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Turbine fees could soar  

Credit:  By DEBORA VAN BRENK, The London Free Press, www.lfpress.com 5 December 2011 ~~

Wind energy companies may have to pay sky-higher fees if they want to set up shop in Adelaide Metcalfe.

And the Strathroy-area municipality’s plan is only one of several ways turbine opponents and politicians are showing frustration with what they see as a lack of local decision-making power about green energy.

Charging a building-permit fee of $10,000 per turbine – the current fee is $500 – isn’t a cash grab and is intended to be a break-even plan, Adelaide Metcalfe Mayor David Bolton said Monday.

“Our fees are enough to cover our costs.”

An engineering review of a single turbine can cost $4,500, Bolton said, and that doesn’t include re-reviews or inspection costs. Adelaide Metcalfe has planned a public meeting on Dec. 19 about the proposed fee hike.

Bolton hopes the higher levy will be in place by January – well before any turbines are in the ground.

Green electricity giant NextEra Energy has applied to build 38 turbines in Adelaide Metcalfe; in addition, Suncor has prepared a draft plan to erect as many as 30 more turbines in roughly the same area, to a maximum of 154 metres (500 feet) high.

NextEra says its project will create hundreds of jobs, including in construction and assembly of the big-bladed turbine towers, and will add to the inventory of green energy sources in Ontario.

But local politicians say the higher fees are one way they can regain leverage they lost when the province enacted the Green Energy Act that took from them control over whether, where or how many alt-energy projects are built.

Bluewater, northwest of Adelaide Metcalfe, has decided to charge $25,000 per turbine.

“We felt that was a little extravagant,” Bolton said. The issue has been “very hot-button,” he said.

Some locales charge as much as $40,000 per turbine, said Esther Wrightman, a near neighbour of the proposed wind project and member of Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group who suggested Adelaide Metcalfe hike its fees.

“It’s not (a deterrent) and it’s definitely not a money grab,” she said. “Locally, it’s a necessity and it should have been done quite a while ago.”

She and her group are concerned about turbines’ impact on human and animal health as well as on land value.

Other municipalities have taken other measures:

One has passed a bylaw saying the wind-energy company must prove it can cover fire protection for any structure higher than the fire department’s ladders can reach.

Another is adding a $100,000/turbine bond requirement to be returned to the turbine company only when the site is eventually decommissioned.

Opponents in Norfolk are asking for mandated bigger buffer zones between turbines and buildings.

In Watford, an environmental review tribunal is set to hear the action group’s appeal of a four-turbine plan.

A Ontario legislature private member’s bill to hand more control to municipalities over green energy projects was defeated last week.

Bolton opposes the higher electricity prices generated by green energy projects that receive a premium from the Ontario Power Authority.

Ontario is working to reduce residents’ reliance on coal-fired hydro generation by offering incentives to companies and individuals that install Canadian-made wind turbines and solar panels.

Canada is expected to show a record wind-turbine year in 2011, with more than 5.4 gigawatts of turbine capacity installed – or enough to power 1.5 million homes each year – the Canadian Wind Energy Association said Monday.Debora Van Brenk The London Free Press Wind energy companies may have to pay sky-higher fees if they want to set up shop in Adelaide Metcalfe.

And the Strathroy-area municipality’s plan is only one of several ways turbine opponents and politicians are showing frustration with what they see as a lack of local decision-making power about green energy.

Charging a building-permit fee of $10,000 per turbine – the current fee is $500 – isn’t a cash grab and is intended to be a break-even plan, Adelaide Metcalfe Mayor David Bolton said Monday.

“Our fees are enough to cover our costs.”

An engineering review of a single turbine can cost $4,500, Bolton said, and that doesn’t include re-reviews or inspection costs. Adelaide Metcalfe has planned a public meeting on Dec. 19 about the proposed fee hike.

Bolton hopes the higher levy will be in place by January – well before any turbines are in the ground.

Green electricity giant NextEra Energy has applied to build 38 turbines in Adelaide Metcalfe; in addition, Suncor has prepared a draft plan to erect as many as 30 more turbines in roughly the same area, to a maximum of 154 metres (500 feet) high.

NextEra says its project will create hundreds of jobs, including in construction and assembly of the big-bladed turbine towers, and will add to the inventory of green energy sources in Ontario.

But local politicians say the higher fees are one way they can regain leverage they lost when the province enacted the Green Energy Act that took from them control over whether, where or how many alt-energy projects are built.

Bluewater, northwest of Adelaide Metcalfe, has decided to charge $25,000 per turbine.

“We felt that was a little extravagant,” Bolton said. The issue has been “very hot-button,” he said.

Some locales charge as much as $40,000 per turbine, said Esther Wrightman, a near neighbour of the proposed wind project and member of Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group who suggested Adelaide Metcalfe hike its fees.

“It’s not (a deterrent) and it’s definitely not a money grab,” she said. “Locally, it’s a necessity and it should have been done quite a while ago.”

She and her group are concerned about turbines’ impact on human and animal health as well as on land value.

Other municipalities have taken other measures:

One has passed a bylaw saying the wind-energy company must prove it can cover fire protection for any structure higher than the fire department’s ladders can reach.

Another is adding a $100,000/turbine bond requirement to be returned to the turbine company only when the site is eventually decommissioned.

Opponents in Norfolk are asking for mandated bigger buffer zones between turbines and buildings.

In Watford, an environmental review tribunal is set to hear the action group’s appeal of a four-turbine plan.

A Ontario legislature private member’s bill to hand more control to municipalities over green energy projects was defeated last week.

Bolton opposes the higher electricity prices generated by green energy projects that receive a premium from the Ontario Power Authority.

Ontario is working to reduce residents’ reliance on coal-fired hydro generation by offering incentives to companies and individuals that install Canadian-made wind turbines and solar panels.

Canada is expected to show a record wind-turbine year in 2011, with more than 5.4 gigawatts of turbine capacity installed – or enough to power 1.5 million homes each year – the Canadian Wind Energy Association said Monday.

Source:  By DEBORA VAN BRENK, The London Free Press, www.lfpress.com 5 December 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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