Wind farm setback ignored
by Paul Morden, The Sarnia Observer
The mayor of Plympton-Wyoming says he’s disappointed Suncor Energy isn’t following the town’s two-kilometre setback requirement in plans for its Cedar Point Wind Power Project.
While Ontario’s Green Energy Act removed municipal control of planning approvals for renewable energy projects, Plympton-Wyoming passed a bylaw calling for wind turbines to be built no closer than two kilometres from neighbouring homes. The province only requires 550-metres.
“I was hoping they would abide by our bylaw and set them at the required distance we were looking for,” Mayor Lonny Napper said. “I was disappointed with that.”
Suncor is holding public open houses for its Cedar Point project. The first was held Tuesday in Camlachie Community Centre, with tonight’s at the Forest Legion and Aug. 23 at Centennial Hall in Watford. They run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“This is sort of a first-draft map of potential sites for where the turbines could be,” said Suncor spokesperson Michael Southern.
Suncor has a 20-year provincial contract to sell electricity into the grid from the proposed 100 MW wind farm currently moving through Ontario’s environmental approval process.
“All of this consultation process is part of the ongoing effort to build the best project that we can,” Southern said.
Southern said Suncor is looking for feedback from residents on the potential sites. “That helps us to chose where the final locations will be.”
Southern said the final layout will be set “later in the process. We’re still not at that stage yet.”
The company’s draft site plan calls for the wind farm to be built and operating by 2014.
Napper said town council feels strongly about the two-kilometre setback in its bylaw and is ready to defend it.
“That setback is not part of the contract that we have to build the project,” Southern said. “We are obligated to follow the regulatory regime set out by the province.”
Marcelle Brooks lives on Ridge Road in Lambton Shores, near where Suncor’s map says seven turbines could be placed.
“I feel sick to my stomach,” she said, “because this is becoming closer to a reality for me.”
Brooks is a member of the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group opposing wind farm projects in the region.
She said the map shows turbines surrounding Forest on three sides and along the lake shore.
“This map frightens me,” she said. “It causes me a great deal of distress.”
Recently, several hundred people packed the Camlachie Community Centre for a meeting hosted by the citizens’ group We’re Against Industrial Turbines — Plympton-Wyoming.
Napper said the meeting delivered “a clear message” that residents want the town to fight the wind project.
He added many residents were hoping Suncor “would be a good corporate citizen” and withdraw the project once it saw the opposition its plans were generating.
“They seem to be forging ahead with it,” he added.
“We’ll look at the options we have.”