Opponents of two mega wind farm projects are shoring up their fight by sending a petition with “thousands” of signatories asking the province to cancel them.
EDP Renewables is seeking approval from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to get a “notice to proceed” to start construction in 2019 of the 100-megawatt Nation Rise Wind Farm, in North Stormont Township.
If it goes through, almost 200 rural residences could be affected, said Margaret Benke, chair of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.
The group fears residents in proximity of the huge turbines could be affected by the notorious noise and vibration effects on health that many Ontarians have complained of in the past.
Benke believes the effects could be worse, because the turbines could be among the largest in North America, at 140 metres high.
Benke and four representatives from the opposition groups handed over a couple of boxes of petitions to local MPP Jim McDonell on Friday at his office in Cornwall.
Unlike in the past, EDP is moving ahead with Nation Rise without municipal support, in this case North Stormont Township.
The Nation Township has not endorsed Eastern Fields wind farm by Res Canada.
EDP director of development Tom LoTurco said the company is following the consultation process provided by the IESO.
This involves public meetings with the results included in an application.
Asked if the existence of thousands of anti-wind farm petition signatories would influence EDP’s development, LoTurco said “we have good support with the landowners . . . and we continue to meet with the requirements of meeting the residents.”
The next public meeting will be Dec. 13 in Finch.
McDonell called this latest round of renewable energy contracts a “slap in the face” to local residents after the province promised it would give municipalities and residents some clout in refusing a proposal.
The North Stormont and The Nation contracts were also awarded, even though there were “willing” communities elsewhere.
McDonell couldn’t promise anything, but made note of the current Ontario energy market, which is over-supplied, with bills that would continue to grow due, not just to renewable energy contracts, but also the cap and trade plan which will increase costs by 25 per cent alone.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has already agreed that costs have climbed too high, and has resorted to dropping the HST cost on hydro bills.
The next round, called Large Renewable Procurement II (LRP 2) was cancelled in September after the government said it had enough electricity supply for the next 10 years.
“There are ways of backing off in this round,” McDonell said.
Except for the land usage contracts signed by landowners, Benke said there is little to gain economically.
“(The developers) said support us and we will give you a cut; don’t support us and you won’t (get money),” she said.
Meanwhile, she said hard-sale tactics managed to turn landowners’ arms, citing situation where landowners would field 60 or more phone calls over a short period of time from EDP staff to sign on for cash payments.
Construction staff for the most part are brought in from other wind developments, including American workers.
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