The Wind Works Power Corp. has cancelled its Wind Farm Collie Hill project in Asphodel-Norwood Township near Hastings, along with its two Clean Breeze projects in Centreton and Grafton.
The news appeared Friday buried in a 4-Traders story about the company’s acquisition of a private German wind energy developer and was confirmed in an announcement on the website of its subsidiary company, Zero Emission People. The Wind Farm Collie Hill “update” began by stating that the project’s three proposed wind turbines could produce enough zero-emission energy to power 1,200 average homes and offset 6,000 tons of carbon emissions each year.
“Despite these impressive numbers, recent feasibility studies for the project have resulted in borderline economics for the project,” the update said. “Therefore, the company has decided to cease the development of the project.”
The proposal to build three 1.8-megawatt 100-metre-tall wind turbines on a property southeast of Norwood generated a windstorm of local opposition, led by Asphodel-Norwood resident Debbie Lynch, who called the cancellation of all three projects “absolutely wonderful news.”
The cancellation of the three projects “gives hope to other communities in rural Ontario, almost all of whom are not willing hosts for industrial wind turbines,” she said. “I do believe that the discontinuation of the these three projects is a major victory in the ongoing war against industrial wind turbines in rural Ontario.”
Lynch said Asphodel-Norwood residents have been speaking out and fighting against the Collie Hill wind farm since news of the proposed project was first made public in July 2009. And the public opposition at the Jan. 31 final public open house in Norwood “did have a major impact on the outcome.” Lynch added that the media coverage of the event was also “instrumental” in getting the word out to more people in the community that the municipality “is not a willing host for wind turbines.”
Lynch’s own campaign involved making many submissions by e-mail, phone and mail to officials in various ministries pointing to “errors, omissions and incorrect information in the project’s official draft reports. “I know I ruffled a lot of feathers with the information I presented to the ministries, and I can only presume that some of the issues raised did cause formidable hurdles for the proponents in their now failed attempt to garner an REA approval for the project.”
Lynch said she has already submitted questions to various ministries and agencies in an attempt of obtain information about the fate of the FIT contracts awarded to the three now discontinued projects. “We need to be aware that the projects might become economically viable in the future,” she said. “I hope to find out what will take place from this point now that the proponents have discontinued the project.”
Lynch credited Asphodel-Norwood Mayor Doug Pearcy with having “a major impact” on local residents through his comments about how the wind farm could affect their property assessments and even result in increased electricity delivery costs.
Pearcy said Monday he has “never been able to understand the economics of wind power where Hydro One pays 80 cents per kilowatt hour and sells it for maybe 13 cents so I believe the cancellation of this type of project will take some of the pressure off future hydro price increases.”
Pearcy said the community is likely “enjoying a sense of relief because of this news,” while the proponents are “probably very disappointed given the time, energy, and financial commitment that they made to the project.”
Pearcy said he welcomed the cancellation of the Collie Hill project because it was having an “extremely divisive” impact on the community. He noted that a wind farm in upstate New York destroyed the tranquility and quiet of the host community.
Pearcy said that although council’s own moratorium on wind farms had no impact on the company’s decision, he is hopeful that public pressure did have some influence on the outcome. “For years those fighting against wind farms have been saying that the present provincial government is not listening to the people, and it has become evident that the people of rural Ontario are voicing their unrest over the issue with their votes. However we do not know at this point that the province had any part in this particular decision.”
And although the company has officially stated the Collie Hill project is being discontinued because it is not economically feasible,“it is very unlikely that we will ever know the truth on this one,” Pearcy said.
But whatever the reason for the project cancellation, the experience has taught both the community and council “that we must always be vigilant and ready to become educated rapidly when something like this jumps out at us.”
Pearcy said he had to do extensive reading and research on the Green Energy Act and wind farms to come even close to having complete and up-to-date information on wind energy and its impacts. “One of the first things I did back in 2010 was to take a trip to Wolfe Island near Kingston, Ont. to see for myself what a wind farm was really like. I guess the main lesson is that we should not ignore issues such as this even though happening far from home.
“Even though this appears to be over for today, it could come back on the table tomorrow, so I believe that council should complete a look at bylaws, building permits and fees that control these types of projects so we will not be caught off guard in the future. We will have to leave it to the provincial government to decide the future of wind power in Ontario, and hopefully they as well as us are learning some lessons from all this. If I could offer my advice to them, it would be that the high cost of hydro is eliminating industrial jobs in Ontario and many people are struggling to pay their hydro bills. These are the issues the province must deal with.”
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