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Eastern Kings votes against wind project

The Eastern Kings community council is walking away from a multimillion-dollar wind energy development, despite area residents voting in favour of it.

Energy Minister Wes Sheridan said he was disappointed the community decided not to go forward with the development.

“We put a very fair and logical offer on the table and I’m very disappointed that the community voted on it and the council decided to go against it,” he said.

Last month, Eastern Kings residents voted 171-141 in favour of proceeding with a 30-megawatt wind farm to be developed through the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.

It would have seen the province give the area about $9 million over 15 years.

The financial incentives included $200,000 for landowners and a $125,000 annual trust for the community.

Now that money will be moving somewhere else along with the eight or 10 turbines the province planned to build.

Sheridan said the government wasn’t going to force the development on the community and with the council making the final decision, the province will move on to the next site.

As for the reasons why the council decided against the plan, Sheridan left it to the council to explain its objections, but did say it wanted a few things added to it. Sheridan also said the council wanted to move the turbines to a different location within the community.

“We had already done all our testing on this site,” he said.

There were also questions about whether the site the council wanted to use would be available for the development and there wasn’t any testing done on the wind strength, Sheridan said.

“We don’t know what the results of the wind regime would be there and it just would make no sense to move it to that locale.”

Sheridan said the province has done testing in other areas and will move on to the next site to see if there is support from the next community on its list.

If accepted, that would put the wind farm north of Souris, near Hermanville, which Sheridan said was second-highest in wind regime.

“We’ll move forward there and start the process with the community and see if they’re interested in moving forward,” he said.

Sheridan said there will be some differences in the process this time because it is an unincorporated area without any homes around the site, but the government still plans to talk to people in the community.

“There are ways to speak and make sure we have their support and we will do that,” he said.

With the Eastern Kings decision made, work on developing the Hermanville site starts right away, Sheridan said.

“We gave them every little bit of time and effort that they needed from us and they’ve decided against it so now it’s time to move on, we wipe the slate clean and start fresh.”

Eastern Kings community council chair Sheila Eastman said the community and council were in favour of wind development, but for several reasons they didn’t support it at the proposed location.

There were a lot of unanswered questions about the site and the council had a preferred location, which it put forward during the first meeting with government, she said.

“It solved a multitude of problems and presented the best option as far as we were concerned.”

Eastman said some of those issues included setbacks and noises from wind turbines from an earlier wind development in the area.

“More to do, I guess, with the original windmills than the proposed, but when you can’t solve the problems from the first one you don’t want to get into a secondary,” she said.