By MARK HOULT, Belleville Intelligencer
The proposed Collie Hill Wind Farm near Hastings is just one of the small-scale projects Energy Farming Ontario hopes to build in Ontario, company director Kelly Campbell said this week.
“We look at small projects diversified across Ontario,” Campbell said during an open house Monday at the Asphodel-Norwood Community Centre. “That has always been our vision of how we want to develop these wind projects, just small, locally-generated electricity. We don’t do large, industrial scale projects with dozens of turbines.”
Campbell said the open house was held to introduce residents to the new scaled-back project under the renewable energy approval process.
Energy Farming Ontario held a public open house last year to propose a project with 10 wind turbines. The Collie Hill project has since been scaled back to three turbines, in part because of the new increased minimum setbacks, but also because of revised power calculations provided by Hydro One, Campbell said.
The company’s project overview, available online at energyfarmingontario.com,says the plan is to build up to three 1.8-megawatt wind turbines on privately-owned land in Asphodel-Norwood Township near Hastings.
Campbell said the company is still gathering input and information, and will likely hold another public meeting during the winter.
“We’re looking at compiling all our reports and finalizing our turbine layouts, which we do not have complete at this time. And once this is complete, we will be doing our final renewable energy application.”
Following the application, there is a six-month review period with the Ministry of Environment, Campbell said, adding the company is hopeful the wind farm will go into operation early in 2012.
Campbell said the wind turbines will have very little effect on the appearance of the landscape.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we’re talking about three here, we’re not talking about infiltrating the entire landscape with wind turbines.”
She also argued the debate over supposed turbine-related health problems has been settled by a recent study by the chief medical officer of health.
“They’ve reviewed all the documents, and the evidence points out that there is no impact on health from wind turbines. And they are the ones with the resources and staff to do these types of studies and give an unbiased opinion.”
Asphodel-Norwood Township resident Mara James said she came to the open house because she is concerned about the prospect of wind turbines going up in the municipality.
“They have a lot of negative effects,” said James, who has a farm on Highway 7 in addition to a residence in Scarborough. “We’re fighting turbines there, so I’m very educated about what the effects are, and how it makes no economic sense. There’s real health effects.
“The studies they use are old, and are not related to real people in Ontario who live next to these wind farms.”
James said she has met and talked to people living near wind farms in Kincardine, Wolfe Island and Shelburne who have had to move out of their homes because they have suffered health problems.
“Their homes have lost all value, they’ve become dead zones and they have to retreat to friends’ houses. They’ve lost everything.”
James is distributing a letter to Asphodel-Norwood residents, along with attached articles outlining some of the problems people have had with wind turbines.
In the letter she urges area residents to educate themselves about the negative impacts of wind farms. She said community residents “must send a clear message to the wind turbine industry” that the people of Asphodel-Norwood Township “will not sit on the sidelines” while the industry “sets up green energy projects that are heavily subsidized by our tax dollars” with questionable economic and environmental benefits.
“Without a doubt, the people in our community and our wellbeing must come first, before wind energy profits,” James said.