Wind farm stirs up storm
PLYMPTON-WYOMING – Suncor Energy’s plan to build a 100 MW wind farm in Lambton County has the potential to divide the community, a Plympton-Wyoming councillor warns.
Opposition to the Cedar Point Wind Power Project is growing in the municipality, said Coun. Ron Schenk.
“As the news gets out, more and more people are realizing what’s happening,” he said.
Suncor has public meetings scheduled for April 18 at the Camlachie Community Centre, and April 19, at the Forest legion hall on Albert Street. Both meetings are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“There will be officials there from Suncor to respond to questions and look at the various maps and displays with people,” said Suncor spokesperson Michael Southern.
He said the company is just beginning the public consultation process required for provincial environmental approval of the project, which was awarded a 20-year Feed-in Tariff power purchase contract last July by the Ontario Power Authority.
A draft project report Suncor has posted on its website says the Cedar Point Wind Power Project will have up to 62 wind turbines in an area stretching from O’Brien Road, north of Highway 402, in Plympton-Wyoming to just west of Thedford in Lambton-Shores.
The report says construction could begin in June 2013, with the turbines operating by the following summer.
Schenk said he’s not a fan of the project or Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
“I don’t like it because of the way it divides the community,” Schenk said. “It makes winners and losers of people.”
The winners will be landowners paid for having a turbine on their property, and the losers will be their neighbours who have to live with the turbines without any compensation, he said.
Schenk said wind turbines could also impact property values.
“There’s no real benefits to the municipality as a whole,” he said.
Schenk said he doesn’t know how much Suncor will end up paying the municipality in property taxes, “but I know it won’t be that much.”
Southern said Suncor believes communities can benefit from the economic activity wind projects create.
“There are also benefits to society as a whole, having renewable energy as part of the energy mix for the province,” he said.
Along with up to 62 turbines, the project will include access roads, up to three meteorological towers, electrical collector lines and two substations to connect the project with Ontario’s electricity transmission grid.
Schenk said he doesn’t like the way Ontario’s Green Energy Act took away the role municipalities had in approving wind and other renewable energy projects.
“They say we’re having meetings and consulting,” Schenk said, but added, “If you have no authority, what’s a consultation?”
The province set the rules for renewable energy projects without consulting with municipalities, Schenk said. “The Ontario government said they did, but they didn’t.”
Along with the Cedar Point Wind Power project, Suncor has two other wind farm proposals for the Plympton-Wyoming area in line waiting for Feed-in Tariff contracts from the province, the report says.
Plympton-Wyoming council recently passed a bylaw requiring a $200,000 deposit for every turbine built in the community to ensure they will be dismantled at the end of their lifespan.
Council also called for a 2-km buffer zone between turbines and neighbouring homes. The province only requires a 550-metre setback.
Southern said the deposit issue came up when Suncor officials went to a town council meeting a few weeks ago.
“While that has certainly been put forward by the town, and it’s something we’re talking to them about, it’s not part of the terms of the contract that Suncor was awarded,” he said.
Even with municipalities’ lack of power under the Green Energy Act, it’s not impossible for opponents to stop wind farms from being built in Plympton-Wyoming, Schenk said.
“We’re going to try.”