Wind companies swap land leases

Suncor Energy says there’s nothing unusual about a land swap agreement it has in Lambton and Middlesex counties with a neighbouring wind company.

Suncor plans to build an up to 62 wind turbine Cedar Point Wind Power Project in parts of Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores. Lambton Shores is also where Nextera Energy plans to build its proposed 150-MW Jericho Wind Energy Centre.

The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, one of the local citizens’ groups opposed to wind farms, recently posted to its website a copy of a Suncor document about the swap agreement with Nextera.

“What I can say is that’s a normal part of business agreements that take place from time to time,” said Suncor spokesperson Michael Southern.

“The reason why Suncor would consider something like that is if it helps us in developing the best wind power project we can.”

The correspondence states the companies have decided to separate their projects by exchanging of options for easements from landowners each holds in the proposed areas for the wind farms.

The document says land agents for the two companies will be contacting landowners to discuss the transfer.

“They got all the leases they could higgledy-piggledy, and now they’re starting to swap them so that they’re more strategic,” said Marcelle Brooks, a member of the wind action group.

Brooks said she lives “dead centre” of Nextera’s project in Lambton Shores, and close to Suncor’s.

“Our areas are literally crawling with wind reps,” she said. “There’s doing all kinds of assessments and surveys . . . Wherever we go now they are in fields. They’re all over the place.”

Brooks said members of the wind action group have also been talking with landowners and urging them not to sign with the companies.

“They want these leases,” Brooks said.

“They want them desperately. They are flinging money at our farmers.”

Brooks said group members have also been urging farmers and landowners to check with lawyers first if they do decide to sign.

It’s the same advice Joe Vye, president of the Lambton local of the National Farmers Union, gave at a recent meeting in Forest.

He said energy company leases can be many pages long, complicated and landowners should have them interpreted by a professional specializing in energy leases.

“This can’t be stressed enough,” Vye said.

Several weeks ago, Suncor attracted about 350 people to a public meeting held in Camlachie about its Cedar Point Project. Another 160 came out to a second meeting in Forest.

“We were very happy with the turnout,” Southern said. “This is very early in the process and, really, this is just about gathering information from the community about the project.”

The anti-wind turbine group, WAIT-Plympton-Wyoming, said it attracted a standing room only crowd of about 500 people to an information meeting it held the night after Suncor’s meeting in Camlachie.

The group is gathering signatures on a petition opposing wind farms in Plympton-Wyoming.

Both Suncor and Nextera have 20-year Free-in Tariff contracts to sell power from their proposed wind farms to the Ontario Power Authority.

The public meetings Suncor held in April are part of the provincial environmental approval process required for wind energy projects.

Southern said Suncor plans to hold another set of public meetings in the late spring or earlier summer.

Construction of the Cedar Point Wind project could begin in the summer of July 2013, according to Suncor.

With files from QMI Agency

paul.morden@sunmedia.ca

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Posted on May 5, 2012, in Ethics, Next Era, Sarnia Observer, Suncor, Transmission. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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