Communities hoping to get a say in wind farm development

Wind Turbines at Paldiski Wind Farm (picture is illustrative).
Wind Turbines at Paldiski Wind Farm (picture is illustrative). Source: Eesti Energia

As more and more wind farms are being developed, local communities hope to have more of a say in how the alternative energy sources can affect life locally. Companies have also discussed 'tolerance fees', which would be paid to local residents who live near wind farms.

At an environemental conference put together by state energy group Eesti held on Tuesday, the parties present spoke about cooperating with local communities in developing renewable energy and that the positive effects are not only limited to money. But money as a tolerance fee was also discussed.

With electricity prices consistently breaking records, Eesti Energia CEO Hando Sutter said it is the right time to discuss all possible options of finding cheaper electricity.

"The cheapest electricity in our region comes from the wind. There has been a shift in Estonia's mindset of not being able to do it differently, that something needs to be done. And if we want to reduce our environmental footprint, electrifying with green electricity is the right path," Sutter said.

One of the wind farms developed by Enefit Green is situated in the Paikuse local municipality in Pärnu. Discussions over paying the local residents tolerance or turbine fees has been discussed, but it would make electricity more expensive.

"It is nothing new actually, we have done it before. And in some sense, we are expecting to develop a wind farm and the revenue also going to the community. But it cannot be huge in a way that would bring up electricity prices," said Enefit Green wind energy department head Lauri Ulm.

When it comes to the Gulf of Riga wind farm development, locals fear that fish would scatter from the area. "Our goal is not to just get money from someone. My goal is for me to have a job. And for me to work the job that more than 300 other people do at Pärnu Bay. The point of the issue is to raise awareness for environmental assessments to be as detailed as possible, to also conduct fishery studies," said fisher Raio Piiroja.

Saare Wind Energy is developing a wind farm of up to 100 turbines near Saaremaa. Local have not discussed fees yet.

"We are talking about the broader effects during meetings and discussions. What could it give to the ports, the servicing center, [TalTech] Kuressaare college, all those things. I think a financial benefit is just the cherry on top," Saare Wind Energy board member Kuido Kartau said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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