- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Lambton municipalities withhold support from wind projects

Tuesday is the deadline for Ontario’s latest round of large renewable energy contract bids, and three wind turbine projects planned for eastern Lambton County are on the list of registered proposals posted recently by the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator.

They include Enerfin’s 100-MW Sydenham Wind Project in Brooke-Alvinston Township, NextEra’s 100-MW Hardy Creek wind project in the townships of Warwick, Brooke-Alvinston, and Adelaide Metcalfe in neighbouring Middlesex County, as well as Suncor’s 75-MW Nauvoo wind project, also set for Warwick, Brooke-Alvinston and Adelaide Metcalfe.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is administering Ontario’s Large Renewable Procurement process expected to award contracts for up to 300 MW of new wind energy across the province, as well as 140 MW of solar, 50 MW of bio-energy and 75 MW of waterpower.

The IESO said 42 companies were qualified to bid, and 119 projects registered earlier this month add up to a total capacity of 4,060.66 MW, including 27 wind project bids totalling 2,246.8 MW.

This round of large renewable energy contracts is the first since the province changed its rules to give preference to projects able to show they have community support.

But mayors in Warwick and Brooke-Alvinston said wind companies courting their communities came away empty-handed.

Renewable energy companies receive extra points for motions of support from municipal councils, and for signed community agreements setting out financial benefits for municipalities.

When Warwick officials met with representatives of Ontario’s Energy Ministry during a recent municipal conference, “we made it very clear to them we’re an unwilling host,” said Mayor Todd Case.

“We were not going to sign any documentation of any kind in support of the projects.”

Case said Warwick township also passed bylaws aimed at wind projects, including one requiring companies to install equipment at each turbine to assist municipal firefighters if they’re called out to fight a fire at the structures.

He said the equipment required by the township bylaw costs an estimated $50,000 per turbine.

“As a municipality, we like to think we did everything we could to deter the projects,” Case said.

Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan said his township also didn’t sign agreements, or pass motions in support of the wind projects.

But it did make a counter offer for a community agreement if proposals were successful securing contracts with the province.

“All three of them turned that proposal down,” McGugan said.

“It was certainly much richer than what they had offered.”

Municipalities in Lambton were among many in Ontario passing motions declaring themselves unwilling hosts for wind projects.

While municipal support may boost a company’s chance of securing a contract, the provincial process doesn’t allow municipalities to block a project.

“They can still come without any motions from council,” McGugan said.

Plus, he said, the current round of wind energy contracts isn’t expected to be the last in Ontario.

Companies not successful this time, “will be back year, very likely,” McGugan said.

Case has raised concerns about the new provincial process he says leads to wind company offering financial incentives to get municipalities on board.

He said Warwick asked the province earlier this month to “put the brakes” on the bidding process and correct “those flaws which they have in their process,” but didn’t hear back.

Companies seeking contracts for two ground-mounted solar projects in St. Clair Township had better luck securing motions of support from the municipal council there.

BluEarth Renewables is bidding for a 13-MW solar project it plans to build on the Pembina Pipeline Corporation lands on Highway 40, and Ontario Power Generation has a joint bid with SunEdison for a 30-MW solar project on land at the idled Lambton Generating Station near Courtright.

The IESO said 81 solar projects were registered, with a total capacity of 1,728.36 MW.

There were two registered proposals for bio-energy projects, totalling 47 MW, and nine waterpower proposals, totalling 38.5 MW.

All of the large renewable energy proposals received by Tuesday’s deadline will be evaluated, and contracts are expected to be offered by the end of the year to successful bidders, the agency said.