By Sharon Hill Windsor Star
The province’s Green Energy Act has hamstrung residents’ ability to fight wind turbine proposals for lakes Erie and St. Clair by putting the financial onus on opponents to prove any harm to human health or the environment.
Municipalities need to do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of studies to fight 715 wind turbines proposed for the two lakes, Gord Meuser, a member of Citizens Against Lake Erie Wind Turbines, told Leamington council Monday.
“This artificial forest pounded into our bay is just wrong,” Meuser said.
He said the sad part is the odds are stacked against the citizens and municipalities under the new act.
“The onus is now on us.”
Meuser was focused just on 165 offshore turbines proposed for Pigeon Bay south of Leamington and Kingsville in three offshore wind farms of 55 turbines each.
But SouthPoint Wind is proposing a total of 715 turbines for Lake Erie south of Chatham-Kent and Essex County and for Lake St. Clair north of Lakeshore.
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is working with local municipalities to see what studies should be done and how much that could cost.
The conservation authority could know the cost within a few days and will meet with municipal representatives again.
Tracey Pillon-Abbs, manager of planning services for Leamington, told council depending on the number of municipalities involved in the cost sharing, the estimated cost could be $5,000 to $10,000 per municipality.
SouthPoint Wind has not applied to the province for the offshore wind turbines. It has scheduled a series of public meetings for March 27 and has a draft application on its website.
Coun. Rick Atkin said he hoped the thinking that the province is going to ram the offshore wind farms on municipalities is wrong.
Leamington Deputy Mayor Rob Schmidt said adequate studies have not been done and the same concerns that at one time saw the province place a moratorium on offshore wind farms are still valid now.
The ban that had been put in place after reaction to SouthPoint Wind’s proposal for 15 offshore turbines in 2006 was lifted in 2008.
Coun. John Paterson said he hoped municipalities could stop the access to the power grid on land. “It’s our natural resource. We’re a waterfront community. Why would we want this destroyed by a wind farm,” Paterson said.
Council agreed with a motion by Schmidt to ask staff to draft a resolution to send to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to research other options to control green energy projects since it has no power under the Green Energy Act. Schmidt doesn’t want inappropriate uses and conflicts with neighbours over wind turbines and solar projects.
When talking offshore turbines, Meuser said some people assume the 715 turbines is some sort of joke.
But he said there will be offshore turbines in the lakes if research isn’t done to prove there could be negative impacts.
He urged residents to show up for a March 27 meeting in Leamington at the Princess Centre. SouthPoint Wind is holding public meetings across Essex County that day including one at the Lakeside Park pavilion in Kingsville from noon to 2 p.m.
For more information see www.southpointwind.com.
Other hour-long meetings March 27 include an 8:30 a.m. meeting at the Puce Sports and Leisure Centre, a 6 p.m. meeting at the Harrow arena and a 7:30 p.m. meeting at the Amherstburg Recreation Centre.