SARNIA, Ontario (AP) – The president of a private firm that is erecting half a dozen giant wind turbines in southwestern Ontario says wind power can help the province wean itself off coal-fired plants.

The 262-foot-high turbines being built near Forest will provide clean power to about 3,000 local homes, said Glen Estill of Sky Generation.

Estill said his company has plans to build three more of them in the same area about 30 miles northeast of Port Huron, Mich.

Once completed, the turbines will generate electricity that will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority and to Bullfrog Power, which sells “green” electricity to customers across the province.

Ontario now gets less than 1 percent of its power from wind. That figure could reach 20 percent by 2025, Estill said.

That’s more than enough to replace coal plants, which generate about 16 percent of the province’s electricity. Moreover, wind power will help conserve Ontario’s natural gas supply, which also is a nonrenewable resource, he said.

But Estill believes the biggest benefits could be environmental, noting that coal has been blamed for smog, acid rain and climate change.

“You’re never going to get all your power from wind, but it’ll be more important” as the years pass, he said.

Estill said the Great Lakes region is ideal for turbines because “wind accelerates as it moves across flat water bodies.”

About 1,240 miles of Great Lakes shoreline is located in Ontario.

Each turbine costs about $3 million to build and install.

Some have expressed concern that the big blades will kill birds. Estill says that worry is overstated.

“Each turbine kills an average of two birds a year, which is less than the average house cat,” he said.

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