Despite a leaflet being circulated in Amaranth, Winton Dahlstrom says Helix Synergy Inc. has never considered erecting 671 wind turbines in that township.
The leaflet, circulated by an unidentified anti-turbine activist, claims there would be 1,041 such structures in Amaranth if all proponents and the Province were to have their way.
Not so, said Mr. Dahlstrom in a phone interview last Friday following his Thursday night “railway corridor” presentation to Dufferin County Council.
The number 671 might be accurate, he said, but it does not represent anything Helix has in mind. Instead, it does represent the total number of turbines that could be built on the basis of a 400-metre setback from each residence, he said.
The potential would actually be fewer than 671. Apart from residences, there are swamps, wetlands, streams and otherwise environmentally sensitive areas where turbines cannot be built. The 671 number does not account for those, he said.
To arrive at the 671, Mr. Dahlstrom said he spent several days mapping “exclusion areas,” or circles of 400-metre radii surrounding each and every existing residence in the township. He then calculated the number of spots where wind towers could be built outside the circles.
He was not using topographical maps, so the only “exclusion areas” were the circles representing the homes.
The mapping of available space for turbines did not consider the proposals that are either before the council or being mulled by proponents. The total number calculated by Mr. Dahlstrom was not in addition to, but would have included those.
In Amaranth, several proponents have asked for zoning to erect meteorological towers for wind studies. Apart from Canadian Hydro Developers and Florida Power and Light, four or five proponents appear to be viewing Standard Offer Proposals for small wind farms producing no more than 10 megawatts each, to feed to the local grid. CHD and FPL are both looking at 20-year contracts to feed through the main Hydro One high-voltage line.
The only formal proposal before the council is for about 21 CHD turbines as part of its 88-turbine Melancthon II project, of which about 67 would be in Melancthon Township. However, FPL has made a formal presentation to the council and, similarly to other proponents, has been securing lease-options from landowners.
The council has repeatedly told residents that none of that has moved anything closer to the planning stages.
The CHD proposal is the subject of Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearings this week. The pre-hearings generally determine what issues need to be resolved, who is to speak to the issues, and how much time would be required, among other things.
On Friday, Mr. Dahlstrom said he shared his findings with the Amaranth Township planner but did not intend for those to become available to the public. He said the planner, however, pressed for the information to be made public..
Because he didn’t want to suggest specific locations for turbines, Mr. Dahlstrom said he revised the map to show in general terms how many turbines could be built in various areas throughout the township, without accounting for any excluding factors other than the location of dwellings.
Among the other factors, Amaranth has a number of unmapped airstrips and, as the Official Plan now stands, those are defined as “airports,” requiring major setbacks. As well, conservation authorities and other regulatory bodies have input into what may be placed within certain areas of the township.
Those are not accounted for in Mr. Dahlstrom’s “base maps.”
By Wes Keller
15 February 2007
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