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Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman calling on energy minister to make wind farm proposal transparent

Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman is calling on the minister of energy to make wind farm proposal processes more transparent to the public and specifically provide information requested about the local Gunn’s Hill wind farm proposal.

“Firstly, I would like to reiterate my position that it is unacceptable that approvals such as this one do not require municipal approval and public consent. In addition, applications can be changed without public involvement, as has happened with the Prowind application,” Hardeman wrote in the letter addressed to Bob Chiarelli, minister of energy.

“East Oxford Community Alliance, a community group opposing the Gunn’s Hill development, has found 26 pages of discrepancies, incomplete documents and inaccuracies yet the ministry has deemed the application complete.”

Hardeman also requested the minister explain why his office has not provided information on the grid connection change proposal, and provided concerns that his constituents are now engaged in costly and lengthy Freedom of Information requests.

Discrepancies and incomplete documents include what Prowind Canada Inc. spokesperson Juan Anderson calls a “small administrative error” of inverting the digits of a location for one turbine proposed for the now 18-megawatt project.

The error located on the paper plans puts one of the turbines about 26 metres from what would be its physical location if the proposal receives approval.

In addition to this error, a previous noise study was included when the proposal was officially changed to reflect the use of a different wind turbine model than the original application. The change of wind turbine model decreases the megawatts of the project from 25 megawatts to 18 megawatts.

Anderson explained as the size of the turbines decreased, so did the noise impact of the project, so public comment did not to be reopened.

“We waited for the ministry’s direction on how to correct the fact we did not have the correct noise report. We actually asked to post for public comment. We re-opened public comment to Aug. 8,” he said.

Anderson explained the change in turbine models came when it was realized the small project might be waitlisted and not able to get the blades when needed.

At the same time, the turbine models were changed, Prowind changed its proposal regarding how the project would connect to the electrical grid.

Originally the project would be cabled to the nearest transmission station, near Woodstock. Now the connection site is much closer and does not require cabling.

The East Oxford Community Alliance has a pending Freedom of Information request regarding correspondence between the Ministry of Energy, Hydro One, and the Ontario Power Authority.

As of most recent correspondence, the request will cost almost $800 to complete and take an additional five months to prepare.

“We can’t get our hands on any document the proponent says is complete and accurate … everything has changed and its no longer the same project. This should be concerning to the public and it makes it difficult to provide public input when all the information is not there,” Joan Morris from the East Oxford Community Alliance said.