STELLA – The development of wind energy projects in Lennox and Addington County could move forward in 2016 as Ontario seeks to bolster its supply of renewable energy.
Proposals from three different companies could see major wind energy projects built at both ends of the county.
Last spring, two companies – RES-Canada and NextEra Energy Canada – announced proposals to build a total of as many as 150 wind turbines in Addington Highlands and North Frontenac townships.
RES-Canada and NextEra Energy Canada are among 42 firms approved to bid for an upcoming large renewable energy contract from the Ontario government.
The evaluation of the various projects was to be completed by November 2015, but that deadline was extended to March 2016 due to the “high volume” and “complexity” of the proposals received.
Ontario’s large renewable procurement program is meant to add 565 megawatts of renewable electricity to the province’s energy supply, including 300 MW of wind, 140 MW of solar, 50 MW of bioenergy and 75 MW of waterpower.
In the early spring, both township councils were asked for resolutions of support for the projects. At stake was access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of community investment the companies would make in the municipalities in exchange for their support for the projects.
North Frontenac Township council declined to provide a supporting resolution,instead declaring itself not a willing host.
Addington Highlands Township did provide a supporting resolution.
Res and NextEra both offered more than $500,000 a year in compensation for the 20-year life of the projects.
The projects proposed for the north end of the county join the proposed 27-turbine, 74.3-MW Amherst Island project, which in August received conditional approval.
Algonquin Power’s subsidiary Windlectric Inc.’s Amherst Island Wind Energy Project – which has been in the works for close to a decade – is the subject of an ongoing Environmental Review Tribunal hearing, which was to be completed in December but may not be wrapped up until March after the company proposing the project said it needed more time to respond to witness statements opposing the development.
The project has been opposed by many island residents, who are worried about potential impact on environmental and human health.
Throughout 2015, the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) voiced concern about the project’s potential impact on island groundwater, wildlife and shipping in the strait between the island and the mainland.
The Amherst Island project was scaled back in May, with nine turbines being cut from the previous 36-turbine proposal.
To compensate for the smaller numbers and to meet energy production targets, Windlectric is proposing to use higher-power turbines.
The original mix of 21 2.300-MW turbines and 15 2.221-MW turbines is to change to a combination of 12 2.942-MW turbines and 15 2.772-MW turbines.
“The new turbines would be physically identical to the previously proposed model, specifically with a hub height of 99.5 metres and rotor diameter of 113 metres,” a Windlectric report to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change stated. “All of these 27 turbine sites are in previously studied and proposed locations.”
The collection line changes would eliminate about four kilometres of trenching along roadways, including through the village of Stella.
Despite the modification and APAI’s opposition, Loyalist Township in mid-December approved a road-use agreement and a community benefit agreement with Windlectric. Through the community benefit agreement, Windlectric is to provide the township with more than $500,000 a year to help offset “the impact that the wind project will have on Loyalist Township, particularly Amherst Island and its residents.”
“The approval of these agreements symbolizes three years’ worth of work by township staff, Algonquin, and now council,” Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. spokesperson Amanda Dillon said in an email to the Whig-Standard. “We now have the framework to proceed with a constructive dialogue with Loyalist regarding the project’s detailed construction planning.