by MARY GOLEM, QMI Agency Owen Sound Sun Times
A supporter of the proposed Arran Wind Energy Project wants Arran-Elderslie’s deputy mayor removed from all future council discussions regarding wind energy.
Bruce Ransome, a Kincardine-area farmer and Arran-Elderslie landowner, said Mark Davis’ “anti-wind bias” prevents him from being an effective decision maker for all ratepayers. Davis has been leading council’s fight to keep turbines out of the municipality.
Ransome told about 60 people who crammed into Arran-Elderslie’s council chambers Monday morning – the majority of them sporting “Stop the wind turbines” buttons – that if the municipality’s long-standing position to keep turbines out of Arran-Elderslie is successful, “then landowners and others in the municipality who support wind energy should be compensated 50 per cent of the amount of the money they will lose” because of that decision. However, later in the meeting, Davis and the rest of council were praised for their work and anti-wind position.
Keith Stelling, an Arran Lake resident and long-time opponent of wind energy, told council he’s “really proud of our councillors”, saying “Arran-Elderslie was the first one to speak up against the Green Energy Act and the provincial government. We see honesty and truth coming out in your wind energy discussions, which isn’t always the case with power point presentations.”
Stelling’s comments, and a two-page letter he read to council outlining results of studies about adverse health issues resulting from the low frequency noise emitted by the turbines and suggestions that turbines have setbacks from 1 to 4.3 km from any residences, drew loud applause from those in attendance.
Earlier in the meeting, Charles (Chuck) Edey, president of Leader Resources Services Corp. and members of his team – communications manager Heather Boa and general manager Eric Monrad – updated members of council on the Arran Wind Energy Project in a power point presentation.
Edey, who admitted being nervous in making the presentation, told council a “significant number of landowners in Arran-Elderslie” support the proposed 115 mega-watt project in the municipality, saying over 35,000 acres of land is already under option for the Arran project, near Burgoyne, and the Skyway 127 project near Port Elgin. A maximum of 212 acres, for 36 sites, “is all that’s on the list for Arran-Elderslie.”
About a dozen Arran Wind Energy Project supporters were at Monday’s meeting. Edey stressed their attendance at the meeting “was their choice. They were not asked to come.”
“Open dialogue is the best way to move the project forward,” Edey said, adding “in some cases, there’s limited understanding of what’s going on.”
Edey said further fieldwork – required as part of the renewable energy approval process needed before the project can continue – will occur this spring, followed by public meetings to present the information in the fall.
“It will be the first quarter of 2012 before there’s a shovel in the ground.”
According to Edey, the 46 turbines which will make up the Arran Wind Energy Project, will bring in $96,200 in building permit revenue for Arran-Elderslie, along with $149,200 in annual taxes, an estimated $920,000 to landowners (leases) and $740,000 to Arran-Elderslie for the first 20 years in assessment. “The first year alone (the project) will provide revenue of $1 million,” Edey said, adding it would take 70 new homes in the municipality “to provide a similar tax base.”
Leader’s communications manager Heather Boa told those in attendance “more and more landowners are asking for more information . . . the silent majority is starting to speak,” she said, her comments sparking laughter from the audience. New signs, supporting wind power, “will soon start appearing in the area”, Edey said, at the request of local landowners.
Ransome says the proposed project will net each landowner who signs a lease for one or more turbines on their property an average of $20,000 per turbine annually for 20 years.
“The loss of revenue, including taxes, you should compensate us for,” Ransome told council, adding Davis “should step aside” during council’s wind energy discussions, claiming Davis “has too close of an association with anti-wind groups which compromises your ability to be impartial. Your dislike for turbines is well known,” Ransome said to Davis, adding his comments were “business, not personal.”
But Ransome’s comments drew an angry response from most in attendance. “He was elected … that’s democracy” one wind opponent yelled, before Mayor Paul Eagleson was forced to call the meeting to order.
“If I were to agree with you,” Davis told Ransome, “all that would prove is that two of us are wrong.”
Council presented Edey with a list of 15 questions it wants Leader Resources Services Corp. to answer, in writing, within 30 days.
Concerns raised in the questions range from the effect of turbines on surrounding properties, the health, safety and well-being of residents and future decommissioning and removal of the turbines to a request for the names of Arran-Elderslie residents who support the Arran Wind Project, questions about remuneration paid and restrictions placed on landowners.
Edey told council they would receive a written response to their questions.