After the vote, Monica Elmes, spokesperson for the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, said her organization had warned that previous projects would set a precedent. “We told them at least eight years ago how this was all going to unfold when they opened the gates and it certainly has,” she said. “I can't tell you how depressing it is to deal with more and more people having negative impacts.”
Noting the initiative would bring many benefits to the municipality, Chatham-Kent council offered its support to the North Kent Wind Project on Monday.
Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Renewable Holdings proposed the two-phase project, which is planned for the former Dover and Chatham townships.
Staff presented a report, passed by council, recommending that Chatham-Kent declare itself a willing host, with municipalities no longer being the approval authority for wind projects.
John Norton, the municipality’s chief legal officer, said there would be a $4-million community benefit contribution at the completion of key project milestones for the first phase of the project.
“Those funds will flow to the municipality to be used as this council determines for the benefit of the community,” he said.
Entegrus also plans to enter into an agreement to purchase 15% equity interest.
North Kent 1, the first phase, is approximately 100 megawatts and consists of 40-50 turbines, depending on the final configuration.
North Kent 2, which is dependent upon an award by the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator, would be between 50-100 megawatts and between 20-40 turbines.
It is estimated that the property tax revenue for the combined project would be approximately $250,000 per year.
Chatham Coun. Bob Myers said the municipality needs to capitalize on wind energy, given the increasing financial pressures combined with the desire to hold the line on taxes.
“We can’t sustain that,” he said. “We need to have more revenue.”
Myers believes the province’s Green Energy Act could be improved in some parts, but that future generations must be considered with respect to ensuring there is clean energy available.
South Kent Coun. Trevor Thompson said there is a good chance the project would move ahead even if council didn’t give its blessing and that it could potentially be without the incentives.
“It’s a good deal for Chatham-Kent. We could do a lot with the $4 million,” he said. “If it was me, I’d probably stand on principle, but I think I have to little bit more pragmatic.”
The North Kent Wind Project is subject to the Renewable Energy Approval process, which evaluates environmental, social and archaeological impacts.
There will also be public consultation with feedback sought from the municipality, First Nations, residents and businesses.
Mayor Randy Hope said Chatham-Kent has been on the forefront of wind energy in recent years.
However, he said there are valid concerns that the municipality is nearing the limit as far as turbine saturation.
Hope also believes residents in communities that are willing hosts for projects should be rewarded on their electrical bill.
“Every resident should receive a benefit for playing a role and responsibility,” he said.
Jim Hogan, president and CEO of Entegrus, said outside council chambers that his organization looks forward being a part of the North Kent Wind Project.
“Here’s a great opportunity for us to keep some of the funds here in our community and support Chatham-Kent,” he said.
Samsung and Pattern were also behind the construction of the 270-watt South Kent Wind Project in the Blenheim area.
Several speakers gave deputations earlier in the evening offering their support for the wind farm.
“Our community needs this project,” Scott Ewing said, adding that it will help farmers and allow Chatham-Kent to keep property taxes down.
After the vote, Monica Elmes, spokesperson for the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, said her organization had warned that previous projects would set a precedent.
“We told them at least eight years ago how this was all going to unfold when they opened the gates and it certainly has,” she said. “I can’t tell you how depressing it is to deal with more and more people having negative impacts.”
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