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Single-turbine wind project in Mapleton raises concerns in Minto

It may be just one turbine, but a proposed wind energy project in Mapleton has two neighboring municipalities and the local member of provincial parliament raising concerns.

Willem Roubos plans to erect a single 0.5 megawatt turbine on his property located at Lot 2, Concession 13 in Mapleton. The proposal was posted to the Environmental Registry on Nov. 5 and the public consultation period ended on Dec. 20.

At the Feb. 13 council meeting, Minto CAO Bill White reported on the proposed development.

White noted the turbine would be located two kilometres south and east of Teviotdale, just 2.8km from the North Wellington Aviation Services private airport near the hamlet.

The proposal consists of one turbine located on the property fronting on Concession 13 in Mapleton, about one lot east of Wellington Road 109.

“A public open house was held Jan. 23, 2012 regarding this project. Staff is not aware of the town being advised of this meeting. It appears North Perth found out about the project through concerned residents,” White stated in his report.

A Dec. 19 letter from the Municipality of North Perth to the Ministry of Environment raises a number of concerns with the project.

“The proposal involves a single turbine owned by an individual and the project documentation provides no indication that this individual has any experience in managing or operating a complex electrical generating facility,” states the letter, which also suggests a staffing plan or monitoring and response plan should be provided.

“While the facility will operate according to specifications at the outset, North Perth is looking to ensure that arrangements are in place to operate and maintain the facility through its operating life,” the letter continues.

A Jan. 15 letter from Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece to environment minister Jim Bradley presented at the council meeting reminds the minister that Mapleton, Minto and North Perth have all passed resolutions stating they are not willing hosts for industrial wind turbine projects.

“To date, your government has refused to take concerns seriously and take action to stop these projects where the host communities do not welcome them,” Pettapiece states in the letter. “Will you take action to stop this project from proceeding?”

Mapleton council dealt with the issue at its Nov. 12 meeting, at which a report from Mapleton CAO Patty Sinnamon noted, “I have discussed the file with the ministry and it is my understanding that consideration has been given to the fact that there is a small airport in close proximity (Teviotdale) to the subject property and that the appropriate authorities do not consider this to be a risk,” she stated.

Sinnamon said at the time she anticipated that “at the very least” Mapleton would require the applicant to enter into a road access agreement with the municipality, similar to the one entered into with NextEra for the Conestogo Wind Energy Centre in Mapleton.

Noting a report on the project was entitled, “Wind farm proposal …” Mapleton councillor Mike Downey questioned the use of that terminology.

“Should it even be called a wind farm? It’s a wind facility, but it’s not multiples,” Downey stated.

Mapleton councillor Jim Curry pointed out the project was in the works long before wind farms became a high-profile issue in this area.

“This is old,” said Curry. “We gave approval to this years ago.”

White’s report raised several concerns from a Minto perspective.

“There are currently new rules being considered by the province for large renewable energy projects, but this one may be ‘under the wire’ in that it has been initiated prior to the June 2013 moratorium,” White pointed out. “A secondary concern is the impact of the proposal on North Wellington Aviation Services operations, given the turbine is less than three kilometres from the airport.

“According to Roubos’ summary a radio communication and radar study is to be performed and consultation will occur. To date, this information does not appear to be available.”

At the Feb. 18 meeting, Minto council was provided with information from the Roubos website addressing some of the public concerns expressed at the Jan. 23, 2012 public open house at the Moorefield Community Centre.

The document points out, “a radio communications and radar study will be performed for the Roubos Wind Farm. As part of the study, Nav Canada and any relevant civilian airfields will be consulted to ensure acceptable interference does not occur.”

The document also states the wind farm is located “well beyond the mandated setbacks,” and that “the impact of wind turbines on the landscape is subjective; some individuals find them pleasing while others disagree.”

The project has been awarded a Feed-in Tarrif contract for 20 years.

“Wind turbines usually have a useful life of 20 years,” the document notes.

Minto council agreed to receive the CAO’s report and provide support for Pettapiece’s letter to the minister. Council also agreed to advise North Perth of their support.