A Conservative senator is joining the chorus of opposition to the advancement of a controversial wind energy project on Amherst Island.
Sen. Bob Runciman, a former Leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, said the decision to deem Windlectric Inc.’s Amherst Island Renewable Energy Approval application complete is a “dereliction of duty” by the provincial environment ministry.
“The government is riding roughshod over local objections, including by the duly elected council of Loyalist Township, and ignoring that this is one of the most critical areas for birds in North America, and home to 34 species at risk,” Runciman said in a release Friday afternoon.
The energy created by wind projects like the one proposed for Amherst Island has created a surplus of electricity that is being sold off to neighbouring provinces and states at a fraction of the cost of generation, Runciman said.
Windlectric Inc. is proposing to build a 36-turbine, 75-megawatt wind energy project on Amherst Island.
The public has 65 days – until March 8 – to file comments about the Amherst Island proposal.
Opponents of the project call this the technical review phase, during which the different reports filed by the company in support of the development are reviewed.
Michele Le Lay, a member of the board of the Association to Protect Amherst Island, said the project should not even have made it to this point in the process.
“We think this project has so many deficiencies, it should not have been deemed complete,” Le Lay said.
“We’re not surprised. It’s the process. We’re surprised because we think it is not completed.”
In October, Loyalist Township passed a resolution that would reject “incomplete” renewable energy project applications.
Loyalist Township currently has six renewable energy projects in the works.
Le Lay said the company has not properly explained how it would avoid hurting 34 endangered species or damage more than 100 heritage properties on the island.
Last year, a nine-turbine wind project at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County was denied by the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) because the site, like Amherst Island, is home to Blanding’s turtles.
On Thursday, in its 2013 Electricity Data report, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) showed that the amount of electricity produced by wind energy projects in the province doubled between 2009 and 2013.
The report showed annual production of electricity by wind energy projects in Ontario increased from 2.3 terawatts in 2009 to 5.2 terawatts in 2013, enough energy to meet the electricity needs of 550,000 homes in Ontario.
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