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Slow going for wind project

WOODSTOCK— The winds of progress are blowing slowly for Oxford County’s first wind farm project.

Prowind Canada Inc. received a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) contract in July for its 10-turbine Gunn’s Hill Road project, but it will be months – if not years – before the blades begin to turn.

Juan Anderson, project developer for Prowind, said there is still a great deal of work to be done before a proposal for the project is sent to the Ministry of Environment. The MOE must sign off on the project before construction can begin, a process that can take at least five months.

“With the way the process works now, we would need to have reports updated and have them reviewed by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Natural Resources,” Anderson said.

“We’re well back from the MOE. Sometimes we get allegations we’re trying to sneak this in, but there really is no way to do that. It’s a fairly long process actually.”

Because of changes to the process, Prowind must now do additional studies and reports on a variety of things, including natural heritage and archeological assessments. Additional environmental assessments are also required before submitting the report to the MOE.

When built, the Norwich Township project will be tied into the main transmission line through a connection on Karn Road in South-West-Oxford.

The company has three years from the time the FIT contract was approved to build before the contract expires.

“That is a fair amount of time. We expect to do a fair amount of public consultations and that’s something we are preparing for,” Anderson said.

At this time, no dates have been scheduled for any further public meetings. Prowind did hold two public meetings prior to the FIT contract being awarded. There has since been different criteria outlined to be covered during the public consultation processes.

Anderson said no public meetings would be held before 2012. The final reports must be available online for at least two months before the final public meeting is held.

There has been a considerable amount of opposition from many neighbouring residents. A group of concerned citizens founded the East Oxford Community Alliance and has held several public events around the topic of wind energy. The group has also spoken to Norwich Township council on numerous occasions prompting a countywide information meeting with ministries of environment and energy.

Prowind is also seeking a FIT contract for a similar project in the Innerkip area.