far as the "post-industrial junk" language, well, if it costs too much to run the machines in the first place, then it definitely costs too much to uproot and remove them post-construction.


Up 14 Down 6

Clifford on May 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

" Don't believe this folks, this is just a green washed propaganda scam. These people love to completely waste billions of dollars." lol
This wind farm on the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass in the San Bernadino Mountains contains more than 4000 separate windmills and provides enough electricity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley.

Up 12 Down 3

north_of_60 on May 17, 2017 at 6:34 pm

@Stu Miner,
The other hills for wind farms are at communities where diesel fuel is burned to make their electricity. They don't belong where we're already 100% renewable. In fact in those diesel communities, solar panels would provide a lot more energy than wind turbines for a lot less cost.

Up 5 Down 24

Stu Miner on May 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm

The Association of Yukon Paragliders and Hang Gliders has a lot in common with the group that wants to promote the use of wind energy.

I hope that both groups are concerned about birds and bats. Let's protect the wind and wildlife like the small birds and bats. Why mock people who want to protect a resource they use for sport activities. There are other hills for wind farms.

Up 28 Down 5

Josey Wales on May 17, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Hugh...where you ask? In this alternate universe we call the Yukon.
We really should re brand this place as the entitlement capital of Canada.
Government organic compost, sodding a slope as you illustrated, free kit for junkies, for a few examples.
Whilst our citizens depend on the food bank in record numbers and we pay for the pipes in the ground via LICs
Boy do we EVER need someone to press the reset button up here.

Up 47 Down 3

Hugh Mungus on May 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm

In what world do you get a $9,000 grant to put sod on an alpine mountain top?

Up 26 Down 12

north_of_60 on May 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Whitehorse and most of the Yukon is already 100% powered by renewables for 97% of the year. Anytime the wind is blowing enough to turn the wind turbines we're running on 100% hydro anyway. Wind power is a scam.
Don't be fooled by greenwashed alarmist propaganda. CO2 is plant food.

Up 3 Down 13

FYI on May 16, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Here is the link to the story on the German farming town Feldheim that will be 100% powered by renewables. If this link does not work just google ' CBC THE NATIONAL renewable resources german farming town Feldheim' and bobs your uncle.
The video doc is about 5 mins long.

Up 26 Down 9

Amanda Leslie on May 16, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Reading this I felt punk'd.
Felt I was reading something from The Beaverton.
Disappointed this article got so much print when we need to be having adult conversations about renewable energy.

Up 13 Down 9

Stanley Miller on May 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Turbines kill bats and birds. Has anyone looked at that location to see how many have died? Probably not. Brian Slough's point is that it is a consideration.
Seems like many people and firms want to be dismissive with respect to environmental concerns.

Up 6 Down 7

Clifford on May 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

The CBC had a story feature on the news just recently about a farming town in Germany that will be 100% powered by renewables. Them the facts Jack.

Up 32 Down 7

unreal on May 16, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Since 1993, how many dead bats and birds have been counted on Haeckel Hill due to the turbines?

Hang gliders are just big bats on steroids!

Up 33 Down 5

Josh David on May 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Um both of these "representatives" have been in the news for foolish things before. Perhaps if these two are the leaders of your group.... you should find a different group to associate with. Just my humble opinion.

Up 52 Down 5

AJ on May 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

The paragliding association sure comes off as a bunch of entitled, anti-development NIMBYs. This is very similar to their outrage at Dawson's attempts to expand its farmers market:

Up 39 Down 9

Bandit on May 16, 2017 at 8:53 am

Were the turbines the cause of the plane crash on the Whitehorse Copper haul road that Russell Bamford was involved in a few years back? Maybe he should of learned how to glide back then. All joking aside I am glad he survived to plant sod on Haeckel hill for a special interest group that I didn't know even existed here. (I have lived here 41 years)

Up 54 Down 7

Roger on May 16, 2017 at 2:30 am

Ummm. What?
Really...there maybe an arguement against some forms of energy in some areas, but "I have to paraglide somewhere else" isn't one of them.
Possibly the most ridiculous story I've read here in a while.

Up 60 Down 8

Gordon of Riverdale on May 15, 2017 at 7:51 pm

paragliding is more important than renewable energy - silly me for not knowing that

Up 47 Down 7

The Middle Road on May 15, 2017 at 7:41 pm

So this company has a lease over the area and yet the para gliders say that they can't build on it because they are using the land? Clearly to add to an existing power generation facility is cheaper than building transmission lines into a new site.

Why can't the para gliders use their "alternate" site? Clearly Mt Mt Sumanik has "similar wind" so should be perfect for the para gliders.

Up 25 Down 23

north_of_60 on May 15, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Wind turbines are a huge waste of money. They only produce 20% of their rated capacity, and like all cheap Chinese products they don't last the projected useful lifetime. Worst of all producing them creates large amounts of toxic pollution.

Up 46 Down 7

Unreal on May 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

This type of attitude results in things like closure of the Haeckel hill road to public access. Be grateful that you are currently allowed to pursue your exclusive and rarefied hobby at this location.

Up 42 Down 9

Bmjames on May 15, 2017 at 5:39 pm

This needs to be a joke! Haven't heard something so messed up since never!

Up 22 Down 30

BnR on May 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Look, when a very small group of Marsh lake residents can dictate to YEC on retained winter water levels, I say more power to the paragliders.
What's good for one special interest group is good for all.

Up 13 Down 11

Thomas Brewer on May 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm

So what are the flying opportunities like on Mt. Sumanik? Perhaps have Northern Energy Capital punch a road to the peak there...

Up 14 Down 9

Stanley Miller on May 15, 2017 at 4:27 pm

I hope they can address the concern for both birds and bats and work something out that with accommodate paragliding and the proponents of wind turbine energy.

It's actually nice to hear these concerns because they are out in the public. The city is approving a mountain biking trail on Grey Mountain that will take 5 years to build yet most people know nothing about it.

Up 35 Down 12

Tater on May 15, 2017 at 4:11 pm

UNBELIVABLE. The turbines can power 525 homes with squeekly clean energy and there are the concerns of a few paragliders and the Yukon share of 47000 bats to put a halt to this project???

Up 52 Down 48

ProScience Green on May 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm

We have Yukon communities that are 100% dependent on diesel. That is where these turbines should be installed, not in communities that already have access to very green hydroelectric energy.

Up 141 Down 16

Alex Gandler on May 15, 2017 at 3:12 pm

WOW - just when you think you'll never see a bigger sense of entitlement - something like this comes along

Up 131 Down 15

Hugh Mungus on May 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm

These guys can't be serious.

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