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Turbine agreement before council called ‘premature’ and ‘manipulative’

County residents opposed to industrial wind turbines on the south shore of Prince Edward County are being invited to rally as council deals with a proposed Road Users Agreement regarding the wpd Canada project.

The agreement describes payments to the County and other matters to be addressed regarding the 27-turbine project on the south shore.

“Any agreement with wpd now is premature until the Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT) for Ostrander Point and the White Pines wind projects are finished,” said Orville Walsh, president of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).

In its decision Feb. 26, the ERT involving APPEC and wpd, ruled the development would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtles and Little Brown Bats, suspending wpd Canada’s Renewable Energy Approval, pending remediation hearings, but no date has yet been set.

Walsh noted APPEC, and other county groups are calling on members and supporters to make a point of attending the Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, March 24 at 1 p.m. at Shire Hall in Picton to show support as councillors are discussing the proposed agreement.

The Road Users Agreement is one of the conditions in the REA (Renewable Energy Approval) issued to wpd by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

“Although the REA was suspended, the decision is having little effect on wpd,” said Walsh. “Most concerning is that the agreement gives prior approval of some of the very issues that are still to be ruled on by the Tribunal. We suspect that wpd is anxious to have a Road Users Agreement finalized before the resumption of the ERT in order to use it to support its legal case.”

Walsh said a strong presence from the community will support the mayor and those councillors who will be speaking out against the Road Users Agreement and “will send a strong message to wpd that the County will not be bullied or manipulated.”

APPEC is asking members and supporters who are unable to attend the meeting to give a brief message to their councillor before Thursday’s meeting stating any agreement now is premature until the tribunals for Ostrander Point and White Pines are finished.

Mayor Robert Quaiff said Thursday’s motion represents one of the most important council has ever had to consider for the good of constituents.

Quaiff is expected to urge councillors to turn the motion down.

“I have fought for years to keep turbines out of the County, recognizing early on how badly they would affect everything we hold dear – our economy, our tourist industry, our property and business values,” said Quaiff. “The contrary spin of the wind industry is professionally and effectively done, but please don’t for a moment believe their avaricious approach and intentions.”

“It would turn our paradise into a grubby factory – a heartless string of turbines stretching from Wolfe Island through Ernestown and Amherst Island to our south shore. Indiscriminately as it spins and is devastating to some of the most beautiful vistas and countryside in Canada.”

Over the past few years, Quaiff has introduced and supported the “Not a Willing Host Community” moratorium along with 91 municipalities in Ontario, and was instrumental in the formation of the Wainfleet Working Group travelling to communities along Highway 401, meeting with provincial cabinet ministers and challenging Premier Kathleen Wynne at a number of opportunities.

Quaiff sees several deficiencies in the proposed agreements and agrees their acceptance would strengthen wpd’s position returning to the ERT.

Earlier, the County requested annual payments of $7,500 per megawatt, plus profit sharing based upon 4 per cent of output plus annual cost of living, exclusive of regular taxes and recovery of costs. This request was not acceptable to wpd. The alternative payment has been negotiated in consultation between staff, wpd and respective solicitors. The proposed “Community Benefits Agreement” provides an annual payment by wpd of $7,000 per turbine ($3,500 per megawatt) toward. This amount would be increased to $8,500 per turbine in years 11-15 and $9,500 per turbine in years 16 to end of term.

Quaiff is also dismayed that wpd this month is “arrogantly” attempting to move forward with its land clearing regardless of ERT decisions and those yet to come.

“I refuse to have my legacy seen as being the mayor who was a party to turbines in the County,” said Quaiff. “My father’s favourite saying was ‘You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything’. I hope the councillors will join me in voting a resounding ‘no way’ on Thursday.”

The 215-page report is available on the County website.