NextEra & Suncor explain “Community Bribe-Vibrancy”
Ed- the wind companies spoke very quietly about some points about their bribrancy fund, which caused an audience member to speak out and asay, “Could you speak up please, we can’t hear your BRIBES!”.
Lynda Hillman-Rapley Lakeshore Advance
Even with the outbursts from the gallery, Derek Dudek, NextEra Energy Canada, Community Relations updated Lambton Shores council regarding the Jericho WEC Project. They hope to begin construction in late summer 2013. They continue to do archaeological and ecological fieldwork as well as bat and bird monitoring throughout 2012.
NextEra Energy Canada has been awarded approval under the province’s Feed-In Tariff program to sell energy to Ontario from NextEra’s proposed Jericho Wind Energy Centre, an up to 150-megawatt wind turbine project planned for Lambton Shores. The company is working its way through planning for the project and NextEra representatives met with Lambton Shores officials last week. Speaking for the company at the meeting was Derek Dudek. He explained the timeline for their Jericho project stating they hope to go into the Ministry of the Environment approval stage at the end of 2012 and then building in 2013. Although he did not have dates for public meetings he did say the municipality would see the layouts 90 days prior to the public meeting and the public 60 days prior to the public meeting.
One of the items the NextEra team wanted to discuss with council was the “Community Vibrancy Fund” that would be established by the company for community projects to the tune of Financial terms (per annum) – $3500/MW nameplate capacity + $5000/km of overhead transmission line within municipal right of way. This is over and above municipal taxes with the option to reduce or eliminate based on changes to MPAC taxation. The funds are to be administered by council and there are constraints for preferred used, the right to review use of funds, and rights to community recognition.
This is something the company is doing in Haldimand County where wind developers are pooling their resources to address community concerns. A group of five prominent project leaders have formed the Community Vibrancy Fund for Haldimand County. Pattern Energy, Capital Power Corporation, Niagara Region Wind Corporation, NextEra Energy Canada and Samsung have formed an agreement with Haldimand County to contribute over $40 million dollars to benefit the residents of the County over the next two decades. These funds will be earmarked for Council approved community related projects and other community needs as determined by Council. The companies have also agreed to hire local suppliers of labor and materials to the extent that they are available.
As for the economic income for the past year, the wind team plus the land consultants have put a lot of dollars into the Lambton and Huron coffers. One local hotel explained the positive impact between the wind energy companies and their establishment stating in 2011 and the first three months in 2012 they sold 1379 room nights representing approximately $126,000. This represents only one local hotel. The companies also patronize local restaurants, golf courses, pubs, grocery stores and other amenities offered in Lambton and Huron counties.
One business owner said, “From an economical and community stand point – the wind energy companies have brought a substantial amount of “new money” to our area.”
NextEra Energy is also planning wind farms in neighbouring Middlesex and Huron counties. “We’re looking at a 2013, 2014 span of time before these projects can be built,” Hernandez said. “I think Jericho will probably be closer to 2014.”At the Lambton Shores meeting, councilor Lorie Scott asked about decommissioning and Dudek said they have a plan in place through the Ministry. Hernandez said, all of their projects will have to undergo the same type of reporting, and each will be available to the public for review at least 60 days in advance of our final open house events. She offered the link to the Summerhaven Decommissioning Report, as an example: (http://www.nexteraenergycanada.com/pdf/summerhaven/2011-06-13%20Decommissioning%20Plan%20Report.pdf.) In discussion with Hernandez she said with technology there is change and chances are in 20 years, the turbine will change. She said years ago they were much smaller, lattice style turbines then…. and now they are taller and more efficient in capturing wind and converting it into electricity. Councilor Martin Underwood asked about prospective jobs and was told there are long-term maintenance jobs as well as local construction jobs.
Councilor Doug Cook asked if the Community Vibrancy Fund was etched in stone. He was told the fund was prepared to use in all the communities with the financial terms of the agreement being used for every municipality. Cook felt that the use part should be negotiated within a municipality. Dudek said that was not etched in stone.
NextEra Energy has made its first move into solar power in Canada with the purchase of two recently completed solar farms in St. Clair Township.
The 20-megawatt facilities were built by First Solar Inc. Canada and sold to NextEra Energy, a Florida-based company also developing wind energy projects in southwestern Ontario.
“We don’t have anything else in Canada for solar, so that’s what makes this so exciting for us,” said Hernandez.
The company’s purchase of the Moore and Sombra solar farms was announced earlier and completed this month.
The solar farms will have a permanent staff of three technicians and a manager, Hernandez said.
About 800 temporary construction jobs were created while more than 640,000 solar panels were installed at the two farms in a project that began in 2011 and was completed earlier this year.
The farms are expected to generate enough electricity for up to 6,440 homes.
Hernandez said NextEra Energy doesn’t currently have any other solar projects planned for Ontario. But, she added, “We are pretty well invested in this area and, so, we want to continue to look for opportunities.”
With files from QMI Agency