Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Township Against Energy Farming Ontario Inc

Alnwick/Haldimand Township residents organizing to stop proposed wind farm
Wind turbine meeting

Energy Farming meets municipal approval delays for test tower

CASTLETON -- A group of Alnwick/Haldimand Township residents are banding together to oppose a proposed wind farm in their community.
On Sept. 24, the Castleton Community Centre was overflowing with residents at a public information forum hosted by The Alliance for the Protection of the Northumberland Hills. Speakers opposed to the plan talked about serious potential negative health effects, ranging from sleep disturbances to vertigo and nausea.
Concerns were also raised about electromagnetic fields, dirty electricity and ground current caused by the way the wind turbines are connected to the grid. Dave Colling, a retired dairy farmer and electrical pollution specialist from Ripley, Ont., told the crowd he has an option to lease land to a wind energy company, a decision he regrets making. He believes Ontario’s electricity grid is too outdated and overloaded to handle new green energy added to the system. Wind turbines, which are not properly grounded and don’t have the lines to the transfer station buried, can cause “dirty energy”, which makes people sick, Mr. Colling said.
“It’s like being in a microwave.”
Guests at the meeting were asked to sign the petition to stop the Energy Farming plan to put a 25 megawatt wind farm with up to 12, 70- to 100-metre high wind turbines in the community. As a first step, Energy Farming Ontario Inc. is trying to get approval to install a 50-metre test wind tower in the rural community.
The citizens group has hired an environmental lawyer, Kristi Ross, from the Ottawa firm Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, to fight the project. They are looking at Oak Ridges Moraine legislation to see if it will offer any protection against the wind farm.
“What we want to do is stop the turbines before they come. We can do that through legislation and civil litigation,” said Ms. Ross.
Brian Crosby, a local man who works in development for Energy Farming, attended the recent anti-turbine meeting.
“I went because I’m a local resident and I am interested in what people’s concerns are, and feel they should be addressed,” said Mr. Crosby.
He said increased provincial setbacks of 550 metres from the neighbouring homes are designed to keep people safe and designers are working to minimize noise and other impacts, Mr. Crosby said.
Rural grounding issues are an existing problem and the new wind turbines will not increase the voltage on the existing transmission lines, the company representative said. Power lines for the new project could be buried up to the transfer station depending on the terrain.
“I think for the most part we’re going to be buried anyway. We’ve committed in our lease agreements to be buried on people’s property,” said Mr. Crosby.
Overall, he has been encouraged by the number of positive responses to the project.
The company has erected a 10-metre study tower to measure the wind and is meeting some delays trying to get approval for a larger 50-metre test tower. The municipality originally thought Energy Farming would need a building permit for the temporary equipment. Now the company may need rezoning approval for the tower to be installed on rural land.
If the test tower gets approval, there will be years of study, and building will not begin until at least 2011.
Alnwick/Haldimand Township has a 2006 municipal bylaw restricting ‘Wind Energy Generating Systems’. However, the new Ontario Green Energy Act trumps the municipal bylaw. The municipality will not be allowed to decide whether or not to allow the wind farm, but they will get a say in where the turbines are placed.
If the citizens group is going to stop the project completely, they will need to petition the provincial government.
“We’re hopeful because they’re not here yet,” said Brad Wells, one of the organizers of the packed residents meeting.
“(The attendance) shows the level of concern in the community. People have busy lives, they don’t come out in the middle of the week unless they’re really concerned.”