Several Ontario communities, including two in Essex County, are taking a stand against wind turbines but risk losing potentially millions of dollars in revenue.
Cash-strapped Amherstburg council declared the town an “unwilling host” for wind turbine projects and is potentially turning away big bucks from future developers in property tax revenue and payments turbine operators make to towns per unit.
Lakeshore gets $100,000 in property tax revenue from its 120 wind turbines and will receive $4 million over 20 years in annual payments made by the wind turbine companies per unit to the municipality, said Steve Salmons, Lakeshore’s director of community and development services.
“It’s been a financial windfall for us,” Salmons said. “We also have $1 million in road improvements and repairs (developers made) that wouldn’t have gotten to.”
Lakeshore council is “open for business” when it comes to wind turbines. Salmons estimated the turbines will have a $7 million economic impact on the town including lease payments made to land owners. Amherstburg Coun. Diane Pouget is unconvinced by the financial benefits. “We don’t know what the health issues are associated with (wind turbines). We have asked for no further wind turbines to come into our community until we receive all of the (health) information.”
While the town may be passing up sources of revenue, Pouget said health and safety are a paramount concern for council. She said it was her understanding that Ontario pays the U.S. to take its power when it has generated too much, partly because there is no way to store renewable energy The federal government is doing a study on the health effects of wind turbine noise and results are due next year.
In Kingsville, wind turbines bring about $45,000 in property tax revenue annually into town coffers, chief administrative officer Dan DiGiovanni said. The topic of wind turbines has split the community, DiGiovanni said. People in the northern part of town seemed to support them, while residents living closer to Lake Erie are opposed. Council supported and endorsed the town of Wainfleet as an unwilling host for wind turbines but hasn’t passed its own separate motion, said Coun. Tarama Stomp, who wants the town to follow Amherstburg’s lead.
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