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Lakeside wind farm approved, with conditions

Wind energy giant NextEra Energy Canada has the green light from Ontario’s Environment Ministry for a $300-million wind farm in South Huron and Bluewater municipalities near the Lake Huron shoreline.

The Goshen Wind Energy Centre will involve the construction of about 60 wind turbines with a capacity of 102 megawatts.

Both South Huron and Bluewater councils have passed resolutions declaring themselves unwilling hosts for industrial wind farms, but the Goshen project predates changes to the Ontario government’s policies that require companies show local support in order to win a government contract.

A spokesperson for NextEra said construction of Goshen will start in the next few weeks with site preparation, road construction and excavation of foundation sites.

The company estimates there will be 300 construction workers on the project at the peak.

The Goshen and Grand Bend Wind Farm, a project that also has been approved but is being appealed, have both drawn opposition from people concerned wind turbines will interfere with the migration of tundra swans.

NextEra said in an e-mail it has sited its projects to minimize the impact to the natural environment, including the tundra swans.

There also has been concern raised the Goshen wind farm could interfere with Environment Canada’s weather radar eight kilometres east of Exeter.

In approving Goshen, the Environment Ministry stipulated NextEra must work with Environment Canada to ensure the radar system’s ability to detect and monitor extreme weather is not adversely affected by the facility.

In its move into the London region, Florida-based NextEra Energy took over and developed several wind farms originally planned by other companies.

Its Bluewater Wind Energy Centre north of Grand Bend started commercial operation this month, while the Bornish wind farm near Parkhill and Adelaide Wind Energy Centre near Strathroy are in final stages of construction.

NextEra also has started construction of the Jericho Wind Energy Centre in Lambton County. It operates two solar farms as well.

In approving the Goshen project, the Environment Ministry set down a number of conditions, including that construction be complete within three years and a community liaison committee be established with members from the public and company.

NextEra also has agreed to establish a “community vibrancy fund” to support projects that will benefit local residents.