CARLOW – A public open house hosted by three companies that have partnered to build a 270-MW wind energy project on a rural landscape north of Goderich was punctuated by whistle blowing, shouting and cat-calls from placard-carrying demonstrators tonight.
The public open house was held as part of the Renewable Energy Approval process required before the Ministry of the Environment will issue the green light for a partnership of Capital Power Corp., Pattern Renewable Holdings Canada ULC and Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. to build the K2 Wind Farm.
A handful of wind energy opponents clustered around management from Capital Power outside the Masonic Lodge in Carlow, in taunting challenges of the company’s involvement in oil sands projects in Alberta and calls such as “oink, oink, oink” and “go home.” Others sat in lawn chairs under the shade of trees or chatted in small groups in the gravel parking lot. A road closure sign typically reserved for winter storms blocked traffic at the corner of County Road 1 and County Road 25 in Carlow. It was later replaced by a police cruiser and officer who directed traffic. A few farm tractors and vehicles lined the narrow road shoulder from Carlow to a point north beyond the hall.
In an open house held entirely outdoors, the bank of tables was laid out with display boards showing locations of the project’s 140 2.3-MW Siemens turbines, a substation and a transformer station on land leased from 90 farmers in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh. However, only four will operate at full nameplate capacity while the remainder will be factory de-rated to ensure the provincially regulated noise thresholds aren’t exceeded at people’s homes.
“With any project, you’re always going to have people who are supportive of the project and then people who have questions or comments. We have 90 landowners who want the project here. Overall, I would say it’s been positive to date,” said Lori Wilson, who is Capital Power’s consultation manager. She stood with representatives from the three partners, environmental consultants Stantec Inc. and wind resource assessment company Zephyr North, who were on hand to answer questions from the public. During the first hour of the three-hour open house, less than a dozen people came to ask questions.
The project lies north of Kingsbridge I, a 39.6-MW project that went into operation in 2006. The project area is bound by Hwy. 21 to the west, County Road 86 to the north, Golf Course Road and Blyth Road to the south, and Halls Hill Line with a diagonal jog eastward between the Dungannon Road and the Blyth Road to the east.
The partnership, K2 Wind Ontario Inc., has a power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority, which was signed in 2011 separate from the Feed-In Tariff program. In its agreement with the province, Korean consortium Samsung has agreed to supply 2,500 MW of wind and solar projects in five stages, in return for meeting certain milestones in terms of creating jobs in Ontario.
While Capital Power has held land leases for a number of years, conducted two public meetings and done environmental and archaeological work as part of the Renewable Energy Approval process, the partnership opted to restart the REA process in June 2012 when it changed the layout as a result of a switch in turbines from a Vestas to a Siemens model, Wilson said.
The project is targeted to begin operation in late 2014.
But Anita Frayne, who grew up in ACW, is doing what she can to ensure the project never gets built.
She and her husband were approached numerous times by land agents from the wind energy developer, but they refused to rent any of their 300 acres of farmland. Her three brothers are leaseholders in the wind farms.
Among her long list of concerns is what she says are the poor economics of wind energy development that will be “subsidized” by Ontario taxpayers and the potential health effects of humans and livestock.
“I was born and raised here. I’ve lived most of my life here. This area really matters to me. What happens here really matters to me. I don’t know why but I’m deeply attached to it and I don’t like it when people mess what is here,” she said, noting she’s been researching wind energy since 2003.
“I don’t like it when people come in and take undue advantage of this area and we’re prepared to stand up and push back,” Frayne said.
For more information on the K2 project, please visit online.