After more than five years of jumping through hoops and dealing with objections from residents, the wind farm on the western edge of Port Ryerse is going ahead.
Construction of the road leading to the site, in the middle of a farmer’s field, will start later this month. The four turbines, stretching150 metres in the air when their blades are spinning, are expected to be up and working in October or November.
Once they get going, the towers will provide 10 megawatts of electricity – power that will go into the grid and directly to homes and cottages in the area.
Their construction will mark the end of a chapter that saw residents of the picturesque hamlet on the shore of Lake Erie oppose the development by the private company Boralex.
They expressed health concerns and the impact on the aesthetics of their historic village and on its property values.
Now the two sides are entering an era of attempted co-operation: an official liaison committee between the company and villagers has been formed and met for the first time on Monday night.
It is a formal way for the residents to address their concerns directly with Boralex.
“We’re not going to stop it,” Suzanne Andrews, who has lived in the village for 35 years, said of the project. “But if a decent dialogue can be kept going between the company and the community . . .”
Although she is not a member of the committee, Andrews attended Monday’s meeting and called it “pretty civil.”
The biggest objection from residents, she told the Reformer, was the choice of the official name for the project: the Port Ryerse Wind Farm.
“Now you google Port Ryerse, the first thing that comes up is wind turbines,” said Andrews, who has acted as a spokesperson for the village’s residents in the past.
There are other concerns as well.
The road leading to the turbines runs right behind four properties, she noted, while concerns continue about access for emergency vehicles down an existing road that heavy trucks will be using and possibly blocking.
The company, said Andrews, assured residents the longest wait to get a truck out of the way in an emergency would be five minutes.
“If you’re a heart attack victim, five minutes is a long time,” she said.
Originally, the turbines were expected to be working by now. The project, however, went through a number of delays. It was halted after a barn owl, which is endangered, was spotted nearby and an environmental tribunal hearing was held.
Construction is now going ahead and will include more meetings with the liaison committee. Provincial rules say the committee must meet at least four times over a two-year period, noted Andrews.
“We hope to get through construction quickly and respect the community,” said wind farm manager Adam Rosso.
“Once the project is built and operational, community members will see the wind farm for what it is: an environmentally-appreciative way to produce electricity with a low carbon footprint.”
The electricity from the turbines, Rosso noted, “will go to the closest source of load,” which means it will ultimately power up the “Port Ryerse’s air conditioners and baseboard heating.”
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