Regional councillors have again deferred a controversial set of wind energy policies that at least one developer claims could kill Niagara region’s own wind farm.
The region is creating a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts for wind power development in the peninsula.
Council has also partnered with St. Catharines-based Rankin Construction to build a $23-million, five-turbine commercial wind farm in Wainfleet.
But in April, project partner Tom Rankin blasted the proposed policies as “complete nonsense” that could render the regional partnership “uneconomical.”
Councillors asked for a revised report, which came to public works committee Wednesday – then promptly deferred it a second time.
“It’s important to get this right,” Grimsby Regional Coun. Debbie Zimmerman said. “We need to craft a policy that reflects what we can all live with.”
Acting commissioner of planning Patrick Robson endorsed the delay, adding regional staff would like the chance for “further dialogue” with industry players.
He also suggested arranging a tour for committee members of a new wind farm in Haldimand.
Rankin said that he considered the deferral and the tour to both be “positive developments.” “Hopefully we can work things out before these policies pass,” he said. “Right now, I’d say they discourage wind energy in the peninsula.”
Chief among Rankin’s concerns are two regional recommendations:
¦ Requiring turbine power cables to be buried underground;
¦ Requiring large-scale windmills to be set back from all roads by more than the height of the turbine.
Regional planners say the requirements are safety-driven and in line with projects across the province.
Rankin argues the setback limits should change according to road use. His property, for example, is surrounded by dirt roads and unopened road allowances.
At the meeting, Niagara WindPower representative Ted Manning also told councillors the policies would make installing turbines “arduous” for regular homeowners.
Matthew Van Dongen
Osprey News Network
26 June 2008
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