Municipality of Kincardine council might as well have been a table lined with mannequins with how much their opinions could impact the project of the Leader Resources led wind projects in Inverhuron and North Bruce.
It’s not a knock on the council’s meeting last week either, as many of the councillors walked into questions with Leader knowing full-well the company has the Green Energy Act (GEA) as an ace up its sleeve. It’s a reality brought on by our provincial overlords and the GEA, which allows wind power companies to waltz in and tell, not ask our council what will be built in our backyards.
Although Leader Resources may live and provide employment in this area, the owners profiting from the North Bruce project are American and the people writing the rules are in Queen’s Park. Although they may think it’s a slight on their livelihoods, I fully understand that the work they’re doing is approved and promoted by the province and that they’re all just making a living the same as I am. The difference is the mixed feelings people have about their work with wind power, especially the vocal opposition to it in our area that’s being ignored. Many others like turbines, others could care less if they’re here or not.
The most surprising thing was how quickly the Quixote One, single turbine project was given priority
approval just southeast of Inverhuron, which will be about 2km from Lake Huron according to Leader’s Chuck Edey. It will be the first new wind turbine built in the municipality since Enbridge completed construction a few years ago.
A quick call to the Inverhuron and District Ratepayers Association revealed, through vice-president Donna Irvine, that neither herself or her membership had known about the turbine, which will just up the hill from scenic Inverhuron Beach. Edey said he wasn’t aware they were still an operating group, but assured me it wouldn’t be viewable from the beach.
What’s funny is the impact wind power stories have on our readership, with the example of my feature on Leader’s projects last May. Some readers accused us of being pro-wind when we ran the story on Leader’s project, and we lost subscribers. After we allowed letters to run criticizing the company the next week, Leader became unfriendly with me. The benefits of being a fence-sitter in the news I guess.
After talking with Edey, I realized we hadn’t heard about this project since we last reported on the “prototype” GE turbine they planned to build there.
I think anyone will be a bit surprised when they find out a new wind turbine will be in view for our boaters who enjoy the waters of our beautiful Inverhuron beach, just in time for the 2012 tourist season. Some won’t care, others will. There has yet to be opposition because it’s going to be a surprise to many summer residents. People often don’t like surprises.
This type of ‘hush hush’ dealing that evades us in the media, likely to prevent public opposition, and is exactly the type of thing that makes a wind company the enemy in many peoples’ eyes.
But when it comes to my opinion, I’m done sitting on the fence. The GEA and the approach of many wind companies has me soured. I believe there’s a place for wind power, but I’ve seen about enough of it in the Municipality of Kincardine and Huron-Kinloss. We don’t need the government to open the floodgates for companies to jam it down our elected officials’ throats.
The question is how much is enough and where it’s appropriate, which is typically up to the community to decide. Enter the GEA. Now we have the province opening the floodgates for foreign and domestic investors to bring companies in to see these projects built. The public is seeing far too little financial benefit from these projects in comparison to the impact on the visual landscape and property values in the area.
How can a community say, “We’re done?” The thing is, we can’t because the province says the input from our municipalities or the county isn’t relevant enough to impede the progress of new ‘green’ energy. With Leader Resources’ project, Samsung in the works, Acciona edging in from the east and International Power’s project to the south in Huron-Kinloss, which will be in view of Lakeside Downtown Kincardine, the province has castrated our municipal councils and left the public fighting these changes desperate and without hope.
My point is, the actions of both the wind industry and the province have made them the enemy in many peoples’ eyes because they continue to fall back on the rules set out by the province like they’re the scripture. I’m very curious how the industry will react if the GEA is thrown out if the Liberals are overturned in this fall’s election.
It’s obvious why those who stand in opposition are being considered champions by many and cursed by the farmers and wind companies looking to profit from these projects. Our Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell is no champion to our municipalities on this issue, which is why local mayors like Huron-Kinloss’ Mitch Twolan are stepping up as nominees to run against her as a Progressive Conservative. This is just the beginning.
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