By Richard Vivian, Orangeville Banner
Developers of a Melancthon wind project will give the municipality $28,000 annually for the next 20 years as part of an agreement all-but finalized by township council last month.
The contributions are part of a larger deal reached with International Power Canada (IPC), which intends to install seven 1.5 MW turbines in the township, as well as 11 in neighbouring Grey Highlands, known as the Plateau Wind Project.
Council’s deal covers a long list of issues including road access, hauling routes, tree preservation, turbine maintenance requirements, decommissioning and more.
“That was something that staff and council had requested of us and … we were happy to oblige,” David Timm, IPC’s vice-president of strategic affairs, said regarding the yearly payments. “It’s a contribution to the municipality over the life of the project, and to a fairly substantial dollar amount.”
This funding agreement is likely the last of its kind, said Mayor Debbie Fawcett, noting the Green Energy Act of 2009 took away much of municipal councils’ ability to negotiate with developers.
“It is a bonus to us,” the mayor said, noting funds from a similar agreement with another developer are used to increase road maintenance. “In the wintertime, we didn’t have road service after 4 o’clock unless it was an emergency. Now we do.”
Melancthon council approved the deal “substantially” as it was presented to them during an in-camera session at a special meeting held July 10, explains township CAO Denise Holmes. “There’s still two items that are outstanding that need to be dealt with,” she said.
Timm hopes to finalize the deal with Melancthon and garner all the required provincial approvals in time to begin work on road and turbine foundations in the next few months.
“Turbines would start to arrive later in the fall, and erections would happen through the fall and winter in order to meet an anticipated spring commissioning,” he said of the project’s expected timing.
In related nEws, the number of people involved with another Melancthon wind project has increased several-fold in recent months. Paul Boreham, president of 401 Energy, said he’s been “deluged” by residents who want to participate in the Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) development.
If ultimately approved, the initiative would see area residents and farmers own 51 per cent of a wind farm containing between 33 and 43 turbines, rather than simply lease land to an outside company.
“There are hundreds of people now involved,” Boreham said, noting there were about a dozen shareholders initially involved. “My feeling is capitalism for everyone. Capitalism only works when everyone can participate in it.”
The precise placement of those turbines is one of several matters being negotiated with the Ministry of the Environment as 401 Energy works toward a certificate of approval. Boreham hopes to have the turbines online by October of 2011.
While a map of the project’s study area features lands owned by The Highland Companies, which is behind a controversial quarry plan, Boreham confirms they are not involved in Farm Owned Power.
At one point, The Highland Companies considered installing wind turbines on their properties — not as part of the 401 Energy effort — but opted not to move ahead with them, explained company spokesperson Michael Daniher.
“We did research it. The company decided not to proceed and it has no plans to proceed at this stage,” he said.
There may, however, be a second project coming from Boreham and his group. He said the response from Melancthon residents to Farm Owned Power has been so great he’s planning to launch a 100 MW wind farm as well.
“I had over 100 people phone me that weren’t from our area but are still from Melancthon,” he said of those who wanted to get involved but couldn’t because they are located outside the study area. “I want to throw it open as quickly as I can to everyone, whether they’re farmers or not.”