GUELPH – Opponents of a proposed Belwood Wind Energy Project have new hope the project will never be completed as planned, if at all.
Last week, Premier Dalton McGuinty slapped a moratorium on offshore wind turbines. The premier said more scientific research into the environmental impact of wind turbines is needed before the province moves forward with such projects.
“I would think the people of Ontario, including those of Belwood, that oppose wind farms will be encourage by this decision,” Wellington-Halton Hills PC MPP Ted Arnott said of the moratorium.
“We believe they are starting to realize the science isn’t there to support these projects,” Oppose Belwood Wind Farms Association vice-president Dave Hurlburt said of the provincial government.
“The health impacts of wind turbines are unknown,” Arnott said. “There is a need for a comprehensive health study … before we allow the building of hundreds of wind turbines across Ontario.”
Just prior to McGuinty’s announcement, Invenergy LLC sold 100 per cent of the Belwood project back to TransCanada Energy. The Belwood farm is to include 25-35 wind turbines on approximately 1,620 hectares of land a few kilometres northwest of Belwood.
“We believe it’s good news,” Hurlburt said of the sale. “The project isn’t going to go away but this has certainly delayed it.
TransCanada’s manager of power renewables, Tom Patterson, addressed the transaction on the farm’s website, www.belwoodwindfarm.info. “Currently, a power purchase agreement for this green energy project has not been secured. As a result, the time lines for the potential future development of this project are not known,” Patterson wrote.
Hurlburt said he is unclear of the motivation behind Invenergy’s sale.
When directly asked if public opposition, the moratorium on offshore turbines and potential for a Conservative majority government collectively or individually influenced the sale, Invenergy staff had little to say.
“Invenergy is experiencing significant growth in Canada, specifically in Ontario and Quebec, with two wind projects under construction, four wind projects under long-term contract and other projects under advanced development,” Jim Shield, executive vice-president and chief development officer Jim Shield wrote in an email sent by Invenergy spokesperson Alissa Krinsky. “We periodically consider investment partners in order to efficiently fund our planned growth within Canada.”
Hurlburt sees the sale as beneficial to the opposition. “It probably pushes that project out for a number of months. We want to at least delay them until proper health studies are done or another government with a different policy is elected.”