Can communities say no to wind turbine installation? The answer, my friend, may be blowing in the wind.
The Township of North Stormont will hold a council session on Tuesday where they will be receiving a report from chief administrative officer Marc Chenier and community planner Amy Doyle on proposed renewable energy projects in the region.
Three companies presented their plans for energy projects in North Stormont at the council meeting on July 14. The proposals are available online via North Stormont’s council’s agendas. (https://oc-tns.vbiz.ca/index.php/s/8wArNG2DW9FqGOu)
EDF proposed a substation to funnel energy from a project in The Nation Municipality and have secured a lease with a landowner south of County Road 9.
Leader Resources is planning a 61 MW wind turbine operation on the east side of the township, around Crysler and Berwick. According to their proposal they will build no more than 21 turbines.
EDP is looking to build turbines on the west side of the township, proposing a 100 MW operation of 29-50 turbines. EDP will host a community meeting on Aug. 6 at the Finch Community Arena to meet with the public and discuss the large renewable procurement (LRP) process.
Council will have to decide whether or not to support the projects, however, they will have little say over whether or not the projects go through.
As noted in the report, townships can declare themselves unwilling hosts, while this has been perceived as opting out of having projects take place in the region, this is not how the application process works. Ontario’s Green Energy Act allows all decisions regarding the placement of renewable energy projects to be carried out at the provincial level of government. According to the report, municipalities have little to no say in whether or not they will have renewable energy projects in their region.
“Almost all of those who declared themselves as an unwilling host still received a renewable energy project (i.e. wind turbines),” the report reads.
The projects have received backlash from the community. When Crysler local Todd Brazeau got the notice about companies looking to put wind turbines in, he contacted his municipal council and MPP to protest.
“It seems like the community doesn’t have a say and the politicians aren’t being honest at all,” Brazeau said.
MPP Jim McDonell started a petition requesting “that the Ministry of the Environment revise the Green Energy Act to allow full public input and municipal approvals on all industrial wind farm developments.”
According to McDonell, the petition already has hundreds of signatures.
“People are upset,” McDonell said. “We don’t benefit from (these projects) in general.”
EDP Renewables has taken the brunt of the negative response from the community. Leaflets distributed with McDonell’s petition in May made specific mention of the plan to put in 29-50 turbines. EDP declined to answer questions regarding public response to their proposal.
North Stormont mayor Dennis Fife said that almost all of the township’s council are opposed to the installation of wind turbines, but noted declaring as an unwilling host will do nothing to stop the project, only cut down on the cents per kilawatt incentive for the renewable energy companies.
“I don’t think it is a good thing,” Fife said. “Wind will never replace nuclear.”