NextEra Energy, the Florida-based company that built the 92-turbine Jericho wind project in Lambton Shores and Warwick Township, has a new wind project on the drawing board for Lambton County.
The company recently informed officials in Warwick Township and Brooke-Alvinston Township that it is exploring developing a project called the Hardy Creek Wind Energy Centre in the two Lambton municipalities, and Adelaide-Metcalf Township in neighbouring Middlesex County.
Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan said NextEra officials are scheduled to speak to township council on Thursday.
“It will get our community pretty well worked up,” he said.
A four-turbine wind project is already operating in Brooke-Alvinston, but the municipal council there is among the many across Ontario that have passed motions declaring their community an “unwilling host” for wind energy projects.
“But, they can still come and they can still put the towers up,” McGugan said.
“We can’t stop them.”
Ontario’s Green Energy Act put all of the approvals for renewable energy projects in the province’s hands.
NextEra Energy contacted the municipalities by letter in February about its Hardy Creek Wind Energy Centre proposal, but few details are known yet, including the number of turbines planned, McGugan said.
But, the company did say the proposed turbines would be in northeast Brooke-Alvinston, in an area of the community with a “relatively low population,” McGugan added.
Warwick Mayor Todd Case said staff there are meeting with NextEra officials and gathering information.
“We really don’t know a lot about this project,” Case said.
“We’ll have to see what they have in mind, and then as a council we’ll have to sit down and deal with it.”
Warwick also declared itself an unwilling host.
“We have not changed our viewpoint on that, one little bit,” Case said.
McGugan said the company has indicated the possibility of reaching a community agreement with Brooke-Alvinston.
“I don’t know what that means, other than it would be money for the municipality, but we have no idea how much,” McGugan said.
He said more information about the company’s plan is expected to be known over time, and NextEra has said it will hold public open houses later this spring.
“There will be no vote on Thursday from council,” McGugan said.
“They’re not going to get into details yet. There will be no money on the table.”
NextEra is one of several companies qualified to submit proposals for Ontario’s upcoming round of new large renewable energy contracts, expected to be awarded later this year.
McGugan said he doesn’t know, at this point, what position his township council will take on NextEra’s plan, but added Brooke-Alvinston is a rural municipality with no industrial development and a shrinking assessment base.
At the same time, the amount of money it receives from the provincial government’s Ontario Municipal Partnership fund is dropping.
“Somewhere, these rural municipalities have got to find dollars to survive,” he said.
Case said Warwick Township has been working with the owners of the Twin Creeks Landfill near Watford on a proposal to generate electricity from landfill gas.
He added Warwick council would like to see that “true environmentally friendly” project given space on the Ontario electricity grid, over another wind project.
“We don’t see wind turbines as being the best environmental option for the Warwick area,” Case said.