Dutton/Dunwich, a municipality that made a point of expressing its opposition to industrial wind turbines will be the first community in this part of Elgin to host the turbines.
The news that Invenergy’s proposal had been accepted earlier this week, hit the community like a shock wave.
“I think as a group, the opponents are pretty devastated,” said Jamie Littlejohn, a spokesman for Dutton/Duniwch residents Opponents pf Wind Turbines, a citizen’s grpup which formed two y3ears ago after Invenergy announced plans to apply for the Strong Breeze wind farm in Dutton.
Residents are upset because Dutton/Dunwich was early to pass a council resolution declaring itself a non-willing host to turbines, but it was chosen, while other municipalities who want turbines were overlooked.
Dutton/Dunwich residents who responded voted 84% against wind turbines in a survey earlier.
“I think this government is blind to good governance,” Littlejohn said.
In testimony before a legislature committee in November 2013, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said municipalities wouldn’t be given a veto over projects but it would be “very rare indeed” for any to be approved without municipal backing.
“The Ontario Government has once again trod on the rights and wishes of rural Ontario,” stated the group DDOWT in a release.
Despite Energy Minister Chiarelli’s statement that it would be “virtually impossible” for Industrial Wind Turbine projects to be built in areas without municipal support, the announcement today that five new wind projects were awarded by the IESO shows quite another story.
For now, the group said it is considering its next move, Littlejohn said.
“We will be exploring all avenues,” Littlejohn said.
He said the group feels the decision by the province was heavily influenced.
“The lobbyists are really in control at Queen’s Park,” he said.
“Obviously, money speaks louder than community input,” said Bonnie Rowe, secretary of the citizen’s group and one its charter members when Dutton/Dunwich citizens came together to oppose wind turbines.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) announced this week it was awarding contracts for five wind farms, seven solar farms and four hydroelectric projects in the latest round of green energy procurement.
Dutton/DunwichMayor Cameron McWilliam said he was stunned Thursday when Dutton-Dunwich was on the list of new green energy projects.
Representatives of Dutton-Dunwich had met with the Ontario government several times to make it clear the industrial wind turbines were unwanted, McWilliam said.
“They talked about local engagement and the need for local support. There wasn’t that support in Dutton-Dunwich. We’re disappointed,” he said
Bernie Wiehle, mayor of neighbouring West Elgin and the warden of Elgin county said it was a little disappointing to him that the province went against the wishes of a majority of the citizens of Dutton/Dunwich.
“The province said they would take into consideration what people thought,” he said.
The IESO announced that it awarded contracts to five companies for a total 299.5 MW of wind generation,” DDOWT stated in its rele3ase.
DDOWT also questioned the fiscal validity of the deal.
“These contracts will cost Ontario electricity users $65.4 million annually or $1.3 billion for the 20 year life of the contracts. This is additional electricity that the province does not need; the power generated will be exported to the U.S. for a rate below the cost of production, and will require other forms of power generation to be curtailed, also at a cost. The Dutton/Dunwich project of 57.5 MW, submitted by Chicago-based Invenergy, will cost electricity users $12.5 million annually and $250 million over the 20 years, using the average contract price. We do not know what Invenergy actually bid for this project.”
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