OTTAWA – The Tory candidate in Nepean-Carleton wants a controversial wind farm project slated to be placed in North Gower killed.
Lisa MacLeod, who was until the election was formally the MPP for the riding, told the Citizen editorial board that her stand is not only because of her constituents’ adamant opposition to the project, but stems also from a fundamental objection to the Liberal clean energy plan, which she claims is contributing to high hydro rates in the province.
“The community doesn’t want it and as their representative, I am not comfortable with it. I opposed it in the legislature and I continue to oppose it,” MacLeod said.
Provincial Liberals have made clean energy a key part of their platform, saying renewables like and solar and wind power are key to Ontario’s future. They’ve made significant investments in the area, and one of the projects the McGuinty government has thrown its weight behind is a proposal by a company called Prowind Canada for an eight-to-10 turbine project near North Gower.
Many people in the community bitterly oppose the project. And MacLeod, the senior provincial Tory in Ottawa, says the lack of local control over the project is unacceptable, and it will be stopped if the party wins on Oct. 6.
MacLeod and three challengers for her seat – Liberal Don Dransfield, New Democrat Ric Dagenais and Green party candidate Gordon Kubanek, were befoire the editorial board to answer questions and articulate their visions.
In particular, they clashed over the future of clean energy.
MacLeod said her opposition to the North Gower project is not an indictment of clean energy but of the cost of the Liberal plan.
“What’s happening is that hydro bills are going up as a result of these massive subsidies,” she claimed.
“By no means do we not support renewable energy. That’s not what this is about. This is about putting it at an affordable rate.”
Dransfield said the reality is that MacLeod and her party oppose clean energy, and said the hydro debt charges the Tories are now complaining about were incurred by them years ago when they bungled the issue as part of their effort to privatize delivery of power. He acknowledged that the Liberal green energy plan is costing money, but said that’s what happens whenever a new business is being established. Front-end costs are often high but in the end, things even out. “We have to embrace new technology and to do that we have to build new infrastructure. New infrastructure costs money,” he said.
Kubanek said the Greens also oppose the North Gower project only because they don’t believe in corporate involvement in clean energy production. They believe that wind farm and other renewable energy projects should be undertaken by community groups, not corporations. Kubanek dismissed MacLeod’s claim that the green plan is contributing to high hydro rates, saying the impact is negligible. He said Ontario’s future lies with green energy but wants the government strategy changed to put community groups at its heart. He said costs that are being incurred today are necessary for the future.
“We are convinced that for the next 20, 30, 40 years, we are going to need to have wind and solar energy. The Liberal plan is a great idea, totally flawed execution,” he said.
Dagenais said the NDP is also concerned that enough hasn’t been done to understand the full implications of windmills, but overall prefers them to nuclear energy.
“I would rather have a windmill than a nuclear plant,” he said.
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