PLEVNA – With 75 municipalities now backing North Frontenac’s call for mandatory municipal approval for new wind energy projects, Mayor Ron Higgins is stepping up efforts to derail proposed projects in his township.
“Communities know what type of development is appropriate and sustainable,” Higgins said in a statement. “Our resolution points out that utility-scale wind power does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions or appreciably benefit the environment. In fact, in our case, it would have harmed it.”
Ontario’s Independent Electrical System Operator (IESO) is in the midst of the second round of large renewable procurement.
In March, North Frontenac Township, which in 2015 declared itself an unwilling host to a pair of wind energy projects proposed for the municipality, passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to make municipal approval a mandatory requirement.
Higgins said he was skeptical of reassurances made by former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli during a visit to Kingston in early March that it would be “almost impossible” for a renewable energy contract to be awarded for projects in municipalities that did not support them.
In the first round of large renewable contracts awarded in mid-March, of the 16 renewable energy contracts offered, 13 were located in municipalities that had declared themselves willing hosts. But three of five wind power contracts were awarded to projects in municipalities that did not support the projects, Higgins pointed out.
Currently, municipal support is considered one facet of a renewable energy project proposal. The absence of municipal support does not mean a project will not be approved.
Since early February, more than 90 municipalities in Ontario have passed a resolution from the Township of Wainfleet that calls on the provincial government to cancel the request for proposals for new wind energy projects.
The idea of mandatory municipal support has not been embraced by senior provincial leaders.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, during visits to Kingston earlier this year, said there was no interest in giving the province’s municipalities an effective veto on renewable energy projects.
The second round of the IESO’s Large Renewable Procurement is expected to seek to add up to 930 megawatts of new renewable energy to the province’s supply, including up to 600 megawatts of wind power and up to 250 megawatts of solar power.
The second round is expected to kick off in August.
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