The Ministry of the Environment has granted approval to a wind turbine project in the township.
IPC Energy announced the approval Monday. The project, a collaboration between Loeffen Farms and Rankin construction, will see a nine megawatt wind farm built in the township. A total of five turbines will be built.
“We are pleased to advance this project into the long anticipated construction phase of development,” said John Andrews, president of IPC Energy, in a press release.
IPC Energy has been awaiting the final Renewable Energy Approval for months, and now that its been granted construction is expected to begin sometime this month. With REA approval, IPC Energy will now be filing a motion to proceed with the Ontario Power Authority.
The project is expected to create enough electricity to power 1,400 homes, producing 25 million kWh per year.
“It has been an extremely rigorous and complex process that will ultimately positively serve all Ontarians by investing in our future energy needs using private capital in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Tom Lewis, project manager at IPC Energy.
Speaking with The Leader, Lewis said construction on the roadways, culverts and other infrastructure will begin as soon as possible. He expects the turbines to be operational in early 2014.
“We’re looking at the first quarter of next year,” he said.
The turbines are currently being stored in Welland.
The project has been a controversial one, with staunch opposition from many residents and the township council. Earlier this year the township declared itself an unwilling host to turbine projects.
“We’re not happy about it at all,” said Wainfleet mayor April Jeffs.
While many expected the project to go ahead, Jeffs said she remained optimistic it would be denied.
Within the approval were a number of stipulations that must be followed. The proponents will be required to carry out an acoustic emission audit for sound levels emitted by the project. There will also have to be pre- and post construction natural heritage monitoring, including for birds and bat populations.
Proponents will also be required to forward any complaints about adverse effects surrounding the project’s construction or operation.
There’s also a stipulation that requires Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. to retain a consultant to work with Skydive Burnaby to develop and implement measures to mitigate any issues that arise.
Jeffs said she was disappointed by the strength of the stipulations, especially the Skydive Burnaby stipulation.
“I don’t think it’s enough,” she said.
There’s a 15-day appeal window, and the township will consider appealing, Jeffs said. However, an appeal wouldn’t stop construction.
Despite it looking bleak from the township’s point of view, Jeffs said she’s not going to give up the fight.
“I don’t want to walk away from other municipalities who are potentially facing the same thing,” she said.
The township could also be facing another six or seven turbines if a Niagara Region Wind Corporation proposal is approved.
Lewis said he hopes the final approval will let people move on with the project. The application process has been three years, and Lewis said the public has had ample opportunity to be involved.
“I think the process we followed has been very rigorous and has allowed the opinions of the public to be made,” he said
“There are many benefits, not just to the host community, but to the province of Ontario…It’s something I’m proud to be associated with.
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