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Wind battle shifts: NextEra Energy Canada project could meet the wrath of North Middlesex council

The fight to halt wind turbine development in Southwestern Ontario shifts to North Middlesex Tuesday with opponents pushing for a ban on wind farm development.

A resolution going to North Middlesex council Tuesday night calls for the Ontario government to place an immediate moratorium on the development, construction, erection and implementation of wind turbines until a Health Canada health study on turbines is completed in 2014.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Muriel Allingham of Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group, a citizens’ group rallying opposition to wind turbine development.

NextEra Energy Canada is developing the Bornish Wind Energy Centre in North Middlesex, a 73.5-megawatt wind farm consisting of up to 48 wind turbines. The project has already been awarded a 20-year contract from the Ontario Power Authority.

NextEra also plans to install 38 turbines in Adelaide-Metcalfe. The company has run into stiff opposition from residents there worried about the effects turbines could have on their health.

Residents have protested at public meetings about the project and the company also has had difficulty finding venues to host the meetings.

NextEra estimates the Bornish wind farm will contribute $121 million in corporate income tax and $8 million in property taxes over its 20-year lifespan.

Running at maximum capacity, the wind turbines will produce enough electricity to power 18,375 homes, the company says.

Six to eight full-time jobs will be created to operate the wind farm.

The municipality recently received notification from another energy company, Quebec-based Boralex Inc., that it is studying the possibility of building a wind farm in North Middlesex as well.

Despite the projected benefits, North Middlesex Mayor Don Shipway expects the resolution against the wind farm will be passed by council.

Shipway said his personal position is there should be a moratorium on wind farms until the Health Canada study is completed.

Within North Middlesex there are people who support the wind turbine development and people who oppose it, Shipway said.

“I don’t know the percentage. I get a lot of e-mails against and I get a lot of e-mails for it.”

Though the municipality can ask for a moratorium on wind turbine development, it has little say under the Green Energy Act that stripped municipalities of planning control for the projects.

Allingham, though, is optimistic the resolution and ones in other communities calling for a ban will have an impact on the McGuinty government.

“All we can do is try. Opposition is growing daily and I think that rural communities are starting to stand up and say this is not an acceptable way to treat rural people,” she said.

Allingham said people are opposed to the Bornish wind farm for different reasons, including health, property values, environmental impact and the loss of the visual beauty of the rural countryside.

The people who favour wind development are the landowners who have signed leases with the energy company and will make some money.

“They are in the minority,” she said.