Local citizens and municipalities will soon get more say in decisions on where wind-turbine projects are located, Energy Minister Chris Bentley said Monday – but he stopped short of promising a veto.
His comments came just hours after a handful of delegates to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association convention at the Royal York Hotel walked out on a speech by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty over their wind turbine concerns.
“We’re not giving every municipality the right to set their own rules, but we are taking a look at the approach,” Bentley told reporters at Queen’s Park, speaking of his review of the microFIT feed-in-tariff program that buys green energy from small-scale green energy projects, such as solar panels at family farms.
“We are looking for ways to make sure that voices, (who) may not feel they have been heard in the way they would like to have been heard, can be heard in a stronger and better way in the future.”
Results of the review, which will see lower prices paid for green energy from small producers selling into the grid, are coming in late March, Bentley said. Some contracts now pay as much as 80 cents per kilowatt hour – many times the going rate for other forms of power.
At the Royal York, McGuinty acknowledged the walkout of about a half-dozen people as he took the podium.
“That is their choice . . . I support clean energy, I support the tens of thousands of jobs that it creates. They chose to leave. I knew this could happen but I came anyways,” the premier said.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he supports municipalities having the decision over locations for wind farms, some of which can stretch 25 kilometres along a highway.
“If local municipalities can have a say where a hot dog cart or chip truck is gonna go in their downtown, of course they should have a say about industrial wind farm projects,” he said after question period in the Legislature.
New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said the Liberal government would “get more buy-in” from municipalities on wind farms if local councils get a larger voice on where to locate them.
Enemies of wind farms say they cause health problems but advocates insist studies show no proof of that. Under provincial regulations, wind turbines cannot be closer than 550 metres to any residence.
[published online as “Ontario Liberals promise municipalities more say on wind-turbine project locations”]
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding