Wallaceburg-area residents turned out in large numbers Tuesday for an information meeting about a wind farm project proposed for an area north of the community.
Many left with unanswered questions.
Employees of project partners Boralex Inc. and RES Canada were on hand to answer questions at the former Baldoon Golf Club. But the open house-style information meeting surprised many of the approximately 200 people who showed up around 5 p.m. which was the advertised starting time, and lined up to get inside.
“We expected a meeting,” said Steve Horan, “But I can understand we they’d do it this way because everyone would be yelling and screaming.”
He added, “There’s nothing to be accomplished here.”
Horan lives on McKee Road, at the southern end of the proposed project, which is bound by Stewart Line and McCreary Line in the south, Whitebread Line and Kent Line west of Mandaumin Road to the north, Mandaumin Road to the east, and Payne Road to the west.
“I don’t like them (turbines) near my home,” said Horan, whose wife, Brenda, added, “I don’t think anybody does.”
Adam Rosso, who is in charge of development for Boralex, said the event’s purpose was to serve as “an introductory meeting for the community.”
People had the opportunity to ask questions at different stations around the room as well as fill out comment forms.
Rosso said the Otter Creek project, which would have between 16 and 20 turbines each about 80 metres to 100 metres (240 to 300 ft.) in height and produce up to 60 MW of power, will be submitted to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in early September and is competing with a number of other projects across the province. Wind projects totalling up to 300 MW will be accepted. The winning bids are expected to be determined late in 2015.
If the bid is successful, Renewable Energy Approval (REA) will be required from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for the project to move ahead and further consultations will take place, including two more public meetings.
In addition to the turbines themselves, access roads would be constructed, along with a substation, a collector network and, possibly, a transmission line.
Information boards set up at the meeting touted the benefits of the project, including construction jobs, increased activity for local businesses during construction, ongoing employment after construction and an estimated $50,000 in annual property taxes for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent for the 20-year duration of the contract.
While the exact locations for the proposed turbines were not revealed at the information meeting, Rosso said a number of willing property owners have stepped forward. “We already have people who are interested,” he said.
Carl Benn, who lives on Bishop Road in the southwest part of the project area, is not among them. He said he actually likes green power, but not windmills, and added that he didn’t feel he was getting any answers to the questions he came with. “Who’s responsible for tearing them down?” asked Benn.
His neighbour, Derek Bishop, also said he wasn’t getting the answers he was looking for and that detailed documents were only for display and could not be brought back home. He added that he felt the vast majority of the people who turned out for the meeting are opposed to the proposed project.
One property owner, who refused to provide a name, said, “My neighbours have all talked and we have decided against it.”
The owner added that it would be different if the neighbours were in favour, but that there should be a consensus.
The property owner also owns land in the former Chatham Township where the Marsh Line Wind Farm is located and hosts a turbine, but said in that case there was a consensus and adjacent residents receive a stipend for being located near a property that hosts a turbine.
The property owner said those who hosted a turbine had the choice between a flat fee each year or a percentage of the revenue, but declined to say which option was chosen and the amount of revenue citing a confidentiality agreement.
For more information about the proposed wind project, visit ottercreekwindfarm.ca.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding