ALNWICK/HALDIMAND – More than 100 people who attended a public meeting hosted by the developers of a pair of wind turbine projects in the Centreton and Grafton areas of the township – one of which could be in operation as early as next year – had to pass by security guards. They were also informed they were being filmed as they entered the Roseneath information session.
Some attendees of Wednesday night’s meeting were miffed at the presence of guards, police and camera surveillance, while others acknowledged that wind turbine meetings elsewhere in the province have been rowdy affairs.
“In the past they’ve had problems with some meetings,” Dave Lavallee, owner of Peterborough-based Kawartha Guard Service explained as he counted the attendees entering through the front entrance of the Alnwick Civic Centre.
Pat Scott, who says she would be an immediate next door neighbour to the Clean Breeze Wind Park Grafton project, (sited within the areas of Noble, Wilson and McLean roads and The Scott’s Line and upon which she lives) said she was intimated by the security measures.
Scott and another proposed wind turbine project neighbour, Debbie Francies of Wilson Drive, fear a wind farm project like the one proposed near Grafton will drive down the value of their properties.
“We’re not against wind turbine projects,” Francis said, but we have concerns about the water table, the impact on the health of animals and people, plus property values.
Scott, who hosts an annual lavender festival and a variety of art and other events in a restored barn on her property, questioned what it would be like to have five wind turbines, more than 11 barns high, operating right next door.
“I’m sick at heart about it,” said Elaine Rostetter-Suanders of nearby Spechley Road. It will “destroy the vistas of the Northumberland Hills. They will be gone forever. We’ll never retrieve them.”
Another woman who lives on Hayden Road and asked not to be identified because of her former vocation, said she is located near the other proposed Clean Breeze Wind Park project (in the area between Baltimore and Centreton which was not the prime subject of the public meeting).
“I thought it was dead,” she said.
She attended the proponent’s public meeting two years ago about that site (where five wind turbines are also proposed) but had heard nothing until just recently about it proceeding.
One information board at Wednesday’s session showed the location of both projects on a map of the area.
Both projects have provincial FITT contracts although not yet all of the approvals, said Thomas Bernacki, an engineer with the Clean Breeze Wind Park projects. If the timelines move as expected, however, construction on the Grafton-area project will begin in spring 2014 with operations underway by the end of that year, he said.
There will be another public meeting on the Centreton-area project and its operation, if all approvals are received, will begin “slightly after that.”
“There could be delays in the approval of the project(s) delays,” Bernacki added.
Studies that include natural heritage and water in the areas are among those that must first receive different Ontario government ministry approvals.
Both Bernacki and project manager Katie Meyer-Beck said that the second Centreton-area project public meeting is likely to be arranged with Alnwick/Haldimand because the township is in the midst of passing a bylaw related to alternative energy projects. Township Mayor Dalton Macdonald confirmed Thursday that his council is looking at a bylaw that would charge a $2,000 administration fee for looking into projects that come before his council, plus a request that the proponent let the municipality host public meetings for solar projects, something that is now not required under the Green Energy Act.
“We’re not subject to the bylaw….but we’d like to comply with it,” Meyer-Beck said between questions from concerned local taxpayers attending Wednesday night’s public meeting.
In general, the merits of wind power include adding energy to the electrical grid, she said, while these specific sites will add more to the municipal tax base, and jobs.
She stressed that the set backs in both projects exceeded the 550 metre buffer required under the guidelines.
Mark and Lisa Dejong who live on Baptist Road near the proposed Centreton-area wind turbine farm talked to both development company (Zero Emission People) representatives about property value concerns.
“We have a century home built in 1875. We’ve put our life savings into it,” Mark Dejong said. “We’ll see all five wind turbines.”
In fact, he said, any proposed buyer would see them first as they come up the driveway even before seeing their house.
Another of his concerns was shadow flicker from the huge turbines.
Bernacki looked at the map in relationship to the Dejong property and confirmed that there would be shadow flicker to the east and west of the turbines on properties as far away as two kilometers.
“After two kilometers there would be no shadow flicker,” he said.
Properties to the north and south of the turbines would not be affected by flicker, Bernacki also said.
Northumberland MPP Rob Milligan signed in along with the other 100+ people who came to the meeting.
“I’m hearing about the concerns of my constituents,” he said.
The Tory MPP for this riding shares his party’s concerns about alternative energy development under the Liberal’s Green Energy Act. He has, however, held some public meetings about water power development in this riding.
Fellow Tory MPP Laurie Scott issued a media release this week in which she charges that the Ontario Liberal Government knew “as far back as 2009 that there were adverse health impacts associated with industrial wind turbines” but these documents were never made public.
“Even last year, when Health Canada announced that it would be undertaking a study into the health effects of wind turbines, the McGuinty Government continued to claim that these (health) concerns were unfounded.”