SOUTH DUNDAS – With more potentially controversial wind turbine projects pending, local MPP Jim McDonell is trying to “clear the air” for residents in Dundas County.
McDonell, the Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry representative, will team up with his Progressive Conservative colleague, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, to host a gathering.
“The meeting will be an open forum to have discussions from all groups,” McDonell said Wednesday of the meeting next Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at Dixon’s Corners Community Hall, 10951 Cook Road-County Road 18.
McDonell hopes to get “all sides”, including the wind generation companies which are attracting various landowners with lucrative leasing contracts.
“It will be a question and answer format, meant to (clear up a) lot of the rumours,” he said, alluding to the disputed health effects from the turning of the huge turbine blades.
One wind project has already cleared a public consultation process to set up 14 turbines in west-central South Dundas.
ProWind Canada is now set to apply for licensing from the Ministry of Environment.
Battling the project is the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, which is considering legal action to stall ProWind’s efforts.
Meanwhile, at least two other firms – Chicago’s Invenergy and London’s Elexco – are trying to secure leases from residents.
McDonell said the new attention to eastern Ontario necessitates the need for politicians to be more pro-active.
With a public outcry stemming from the wealth of new turbines in western Ontario, companies are looking to fill suitable areas in eastern Ontario, which has been left relatively untouched.
“We know there’s been a lot of discussion against what’s going on,” said McDonell, citing the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s reversal on its stance. It now opposes further wind farm development.
“These leases are very lucrative, but they tend to split the community apart,” McDonell said.
McDonell’s PC party has also been critical of how the Liberal government has pushed projects along, based on the Green Energy Act.
Municipalities have been stripped of their regulatory approval powers, although the Liberals have softened on that issue recently, allowing for limited input.
The PCs’ main bone of contention is the high price the government is paying to purchase wind power, which is then partially passed on to consumers.
Even in countries such as Germany where wind power has been in place for many years, McDonell claims governments there did not charge such a high fee to encourage renewable energy development.
In fact, McDonell said solar power representatives indicated to him recently the rates are 30% too high.
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