EXETER – The 63-turbine Goshen industrial wind turbine project is another step closer to reality after NextEra Energy held its final required public meetings for the project last week in Exeter and Zurich.
NextEra estimates construction on the Goshen project will take place in the fall of 2013, with completion in the second quarter of 2014. The project consists of 62 1.6 megawatt turbines and one 1.56 megawatt turbine. The project is located between Zurich-Hensall Road to the north and Mount Carmel Drive in the south, Parr Line to the east and the South Huron/Lambton Shores municipal boundary and Black Bush Line in the west. Forty-six of the turbines are in South Huron, with the remaining in Bluewater.
With the final required public meetings complete, NextEra’s next step is to submit its final reports to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Once that process is complete, all the documents associated with the project are posted on the Environmental Registry for public comment, followed by a technical review that could take up to six months.
Once the final documents are ready they will be posted on NextEra’s website and will be at district MOE offices for public viewing.
NextEra senior media relations specialist Josie Hernandez said construction won’t take place before November. She added the project could be delayed if anyone appeals it.
Project director Nicole Geneau added anyone has the right to file an appeal, but the appellant has to prove the project would cause harm to human health or have an irreversible impact on the environment. She said about eight appeals have been filed in Ontario, all of which have been dismissed.
As previously reported, NextEra has said the large turbine fees that some municipalities have implemented on wind projects are not enforceable. Geneau said NextEra continues to work with both Bluewater and South Huron concerning their fees.
NextEra’s lawyer has sent a letter to Bluewater, objecting to that municipality’s fee formula that would charge industrial wind companies about $1 million per turbine.
Bluewater has yet to pass the bylaw that proposes those fees.
The public meetings at South Huron Rec Centre and the Zurich Arena – held Jan 9 and 10, respectively – included NextEra documents and maps pertaining to the project as well as staff to answer questions from the public. As at previous meetings, members of the public who oppose the project attended.
South Huron comments
As part of the approval process for the Goshen project, South Huron staff compiled a list of the municipality’s concerns, including:
• The potential conflict of wind turbines and the Exeter meteorological radar station on Thames Road East. Concerns have been expressed that the turbines will affect the station’s ability to forecast severe weather. South Huron says it is “critically concerned” about the situation.
• South Huron has also expressed concern about the impact the wind project could have on tourism in the area.
• Pre- and post-construction inspection of roads and bridges, road access and traffic management have been noted as concerns South Huron has.
• South Huron is recommending a two-to-one tree replacement ratio for any trees proposed for removal. Also, transformers, wind towers and collection stations “should be appropriately landscaped and visually screened.”
• South Huron also requests that “natural features and water bodies are to be addressed to the satisfaction of the MNR and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority.”
• Any construction damage or restoration is to be repaired at NextEra’s cost.
South Huron has also called for a moratorium on wind projects until the results of the Health Canada study on turbines are released.
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