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The number of wind turbines is limited in PEC

There have been several comments on-line and in the media predicting that the current Gilead and wpd projects are just the beginning for wind farms in PEC, but these comments are just part of the story.
“Gilead’s is the first of what is approaching 100 turbines proposed for the County…”, Garth Manning, CCSAGE.
“There are 4 new projects planned for Hillier.” Cheryl Anderson, PECFN.
While statements made by Mr. Manning, Ms. Anderson and others are technically correct, because they use terms such as ‘proposed’ or ‘planned’, what they fail to do is put those statements into context.  Put another way, they fail to ask if all of those projects have the possibility of being built.  We don’t think so, and here’s why:  capacity, setbacks and DND.
Many of the turbines/projects they are referring to were ‘planned’ or ‘proposed’ prior to the Green Energy Act & enhanced regulations in 2009, which introduced standardized setbacks (consider that prior to this, setbacks closer than the currently-required 550 m from non-participating dwellings were either negotiated with the municipal unit or, in the case of a dispute, decided upon by the Ontario Municipal Board).  The assumed location and number of many of the turbines contained within these pre-existing proposals simply could not be built under the new regulation.
More limiting than the setback issue, is whether or not the project’s output can be fed into the electricity grid.  That is, is there capacity within the local grid to accept more power?  With each contract awarded by the Ontario Power Authority (the governing body for energy development in Ontario), the available capacity in that area diminishes, and opportunities to add new generation are further reduced.  This holds for PEC as well.
For the purpose of illustrating this point, consider the automobile:  a car has a limited capacity to carry people.  When you add a passenger, a seating position within the car is taken up.  As you continue to add riders, the ability to add additional passengers diminishes, until there are no more seatbelts available and the car is full.  There may be many more individuals who ‘plan’ on sitting in the car, but unfortunately it’s full.  So, contrary to what is claimed about wind development, having one or two projects in an area does not open the floodgates.
Equally limiting is the presence of Department of National Defence (DND) installations in Trenton and Mountain View.  Activities from these installations restrict the areas in The County where turbines can be placed.  Any developer looking to place turbines in PEC would need to consult with DND to ensure their project does not hinder DND operations.  If placement of turbines in specific areas has the potential to interfere with DND radar or training activities, DND would have objections to the project proceeding.
Consider the project wpd had proposed for North Marysburgh.  wpd was actively working on a project in the North Marysburgh area that would have included 25 turbines (presumably included in the 100 turbines mentioned by Mr. Manning).  As part of the planning process for this project, we consulted with DND, who indicated they would have objections should we proceed.  Given this, wpd abandoned the project and issued a press release early in 2012 indicating that, due to DND activity in the area, we no longer intended to proceed with the project.  Similar objections were made to the 46 turbine Byran project ‘proposed’ by Skypower for the Sophiasburgh area.  This project will never be realized either – again reducing the 100 or more turbines expected by Mr. Manning.
In summary, it’s neither practical nor accurate to assume all plans and proposals will be realized.  In PEC, there are limitations based on grid capacity, siting limitations and DND objections.  Developers must work with these constraints when proposing projects or delivering contracted ones.
Jason Alford, Community Liaison Representative, wpd Canada.

Filed Under: Letters and Opinion

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  1. Paul says:

    I’m having a hard time thinking these “Landowners” will or can be help responsible for the contracts they signed most of whom are Farmers and were merely trying to make a living off their land exactly what Farmers do. Its been said on this message board that these folks were unaware of possible dangers associated with these “wind turbines”. Sadly it all boils down to money whether by making money from “green energy” or losing money on property values.

  2. Chris Keen says:

    @ Donna – then they should have taken part in the referendum and made their wishes known. Simple.

  3. john thompson says:

    Gary, the financial problems were not the cause of the SkyPower cancellation as the new owners had sufficient funds to go forward. It was cancelled because of DND objections and even a smaller project is objected to.

    I repeat myself in saying that DND has also indicated objections to all other areas of possible feasibility in the County except Athol and SM where the current two proposals would not be leaving a commercially viable space remaning. Grid capacity for leaving the County is essentially booked and it would be no more feasible to connect to an expanded line to the GTA than it is today.

  4. Donna says:

    Gary, it’s entirely possible that the other 628 eligible voters in South Marysburgh WANT wind turbines. They have wishes and rights as well.

  5. Marnie says:

    Gary, these land owners are far more culpable than Jason.

  6. Gary Mooney says:

    Marnie, the landowners are being sued, along with wpd Canada, for $14 (or $17?) million dollars.

  7. Marnie says:

    Gary, like you I am greatly opposed to wind turbines in the county but I don’t think it is right to expect Jason to answer your question. He took a job, he did not commit a crime.If he did not hold his present job. someone else would be in his place. What about the land owners who leased their property for the turbines with no thought for those 489 neighbours in South Marysburgh?

  8. Gary Mooney says:

    Jason, I have a question that has been bugging me for some time, and I have to ask it. I’m sure that others have the same question as well.

    I realize that everyone has to earn a living and, especially in rural communities, may need more than one source of income.

    Despite the fact that 90% of South Marysburgh residents who voted in the S.M. Mirror plebiscite chose NO turbines, you are representing the company that these folks believe will cause them adverse health and financial effects, and will damage the natural environment.

    Even if you don’t believe that these adverse effects will occur, how do you justify going against the wishes of 489 voters who will be forced to live near wpd’s turbines?

    Especially when you live only 11 km from Mountain View airport, and have some comfort that no turbines will be installed near your home.

    Surely, it’s not just for the money, and you have a compelling reason for working for wpd, against the wishes of those who will be affected. Can you explain?

  9. Doris Lane says:

    Jason you are employwed by WPD , would we take your word for any of this NO.
    I do however think that Gary Mooney who is an actuary and who has done extensive work on Green energy knows eactly what is happening

  10. Gary Mooney says:

    Jason Alford’s comments about why previously announced projects might not get built are patently self-serving. “Hey County folk, just let us build our project and trust us when we say that the others won’t be able to find a way to get theirs built.”

    Jason, we didn’t fall off a turnip truck. When there are substantial, guaranteed profits being offered for 20 years by the provincial government, wind developers will find a way.

    Re transmission, there is going to be a HUGE upgrade of transmission capacity running from the new gas plant in Lennox & Addington County to the GTA. Easy to tap into that.

    Re DND, CCSAGE had extensive contact with them earlier, and they repeatedly said that they won’t make general statements about whole projects or specified areas; they will only say yes or no to specific turbine locations.

    Skypower was cancelled, not because of DND, but because of the bankruptcy of their owner, Lehman Brothers. While DND disapproved 29 of 43 turbines because of interference with radar at Trenton or with take offs / landings at Mountain View, they accepted 14 of them. So it’s possible that a scaled-down project could proceed in Sophiasburgh / Hallowell.

    Re the 25 turbines proposed by wpd Canada for North Marysburgh, there are improvements coming in stealth technology for turbine blades and in discrimination capabilities for radar software, so what can’t be done today may be possible tomorrow, by wpd or another developer.

    Neither of the above projects was included in the 99 turbine estimate, which was for south County.

    Question for you, Jason. Under previous ownership, the project now called White Pines was announced at 75 turbines. Wpd Canada is currently proposing 29 turbines. Will you provide us with a statement from wpd Canada that they have no intention of building any more than 29 turbines in the County?

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