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No Pelham sites among 80 for windmill project

Town residents will not see any windmills in a $550-million, 80-site Niagara Region Wind Corp. project soar over Fenwick.

But within three years, they could gaze at a string of 46-metre high windmills stretching to the west along Vaughan and Elcho Rds. north of Wellandport.

At an open house in the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 613, hall on Wednesday, the company showed potential sites for 80 to 100 turbines on a map of its project area. The area, for which the company has a feed-in-tariff agreement from the Ontario Power Authority, includes parts of Pelham, West Lincoln, Lincoln, Grimsby, Wainfleet and Haldimand County.

The Pelham open house was one of six being held. Two were in Lincoln and Grimsby on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they were in Pelham and West Lincoln. And Thursday they will be at the Wainfleet fire hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and at the Lowbanks Community Centre 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Randi Rahamim, a spokeswoman for the wind company, said sites are selected on the basis of landowner interest, available wind power, quality of transmission infrastructure and available labour.

The company has optioned the 80 pieces of land. Landowners will receive a yearly lease payment for about 20 years once the windmills are erected.

In Pelham, willing landowners to lease land have not been found and there may be transmission and environmental difficulties, she said.

The 2.3-megawatt turbines will be larger than those already in use in the area, Rahamin said.

The project would generate enough electricity for more than 57,000 homes.

The development and construction stage project could create 700 jobs, followed by an estimated 120 long-term jobs related to the operation of the project, both in the company and with various suppliers and supporters.

Rahamim said the type of turbine has yet to be selected. When it is, it will have to have a local manufacturing component such as an assembly plant.

The size of the project could attract permanent green manufacturing to the area to serve windmill projects across Ontario, she said.

The process still has a long way to go. From the open houses, Rahamim said the corporation hopes to obtain details about local concerns and conditions.

“Residents know the area better than we do,” she said.

Following the open houses, the corporation will spend the next year developing draft reports that it will release to the public for review and comment in the fall of 2012.

In early 2013, it will hold a second round of public meetings leading to final reports and start of construction in the fall of 2013.

The winds of west Niagara will start spinning out electricity in the spring of 2014 for the next 25 years, if Niagara Region Wind Corp. go without a hitch.

John Potter, who looked for his Kilman Rd. property on a map during the open house at the Legion branch in Fonthill, said he had two interests. He was concerned about the preservation of local forests and about the safety of birds in the flyway through the Niagara Region.

Hawks, eagles and turkey vultures migrate to an from the south through the peninsula and around the head of Lake Ontario.

“They fly where they have to” and may not notice windmills.

Ward 3 Coun. John Durley called the open house “very informative” touching on the concerns expressed to him by his constituents, including health, include health, noise and potential maintenance problems.

“I was pleased the units will have few moving parts without oil and grease,” he said about new European designs with limited maintenance.

“And, of course, no one wants them in their backyards” he said about local concerns.

The councillor said he understood the problems faced by the wind project. It has limits imposed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Green Belt.

“We will have to get used to green technology as we increase our electric generation options.”

By Friday, the Niagara Region Wind Corp. will post a the map of potential sites and background information on its website, www.nrwc.ca