December 9, 2011
By Jennifer Schleic, The Sun Times, www.owensoundsuntimes.com 9 December 2011
Proponents of the Samsung-Pattern Armow Wind Power Project got a mostly chilly reception from the public and some municipal councillors at a meeting in Kincardine Wednesday night.
Jody Law, project developer for Pattern Energy, insisted the company has every intention of working with the community on a compromise on the municipality’s wind generation system development policy.
“What’s it going to take to get you to leave?” demanded Coun. Jacqueline Faubert to a round of applause. Her speech was interrupted by Mayor Larry Kraemer, who called on council to maintain a polite air during session.
The proposed wind farm is 15-30% less dense than surrounding projects, according to Law, and the partnership is aiming for 90 turbines. However, if Samsung-Pattern Armow adheres to the setbacks outlined in the municipality’s policy, there will only be enough space for five.
“Your policy would see a 95% deterioration in usable land where we can site turbines,” said Law. “The project could bring $36 million in benefits to the community over the life of the turbines, but with municipal setbacks, that benefit becomes $2 million with only five turbines.”
Deputy-mayor Anne Eadie told Law that council’s original intention with the setbacks was to push turbines to the back of properties in order to distance them from homes and make it more convenient for farmers. However, Law showed council that woodlots make the policy impractical.
“I understand. The problem is woodlots, which are at the backs of most properties,” he said. “We don’t want to be cutting down trees and disturbing natural habitats.”
Coun. Randy Roppel suggested Samsung-Pattern move ahead with the five turbines the municipal policy allows for, and build from there with community compromise. Law said their plan is to aim for a base number of 90 turbines.
Law told council that Samsung-Pattern believes it is developing responsibly by meeting Ontario’s renewable energy approval (REA) regulations laid down in the Green Energy Act (GEA), which are some of the most stringent the company has ever faced.
“We want to work with the planning department to find solutions, because you saw the impact it has on the project,” he said. “For instance, would it be possible to compromise by, say, moving 50 metres inside the 800 metre setback to bring a turbine out of a woodlot?”
Law did commit to recognize the airport setbacks outlined in the municipality’s policy.
“We absolutely plan to adhere to airport setbacks. There is a big southwest corner of the project where we don’t have any turbines planned within that setback,” he added.
Law expected opposition from the community, but he was surprised by council’s position.
“We expected the sentiment up here. We knew and were aware of the issues with other developments,” he said. “I didn’t expect council’s reaction or the policy to be so specific because Ontario’s regulations are already so stringent. We’ve never seen an area so difficult to build in before.”
Samsung-Pattern will be opening a local project office, hold a series of open houses and public meetings and will continue to talk to council. Law also suggested there may be an opportunity to develop a working group of residents, council, municipal staff and Samsung-Pattern staff in the coming months.
The first open house will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Governor’s Inn.
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