The offer has been less than warmly received by local turbine opponents. "Personally I think it is a promise of beads and knives," said Anita Frayne, who farms in the area of the proposed wind farm with her husband Paul. "Paul and I will not be taking the money." Other people in the community Frayne has spoken with said the offer is adding insult to injury. One individual said he'll take the money, then flip it to the group opposing the project, she said.
The companies developing a massive and controversial wind farm near Goderich are offering to spread cash through the community.
While other wind farms in Ontario pay thousands a year to landowners who have a turbine on their property, developers of the K2 Wind Project have offered an annual payment to everyone with a home within one kilometre of a turbine, substation or transformer station.
The annual payment offered to homeowners is $1,500 a year for the 20-year life of the project, a total of $30,000.
K2 Wind, a joint venture of Capital Power, Pattern Renewable Holdings and Samsung Renewable Energy, estimates more than 230 landowners will be eligible for the annual cheque.
Dwarfing other wind farms already developed in Ontario, the plan for the K2 Wind Farm is to build 138 wind turbines in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township with the capacity to generate 270 megawatts of electricity. Construction costs are estimated at more than $900 million.
If the project wins final regulatory approval, construction is expected to start in 2013 and commercial operation in 2014.
In making the offer to landowners, K2 said there are no restrictions on how the money is spent and that accepting the money would not limit an individual’s ability to express opinions on the project.
“We believe the community should receive direct and tangible benefits for the unique role that (the township) will play in helping to meet Ontario’s targets for renewable energy,” Paul Wendelgass, K2 Wind project lead, said in a statement announcing what the company calls the Community Renewable Energy Benefit.
The offer has been less than warmly received by local turbine opponents.
“Personally I think it is a promise of beads and knives,” said Anita Frayne, who farms in the area of the proposed wind farm with her husband Paul.
“Paul and I will not be taking the money.”
Other people in the community Frayne has spoken with said the offer is adding insult to injury. One individual said he’ll take the money, then flip it to the group opposing the project, she said.
Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said the $1,500 a year payment doesn’t cover people for loss of property values and health problems.
“It is not based on reality . . . It is just a buy-off,” Wilson said.
K2 spokesperson Lori Wilson said the idea for the energy benefit came from area residents.
Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley declined to comment on the specific move by K2, but said the government is encouraging wind farm developers to work with local municipalities and community members.
After reviewing its renewable energy program this year, the government adopted a point system for approving projects that awards more points for community involvement and backing.
“It will mean that by and large renewable energy projects that have local support will be much more likely to get contracts than those that don’t,” Bentley said.
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