Faced with appeals against its $380-million project hugging the Lake Huron shoreline, the developer of the Grand Bend Wind Farm is applying the brakes.
Preliminary work for the wind farm will likely start later this year, but major construction won’t begin until the appeals are settled, said Gord Potts, director of business development for Northland Power.
“Our company policy is not to do much during an appeal process,” Potts said Wednesday.
Work likely will be limited to clearing sites, building access roads and preparing to install transmission lines, he said.
“I wouldn’t expect we will see any foundation work for turbines or anything like that.”
The appeal process is expected to take about six months.
If it wins against the appeals, Northland anticipates the Grand Bend Wind Farm will start commercial operation in 2016.
The farm is a joint project of Toronto-based Northland Power and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation at Sarnia and Bkejwanong First Nation at Walpole.
It was given the green light by the Ontario Ministry of Energy in late June, but the approval can be appealed to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal.
On Monday the municipal council of Bluewater, where the majority of the 40 wind turbines will be located, voted to file an appeal.
Potts said Northland Power had hoped the project wouldn’t be appealed given the failure of all but one appeal against other wind farms in Ontario.
That single victory is now being challenged in the courts.
“One would think that after a while those opposed would lose their appetite to fight this fight, but they haven’t yet,” Potts said.
Bluewater Municipality has retained Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie to file its appeal by the deadline of Saturday.
Bluewater is already home to a wind farm in the final stages of construction by NextEra Energy Canada. Other wind farms are planned east and south of Grand Bend by NextEra.
Steve McAuley, chief administrative officer of Bluewater Municipality, said the municipal council has repeatedly informed the Ontario government it doesn’t want wind farms and was one of the first in the province to declare itself an unwilling host for turbines.
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GRAND BEND WIND FARM
40-turbine project in Huron County municipalities of South Huron and Bluewater.
About 2,400 hectares.
Total capacity of 100 megawatts.
Expected to employ 150 people at peak construction with six to eight full-time employees after it starts operating.
Original plans called for 48 turbines, but scaled back to 40.
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