By Nancy Madsen, Times Staff Writer, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com
CAPE VINCENT — Sharp questions and protesters greeted a Canadian wind development company that crossed the border to describe its project.
Trillium Power Wind Corp., Toronto, is proposing Trillium Power Wind 1, a 414-megawatt project. The project would cover about 16,000 acres in the shoals south and west of Main Duck Island, 16.8 miles from Cape Vincent in Lake Ontario.
Trillium officials came to Cape Vincent Elementary School on Thursday night. The corporation must follow the environmental review process in Canada, but is not required to hold public meetings in the U.S.
More than 20 of the early 30 or so visitors were against the project.
“We’ve been corresponding with people in Ontario to come here, show solidarity and voice our opposition to any lake-based wind projects,” Robert E. Aliasso Jr., co-chairman of the Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crescent and the Thousand Islands Region.
“It’s our lake, too,” said Albert H. Bowers III, co-chairman of the coalition. “We share electrical resources across the water. What they do in Canada does affect us and vice-versa.”
Many of the protesters brought signs into the gymnasium, where Trillium officials displayed posters about the project. The officials initially asked the protesters to take the signs outside, but left them alone after the protesters refused.
“What’s just entered turns my stomach,” said M. Ellen King, Cape Vincent. She supports wind power, whether through leases with landowners in Cape Vincent or in the waters of the lake. “Anything that will help our community, our area — it’s just another step in helping things.”
V. Martin Parker, chief development officer for Trillium, said the developer knew they were walking into a place where wind is a controversial subject.
“We want people to get the true facts,” he said.
The developer also held meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Ontario. Those had 50 and 100 visitors, most of whom were supportive, Trillium officials said.
The site being considered for the wind project begins in the shoals about three-tenths of a mile south of the island, according to the project description report. There, the water is about 6 feet deep, and at the farthest reaches of the site, the water is about 130 feet deep.
The project will sit 17 kilometers, or 10.6 miles, from the nearest shoreline in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and 28 kilometers, or 17.4 miles, from the shoreline in the town of Greater Napanee, where the transmission line will make landfall. Trillium Power plans to begin construction in July 2012 and complete the project in November 2014.
Trillium Power has bird, fish and fish habitat, geophysical and archaeological studies planned for 2010. Those studies will be submitted to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment by December, Mr. Parker said.
Plans for construction and operation and maintenance should not be hampered by winter weather.
“For operations and maintenance, we will go out on hovercraft over the ice,” Mr. Parker said. “The only time we’ll need to go out is for routine maintenance and any problems. The key is preventative maintenance.”
The project will use Vestas turbines, which will be monitored on the mainland in Canada and in Denmark.
Mr. Parker also credited Danish experience with offshore turbines in the wind project’s placement, which is 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, from the shipping channel. In an offshore project near Copenhagen, 25,000 ships pass the project each year, where the buffer from the shipping channel is 483 meters, or 1,584 feet.
“It’s been that way for 10 years now and they’ve never had an incident,” he said.
Visitors to the open house were able to leave comments, which will be part of the environmental review record for the project. By later in the evening, another 10 or so had visited the open house.
Two county legislators, Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, and Barry M. Ormsby, R-Belleville, praised the Canadian developer for coming to the U.S. side of the border.
“Trillium Power was generous enough to come to our country and county to share information,” Mr. Docteur said.