PLEVNA – North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins was quick to express his opinion of Thursday’s Ontario government announcement of the contracts for new renewable energy projects.
“No Wind turbines for NF or AH. So happy,” Higgins wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning, referring to a trio of wind energy projects proposed for North Frontenac and neighbouring Addington Highlands Township that were not awarded contracts.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) released Thursday a list of 16 contracts that have been offered to companies.
Neither of NextEra Energy Canada’s Northpoint I and II projects nor RES Canada’s Denbigh wind energy project were on the list.
By the afternoon, Higgins was still happy but the reality that this round of contracts was the first of three large renewable procurements in the coming two years had dawned on him.
“No IWT’s for NF or AH. Still need to prep for next round of RFPs,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Generally I’m thrilled with what happened with the decision with our township and Addington Highlands. But just reading how these were awarded I’m still upset with the whole process,” Higgins said Friday. “They are putting wind turbines in unwilling hosts when there were lots of opportunity to put them in places that wanted them.”
Speaking in Kingston last Monday, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said municipal agreements were critical to companies having successful bids for renewable energy contracts.
Citing open consultation and equity participation, Chiarelli has seen more rural municipalities willing to work with the green energy companies.
“It’s almost impossible for a proponent to win a contract without having some kind of agreement with the municipality,” Chiarelli said. “Over the course of the last four or five years, although it’s been difficult for a number of people, we’ve gotten to a place now where it’s much more acceptable and will be integrated into the system a lot more easily.”
In early June last year, citing public opposition to wind energy proposals, North Frontenac council unanimously voted to declare the township “not a willing host” for the proposed wind energy projects.
Last month, North Frontenac became the 19th municipality to endorse a resolution originally passed by Wainfleet Township council calling for the provincial government to cancel plans to approve new wind energy projects. North Frontenac added solar projects to the original Wainfleet resolution.
Higgins said in February that if either of the NextEra projects were approved, the township would automatically appeal the decision.
He didn’t say then what the township’s appeal would be based on, but on Friday he said he asked the IESO to disqualify NextEra’s Northpoint projects because he said the company did not fulfilled some of the mandatory requirements that were part of the request for proposals.
Higgins said the company did not have a website about the project early enough, that documents about the project, including the community engagement plan, were not publicly accessible and that the plan was not delivered to the township’s clerk early enough.
He said the township’s opposition to the wind energy projects would not change in the coming years but he said municipality’s strategy would need to change.
As fewer and fewer wind energy proposals remain in the mix, Higgins said it will become more and more difficult to convince the decision makers that North Frontenac is not the right place.
“With future battles, everyone is going to be a lot smarter, inlcuding the proponents, IESO and ourselves,” he said. “I think the battles are going to get more difficult as we progress.”
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