The mayor of The Nation municipality says he felt he didn’t have much of a choice when he voted in favour of support resolutions for proposed wind projects near St-Isidore and St-Bernardin.
It was a strategic decision, says Mayor Francois St-Amour. The municipality cannot block a wind energy project, regardless of whether or not it passes a support resolution. “What we did is give the possibility of the municipality sharing some of the profits,” he says.
Those profits would come in the form of a community benefit agreement, an annual payment which St-Amour says would not exist without a support resolution. EDF, which is proposing a 100 megawatt project near St-Isidore, uses as an example on its website a similarly-sized project generating a community benefit agreement of $150,000 every year.
“All I know is, if you do support it, you stand to benefit from it financially, and if you don’t, you miss out,” says The Nation councillor Francis Brière. Brière said from what he understands, refusing to pass a support agreement would not prevent a wind energy project from going ahead.
But Mark Gallagher, senior developer at EDF, said municipal support is an important part of the application. “It’s unlikely you’re going to win (a contract) without the support resolution,” he said.
Gallagher and Charles Edey, president of Leader Resources, which is proposing a 40 megawatt project near St-Bernardin, agree support resolutions and community benefit agreements are linked – because of the way Ontario’s application process works.
Wind energy developers across Ontario are competing for 300 megawatts worth of contracts, which should be awarded in late 2015 or early 2016. A municipal support resolution is worth 80 points on a wind energy project application. Applications will be ranked based on price, and cheapest will win. Any points earned knock a certain amount off the price offered by the developer, meaning if a developer has a support resolution, he can offer a cheaper price, making his application more competitive.
“If I bid seven cents (for example), my bid will look like, with the support resolution, six and a half,” said Edey. “The idea is if you don’t get it, and you want to be competitive, you have to bid at a lower price.”
No support resolution means no money left over for community funds, says Gallagher. “If you don’t get the points from the support resolution, you have to be ultracompetitive in your price,” he said, “which means you can’t be in a position to offer a fund to the community.”
Edey said without municipal support, his application would have still gone ahead, but without a community benefit fund. “If the municipality said no, I’m not going to give you a support resolution, I’m still going to bid – I’ve been working at the project for five years, and I’ve got a significant investment – but I won’t be able to include that portion which I can share with the municipality,” says Edey.
The municipality has passed support resolutions for both projects – for EDF in April of 2015 and for Leader Resources in December of 2013.
The developers of both projects are planning on submitting proposals to Ontario’s Independent Energy System Operator (IESO) in September. If either EDF or Leader Resources is awarded a contract, environmental studies would begin, and construction wouldn’t start for a few more years.
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