Developer dominates wind power “discussion” meeting
A Toronto-based wind power company’s presentation overshadowed what was to be a scheduled “wind farm discussion” by Essex Town Council, held prior to the regular council meeting, Jan. 21.
“Currently, we have four projects in southern Ontario,” said Mike Crawley, president and CEO of AIM PowerGen Corporation. Crawley spoke to council after presenting a six-page outline on wind power, which included details on a 24-turbine project southwest of Harrow.
“We started testing wind in the region in the last year and a half,” said Crawley, speaking of the Harrow Wind Power Project in Colchester South, bordered north to south by Gore Road and County Road 50, and east to west by Dunn Road and County Road 41.
“We’re extremely hopeful to move the project forward,” he said.
AIM’s outline expressed the company’s concerns over the draft report of Essex County’s Windpower and Renewable Energy Planning Study prepared by the Jones Group, a consultant team working to define county land use policies for renewable energy projects, including wind, solar and biomass digesters.
“The recommendations in the Jones Group report are far more restrictive than in any Ontario county that has seen wind power projects built,” the AIM outline stated.
Ward 3 Councillor Paul Innes agreed with AIM’s concern that the county plan was “more stringent” than those set out by the province, leaving little room for lower tier municipalities, such as Essex, to account for local circumstance.
“I don’t see the need to be so restrictive,” said Innes, who asked council to support standards closer to the minimums established by the province.
Other councillors expressed concern over the impact of placing the towering wind turbines within sight of the many communities on the shoreline. The turbines proposed are 80 metres high at the hub, with 40-metre-long blades.
“Can you provide a map of where they are planning to go?” asked Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, who expressed concern about placement in relation to residents.
Ward 3 Councillor Ron Rogers expressed concern over the intermittent nature of wind power. The province is still dependent on fossil-fuel power plants, the only facilities that can ramp up or down to allow for wind power.
“You can’t use nuclear or hydro, they run constantly,” he said.
Rogers also expressed concern over water vapour released into the atmosphere by fossil-fuel plants to adjust for wind power. Water vapour is considered a greenhouse gas, contributing up to two-thirds of the “greenhouse effect” which warms the Earth.
“It’s not a silver bullet,” answered Crawley, who agreed that wind power was only part of the solution in the search for alternative energy sources.
Members of the Essex County Wind Action Group (ECWAG), which is lobbying for the responsible development of wind power in Essex County, expressed concern that the meeting, which was identified as a “wind farm discussion” on council’s agenda, was “one-sided”.
“The legitimate concerns brought forward by many residents were not even touched on,” said Bill Anderson, chair of ECWAG, which places the effects of wind turbines on humans and wildlife at the top of their list of concerns. ECWAG includes members from across the county, including the town of Essex, but they were not invited to speak at the meeting, Anderson noted.
“AIM’s representative told (Essex) council that for siting purposes Harrow’s population density is ‘comparable’ to areas where they are operating turbines presently, when in fact it is five times as populous,” Anderson said. “We urge residents living along the shoreline near County Road 50 to sit up and pay attention to what is happening right now, as this may have a serious impact on your property values.”
Anderson said that the AIM representatives misled Essex council on many other issues, including their explanation on how Ontario’s power grid operates.
“Calling gas and coal an ‘intermediate’ power source between nuclear and wind power is fictitious to the extreme,” he said.
By Andy Comber
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