PARIS – Brant council wants to make clear that it is not interested in supporting wind power projects in the county.
The corporate development committee has overwhelmingly supported a resolution that council will not support motions of support from any proponent seeking a FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) contract that would result in the construction of industrial wind turbines in the county.
The resolution also calls on the county to request the Minister of Energy to undertake detailed studies and develop strategies to mitigate any adverse social, human health and environmental impact of industrial wind turbines, before authorizing any more industrial wind power developments in the province.
Council will consider final approval at its Feb. 21 meeting.
The resolution was before committee for debate this week because members had directed Michael Bradley, general manager of operations and deputy CAO, to research the issues surrounding wind power projects, which have been unpopular in rural Ontario.
In November, council refused to offer a quick motion of support to an application to the Independent Electricity System Operator from Prowind Canada Inc. to construct a wind farm of five to 10 turbines that would produce 500 kilowatts in the southern area of Burford.
The motion of support was considered necessary to get IESO approval for the project.
At the time, council demurred after councillors Robert Chambers and David Miller said several residents had approached them with concerns.
“In just about every community where these turbines are put in there is a lot of opposition,” Chambers said at the time.
The councillors noted that construction of the Gunn’s Hill wind farm project in Oxford “has been very divisive” since it was first proposed and is still a lingering source of animosity.
Other councillors said they wanted to know more about wind power projects so they would know how to deal with future applications looking for support.
The resolution debated this week makes it clear that Brant is not favourably disposed to wind power, after watching projects meet with community opposition in Haldimand, Norfolk and Oxford counties.
“Industrial wind turbines have been connected to a number of social, health and environmental concern,” one clause says.
“This should send a message to developers who want council support for their projects that the county isn’t interested,” said Coun. Joan Gatward, who chairs the committee.
Coun. Shirley Simons wondered what ramifications Brant could face from the provincial government.
“Can we get pushback from the province for doing this?” Simons asked.
Bradley, who prepared the resolution, suggested it’s unknown what effect it will have.
“When I wrote this I thought calling for an outright ban may be too strong,” said Bradley, adding that he thought a harder stance was needed after he saw council’s reluctance concerning the Prowind proposal.
Miller said studies on the feared health effects from wind farms are contradictory, but noted: “We do know there are economic disadvantages.”
He noted farm operations in the vicinity of some projects are able to demonstrate losses of tens of thousands of dollars per year.