After a public meeting last Wednesday night in Essex to discuss Wind Turbine farms, one thing is for certain: renewable energy is a hot topic.
Just about 300 people packed the Essex Civic Center to hear the latest proposal from Ray Duhamel and the Jones Consulting Group. Among their objectives are to increase the renewable energy supply and make sure it’s done in appropriate areas. During their earlier meetings, the county was divided into three zones in which turbines could be placed depending on restrictions. The new policies add a fourth zone, making it slightly easier to find legitimate areas.
While Duhamel said “the county is encouraging renewable energy supply”, he stressed the word “balance.”
“You’re not going to make everyone happy,” he said. “We need the balance – protect Essex County and allowing for a renewable energy source.”
The new management areas for the county were divided into four zones. The highest order of management included wetlands, woodlots, and heritage sites including the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary. Settlements were in the second area, while places such as Cedar Creek and River Canard complexes were in the third area. The fourth was all areas of the county.
Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst said the process takes time.
“They’re trying as best they can to address some of the issues that were raised at the previous meeting,” he said. “We have to allow the process to work itself out. There were some other issues that were raised and this is going to allow them to come back to county council with a revised plan of the Wind Turbines and then Council can deal with it. I think we are getting to the point where we are going to have to deal with this. It’s been a long time.”
Hurst said it’s tough to say what’s right for Amherstburg in terms of turbines versus solar energy versus biomass energy. What has to be done, though, is renewable energy.
“We’ve got to look at renewable energy…Sometimes I think it’s necessary to voice our concerns about the impacts. We should try our best to mitigate those impacts. We’re at the point now where renewable energy is something we should be giving serious consideration to.”
Many people voiced their concerns as several residents spoke up during the four-hour meeting.
Joe Ouellette from Amherstburg brought up the impact of turbine electricity generation on radars and said if a link from turbine generation to microwave transmission is found, companies should be given notification in advance of the turbines.
Amherstburg lawyer Anthony Leardi cautioned that if the turbine developments go bankrupt, the cost to decommission them could be on the municipality since they’re not a public utility.
“In that case, you’ll be left with these turbines,” he said. Instead, other sources of renewable energy should be considered. If they’re approved, though, he suggested capping the height on them at 100 feet.
“It’s based on the topography of this county,” he said. “One-hundred feet might actually be dangerous.”
Only a few people were fully in favour of the wind turbines. One of them was Ted Gorski, a farmer and business man from Harrow. He said global energy concerns make the times pretty tough.
“I’m in favour of wind farms as renewable energy is a must. If we don’t act, we won’t be able to afford it,” he said.
Duhamel said they go through every comment and will take them into consideration. County council next deals with the renewable energy policy on May 21.
By Dave Jewell
15 May 2008
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