PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Mayor Robert Quaiff isn’t mincing words when it comes to a provincial approval for a wind turbine development in his municipality.
Quaiff criticized the Liberal government following a decision made late last week which will see 27 turbines, part of the White Pines project in southern Prince Edward County, move ahead.
After an almost three-year process, wpd Canada received approval from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for the project, getting permission to install 27 turbines in South Marysburgh and Athol wards.
Quaiff, who is a member of the Wainfleet Working Group – a group supporting 90 “Unwilling Host” municipalities in Ontario – said the decision completely ignores people in rural Ontario.
“I want to make this perfectly clear, I am furious with the decision of the Liberal government,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with this for years, we are an unwilling host and have made it very clear that we don’t want anything to do with industrial wind turbines in Prince Edward County and we have been ignored.
“This goes part and parcel with the fact that, in my opinion only, this Liberal government couldn’t care less about rural municipalities. They need to stop focusing all their attention on the GTA and other large urban centres and start paying attention to the people in rural Ontario. When Wynne was campaigning to become premiere she said they didn’t do a very good job in the Green Energy market and they need to re-visit that – she has not done that.”
Kevin Surette, wpd spokesperson, stated in a release the company is “pleased” with the ministry’s decision.
“Our application was submitted to the MOECC in September, 2012 and we are confident it has undergone a comprehensive review,” he stated. “MOECC has issued an approval for 27 of the 29 turbines applied for.”
Surette said the company is “hopeful we can begin construction this fall or next spring using competitively-priced local labour and services as much as possible.”
In the release, Surette estimated the project to be worth approximately $200 million and will feed an estimated 159,212,000 kWh annually into the local electricity grid; equivalent to the average annual power usage of 9,097 homes. The company estimates the 20-year project will require between $5–8 million in labour.
Quaiff took little consolation in details of the project and said the developer didn’t care what local residents want.
“So, unwilling host – the whole notion of the residents of Prince Edward County not wanting (turbines) has fallen on deaf ears in wpd Canada and in my opinion, they are hiding behind the Green Energy Act,” he said. “They do not care what municipality they come into – they’re bound and determined to do so at any cost.”
A neighbouring project – a nine-turbine development by Gilead Power had its approval overturned on appeal by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and is now heading back to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Gilead Power will attempt to make remedy for the protection of the Blandings Turtle which inhabit the area.
Quaiff said he would not be surprised if wpd Canada’s development also faces an appeal process.
“I think the fight is just going to begin,” he said. “There isn’t any recourse for the municipality simply because of the Green Energy Act that supersedes everything else. There’s a 15-day period to make an appeal to the ERT and I’ve contacted members of our Wainfleet Working Group and the letters of support and endorsement are flooding in now. They’re upset and offering advice and I’ll start sharing that advice with the proper residents so they’ll have some options to look at. I think everything is favoured for an appeal.”