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Suncor breakfast invite rejected

Municipal politicians in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores said, “No thanks,” when Suncor invited them to breakfast at the Sawmill Creek Golf Resort and Spa to talk about the company’s Cedar Point Wind Power Project.

The Ontario Power Authority awarded Suncor a Feed-in Tariff contract last July for the 100 MW wind farm it proposes to build on lands near Forest that crosses the boundary of the two municipalities.

Suncor invited the mayors and councillors from the communities to meet March 15 with company officials at the golf report in Camlachie.

The invitation said it was an opportunity to update the councils on the project’s progress, hear the politicians’ “perspective on area wind development” and “explore ways Suncor can strengthen relationships with the communities.”

Plympton Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper said his council declined the invitation.

“We sent it back and asked that they come to a council meeting,” he said.

“I didn’t feel comfortable doing that outside of a council setting.”

The invitation received a similar reception in Lambton Shores.

Mayor Bill Weber said his council also decided not to attend.

“We’re going to ask them to come to a council meeting and make their presentation, or ask their questions,” Weber said. “Council will be there as a group and the public can be there.”

Suncor Spokesperson Michael Southern said, “We’re happy to do that,” adding the company is now making plans to attend council meetings in both municipalities.

Southern said Suncor proposed the joint meeting “because the Cedar Point project does straddle the two communities.”

The company is just beginning the public consultation process for the Cedar Point Wind project, Southern said, adding, “That was the impetus for meeting with the municipal officials in the area.”

Esther Wrightman, a member of Middlesex-Lambton Wind Concerns, said she was happy to hear the breakfast isn’t going ahead.

“That would clearly be a closed-door meeting,” she said. “It seemed they wanted to get council out of the public’s view to do this.”

The wind concerns group opposes industrial wind projects in rural communities.

An agenda for the March 15 meeting included discussion of “upcoming bylaw changes.”

Plympton-Wyoming recently decided to start asking wind companies for a $200,000 deposit for turbine built there, “for if and when these things have to come down,” Napper said. “All we were trying to do is trying to protect the municipality.”

While agreements wind companies sign with landowners may say who’s responsible for removing wind turbines at the end of their life span, “that doesn’t protect the town,” Napper said.

Future costs covered by the deposit could include damage to municipal roads by heavy equipment needed to remove turbines, he said.

It would also ensure there’s money to take down the turbines, if the company that builds them is no longer in the picture.

“The way this industry’s going,” Napper said, “we don’t know who we’re dealing with a lot of the time.”

Council decided a $200,000 deposit “was justified to protect the taxpayer,” he said.