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Turbine proposal advances; up to 125 megawatts would be produced  

The latest wind energy project in the municipality could see construction by the fall of 2009, say officials with AIM PowerGen Corporation.

The Toronto-based company hosted an information session Thursday at St. Mary’s Hall for the Erieau-Blenheim wind project, which would consist of between 62 to 70 turbines.

These would be located near Blenheim, Cedar Springs, Dealtown and Shrewsbury and provide 100 to 125 megawatts of power.

Jay Wilgar, project manager, said a lot of research has gone into the initiative so far.

“We’ve been testing wind now in the area for three years,” he said. “The wind data is very strong.

“Our plan is to bid this project into the June request for proposals and go to construction as soon as we find out if we’re successful.” The company displayed technical and environmental information, as well as visual simulations of what the landscape would look like.

Rusty Smith, a farmer and landowner, said he’s pondering whether to sign a lease for a turbine.

While he admitted he needs more information for that, he supports wind power in general.

“I have no problem with the project,” he said. “It’s a natural way to go.”

However, not everyone in attendance was happy with the idea.

Kim Iles said she has a problem with the number of wind power proposals popping up in Chatham-Kent.

She is also concerned about health and visual issues and said she just wants to present the other side.

“It’s getting the awareness out there, then we can make a decision,” she said. “It’s far too important for us to sit back and let this happen.”

Iles believes such projects impact the whole community, not just the landowners who sign a lease.

She said she agrees with wind energy if it’s done on an small-scale basis to power a home.

Wilgar said he was aware of the detractors, but added the company follows all the proper procedures concerning health and the environment.

“It is an independent process,” he said. “I would say with a lot of certainty there is a great deal of support for wind power across the board in Chatham-Kent.”

Wilgar said AIM PowerGen constructed a major project in Port Burwell two years ago and that there have been no issues or complaints to the government.

However, he admitted some people will always be philosophically opposed.

“I’m never going to be able to convince someone to like a turbine,” he said. “But at the same time, Canada has a lot to learn from the 80,000 turbines that are built across Europe and the United States. “The key is understanding the science – there’s a reason you do an environmental assessment.”

By Trevor Terfloth

The Chatham Daily News

29 February 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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