Residents skeptical of input at Leader turbine open house
Credit: By SARAH BOYCHUK, KINCARDINE NEWS, www.kincardinenews.com 15 May 2012 ~~
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There was an air of resignation amongst members of the public who attended the open house for the Q1WEC (Quixote) Wind Farm Project on May 8.
The project calls for a single, 500-foot 2.5MW wind turbine southeast of the beach hamlet of Inverhuron. The project received Feed-In Tariff approval by the provincial government last summer and is expected to begin construction in late 2012 or early 2013.
The single turbine will be situated about 950-metres southwest of the junction of Bruce Road 15 and 23, east of the hamlet of Inverhuron on the Ed Rogers property.
Two security guards were on hand during the open house at the Kincardine Municipal Administration Centre, and members of the public were asked to sign in.
One woman present saw no reason to stay for a question-and-answer session with Leader Resource Services Corp., the renewable energy development company behind the project.
“Is there any use?” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “They don’t listen anyway.”
Scott Evans, a pilot concerned the turbine would pose threats to air safety, also elected not to stay for the question period.
“It’s a serious hazard,” Evans said of the proposed turbine, which would be located south of Inverhuron on County Road 23. “Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about it with the Green Energy Act. There’s nothing to stand in the way.”
Evans said a landing strip falls within the parameters of the proposed turbine, but was not represented on the maps supplied by Leader.
When asked about the strip being omitted from the projects maps, Leader’s Travis Grozelle said it was “not on the ones we brought.”
Despite the crowd having dwindled by the time the question period took place, Leader president Charles Edey heard concerns from those still in attendance.
Edey told the group of less than 10 members of the public the strip of land in question was not an air strip.
“He doesn’t have an air strip, he has a piece of property he uses to fly in and out of,” Edey said before adding the pilot who uses the land would not face flight risks should the turbine be installed.
“I don’t believe he’s going to have a terrible problem because he’s a very competent pilot,” said Edey.
Edey also said while he is willing to try and find solutions to concerns locals might have, “I can’t change the site and keep my contract.”
The project is worth about $7 million, and is privately owned with multiple shareholders.
Edey, who also shares ownership of a turbine in Zurich, said stakeholders in the Quixote project live near the area in question, and could expect a 10 percent return on their investment.
“It’s owned by people who live in the community,” he said. “We’re putting thousands and thousands of dollars into the area.”
Edey said Leader is dedicated to ensuring “tingle voltage,” or residual electricity from a turbine on local powerlines, would not jeopardize public safety.
“The turbine is fairly low-voltage, and there won’t be any tingle,” Edey said. “We’re not putting high-voltage on the side of the road.”
Edey said Leader has agreed to a study to determine if there is tingle.
“If there is, we will repair it,” he said. “It’s a solvable problem and we’re committed.”
Edey disagreed with an area resident’s suggestion another turbine on the horizon might decrease property values.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “I personally don’t believe values are going to go down.”
At least one local couple disagreed with Edey.
The couple, who asked not to be named, said they were planning to move to Bracebridge after having lived in the area for 22 years. They had planned to retire in the area, but have grown wary of the wind turbine issues.
Councillor Randy Roppell and Edey spoke during the open house, with a small crowd listening to their conversation. Roppell asked Edey for a promise that sound emissions wouldn’t cause unfavourable living conditions for those with nearby property.
Edey did not offer such a promise, but said it isn’t his intent to cause disruptions.
“” We’re not all of a sudden exempt from being good neighbours,” Edey said.
Paul Gonsalves of Enercon, the company who would manufacture the Quixote turbine, said the design of the blades means noise levels should not be an issue.
Gonsalves said the shape of the nacelle would collect air behind the blades and push it smoothly.
“If you have a noisy machine, you have an inefficient machine,” Gonsalves said. “The design reduces drag.”
He also said turbines in the local area that have received noise complaints are outdated.
“Some of the turbines around here are 10 years old,” he said. “These are state of the art. Think of cars from 10 years ago in terms of noise. Now we have greater gas mileage and quieter interior noise.”
Edey concluded the open house by inviting locals to share their questions about the project.
“We’re a local development company,” he said. “Our staff is all local. You’re welcome to come by at any time.”
An environmental study of the project is slated for completion this summer, after which Leader plans to release the results for public review and hold a second open house.
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