By Monica Wolfson, Windsor Star
Despite growing opposition to ground-mounted solar projects in residential neighbourhoods, the province has yet to act on pleas to intervene. County council and municipalities across the province have asked the province for a moratorium on ground-mounted solar farm development in residential subdivisions. A new cabinet was sworn in Thursday with Chris Bentley as the new minister of energy.
“It’s very urgent,” Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio said. “The real estate market is slow and developers are taking advantage of the solar panel industry. It’s not fair. It affects the value of the homes.”
For a variety of reasons the Green Energy Act was a contentious issue during the recent provincial election. The Progressive Conservatives vowed to yank the law, while Liberals defended some of its most controversial elements, including provisions that allow solar project construction without oversight by municipalities.
Lawyer and developer Paul Mullins is building another solar project in Belle River on property he’s owned since the 1970s. Residents complained about his last project, which consisted of 44 ground-mounted solar panels in Duck Creek Park Estates. Mullins said Wednesday the new project on County Road 2 is smaller, although he didn’t provide details. There is an unfinished subdivision neighbouring the property as well as homes along County Road 2 that have large lots. He said he won’t move ahead with the project until he gets permission to hook up to the electricity grid.
County Road 2 resident Greg Iler said he supports green energy, but “it has to be in the right place and across the street (from me) isn’t the right place.
“If it was out behind me in a farmer’s field, I wouldn’t care. It’s going to be right in my face, in front of my house, as long as I live and that’s wrong.”
Andrew Block, spokesman for the Ontario Minister of Energy, said the province has a strong commitment to getting off coal.
“We are pleased with how far we’ve gone with that and look forward to implementing that further,” Block said.
Newly elected NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, who won’t be sworn in until Oct. 27, said he’ll be raising the issue in the legislature at the first opportunity.
“This type of set up should be in a rural area, not in a town,” he said. “It’s plain wrong and not fair. Homeowners need some compensation at least.”