Thunder Bay Turbines OKed

By Leith Dunick,

Horizon Wind has just one more obstacle before its proposed wind farm gets the go-ahead at the municipal level.

City officials on Thursday released a public report that recommends council approve all 18 of the southern Ontario company’s planned turbine locations, despite the threat of a lawsuit from nearby residents in opposition to the $75-million plan.

“It is concluded that the city should enter into a lease with Horizon as contemplated in the option agreement, with negotiated amendments as summarized in this report, and that the city should approve the locations for turbines 1-18 as proposed by Horizon,” the city writes in the report, prepared by city solicitor Rosalie Evans.

The project must still get provincial approval and complete consultation with affected First Nations communities.

Council will vote for or against the recommendation on Tuesday, 13 days ahead of the Oct. 25 municipal election. On Monday council gave administration three days to produce Thursday’s report, which comes on the heels of Dillon Consulting Inc.’s confirmation that Horizon’s self-collected view-shed data was accurate.

As part of the deal Horizon and the city will cap the number and height of any future turbines and grant easements for connectivity and roads between the towers, allowing public access in the area.

Horizon has agreed to provide financial security for decommissioning the turbines when the lease expires, a bone of contention opponents used to fight the project, not wanting taxpayers to be left on the hook for the expected multimillion dollar cost.

The report says administration does not feel the approval of the turbines has been rushed, another complaint opponents from the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee have laid at the feet of the city.

“Wind turbine location approval was initially requested by Horizon in March and lease format approval was initially requested in May,” Evans writes. As outlined in the background section of this report, these matters have been considered by Committee of the Whole on several occasions.

The report also shakes off criticism that the city shouldn’t have considered approving locations or a lease until the company completes its provincially mandated renewable energy approval process.

The report said the criticism is unfounded, noting the city must consider the matters under its jurisdiction and the province consider those under Ontario’s.

“The city’s approval of the wind turbine locations and the form of lease it enters with Horizon will not impact the REA approval process,” the report says. “Concerns raised by the public and by the city must be addressed by Horizon in the context of that process. Horizon has acknowledged its obligations in that regard.”

More studies and due diligence could be undertaken, but administration said it has all the information it needs, and more studies would needlessly cost taxpayers more money.

Evans, in the report, acknowledged the threat of lawsuits from “several parties.” Nothing has yet to be filed in court.

6 thoughts on “Thunder Bay Turbines OKed

  1. Does anyone know the details of the agreement between the City and Horizon in regards to the decommissioning of the wind turbines at the end of the lease?

    What are the details of the financial provisions for decommissioning? Has an insurance policy,bond or escrow account been set up in case Horizon is bankrupt ot too insolvent to remove the turbines at the end of the lease/contract?

  2. What is the nature of the financial security that Horizon has provided to decommission/remove the wind turbines from City owned lands?

    Is there actual money provided or is this just words on a piece of paper.?If only words on a piece of paper then that’s all it’s worth and nothing more.

    If a PRIVATE land owner wants to assume that kind of risk then they have a right to do so. Howerver,on CITY owned land the taxpayers are being asked to assume this risk of paying for the removal of the turbines.

    Could this be construed as a bit of self dealing to get this deal done prior to the elections?

  3. “City officials on Thursday released a public report that recommends council approve all 18 of the southern Ontario company’s planned turbine locations …”

    So, who’s running the show here? We have unelected “officials”…which probably means a hired planner and CAO telling council what to do!!!

    This is democracy at work folks. Councils come and go every 4 years, but hired “officials” will always be there to tell our councils what to do.

    Nice eh?

    At this point I’d be threatening each and everyone of those councillors with a lawsuit if they approve the plan. Now that would give them second thoughts.

  4. Did the City of Thunder Bay have cost estimates done by any salvage companies to determine the cost of removal of wind turbinesl from City owned land in the event that Horizon or any other wind turbine companies do not have the money to remove the wind turbines at the end of the lease agreement?

    At least one cost estimate for wind turbine removal is needed inorder to determine the estimated dollar amount of risk the Thunder Bay rate payers will have to assume.

    In other words how much will it cost the rate payers to remove the wind turbines from city property in case the wind turbine company does not have the money to pay for the removal of turbines at the end of the lease?

    The Thunder Bay rate payers can be left on the hook for the removal costs of the wind turbines.

  5. Not to mention the liability incurred in the event that neighbours sue for property value loss or other, even more severe, damages.

    There are many legitimate questions surrounding these developments – the Wind Company can simply declare bankruptcy to escape liability (likely the reason they individually incorporate each project) – so that will leave the taxpayer on the hook for any damages that may occur.

    Did anyone in the City of Thunder Bay bother researching the financial viability or stability of their new business partners? (I think it is called “due diligence”!)

  6. Wind turbines installed in water are even more expensive to remove.

    Estimates done by marine demolition companies need to be obtained so estimates can be made for the dollar cost risks that the people of Ontario are going to be asked to assume if the turbine compaines don’t have the money to remove them at the end of the lease agreements. These wind turbines will be installed on Crown land in Lakes Ontario & Erie so the taxpayers of Ontario will be on the hook for the removal costs.

    If the public now thinks that power generated by wind turbines is expensive just add the windturbine removal costs onto their electric bills. It could take many,many years to pay for the removal costs.

    Most likely the value of the wind turbines ~20 years out from now will be $0.00 dollars. So only scrap value. This is not much incentive for the wind turbine companies to remove them at their own expense. Cheaper just to walk away from these old worn out wind turbines and let the public pay for their removal.

    This will be great for the wind turbine companies if the public lets them get away with this.

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