Waiting for the wind to change
Napper will “wait and see” if province changes Green Energy Act
By Heather Wright Sarnia Lambton This Week
PLYMPTON-WYOMING – Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper is taking a wait and see approach after the premier suggested the government will make changes to the way green energy projects are handled in the province.
Dalton McGuinty made the comments at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association in Toronto recently. A number of rural politicians – reports suggest anywhere from a dozen to 80 people – walked out before the premier began speaking in protest of the Green Energy Act. It took the planning power for wind and solar projects away from the municipalities.
After the speech, McGuinty told reporters the province is reviewing the green energy program and hopes to incorporate more of the “local perspective.”
“We will be adopting some of the recommendations put forward by rural Ontario so we can achieve a better balance,” he said.
“I’m not going to speak to the specifics, but I can say we have listened very carefully to those concerns and incorporated those into the changes that we are making.”
And McGuinty stopped short of saying whether municipalities would be given planning power over the projects.
“It’s encouraging,” says Napper of the premiers comments. “I’ll wait to hear what (the changes) are. We’ve had a lot of promises from that office before and they’ve never come through.
“Well take him at his word that he’s going to make some changes. What they are, we’ll wait and see.”
In the meantime, the municipality has taken its own action to protect residents living near the proposed projects. Plympton-Wyoming will demand a $200,000 per turbine deposit from developers. The money would be used to decommission the massive energy makers should developers walk away from the project.
“Some of these companies they come in and some of their credentials may be a little weak and we don’t want to be left holding the bag with a whole bunch of wind turbines out here and we feel we owe it to our taxpayers and we owe it to Ontario if they’re dumped in our lap,” he says.
Plympton-Wyoming has also passed a bylaw saying a turbine has to be two kilometers away from a home. The provincial guideline is 550 meters. Napper isn’t sure if the municipality can enforce the setback distance now, but says if the municipalities regain control of planning – his community will be ready.
“We put things into place for when we get the power back,” says Napper. “We hope that will be happening soon someday.”