CONN – Local residents in opposition of a proposed wind turbine project in Southgate and parts of Wellington North are breathing a sigh of relief, as the province announced on Tuesday that they are cancelling plans to sign contracts for up to 1,000 megawatts of power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
The province made the decision to halt signing of contracts based in part on a report from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), who say that Ontario will “benefit from a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demand.”
“This is great news,” said Bernie Dineen, one of the local residents against the wind turbine project. “We thought we had beat this years ago, but it came back up again.”
Dineen was referring to the proposed Grand Highlands Wind Project under development by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Canada. The project proposes that between 60 and 70 wind turbines be installed over 12,000 acres of land.
Like others who are against the project, Dineen hopes that the cancellation of the contracts by the government is not a temporary thing.
“The demand for electricity is falling, and we have plenty of [supply] already,” he said. “There’s no need for these turbines.”
The Township of Wellington North agrees, as council passed a motion on Sept. 26 opposing wind turbine development within their borders. This reaffirms a motion passed by council in 2013 that the township is an “unwilling host” for wind turbine development.
Despite the provincial government’s announcement, Gary Pundsack of RES Canada said that he is hopeful that the project will still move forward.
“We have a great deal of support from the community for this project,” he said. “We’ve had landowners, who represent over 12,000 acres of land, sign on with the project and give their support. Right now we have to re-evaluate what our next steps are with this news.”
“This is still one of our best projects,” he added.
Pundsack believes that there will be a demand for wind power in the near future, as other energy sources will be going offline.
“Wind is a very competitive option pricewise,” he said. “The IESO has said that demand will be flat for the next decade, but there will be gaps in supply and we hope this project will help fill that gap.”
RES Canada has three more open houses planned: Saturday, Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and; Thursday, Oct. 13 from 5-9 p.m. All of the sessions will be held at Knox Presbyterian Church, located at 8015 Highway 89 in Conn.
“We want to gather feedback from the community,” said Pundsack. “We want to work together with the residents here to help us in determining the locations of the proposed turbines, and to communicate the benefits to the community of this project going forward.”