When people in Lambton County get their next look at NextEra’s Jericho Wind Energy Center, it’s going to look a little different. And that’s raising the suspicions of wind activist fighting the project.
The company has been working on a 92-turbine wind project in Lambton Shores since 2006. But company spokesperson Josie Hernandez says NextEra has decided to broaden the land base it is studying to include parts of Warwick Township to the Egermont Road and into North Middlesex.
Hernandez says the original draft of the project included the lands, but through the years the company “thought, let’s kind of condense it. But our goal is to ensure we have enough space so we can place those turbines in the right place.”
Hernandez says NextEra is holding a public meeting in Watford’s Centennial Hall to talk about the changes and to hear from neighbours also.
Hernandez says landowners in the area often provide the company with important information about area wildlife and habitat. “For example someone could say ‘tundra swans stop in my in the backyard’ …that gives our biologist a chance to go out there to study the bird migration,” she says.
But Marcelle Brooks of the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action group thinks there is more to the change than NextEra is saying. “I know that NextEra representatives are saying ‘this is just what we do’ but we don’t look at it quite that way. We believe they wouldn’t change the layout of the project this far into the game without good reason. Any changes cost the company money,” says Brooks.
She wonders whether the vocal opposition against the project, particularly in Lambton Shores where the bulk of the turbines will be, has made it difficult for NextEra to get farmers to sign leases to host the turbines.
The meeting will be July 17 at 7pm and Brooks says wind activists will be there asking questions. “I do not want this project to off in Watford and Warwick; we don’t want them anywhere,” she says. “Even though (NextEra) has moved off to Warwick, we’ll be there to greet them, too.”
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