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LISTOWEL – Residents in the community are taking legal action against a proposed wind energy project for North Perth and Perth East in hopes of keeping the development out of their backyards.
A community meeting was held at the Listowel Agricultural Hall on March 28, where organizer Karen Galbraith spoke to residents on the development of a draft legal claim against Invenergy Canada. Seventeen property owners have already joined the draft legal claim, Galbraith said, which was initiated after a meeting with Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie last August. Gillespie has handled a number of cases against wind companies, fighting for residents who believe the proximity of wind turbines causes a drop in property value.
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Galbraith said the legal action is still very preliminary, but feels the interest from residents is encouraging.
“To have that amount of interest in a preliminary draft legal claim, is I think very positive for our community,” she said. “The more we have that can participate, it’s a stronger force against the whole project.”
In speaking with Gillespie, Galbraith said the preparation of a draft legal claim by communities has proved to make communities less attractive as hosts for wind projects, as the province aims to avoid unnecessary legal action.
“In his experience, there haven’t been any proposals go forward that had a legal claim against the particular contract,” Galbraith said.
In the meantime, Galbraith said the legal claim remains on hold until the Invenergy Canada project receives approval from the Ministry of the Environment to move ahead.
“If the proposal does get approved, the draft legal claim will be launched,” she said. “We hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does it’s my understanding that the draft legal claim will go ahead at the same time.”
The meeting also served as an update for residents on the status of the Invenergy Canada project, which has been re-submitted to the MOE after it was previously returned as incomplete. Warren Howard said the options for Invenergy to fulfill their Feed-In Tariff contract are limited, and include leasing more sites, increasing the size of turbines or moving to adjoining areas. However, the location of the connection grid remains an important factor.
“They can’t go too far west,” Howard said. “They’re pretty close to how far away they can be from the connection site.”
According to Howard, time isn’t on Invenergy’s side, as their FIT contract is expected to expire sometime this spring, at which point they have another 18 months to have a project built and connected to the grid, placing it somewhere in area of fall 2015.
“They don’t have a lot of time, they’re up against the wall,” Howard said.
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