Wind turbine concerns not being heard | By Jennifer Bieman, St. Thomas Times-Journal | Saturday, August 1, 2015 | www.stthomastimesjournal.com
Weeks ahead of the submission deadline for Invenergy LLC’s Dutton Dunwich wind energy project, six members of its community engagement committee are packing it in.
Six of the 13 people on the Strong Breeze Wind Project’s working group submitted their resignation Thursday evening. The half-dozen members, all of whom oppose the project, were frustrated their concerns were not being taken seriously.
“We just don’t seem to be able to reach any agreement or we don’t see that the company is really changing any of the plans for their project,” said Bonnie Rowe, a former member of the working group. “We weren’t accomplishing anything . . . We just feel as though our perspectives are demeaned and are made light of.”
The group, which includes company representatives and concerned community members, was established by Invenergy as a way to facilitate discussion and constructive debate, promote transparency and educate the public about the Strong Breeze Wind Project.
The group is a way to foster community engagement – a factor the provincial regulator looks at when evaluating the strength of Invenergy’s proposal.
Invenergy is gearing up to submit its plan for the Strong Breeze Wind Project to the Independent Electrical System Operator by the Sept. 1 deadline. The proposal for the 60-megawatt on-shore wind project will be thoroughly evaluated by the regulators before it is allowed to proceed.
Preparing the proposal has taken the company months of work. Once it is submitted, IESO auditors will assess several key aspects of Invenergy’s plan – from the cost of the project to its environmental impact, municipal cooperation and public input.
“The wind energy company has to show that they’re doing things to engage the community and so they were hosting regular monthly meetings,” said Laurie Spence-Bannerman, CAO of Dutton Dunwich.
“A working group is one of those things that shows that you’re engaging the local community.”
The working group has met once a month since January and is curated by Invenergy representatives. The gatherings are open to the public and have a formal agenda and minutes available online.
If the contract is awarded, the working group will continue to meet monthly to hear updates on the project.
It is not immediately clear if or when the six working group vacancies will be filled.