A Mississauga-based firm is hoping to start construction on five wind turbines in the Caistor Centre area next year.
IPC Energy gave an update on its plans at West Lincoln’s planning committee meeting Monday night and faced heated questions from councillors about the future cost of decommissioning, impact on wildlife and what the company would do if the wind turbines have a detrimental impact on neighbouring residents.
The issue of wind turbines is controversial in the township and has spawned the creation of an opposition group called the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group.
IPC, which stands for Independent Power Corp., is the smallest company planning to build wind turbines and take advantage of the province’s green energy push. Their five-turbine Caistor Centre project will cost about $25 million.
Much bigger projects are also in the works for the area. The Niagara Region Wind Corp. is aiming to build 80 turbines in West Lincoln, Haldimand, Wainfleet and Pelham.
IPC spokesperson Tom Lewis told councillors his firm expects to get letters soon from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ministry of Culture, signing off on different aspects surrounding two of the turbines, after which the company plans to hold a final public meeting.
The proposed IPC wind turbines, which opponents fear will create health problems and devalue their properties, would rise in the Caistor Centre area off Sixteen Road. Lewis said the turbines will stand 95 metres and the blades will be 49 metres long and will provide enough juice to power 2,500 homes per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14,000 tons.
Alderman John Glazier expressed concern about the potential influx of wind turbines and reminded the gathering that the municipality no longer has the planning authority to halt such projects. That was removed by the Liberal government under its green energy drive.
“We’re going to have these things spread across our township,” he said. “We’re going to have an unsightly mess in Niagara. I’m really concerned about it.”
IPC president John Andrews said his firm is proposing to build only five turbines, which will be connected to the local distribution lines. But other companies would have to take IPC’s turbines into account when locating theirs in West Lincoln, he added.
Andrews fielded several questions from councillors about who would pay the decommissioning cost if the turbines are not needed after two decades or so. He said IPC will provide landowners with letters of credit to cover the future cost, but councillors got concerned when he said the letters would be renewed every year. He assured them it was only a technicality.
Andrews said IPC will use a setback of 580 metres from any homes, which is above the provincial requirement.
“If there was an issue with any turbine, we will deal with it,” Andrews told councillors. “It’s not our intention to stick this up and abandon it.”
Several residents addressed the committee, including Neil Switzer and Cam Pritchard, chair and cochair of the opposition group, as well as Carol Barker, who says there are still too many unanswered questions about wind turbines, including impact on human and animal health, groundwater and properties. She said she sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty and senior cabinet ministers imploring them to have the province do more research.
“Research is expensive,” she said. “Mistakes are more costly.”
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