The company proposing to build a wind energy project on Amherst Island has made a significant modification to the plan.
In a report to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change last week, Windlectric Inc. announced it would decrease the number of turbines and alter the collection lines it plans to build on the island.
Opponents of the project say the change is a major alteration and will require additional study and evaluation.
“This is without a doubt a significant change,” said Association to Protect Amherst Island board member Denise Wolfe, who moved to the island in 2007 and renovated a 250-year-old house. “The turbine models have been changed to new models that are known to produce high levels of low frequency noise and infrasound.”
The fourth modification to the project, filed last week, would see the number of turbines reduced from as many as 36 to 27.
“This modification is proposed as a result of reviewing design features on the project layout in an effort to reduce the project’s footprint,” the company stated in a report about the modification.
To compensate for the smaller numbers and to meet energy production targets, Windlectric is proposing to use higher-power turbines.
The original mix of 21 2.300 megawatt turbines and 15 2.221 megawatt turbines is to change to a combination of 12 2.942 megawatt turbines and 15 2.772 megawatt turbines.
“The new turbines would be physically identical to the previously proposed model, specifically with a hub height of 99.5 metres and rotor diameter of 113 metres,” Windlectric’s report stated. “All of these 27 turbine sites are in previously studied and proposed locations.”
In addition to the reduced number of turbines, Windlectric proposed changes to the collector lines connecting the turbines to a substation.
The collection line changes would eliminate about 4 km of trenching along roadways, including through the village of Stella.
Wolfe said the changes to the collector routes along the south shore and between the 2nd and 3rd concessions will mean modification to the construction routes and a revised traffic-management plan.
In its immediate response to the modification last week, APAI said the latest modification doesn’t go far enough.
“While the reduction of the size of the project is a welcome development, this decrease in the number of turbines does not adequately respond to the concerns of the community regarding the natural and cultural heritage,” the association stated in a response to Windlectric’s announcement.
In the two years since the project was officially proposed, APAI has consistently complained about what it says is a lack of information from the company, study by provincial government and opportunity for meaningful public comment.
“The voice of residents expressing their concerns about the proximity of a proposed concrete plant, high-voltage substation and high-density truck route to the island school and community centre have not been heard,” last week’s APAI release stated.
“Although the reduction of the number of turbines is a relief for some, there is a huge sense of frustration from the opponents of the project because, again, Windlectric failed to address the thousands of comments and, after more than two years, there is almost no sign that they will be considered.”
“This is one more amendment that does not address the many study deficiencies previously identified,” Wolfe said. “Windlectric has again failed to consider Amherst Island as a whole, as an interconnected landscape and community. While the number of turbines has been reduced by nine, the proposed wind plant will nonetheless devastate our historic landscape, the habitat for the island’s numerous species at risk and species of concern, and compromise the health and safety of many islanders.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding