Is it over for the wind energy factory at Ostrander Point? Has this nine turbine project on Crown land on the south shore of the County become the first casualty of the departure of Dalton McGuinty?
Several sources speculated this week that Gilead Power Corporation had appealed to Hydro One seeking a return of its $5 million deposit. The company paid this money last fall in anticipation of approval by spring or summer. The project’s outlook then looked much brighter than it does today.
At the time the pathway for the developer seemed clear—all that was left to do was clear the 60-day review period in which the public could voice their objections or support for the project. MPP Todd Smith pushed for and received an extension to the deadline to account for the Christmas break.
Despite the fact that the project’s proponents acknowledged it would likely have an impact on two endangered species, the Blandings turtle and whippoorwill, the public review was widely seen as a formality. When the review period closed the comments and opinions were brought into the Ministry of Environment for a final decision.
Many expected the Ministry would simply acknowledge the opposition that had arrayed against the project—which included conservancy groups such as Nature Canada, the Audubon Society and Ontario Nature—but would nevertheless give the developer the green light.
Gilead Power likely had the same view—as it put up a $5 million deposit to Hydro One for work to extend transmission lines from a substation in Milford to Ostrander Point.
But as the weeks and months went by, doubt about the project began to sprout. By June it was clear the project had stalled—but the nature of the delay was unclear. On the Ministry of Environment’s website, the project remains listed as under technical review.
Residents of South Marysburgh and elsewhere waited for news about the project that could come any day.
Then, earlier this month Premier Dalton McGuinty announced he was stepping down and proroguing the Ontario legislature. Would he press his green energy agenda even as a lame duck? Would he see this fight in Prince Edward County as an important symbol of his conviction in the righteousness of wind energy? Even if the habitat of a couple of species hung in the balance? Would he defy the environmental and conservancy groups urging him to keep these turbines away from one of Ontario’s designated Important Bird Areas?
Of course, even if the reports that Gilead Power has asked for its deposit back from Hydro One prove true, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the project is dead. Gilead may simply want its money back in its bank acount until the future of this project is clearer. Among other options, Gilead could sell the project to another developer—one with the patience and financial legs to force the provincial government’s hand.
In any event it has proved much harder to overcome the opposition to wind factories in North Marysburgh than some developers had imagined. For opponents to this development it is still too soon to celebrate.
Update: A hired spokesperson has said that Gilead Power remains committed to developing the Ostrander Point project. Kevin Lennon denied too that Gilead Power had asked for its deposit from Hydro One to be returned.