Plans are moving ahead for a wind turbine project that will span parts of Wellington North and neighbouring Southgate Township.
Gabriel Durany, project manager with Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (RES), met with Wellington North’s economic development committee (EDC) and township councillors on June 19 to update them on plans for the project.
“We have 9,000 acres under option representing 43 families,” Durany said of the total project as it stands now.
The project will see one-third of the turbines in the northern portion of Wellington North, south of Conn, and the remaining two-thirds in Southgate. When completed, the transmission line would hook into a Hydro One main line running along the same corridor as the Bruce to Milton line. It would be hooked into a transmission hub near Orangeville.
The June 19 meeting, held at the urging of business economic manager Dale Small, was the fifth time the company has met with township EDC officials.
“I called Gabriel and asked why aren’t you building and he said these are three- to five-year projects,” Small said at the meeting.
Small noted the recent announcement by the provincial government aimed at giving municipalities input in wind turbine development has thrown some confusion into the mix, as details have yet to be announced by the province.
In the past the government has overseen the development of turbine projects with local municipalities left out of the process. Premier Kathleen Wynne recently announced municipalities would be given a greater say about the projects, but stopped short of giving them veto rights.
“The province-wide consultation process is to get municipalities engaged,” Small said.
Durany added, “There’s a lot of movement on the provincial side from our perspective … The province is finally opening up to listen to local municipalities.”
Durany said RES welcomes the provincial changes.
According to him, the Southgate-Wellington North project will be built and operated by RES, which also operates a turbine site in Chatham-Kent.
“We do develop our own projects, but we build for others,” Durany said of the way RES, which is a sister company of a large construction company with offices in Montreal, operates its projects.
Land option contracts run in seven-year cycles but are renewed each year. The record of the contract is registered to the land title, Durany added.
Small said the Southgate-Wellington North project could, “generate $1 million a year to landowners,” and a “$215,000 tax base.”
Durany said the process of talking with landowners has gone well, referring to a question from councillor Sherry Burke about public concerns raised about turbine development locally.
“I wouldn’t say unfavourable,” Durany said of the responses he has had from people approached about signing contracts. “I would say people are more cautious about their neighbour’s reaction.”
Burke was told the company would supply council with maps showing the development area, but not individual lands where turbines might be erected.
“As a company we’re not going to disclose names.”
“We believe we’ve got enough,” Durany added, referring to landowners already signed up. “We’re comfortable with the land base we’ve got. It doesn’t mean we don’t want more landowners.”
It is unknown how many of the 80-metre high turbines will be part of the site. RES has yet to receive Ontario Power Authority approvals to connect to the system.
Small said no information on numbers has been discussed so far in the process.
Southgate CAO David Milliner said some 40 turbines could go up in his township if all approvals are met.
Mayor Ray Tout wondered who would be responsible for handling any emergency situations at a turbine site.
“If one of the turbines goes up in smoke, who is responsible and who pays?” the mayor asked.
Durany said he could not answer the inquiry, but said he would get it clarified.
He said the company plans to host public meetings on the development before the end of the year and will be making a presentation to Wellington County council later this year.
In a related matter, county councillors were expected to debate a “not a willing host” motion presented by councillor Lynda White at the May council meeting.
The motion, expected to be discussed at county council on June 27, is intended to indicate to the provincial government a municipality’s intention not to support turbine development within its boundary. Results of that discussion were not known by press time.
June 28, 2013
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