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North Frontenac rejects wind turbine project

On June 10th, North Frontenac Council passed a resolution declaring the township an “unwilling host” for the NextEra wind power projects, nothPoint 1 and Northpoint 2. It was a unanimous vote among the 7 member Council.

The company had offered a sweetener for municipal support for the project, in the form of a community vibrancy fund that would have been worth as much as $200,000 per year for 20 years, in addition to a projected increase in tax revenue of more than $100,000 per year. The money was available under two conditions: the township needed to pass a motion supporting the project; and NextEra’s bid for the project needs to be a winner in the procurement process that has been set out by Ontario’s Independent Energy Service Operator (IESO).

The motion that was proposed to Council at a Special meeting on Wednesday night (June 10) was crafted by Mayor Ron Higgins, and when contacted on Tuesday he said that he has been talking to members of Council about the NextEra proposal and is confident his stance will be endorsed by the entire Council.

“There were many red flags about this proposal as far as North Frontenac is concerned, starting with the fact that instead of being approached by the company we initially read about it in the newspaper in early March. It also involves major construction and conflicts with the entirely different economic development strategy we have been developing,” he said. “and beyond that our residents have voiced their opposition in large numbers.”

The NextEra bid to IESO can proceed without municipal support; however the statement that North Frontenac is not a willing host will cost NextEra valuable ranking points in the procurement process, which will make it difficult for them to compete with bidders in “willing” townships

While the municipal support provision was included in the latest wind energy procurement process to provide for some local input, it does not go as far as granting municipalities any authority to approve or reject proposals.

In spite of Council’s decision, NextEra could still submit a winning bid, and the turbines would be built in North Frontenac. In that case all that North Frontenac Council will have accomplished by stating they were “not a willing host” will be to lose up to $10 million in revenue over 20 years.

It is this fact that led North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins to write a letter of complaint to Premier Wynne.

“Ultimately it is the way the province set up this process that has put us in this position. I thought it was important to explain our position to them and to add our voice to those municipalities who oppose the way the Green Energy Act has been formulated and implemented,” said Higgins about the letter.

The letter asks the Premier and the Minister of Energy to change course and begin to work with local municipalities more directly.

In the conclusion to the letter, Higgins wrote, “We implore the Minister of Energy to take this resolution and similar resolutions from other municipalities very seriously. Like us, you were elected to office to set policy and support the people who put you in these positions. If the policy is flawed, as it is in this case, then fix it. The Government of Ontario has stated they are going to provide more focused support for rural municipalities. The support you can give us now is by supporting our resolution, which would help us stay focussed on our strategic direction and our vision. It may take us longer to accomplish our goals rather than accepting this temptation put in front of us today, but we will be a much better and sustainable community long into the future.”