The Township of Shuniah has formally endorsed provincial applications for two wind farm projects that could one day operate within and northeast of the rural municipality.
But two council votes Monday to support renewable energy supply contract applications by RES Canada and Ventus Wind Energy Lakehead LP weren’t unanimous.
Coun. Donna Blunt, who voted against both applications, said she’s uncomfortable with the wording of the council resolutions which offer township support “without reservation.”
Blunt has supported wind farm projects in the past, but said opposition by various groups in recent years that’s raised concerns about noise and other environmental matters has her think twice.
“Some people think I’m over-reacting, but I’d hate to look back and think we made a mistake,” she said Tuesday.
“At this point in time, to say that we’re behind these projects 100 per cent – I’m not comfortable with that.”
The approved resolutions in favour of the two projects help the companies gain “points” when their applications for power supply agreements are being considered by Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program.
Though RES Canada is proposing to build a wind farm outside of Shuniah’s boundary, it will need the municipality’s support for a transmission line that will go through Shuniah.
The Ventus project, which has been proposed for eight years, would be built inside Shuniah north of Highway 11-17 on a combination of private, municipal and Crown lands.
Shuniah chief administrator Eric Collingwod said the Ventus project calls for a 100-megawatt facility, similar to the existing wind farm that was built by RES Canada near Dorion.
Details about RES Canada’s plan to build a second wind farm northeast of Shuniah couldn’t be obtained Tuesday, but there appears to be no complaints about its Dorion-area Greenwich facility, soon to be transferred to Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.
The lack of opposition is mainly because Greenwich’s 43 turbines aren’t easily visible, unlike some of the turbines proposed for Horizon Canada’s Nor’Wester project south of Thunder Bay.
“We’ve had a good relationship (with RES Canada) right from the start,” said Dorion chief administrator Helena Tamminen. “Most of the turbines are located out in the wilderness.”
Earlier this summer, Enbridge announced it would contribute $35,000 per year to Dorion’s community investment fund.
In a joint RES Canada and Enbridge news release, Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle, whose riding includes the Greenwich project, said: “By phasing in wind energy generation sites such as this project, we will remove more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from our atmosphere annually, furthering Ontario’s reputation as the greenest province in Canada.”
Blunt said she knows wind farms are part of the green-energy trend, but added one views them differently when they’re close to home.
“It’s one thing to support these projects, but would you personally like to live near one?”
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