DEALTOWN – Ontario’s Green Energy Act has done little to address power issues, but could drastically impact the province’s finances in coming years, says the opposition’s energy critic.
Vic Fedeli, Progressive Conservative Nipissing MPP, took part in a town hall meeting at Deer Run Golf Course on Tuesday.
He said municipalities need to be given back control of wind project planning, noting it is ultimately the residents that suffer.
“It really took you out of the picture,” Fedeli told the gathering. “It took your rights.”
Fedeli, a former North Bay mayor, slammed the feed-in tariff subsidy program, saying his party would review projects on a case-by-case basis.
He believes in some instances, it may be “better to pay these companies out now,” in order to save in the long run.
Fedeli said high electricity costs cause many factories and mills to either close or move to cheaper jurisdictions.
The meeting was hosted by Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls.
“This is truly a sensitive issue in the riding of Chatham-Kent Essex,” he said.
An announced crowd of approximately 200 people attended the event, with some taking the opportunity to give their views.
Blenheim’s Nikki Horton said her family has experienced health problems ever since a nearby wind farm was built.
“We’ve lived with massive headaches, nausea, vertigo,” she said, urging people to conduct their own research.
Horton said more need to speak up if there is to be any change.
Given the predominance of wind opponents in attendance, there was some criticism from the floor whether the meeting was fair.
However, Nicholls defended it, saying there was advertising and all were welcome.
Other speakers included Dr. Scott Petrie, executive director of Long Point Waterfowl, and Richard Wakefield, who runs the online resource Ontario Wind Performance.
Last month in Toronto, Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged to give municipalities more input on green energy projects. However, specifics haven’t yet been determined.
Stuart McFadden, the municipality’s manager of business development, said nobody outside of Chatham-Kent should be making decisions about the community.
He said there will always be strong opinions concerning wind energy and believes it’s important for residents to have their say.
However, McFadden also defended the companies the municipality has dealt with.
“The companies have worked very hard to work with us … to the extent that probably through the Green Energy Act they didn’t have to,” he said. “We’ve got a good relationship with them.”