Suncor Energy and the Town of Plympton-Wyoming are at odds again over a wind turbine bylaw.
Jody Hood, a manager of development and engineering with Suncor Energy, raised concerns at a recent town council meeting over a bylaw passed in 2014 to regulate wind turbine noise.
Some 27 of the 46 wind turbines Suncor plans to build as part of its Cedar Point wind project would be located in Plympton-Wyoming.
“The noise limits related to our wind operations are regulated by the province,” said Suncor spokesperson Jason Vaillant.
“We certainly intend to operate within those limits.”
Vaillant said “from a technical perspective” the bylaw would prevent wind turbines from operating in the municipality.
“Although, it’s not the bylaws that govern our project,” he added. “That approval comes from the province.”
Ontario granted environment approval in August for Suncor’s wind energy project in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township. Appeals of that approval are currently being heard by Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.
Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper said the noise bylaw was written in consultation with a lawyer, and added that it follows the province’s regulations.
“But, we added the low level sounds,” Napper added.
“We’re fairly confident about it. We think that it’s something that needed to be addressed.”
Napper said council asked the Suncor representative to put the company’s concerns in writing and to return to council at an upcoming meeting.
“We’ll look at it at that time, and see what the concerns are.”
Napper said he hopes the municipality and company don’t end up in court over the bylaw.
“I would think that it’s something they should be able to live with,” he said.
“They say they can’t build a turbine with that in there, but I think you’ve got to protect your people somehow.”
Napper said having a bylaw in place will allow the municipality to act on wind turbine noise complaints it may receive in the future.
Vaillant said the company wants “to better understand the concerns of Plympton-Wyoming as it relates to noise, and that’s the conversation that we’ll continue to have.”
Last year, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in Suncor’s favour when it took Plympton-Wyoming to court over bylaws attempting to limit where wind turbines could be built, and setting fees that included a $200,000 per turbine deposit.
The company also turned to the court in the fall after efforts to take out building permits in Plympton-Wyoming stalled.
“It’s an important relationship for us,” Vaillant said.
“We’re committed to continuing that dialogue and looking for ways to resolve this issue with the community and the municipality.”
Vaillant said Suncor plans to meet again with council.
“That would not be our intention,” Vaillant said about the possibility of Suncor taking legal action against the latest bylaw.
“It’s really about continuing the conversation.”
Vaillant said Suncor is still finalizing construction plans for the project, but expects it could be underway in the first quarter of this year.
“We are committed to the project,” he said.
Under the renewable energy contract Suncor received from the province, the Cedar Point project must be built and operating in 2016, or the company could face penalties.
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