A mostly supportive crowd of about 100 East Luther Grand Valley residents heard Monday night that Windrush Energy would hope to have two 10- megawatt wind farms online at Ashton Ridge by 2008.
But Windrush president John Pennie would not narrow the opening date down beyond that, except to say that he expects the first of two six-turbine sites to be completed by the summer of 2007, with the second one following a year later.
Ashton Ridge is off County 25 a few miles north of Grand Valley, generally on a rise across the road from Summer Place.
Monday’s meeting was part of the environmental screening (ESR) process. Construction cannot begin until the ministry of Environment has approved the screening report. And, said Mr. Pennie, the demand for alternative energy is such that turbine supply is barely keeping up with demand. Thus, wind farms are faced with two hurdles: environmental approval and availability of turbines.
Prior to Monday, Mr. Pennie, with the support of Ashton Ridge resident and Orangeville Hydro manager George Dick, had been in consultation with ELGV council and with neighbours of the proposed site from early 2005.
The council had included wind farms in its Official Plan, and Mr. Pennie says all 28 neighbouring landowners had given him memos of assent. The council meetings had also been a part of the ESR process, and all had been open to the public.
The two small wind farms will function under the provincial Standard Offer Contract for electrical generation of no more than 10 megawatts. Each turbine proposed for Ashton Ridge has a “nameplate” rating of 1.5 MW.
From a taxation point of view, the province had placed an assessment cap of $40,000 on each turbine, and the industrial
tax rate is applied.
In addition to the assessment, Mr. Pennie said he has agreed to pay the township $5,000 annually per turbine and to deliver the equivalent of free electricity to the adjoining properties.
Although the power generated must go into the local grid, Mr. Pennie said his plan is to pay the neighbours money to offset their energy costs, “up to a certain limit.” He did not specify what that limit would be, but did acknowledge the need for wind farms to earn a return on investment.
(The Standard Offer Contract generators are paid a greater amount per kilowatt hour than the larger wind farms.)
Although there are U.S. Government studies of 10 states which indicate that wind farms have a positive effect on property values, during the consultation process Mr. Pennie commissioned a local study of real estate values.
According to Blake, Matlock, Marshall appraisers, property values in Melancthon Township increased by 38 per cent between 2002 and 2006, and 29 per cent in East Luther Grand Valley in the same period.
“I commissioned the local study because people were telling me that the U.S. studies would not apply here. It’s obvious that the Melancthon turbines did not detract from property values.”
In addition to the Ashton Ridge projects, Windrush has another local project in the works – a single turbine at Orangeville for a local industry.
Mr. Pennie declined to identify the industry or the proposed location of the 1.5 MW generator.
By Wes Keller, Freelance Reporter
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