The CEO of the company behind the Wolfe Island wind turbine project assures residents that project workers will go to great lengths to ensure construction does not interfere with life in the city or the island.
Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. is getting ready to install 86 2.3 megawatt wind turbines on the west end of Wolfe Island this fall.
The $410 million project will generate an estimated 537,000 megawatts of power – enough for 75,000 households – and bring in several hundred thousand dollars to Wolfe Island every year, when property owners who have turbines installed on their lots get paid for the wind they produce.
The company has held a number of public meetings recently to gather residents’ concerns as it gets ready to write an environmental review report, which will be vetted by government officials and released to the public in June.
When that happens, the public will have 30 days to make more comments and if no serious questions remain the project can then move ahead.
One key move the company is making to keep residents happy is building an underground transmission line that will connect from Wolfe Island to the Gardiners Road substation.
“It’s high voltage line and it will make life a lot easier, visually and
operationally for us,” said Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. CEO John Keating. “There’s an additional cost of approximately $5.6 million to put the line underground as opposed to overhead, but we’ve done this for the community.”
The line will travel underwater from the west end of Wolfe Island and then be installed underground near the Invista plant. It will run parallel to Sunny Acres Road, cut through Frontenac Institution farm land and across Bath Road to the Gardiners substation.
The installation should take place over a three-week period in the fall of 2008.
As for the wind turbines, Keating acknowledges that islanders are proud of their rural community and are concerned about how they’ll look, so the issue is being treated sensitively.
“We did get some feedback [at a meeting last week] regarding the visual impact of the wind plant from Kingston,” he said. “The turbines are what they are. And we’ve gone to great pains to lay the turbines in the locations we have, not just to optimize energy, but also to accommodate each landowner’s interests and concerns.”
He also said the forests won’t be knocked down to install turbines and the company will cut down as few trees as possible.
The project, when up and running, should employ 10 people on site. At the peak of construction it should keep another 175 to 200 people in work.
Keating hopes all these items will convince islanders of the benefits of this project and is quick to add that the dollars attached to the deal should keep the island prosperous for years to come.
Although the contract between Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. and the landowners is private, Keating says they’ll be provided with significantly more family farm income and the taxes they pay will go back to the community, so that Wolfe Island has another $645,000 to work with each year for several decades.
“Much of the property tax money you pay annually stays in Toronto and other parts of the province. Our amenities agreement makes sure the substantial funds [stays here].
“They have to decide how they’ll spend $645,000 this year, next year, every year for the next 40 years.”
By Stephen Petrick
5 April 2007
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