CRYSLER – The controversial Nation Rise Wind Farm GP Ltd. project in North Stormont had its first Community Liaison Committee meeting on Tuesday night.
It was a relatively calm get-together though, on a snowy night and with about 15 members of the public in attendance at the Crysler Community Centre.
It’s a mandated committee, the meetings part of the approval for the wind farm.
“The purpose (of the CLC) is to facilitate conversation between the public and the project,” said Gabriel Constantin, CLC facilitator and chair.
Ken Little, senior project manager and associate director with EDP Renewables Canada Ltd., the company behind the Nation Rise Wind Farm, told the small committee and gathering that “we’ll certainly be here to provide updates as we go through the construction process, and we’ll bring in (guests and experts) to answer any questions and concerns.”
Acknowledging the importance of community engagement, Little said “we’ll obviously have a much larger presence here (in the summer) with the project construction team here.”
The EDP Renewables Canada development team presented the Nation Rise Wind Farm project to the municipality of North Stormont in October of 2012 and again in February of 2015.
Development of the wind farm began in 2012 with the construction of one 60-metre meteorological tower. Since then an additional 100-metre meteorological tower has been constructed, and the development team has secured over 4,800 hectares (12,000 acres) through land agreements with approximately 70 local individuals and farming families.
In March of 2016, the Nation Rise project was awarded a contract by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to provide the province with 100 megawatts of energy. The project received a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on May 4 of last year.
As part of the REA, the project established the CLC primarily for residents within one kilometre of the project, but also open to anyone with an interest in the construction, installation, use, operation, maintenance and retirement of the project.
The CLC is a forum to discuss project updates, milestones, concerns, issue resolution and mitigation.
Constantin said applications to be on the committee are still being accepted, and that “we’ll accept public inquiries at any time.”
Before the first meeting Tuesday, just one inquiry had been received, Constantin said. The next meeting will likely be held late this spring, late in May or in early June, with another one expected to be held in the fall.
Constantin said it’s “great to have a diverse group” on the committee, and current members include Judy Tessier, one of the landowners involved in the project, and Morgan McDonald, of Akwesasne.
In explaining why she wanted to be a committee member, she said “I’m really interested in bringing more renewables to my community.”
An attempt by a group of residents from North Stormont to try to quash the wind power project from being constructed ended in failure earlier this month, when the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal ruled it had failed to prove windmills would harm human health, local animal and plant life, or the environment.
The process to arrive at a decision took several months, with hearings held in Finch and Toronto and with dozens of experts on both sides arguing about the potential impacts of the wind farm on people and the environment.
The residents and their backers at Wind Farms Ontario, a provincial anti-wind farm group – have 30 days to review a request of the Jan. 4 decision and the group spokesperson said that was the intent.
Wind Concerns Ontario, using research completed last year by a land economist with the University of Guelph, calculated that overall, property losses for houses within five kilometres of the 33 planned turbines could be $87.8 million.
EDP Renewables director of development, Tom LoTurco, early in January said the ruling should finally clear the way for the company to begin construction, with construction activities moving forward this year as planned, and with commercial operation scheduled for December 2019.
Late last week, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarary MPP Jim McDonell rejected calls for political intervention to cancel the project, and said allowing it to proceed may be costly, but is ultimately cheaper than nixing it.
Just before the tribunal’s decision, EDP Renewables sold three-quarters of its ownership of Nation Rise to another company, portfolio management firm Axium Infrastructure, the sale announced on Dec. 31.
In a press release, EDP stated the sale was to “recycle capital, with up-front cash flow crystallization, and create value by reinvesting the proceeds in accretive growth, while continuing to provide operating and maintenance services.”
Back in October of 2018 EDP Renewables had another open house information session, in Crysler, for local businesses interested in being involved with the Nation Rise Wind Farm project.