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Developer behind Sydenham wind centre proposal pulls out

One of the first wind turbine project proposals in Lambton County appears to have pulled up stakes and left.

Michael Schnare, administrator-clerk of Dawn-Euphemia Township, said landowners who had signed leases with the Sydenham Wind Energy Centre received letters recently from the developer saying the project is not going ahead.

“Mainsteam is no longer an active proponent here,” Schnare said.

“They’re gone.”

While the township hasn’t received official word from the company, landowners who signed leases allowing turbines to be built by Mainstream on their property received letters saying “they don’t think they could make a viable application under the new rules for energy procurement,” he said.

Those landowners include Mayor Bill Bilton, who signed a lease several years ago.

Bilton said the letter he received a few weeks ago from the company said “they were terminating the project” and releasing landowners from their leases.

“Wind mills have gotten to be such a controversial subject, it doesn’t really disappoint me,” the mayor said.

“When it comes right down to it, if somebody came along today, I’d take a long time before I’d sign again.”

Bilton said he always declared a conflict of interest when wind energy issues came up at municipal council meetings.

The long-time mayor ran and won a spot as a councillor in Monday’s municipal election. He stepped aside when long-time councillor Alan Broad decided to run for township mayor. Broad was acclaimed mayor and the new council is scheduled to officially take office Dec. 1.

First proposed in 2008 by IPC Energy, the plan to build between 29 and 37 electricity-generating turbines in Dawn-Euphemia was later taken up by the Dublin-based company Mainstream Renewable Power.

As recently as March 2013, Mainstream officials were still pursuing the project that missed out on the initial rounds of wind energy contracts from the province.

In 2013, wind developer rpGlobal informed the township it wasn’t moving ahead with its plans for a 32-turbine wind project in the community.

That came shortly after the township joined other municipalities in Ontario declaring themselves unwilling hosts for wind projects.

That left Mainstream’s Sydenham Wind Energy Centre as the only active proposed turbine project in Dawn-Euphemia.

“They were the first that started here in 2008, and they’ve been off and on for years now,” Schnare said.

Township resident Ann Towell was part of a citizens’ group in Dawn-Euphemia that began opposing the wind project soon after it was announced.

Towell said she spread the word about the company’s latest decision to members of the group after hearing the news recently from a township councillor.

“Everybody was quite thrilled,” she said.

“I was so glad we started fighting it in 2008, otherwise we would have had them up by now.”

Officials with Mainstream Renewable Power did not respond to several e-mail requests for comment.

In the years since the Sydenham wind project was proposed, a small four-turbine wind farm built in Brooke-Alvinston joined the 10 turbines near Kettle Point that were the first built in Lambton County.

More recently, the 92-turbine Jericho wind project was approved for Lambton Shores and Warwick Township, and it now being built.

Also, Suncor has received provincial environmental approval to build 46 turbines in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.

The provincial approval for Suncor’s Cedar Point wind project is the subject of an appeal set to be heard in November by Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.

The tribunal recently dismissed an appeal of the Jericho project’s provincial approval.