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Wind turbine opponents not backing down

The Lambton-Middlesex Wind Action Group is spreading the word about its opposition to hundreds of proposed industrial wind turbines in the area.

Group members are scheduled to speak Feb. 7 to the Golden K Kiwanis Club in Sarnia, and they’re organizing a public information seminar Feb. 16, 7 p.m., at Grand Bend Public School.

“The Grand Bend area has a lot of projects surrounding it,” said group member Marcelle Brooks.

That includes the 150 MW Jericho Wind Energy Centre NextEra Energy is planning for Lambton Shores, and other projects wind energy companies want to build in nearby communities.

“We weren’t sure all of these folks were aware of what’s going on just outside of their town limits,” Brooks said.

NextEra spokesperson Josie Hernandez said the company is currently completing studies needed for the Jericho project to gain environmental approval from the province, and is aiming to have the project operating sometime in 2013.

It’s expected to erect between 65 and 93 towers, depending on which type of turbine is selected, Hernandez said.

The wind action group’s meeting in Grand Bend will feature real estate broker Doug Pedlar, speaking about the impact on land values, and electrical engineer David Colling speaking about electrical pollution. Scott Petrie, executive director of Long Point Waterfowl, will discuss impacts on wetlands and water fowl.

“We are more defiant and determined than ever,” Brooks said about the group’s opposition to industrial wind farms.

It recently launched an appeal with Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal of the four-turbine Zephyr Farms wind project, now under construction near Watford.

Those hearing are scheduled to begin Feb. 21.

Brooks said wind company representatives have been going door-to-door in Lambton and Middlesex counties since Christmas urging landowners to sign leases for their projects.

In response, the group has been meeting with farmers to talk about the impact wind farms will have on the rural communities.

“We’ve had a lot of success with that,” Brooks said.

She added wind opponents received a boost recently when the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) urged the Ontario Government to suspend the building of new wind farms until it can ensure the interests of rural residents are being protected.

In particular, the federation says it’s concerned about prices being paid for wind power, setbacks for turbines, health and nuisance issues, and the province’s decision to remove municipal control over the projects.

“The recent OFA position has certainly given us a lot of strength and credibility,” Brooks said.

But, she added, industrial wind power opponents haven’t dented the provincial government’s support for the industry.

“They are more determined than ever to proceed,” she said.