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ERT decision leaves wpd Canada with a nine turbine project

An Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision released Wednesday removes 18 industrial wind turbines from the Renewable Energy Approval (REA)’s original 29, leaving the wpd Canada project with just nine turbines – mostly in the Milford area.

The long-awaited decision follows a 21-day hearing in December 2015, and an order in February 2016 that the project “will cause serious and irreversible harm” to animal life and the natural environment – specifically the endangered Blanding’s turtles and Little Brown Bats.

ERT members Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins presided over a hearing this January in Wellington, allowed to hear potential remedies to reduce the number of deaths of turtles and bats.

“APPEC is delighted with the ERT decision today as a victory for the environment and in particular the preservation of the South Shore of PEC,” said Gord Gibbons, chairman. “Clearly a victory for the survival of the Blanding’s turtle and indirectly many other animal and plant species. The 18 removed turbines were all located on the South Shore, basically those turbines which were proposed to be located south of Royal Road. We are pleased that the ERT has made a decision that will keep the South Shore turbine-free.”

The ruling Wednesday found that with amendments, proposed mitigation measures are satisfactory in regard to Little Brown Bats and for Blanding’s turtles in the areas of turbines one through 11.

Two of the 29 turbines (seven and 11) originally proposed were removed in 2015 because of heritage reasons.

“The Tribunal finds that it is in the public interest to remove from the REA the turbines proposed to be accessed by proposed upgraded secondary and tertiary municipal road segments and by the intersections in Blanding’s turtle habitat, specifically turbines 12 through 29.”

The Tribunal also reiterated its findings and recommendations from the February 2016 order, regarding significant risk of serious harm to migrating birds posed by the project. Protection of birds was the key interest for County resident John Hirsch, who appealed the project with APPEC.

The difference between the wpd project and the nine-turbine project that the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (and Blanding’s turtle) witnessed victory over last summer, is that the wpd plan is to be built on private lands where Gilead Power’s project involved public land.

Either side can appeal Wednesday’s decision to Divisional Court, but only on the grounds of legal error, not on evidence.

“We await wpd’s response but clearly are optimistic that the South Shore as been saved with another positive decision in keeping with the Ostrander point ERT decision,” said Gibbons.

wpd Canada spokesman Kevin Surette said the company has just received the decision and is still reviewing it to decide what its next steps will be.

wpd began clearing vegetation in several areas of the project April 19 that were not identified as Blanding’s turtle habitat.

“It is unfortunate that wpd decided to decimate areas with their vegetation clearing over the last eight days,” said Gibbons. Work stopped following the decision.

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff calls the decision a positive development.

“Our community has been fighting this project for quite some time now, and I’m glad to see that the Environmental Review Tribunal has recognized and given credence to our concerns,” he said. “I want to congratulate the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County for their tenacity throughout this process. From what I understand, this decision will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for wpd to proceed with the project.”

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  1. Gary Mooney says:

    Chuck, you can find a sample contract by googling “FIT archive IESO” (without the quotes) and proceeding from there to find version 1.3.0.

    There was a specified process to obtain approval for this project, and Wpd failed to meet the requirements for 20 of 29 turbines. They have to cover their own costs.

    There is one situation where, if the province cancels the project, Wpd would be reimbursed for costs up to about $500K. But Wpd has already spent millions.

  2. Chuck says:

    I would like to see the contract. Are we on the hook for WPD costs to date? This ruling cuts their project by 66%. Is it dead or do taxpayers cover the downfall? WPD has a lot of coin invested. Nice if we knew the facts.

  3. Bill says:

    You can go to APPEC’s website to see the map of the remaining turbines and those that have been revoked.

  4. Susan says:

    Flickering lights, constant hum,sleep disruptive, and for expensive power that requires backup, all for what. And try to sell your property, good luck. How did so many get fooled or run over! Feel really sorry for Wolfe & Amherst Islands. It’s just so wrong especially for the creatures that have every right to share the natural environment with the biggest predator, that being humans!

  5. doug says:

    the people of Milford do not want the turbines flickering on their homes

  6. Gary says:

    I would hope that the government doesn’t further subsidize the Wind Factory just to get a win in Prince Edward. Our MPP is a bitter enemy so it concerns me.

  7. Ottawa says:

    What am I missing here? The Liberal government under “Dilton Micdoily” cost we taxpayers 2B$ and moved more power generation to the Bath road. So, what are 9 towers going to add to an existing glut of electrical power supply to Ontario and too, at a ridiculously cut rate (loss) to US consumers? When will logic trump politics?

  8. Gary Mooney says:

    Correction to my earlier post: Wpd could get away with delivering 75% of the contracted capacity, still much greater than the 31% that they can now deliver.

  9. Chuck says:

    They can’t meet their contractual requirements. “Goodnight Irene”!

  10. Paul Cole says:

    I suppose WPD could apply to build more Windmills in the area where there would less environmental impact along with the 9 that were approved…

  11. Lisa says:

    In ssssooooo many ways ..We’re losing Our County !
    Why not have organized protests ?

  12. Doris Lane says:

    THEY DO NOT NEED THOSE 9 turbines –hope they will cancel altogether and save poor Milford
    How about the fact that prince edward voted to be turbine free
    With that HUGE POWER PLANT Being CONSTRUCTED ON BATH ROAD (which we do not need) the turbines in PEC are redundant

  13. hockeynan says:

    Janet ,this has been going on for over seven years. Where have you been?

  14. Gary Mooney says:

    So, what about the remaining nine turbines and the families who will be affected? Will the smaller project be built?

    Wpd’s FIT contract requires them to deliver at least 90% of the contracted capacity. With nine turbines, they’ll only be able to deliver 31%. Hopefully, this will result in cancellation of the contract.

    It’s been seven years since Wpd was awarded its FIT contract. The contract requires them to commence operations by a certain date, or the project may be cancelled. Although not possible for us to determine precisely, it appears that they have already missed this date, or about to do so.

    It is possible, even likely, that Wpd will decide that the smaller project is uneconomic. One reason would be the inability to cover the cost of the 28-km transmission line with only one-third the number of turbines.

    It is conceivable that Wpd will sign up another nine landowners in the vicinity of the nine approved turbines, increase the capacity of each turbine to 3 MW and apply for reopening of the application process. This would definitely be a Hail Mary on their part.

    All things considered, I think that it is unlikely that the smaller project will be built. But don’t take that to the bank.

    One thing to keep in mind. Wpd will likely appeal the ERT process and decision to Divisional Court. The appeal may be only on points of law, not on the evidence presented. The appeal is unlikely to succeed, but will extend the whole process for several months more.

  15. Janet says:

    How did we, my husband and I, not know of this? We own property on Army Reserve and knew of the proposed turbines at the other end, near Babylon Road, but did not know they were trying to surrounding our property near Lighthall! We were never contacted, informed nor asked! WTF?

  16. Gary says:

    A very diluted decision, much like kissing your sister. 9 Industrial Turbines surrounding Milford is not a victory.

  17. Dennis Fox says:

    I agree with Sarah – why place these things anywhere close to people? There are alternative locations. I suppose the real question now is – will wpd still go ahead with the 9 allowed and is it cost effective for them to do so?

  18. Sarah says:

    I am very glad that the blanding turtles and bats are safe. I have huge admiration for the fight our community put up against the odds. My heart now hopes that our own habitat can be protected. In a country the size of Canada it is ludicrous that industrial projects be sited within shouting distance of our homes. Here in Milford we continue to live, in the shadow of those turbines, where big business has more power than our own community.

  19. Chris Keen says:

    On the map accompanying this article turbines numbered 12 through 29 have been removed from the REA – i.e. those south of Royal Road and towards the end of Long Point. The remaining turbines 1 – 9 are clustered south and west of Milford, north of Royal Road.

    Still nine too many!!

  20. Fred Flinstone says:

    Same original map ,1 – 11 are approved and subtract 7 & 11. Leaves 9. Hopefully in affordable and they high tail it out of here!

  21. Jeepers says:

    Is there an updated map with the turbines that *will* be allowed?

  22. Fred Flinstone says:

    Hopefully shuts them down. Now let’s get every citizens rights to the legal right of way back to the Outlet Beach.

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