ESSEX – Coun. Ron Rogers is worried about a coming backlash from residents when wind turbines as tall as 35-storey buildings actually start being built across the flat expanses of Essex County.
“We’re not going to be able to get away from them,” said Rogers after town council got an update Monday on the $100-million AIM PowerGen wind turbine project that could start construction this fall southwest of Harrow.
AIM CEO Mike Crawley said the company’s environmental screening report is essentially complete, although another public meeting is planned. Essex County’s decision to update its official plan to deal with wind and other alternative energy projects has slowed the company’s progress a bit, Crawley said.
The Jones Consulting Group of Oakville is expected to release a final set of planning recommendations for the county early next month.
AIM wants to build 24 turbines near Harrow that would generate about 40 megawatts of electricity. Each turbine would have a tower 100 metres high, with 37-metre-long blades rotating at the top, making the total height 137 metres.
Crawley wasn’t sure how far each turbine could be seen in the county. However, he pointed out draft plans for the county called for a one-kilometre buffer between existing settlement areas and wind turbines.
Setbacks from residential buildings of at least 600 metres are also typical, he noted.
Rogers was very interested in how far wind turbines will be seen. No structure in the county is tall enough to compare to one, he said.
Coun. Paul Innes welcomed the investment from AIM, the revenue for farmers who lease out land for the towers, construction jobs and permanent employment.
He’s worried that planning restrictions at the county level may become too onerous based on what he’s seen so far.
Crawley said the Harrow wind farm would likely employ four to six people permanently, and generate about $100,000 a year in tax revenue for the municipality. AIM has other projects in Essex County but not as advanced, Crawley said.
The $500-million Brookfield Power wind farm project, proposed to go over 8,900 hectares of Kingsville and Lakeshore farmland, could become Canada’s biggest with its 151 turbines. But it’s not expected to be ready to start construction until 2009, assuming local planning approvals are received and it succeeds in a proposal call later this year.
22 January 2008
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