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Company asks Wainfleet about moratorium on turbine installation

WAINFLEET – A company that received approval for a 230-megawatt, wind-power project in West Lincoln plans to install turbines in the northwest area of Wainfleet.

But before those turbines are ever installed, the company will meet with local municipalities and community groups across the area, said Niagara Region Wind Corp. spokesman Randi Rahamim.

Both West Lincoln and Wainfleet have called for moratoriums on wind turbine installation until more information on possible health effects, property value impact and other issues is made available or more studies are carried out.

Rahamim said Niagara Region Wind Corp., which received a feed-in-tariff contract from the Ontario Power Authority in February, plans to conduct a public-awareness campaign to let people know what the project is about and what wind power means.

With approximately 80 turbines for West Lincoln and parts of Wainfleet and Haldiman County, the company recognizes there will be an impact on the community and municipalities, Rahamim said.

“We’re looking at a revenue-sharing approach where we reinvest in the community. A percentage of the revenue from the project will be given back to the community and it will decide how the money should be spent.”

Rahamim said in the short-term alone, there will be many benefits from the project, including at least 300 local jobs for the anticipated two-year construction phase. When construction is complete, there will be 40 full-time jobs to keep the turbines operational.

The $600-million project will see materials, such as concrete and steel, sourced locally and inject $36 million in land-lease payments over its 20-year span.

Those payments, Rahamim said, will help supplement the income of landowners who have the turbines on their properties.

As for concerns over the impact turbines will have on property values of surrounding homes in the Wellandport area of Wainfleet, she said information the company has does not show a causal relationship between the two.

“We’ll commission a study that will review the property value impact in Haldimand. It’s the nearest community we can measure through tax assessment.”

Rahamim spoke about the health concern issue that has been raised over turbines and said both the provincial and regional medical officers of health have found no relationship.

However, she said the company plans to listen to residents’ concerns and make itself very available to take away the fear and stigma associated with wind power and wind turbines.

Public open houses will be held, though no dates have been set as yet. The company has already met with Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs to inform her of the projects.

Jeffs said that meeting took place recently and the township’s planner, Grant Munday, was in attendance.

“We knew the project was going into West Lincoln, but didn’t know it would touch Wainfleet until the company approached us.”

Jeffs said the company didn’t give specifics as to where the turbines would be installed in the township other than in the Wellandport area.

“The company asked about the best avenue to educate the public about the project and gave us a package about it that spoke of the potential benefits to the community,” said Jeffs, who has passed all of the information on to the four alderman on township council.

She said Niagara Region Wind Corp. was aware of the township’s moratorium and asked about its wording and how it would affect the project.

Jeffs also said she made it clear council stands behind the moratorium, which passed last month.