In a three-inch-thick binder of research into wind turbine history, and a lengthy executive summary intended as a letter to the editor, a Melancthon resident has questioned, among other things, why Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. would offer a voluntary payment of $7,500 per turbine per annum at its Wolfe Island wind farm compared with $1,000 for the first phase of the Melancthon Wind Project.
Resident Joan Lever completed her project prior to CHD’s commitment to pay $4,000 per annum to Melancthon for each of the 67 turbines in the township proposed for the second phase.
Canadian Hydro’s executive vice-president, Ann Hughes, responded to questions raised by this newspaper based on Mrs. Lever’s document as follows:
“Canadian Hydro entered into the Amenities Agreement for Melancthon I on a voluntary basis in response to input from the Township Council.
“This commitment was made following construction of the Melancthon I Wind Plant and long after the bidding process and award of contracts in the Ontario government’s first call for renewable energy projects.
“When Canadian Hydro bid the Wolfe Island project to the second call for renewable energy projects in Ontario, it factored the Amenities Agreement into the bidding.
“In response to expressed concerns in the Melancthon community, Canadian Hydro has agreed to enter into an Amenities Agreement for Melancthon II.
“This good faith gesture was not included in the bid economics for the Melancthon II Wind Project.
“The difference between the Wolfe Island and Melancthon II amenities payments is the result of turbine size and resource strength.
“Melancthon uses 1.5 megawatt turbines and Wolfe Island uses 2.3 megawatt turbines.
“When you look at the payments under the two Amenities Agreements on a per megawatt basis, they are very close. Also, the wind resource on Wolfe Island is stronger and thereby will produce more revenue than Melancthon,” said Ms. Hughes
Ontario project manager Geoff Carnegie described amenities agreements as evolving. “To the best of our knowledge, (the Melancthon I agreement) was the first time an Ontario municipality was provided with an Amenities Agreement for hosting a wind plant; former mayor Garry Matthews demonstrated great foresight as he was the key catalyst in the Agreement,” said Mr. Carnegie.
(The payment size was a key issue in the present council’s negotiations with CHD.)
Mrs. Lever raises several other issues in her binder and letter, not all of which are related to the turbines.
One issue has to do with future development of Shelburne and of the area to the north within Melancthon. As much of the land is designated Industrial Extractive, many persons have concluded that the designation means automatic approval of a gravel pit or quarry.
It would not. Provincial regulations require that aggregate resources must be identified on zoning maps. Municipalities cannot ignore the rule, but proposed pits and quarries would still require the same zoning approvals. The government says “designations” are not “zoning.”
One of her concerns with respect to turbines is the ultimate closure of the wind farm. She is not alone in her concern that there is “no definitive plan” for closure. However, the Environmental Screening Report appears to commit CHD to rehabilitate the farmland in the event that the wind farm should close.
This may beg the question of what happens if it does not close. However, the contract with Ontario Power Authority is for only 20 years, whereas the life of the turbines is expected to be 30. Can a renewal of the contract or otherwise be predicted 20 years hence?
Her concerns include disposal of the concrete which would have to be removed in the event of disclosure. Current information suggests the concrete might be crushed and reused as an aggregate in road building.
There is a lot of concern about the sale of 5,200 acres of potato land to a corporate interest. Mrs. Lever is among those who have questioned whether the buyer intends to continue farming it. The concern is widespread, as commuters envision a Melancthon quarry and pit rivaling that of the Lafarge one in Caledon, as much of the area is designated as aggregate resource, or Industrial Extractive.
Should the residents have such fears? The buyer, John Lowndes, says he has not been involved in the Lowndes Holdings negotiations for quarry permits in, for example, Flamborough Township.
Bob Long of Orangeville, a consultant for the Flamborough quarry proposal, says he never had dealings with John Lowndes. As well, Hamilton’s chief planner said he dealt only with a brother, Dave Lowndes.
Trevor Downey of Downey Farms and John Lowndes both say the intent in Melancthon is merely to have a world-class potato operation.
By Wes Keller
7 June 2007
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