The Green Energy Act’s ability to trump other legislation is a problem across Ontario, but Melancthon is home to a worse case scenario according to Jim Wilson, interim leader of the Official Opposition.
Wilson, a Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey, joined Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones and Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill for a tour of wind farm installations in north Dufferin on Friday (Oct. 17).
“I think this is the worst case I’ve seen and I’ve been on a number of tours of wind farms,” Wilson said.
Dufferin Wind, and its construction of a 230 kV transmission line from its 49-turbine wind farm drew the most criticism from the interim leader.
Wilson questioned the company’s placement of utility poles and the possibility of ground water contamination.
Earlier this summer, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) asked Dufferin Wind to revise those plans after a local resident argued some of its utility pole foundations could act as conduits for surface water pollutants to enter the groundwater supply.
“As a former minister of the environment, I can’t believe they’re getting away with not putting the poles in the ground properly and properly protecting the environment and ground water,” Wilson said. “You don’t have a very good corporate citizen in terms of Dufferin Wind. It is disappointing what we’ve seen.”
For Dufferin Wind, the company would have liked to join Wilson on the tour.
“It is regrettable that Dufferin Wind Power was not asked to participate in the tour so that we could provide more up-to-date and accurate information, especially regarding Mr. Wilson’s environmental concerns,” said Dufferin Wind spokesperson Connie Roberts. “It seems he was not given the latest, or the most accurate, information.”
Roberts noted the company’s 306 utility poles have provincial approval and exceed regulations.
“These mitigation actions by Dufferin Wind Power show an abundance of caution to prevent a very unlikely event, and we can find no other instance in the province of Ontario of another power installation that is taking the same precautionary measures,” Roberts said. “In my mind, that is just one example of being a good corporate citizen. At every step of the way DWP has been scrutinized and has met every legislative requirement for this project.”
Dufferin Wind has agreed to address the possibility these caissons could transfer surface pollutants, such as fertilizers, into the bedrock.
“The ministry has found no evidence to suggest that negative impacts to the local potable water aquifer are occurring,” MOE spokesperson Kate Jordan said in a previous email to The Banner.
Wilson claimed projects like wind farms are able to use the GEA to defeat other regulations.
“If it’s a wind project or a project under the Green Energy Act, everything else of common sense gets ignored in the government,” he said.
Wilson also claimed the Green Energy Act is designed to override the rights of municipalities.
“They can tell you where to put your shed, but they can’t tell you where to put a 150-metre high wind turbine,” he said.
Ironically, Wilson was the first Minister of Energy to introduce windmills to Ontario.
“We’re not against renewable energy as the PC Party, but our policy has always been these things should only be located in communities where they’re welcome and wanted,” he said.
The tour of Melancthon will help fuel a drive to reintroduce private members bills to return planning rights to municipalities.
“(The Liberal Government) doesn’t want to change the Green Energy Act. We have to make them understand there are repercussions,” Jones said. “Lets make sure they don’t override other legislative protections.”
Seeing those private members bills become law won’t be an easy task, Jones admitted.
“I don’t delude myself when we have a Liberal majority government that they will change their philosophy,” she said.
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