Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls is pressing the provincial government to stop overturning decisions of municipal councils who are unwilling to host industrial wind turbines.
Nicholls has asked Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy, to respect all rural community’s decisions, including Lakeshore’s recent motion to deny a request by EDF EN Canada to place a turbine on agricultural land in the southeast corner of the municipality near the Wheatley Townline.
Lakeshore already has more than 110 wind turbines and implemented a moratorium in December 2014 on further development.
The province previously overturned a council decision, despite the moratorium, on the Belle River Wind project, which will see just over 40 turbines placed north of Highway 401, west of the Belle River Road, by next summer.
“The right thing is to stand up for and to respect the wishes of municipalities,” Nicholls said. “The province has an agenda with regards to placement of these industrial wind turbines.
“When you take a look at who their big donors have been over the last several years, it’s been industrial and turbine companies … so they’re going to give them the business,” he said.
But Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain said he has not heard that the province has overturned his council’s decision on the EDF EN Canada project.
“We’re just figuring (our decision is) final,” Bain said. “I haven’t heard that the owner was pushing it or that the wind turbine company was pushing it to try to appeal it.
“As far as I know we were successful on this one,” he said.
A spokesperson from the minister’s office would not say whether the province will overrule Lakeshore’s latest decision.
In an emailed statement, the spokesperson said, “Ontario’s process of building large renewable projects was specifically designed to give municipalities a stronger voice and additional opportunities to participate in the development of renewable energy across the province.
“In March, the results of the first competitive renewable procurement included more than 75 per cent rate of support from local municipalities, including the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and Town of Lakeshore, and including more than 60 per cent support from neighbouring landowners,” the statement said. “By putting emphasis on price and community support, we believe the right balance has been struck in early community engagement and reduced prices for consumers.”
Nicholls also questioned the need for more industrial wind turbines.
“This additional power is not needed since much of the expensive power being generated is either being sold to neighboring states or provinces or in fact, the province pays these jurisdictions to take our excess power,” Nicholls said. “Not a good business plan.”
Nicholls sent a letter earlier this month asking to meet with the minister to discuss the issue but says he hasn’t yet received a reply.
“If I don’t hear back from him before we head back to the legislature he can count on a trip across the floor where I’ll actually ask him face to face and request a meeting with him,” he said.
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