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North Frontenac Township not willing to host wind energy project  

Credit:  Township not willing to host wind energy project | By Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard | Thursday, June 11, 2015 | www.thewhig.com ~~

PLEVNA – Citing public opposition, North Frontenac Township council voted to declare itself “not a willing host” for a proposed wind energy project. At a special meeting Wednesday night, the seven-person council unanimously approved a resolution not to provide municipal support to the project.

While township staff researched the potential costs and benefits of the proposed project, Mayor Ron Higgins said there were few concrete facts available.

In the absence of factual information, Higgins said council followed the will of the “overwheming majority” of residents.

“Our vision for North Frontenac is our pristine environment,” Higgins said. “Having wind turbines dotting our landscape took away from our pristine landscape.”

The municipality’s motion to withhold support for the project included consideration of its economic benefit compared to the potential negative impacts of the project on the scenery, wildlife and forest cover of the area.

Possible contamination to the land, decommissioning and emergency costs and the potential negative impact of the township’s dark sky preserve were also considered.

Council also referred to the results of a survey by the Buckshot Lake Cottagers’ Association that showed 86% opposed to the project and an unofficial telephone survey by a resident that showed 90% opposed.

About two-thirds of the turbines are to be built in Addington Highlands Township in Lennox and Addington County, and the rest to be constructed in North Frontenac Township, in the former townships of Claredon and Miller.

NextEra Energy Canada, a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy, is among more than 40 companies approved to bid for an upcoming large renewable energy contract from the Ontario government.

The company is proposing to build about 150 turbines in two related projects, Northpoint I and Northpoint II.

In a presentation to Frontenac County council earlier this year, a company spokesperson said the project would provide North Frontenac with $146,000 in municipal property tax revenue, upgrades to infrastructure, including roads, bridges and culverts, and funding for recreation, sustainability and community projects.

NextEra has energy projects in four Canadian provinces and 25 states generating more than 19,500 megawatts.

In Ontario, the company has eight wind power projects in 10 municipalities generating more than 600 MW.

The North Frontenac project also holds the potential for providing between six and 10 full-time jobs and the construction of a 1,525-square-metre operations and maintenance building, the spokesperson said.

Higgins said the tax revenue the project would have provided would have been welcomed, but the potential impacts on property values and the environment were too great.

“It’s very tempting to take that money,” Higgins said Thursday. “It would really help us. It’s a huge loss for us, but we felt we made the right decision.

“I slept well last night.”

In a letter that accompanied the resolution, council also called on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to honour a pledge the government made to not grant wind turbines contracts in areas where there is not local support for the project.

“Council realizes the two proposed projects could still proceed without municipal support, as per the Green Energy Act; however, council will continue to be diligent and do what is within its power to oppose these projects if a proponent is awarded a contract to proceed,” the resolution stated.

Higgins said he was “hopeful but not confident” the provincial government will not award NextEra a contract, and the township is to start preparing for such a scenario.

Gord Hunter, president of the Kashwakamak Lake Association, said the push to build wind energy projects is happening despite what the people want.

“Government has gone in the wrong direction. They are not listening to the people who pay the politicians,” Hunter said.

“I think there are far more people that are opposed to wind in general than are not. Why isn’t the government listening to them?”

Hunter said that despite the municipality’s vote, he fears the company, with the approval of the provincial government, may mount a legal challenge to any council efforts that oppose the project.

Last Saturday, the company held a mandatory public meeting that left many of the 100 or so residents who attended with more questions than answers.

“(NextEra) had no details to share at their community open house,” said Toronto resident and North Frontenac cottage owner Julie McShane. “(NextEra) can’t yet say what the turbine size is, nor the decibel level, can’t tell us what the lighting at night will be (Transport Canada has the final say, of course), can’t tell us what the exact number of towers will be, nor the height, nor exactly where the towers will be placed?”

Yarker resident Ron Betchley, in an email to Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, questioned if the benefits NextEra claim would come with the project are worth the costs.

Yarker resident Ron Betchley, in an email to Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, questioned if the benefits NextEra claim would come with the project are worth the costs.

“Many things in Ontario are worth more than $146,000 per annum income and the North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve is but one of them,” Betchley wrote. “Why must we inevitably put a dollar value on destroying those things that are humanity’s treasures.

“As to the limited amount of electrical generation lost in its cancellation, I’m willing to just sit in the dark. Which is, of course, the pleasure of the North Frontenac preserve.”

[rest of article available at source]

Source:  Township not willing to host wind energy project | By Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard | Thursday, June 11, 2015 | www.thewhig.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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