MILLBROOK – Met by an angry crowd and a team of disapproving Cavan Monaghan Township councillors, the developer of a proposed wind farm was sent a clear message on Tuesday (Sept. 3).
In town to make a delegation to the Township regarding a five-turbine wind farm that would overlook the Devil’s Elbow skill hill area and a new subdivision, developer Martin Ince needed a police escort to help him get past nearly 200 people blocking the doors to the building. Inside, councillors voted to set aside $500,000 from lottery reserves in case the Township ends up in court over the issue.
While the Township has identified itself as an unwilling host for a wind farm, the Feed in Tariff (FIT) agreement for the Stoneboat Community Wind Farm project doesn’t need municipal approval. Mr. Ince acquired the FIT contract from the group behind the Whispering Winds wind farm – a contentious wind farm planned for the Manvers area that was eventually dropped.
New legislation created after the FIT was granted now stipulates companies need to build wind farms with approval from host municipalities.
Mr. Ince didn’t say how he acquired the FIT contract but says Whispering Winds representatives have shares the Stoneboat project.
The five industrial wind turbines proposed for the area, which also straddles the City of Kawartha Lakes, can produce up to 10 megawatts of electricity under the contract, which is sold back to the grid at 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
In all, the project is expected to cost $30 million with most of the investment carried by banks, Mr. Ince says. He’s also looking for roughly $5 million in community investment, though if there’s no interest he doesn’t plan on canning the project.
He says the project would also include revenue-sharing with the Township and neighbouring landowners. So far, he says he’s made agreements with three landowners.
Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden requested Mr. Ince make the financial status of the company public. When asked if Mr. Ince had any assets in the Stoneboat project, he didn’t give a specific answer, stating it was not necessarily a topic that needed to be discussed publicly.
“We’re talking about a $30-million project in our community that’s contentious,” Coun. McFadden says. “If you don’t have any assets in your company, we’ve got a problem.”
Mr. Ince agreed to provide financial records to the Township.
Coun. McFadden is also concerned the wind farm could block other local green energy projects, with the farm estimated to run at 30 per cent efficiency. The other 70 per cent would be lost, he says, though it will be tied up in the wind farm’s FIT contract.
“I support green energy, however there are renewable energy sources that can directly replace coal,” he says, adding wind farms don’t have the capability to take over for coal-generated power. “If there are areas that want industrial wind turbines, then my suggestion to you sir, is to take them there, because we don’t want them.”
The wind farm must be built and ready to hook up to the Province’s power grid by 2016, before the FIT contract expires. Mr. Ince says he hopes to start construction by the summer of 2015 at the latest.
Each of the six turbines would be roughly 480-feet tall.
Mayor John Fallis asked Mr. Ince to wait to go ahead with the project until a federal study on health impacts related to living near wind turbines was complete. Mr. Ince says he isn’t looking to put his project on hold.
In addition to putting money aside for a legal fund, councillors voted to start putting together an expert legal team and get in touch with the municipalities against wind farms for assistance. In a recorded vote, Mayor John Fallis was the only to vote against the plan. The Mayor instead suggested an amendment to drop the transfer of funds to $100,000 to give staff time to prepare a report on the Township’s finances and to consider the 2014 budget. No other councillors were interested in supporting the amendment.
Graham Hawkridge, a member of the wind concerns group, says Cavan Monaghan residents aren’t the only group to oppose wind turbines.
“We don’t want them anywhere,” he says. “No rural people do…Property values go through the toilet.”
He says the tops of the wind turbines are filled with hydraulic oil, which poses a threat to the surrounding environment.
“If one of those things explodes, that hydraulic oil goes directly into the Oak Ridges Moraine,” he says. “It’s not that we’re being selfish here.”
When asked why he’s adamant on moving ahead with the project, Mr. Ince says he’s an environmentalist and engineer who supports green energy. He’s also concerned about what the planet will look like for his children and grandchildren, he says.
“We have trouble understanding that change has to happen,” he says.
While he doesn’t live near a wind turbine, he says he’d be happy to.
Mr. Ince plans to hold a public meeting on the proposed wind farms in October.
Deputy Mayor McFadden is also hosting a townhall meeting on the issue on Thursday (Sept. 5) at the Township offices from 7 to 10 p.m.
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