The Wind Rush Energy proposal for ultimately 12, 1.5- megawatt wind generators – in two projects of six turbines each – near Ashton Ridge golf course north of Grand Valley, continues to raise queries among neighbours.
By and large, no one appears to be objecting to wind farms as such, but would object to the locations on the bases of residential and aerodrome proximity. Writers to East Luther Grand Valley council are raising the spectre of airstrip safety, lifestyle disruptions, and effects on property values.
Although there have been public meetings, more than one have questioned how and where the electricity generated would tap into the 230-kilovolt Hydro One , transmission line.
Perhaps the blame belongs to the presenters, who might not have emphasized strongly enough that the proposed development is not intended to feed the provincial grid, but only the local distribution system.
In the case of Ashton Ridge, the transmission lines would likely run underground to the existing transformer just east of Grand Valley. There, they would tap into the 44-kv link from Orangeville.
The low voltage would already have been created by the small transformer installed at the base of the turbine.
The Ontario Power Authority 20-year contract for Ashton Ridge is under the Standard Offer Program, designed for plants producing no more than 10 megawatts – no matter whether those are wind, water or solar generators. By contrast, the Melancthon I and II plants are designed to produce about 200 megawatts as one farm, requiring transformers for a 34.5 kilovolt feed to the 230-kv provincial grid. They are contracted under the OPA’s Request for Proposals, as were three other large-scale operational farms in Ontario.
Murray Ritchie raises, among other things, an issue of job creation. Although the principals of Wind Rush might not have specified employment opportunities, the turbines and accesses must be maintained year-round. At Laurel, Wind Prospects said it would have one local person on full-time call, along with contractors. Canadian Hydro Developers has about seven full-time persons plus a number of local long-term contracts.
He raises the issue of taxbase. The presenters should have made clear that the industrial assessment under current legislation would be $60,000 per turbine. It has become customary for the proponent to offer some kind of direct payment to the host municipality in addition to the assessment. In Melancthon and Amaranth townships, CHD has offered a $4,000 annual payment per turbine in addition to the industrial tax.
A group of “concerned residents” has outlined 35 points of concern. Among those are zoning issues that could be answered by the council or by the Ontario Municipal Board if the residents choose to take that route as several did in Amaranth. But the Provincial Policy Statement is clear on the point that wind turbines “shall be permitted on prime agricultural land.”
The group raises the issue of whether industrial or residential assessment is better for the township, although they don’t couch it in those words but suggest that “the land-use for turbines (be limited to” 5% of the total land within (the municipality).”
The group raises issues of freezing rain and of tornadoes. The turbines, according to specifications, would face away from the wind, the blades would be feathered, and they would be shut down in ice or wind storms. Melancthon and Amaranth townships have agreed to protocols in the event of icing.
Should there be a question of liability, the proponents are required to carry adequate insurance such as to hold the municipality blameless.
In separate letters, Lauri Kuusisto and Jeno and Teresa Luxemburger raise questions about airstrip setbacks.
These issues have also appeared at the area OMB hearings. Air Transport Canada does not regulate unregistered aerodromes, and there has been some legal question about how much authority the local municipalities have over airstrips.
Good references for information about provincial regulation of wind farm development might be the OMB orders on Enbridge (near Kincardine) or Wolfe Island (in Frontenac Township). Those are available online on the OMB Website.
By Wes Keller
1 November 2007
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