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Wind turbine opponents taking fight to court

LASALLE Opponents of two proposed industrial wind turbines are taking their fight to court.

“We’re hoping to get an injuction to stop the project,” said Tim Parent, a member of Residents Against Industrial Wind Turbines.

Ten residents have banded together, including Parent, to retain Toronto based environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie and launch a lawsuit against River Canard Energy Inc.

Graham Andrews, a lawyer in Gillespie’s firm, said the lawsuit is being finalized but the group has not yet made the decision to seek an injuction. He said they are seeking damages but declined to say how much.

Andrews said the statement of claim should be filed by the end of this week.

“It’s due to property devalution of abuting property owners … that’s the basis of the lawsuit,” said Derek Fletcher, who along with Parent and Donald Petrozzi approached LaSalle council last Tuesday seeking support for their fight against the turbines.

Fletcher and Petrozzi are not part of the group launching the lawsuit but are members of Residents Against Industrial Wind Turbines.

Fletcher said a moratorium on the construction of any more industrial wind turbines would be ideal.

“We don’t want them here,” Fletcher said.

When contacted by The Star previously, Larry Pajot who owns the farmland where the turbines are slated to be installed directed all questions to Micah Jarvis, an energy services manager for Mindscape Innovations.

Jarvis, who would only answer questions via email, said River Canard Energy has “several local, Ontario-based partners” who came together in 2010 to invest in this project.

“Before the turbines will be installed, the project plan must first be submitted to the Ministry of Environment for review and approval. This process is called a “Renewable Energy Approval”, and is a requirement of the Green Energy Act,” Jarvis said.

“The two turbines are being proposed under separate applications; the first could be approved as early as January 2013, and the second by February or March 2013. Installation would begin shortly after approval.”

Jarvis said River Canard Energy has applied to install two 500kW turbines – new not decommissioned units. The towers will stand 65 metres high, with blades that are 23.5 metres long. The two projects will be located about 350 metres apart on separate properties off Disputed Road.

“These turbines are smaller than most of the other turbines that can be seen in the area.

Typical turbines are 1,000-2,000kW and are both taller and louder than the proposed turbines for these projects,” Jarvis said.

These would be the first industrial wind turbines in LaSalle.

“For the record we are all for green energy,” Parent said.

Petrozzi agreed, saying smaller residential turbines or “solar support” is fine. He had a solar system at his home for a number of years and he composts regularly.

But he disagrees with industrial wind turbines and the subsidies companies receive for them.

“These are just monsters,” Petrozzi said. “If I had my choice, I’d take nuclear over turbine.”

Property devaluation is the “big (issue) identifed by this group of taxpayers,” Petrozzi said.

Parent said more than 50 residents have joined Residents Against Industrial Wind Turbines and a petition to stop the turbines has collected over 400 signatures.

The group approached LaSalle council for help months ago and council agreed to send a letter to MPP Taras Natyshak requesting the province take a broader look at wind and solar farms in the Green Energy Act.

At council’s most recent meeting, deputy mayor Mark Carrick said he was concerned about who would be responsible for the turbines when they are eventually decommissioned. Council agreed to ask the province for more information.

“The municipality can’t stop it. We can only say we object,” Mayor Ken Antaya said.

Natyshak wrote a letter to the Hon. Christopher Bentley, MPP Ministry of Energy, citing his increasing frustration “with the lack of public consultation and input into the location of these projects.”

He told the minister, “The government must create an open and transparent process for the approval of alternative energy projects that involves the communities in which they will be placed.”

“Let’s look at the fiscal end of it and the health issue,” Parent said. “This industry exists because of subsidies.”

Parent said companies that own industrial wind turbines receive higher rates for the hydro they generate and that is subsidized by taxpayers.
As far as health issues, he said the federal government is working on a study that isn’t due until 2014.

“Doesn’t it make sense to say … until this study is done, shouldn’t we stop?”

“I had a brother ask me, ‘Why are you doing this? You’re not going to win,’” Petrozzi said.

“I said, ‘You’re right.’ It’s not for us (that we’re doing this), it’s for everybody in the town.

“Somebody has to do something for the greater good of the community.”