Thursday, April 18, 2013

Northumberland wind farm projects stopped

John Campbell and Paul J. Rellinger

Apr 03, 2013 - 4:30 PM

Northumberland wind farm projects stopped

Company cites 'borderline economics'

"It's just not viable for us to build turbines there." Ingo Stuckmann, CEO of Wind Works Power Corp. NORTHUMBERLAND - The company that planned to install 10 wind turbines near Grafton and Centreton has quietly put an end to the two projects for economic reasons.

In a press release posted on its website March 28, Zero Emission People said "recent feasibility studies for the projects have resulted in borderline economics. Therefore, the company has decided to cease development of the projects."

Ingo Stuckmann, CEO of Wind Works Power Corp., who bought Zero Emission People, said as far as his company is concerned, no turbines will be built in Alnwick/Haldimand Township.

"Once we're finished up with this, that's it for us," Mr. Stuckman said. "We're moving away from it all together. It's just not viable for us to build turbines there."

Mr. Stuckman said the company reached its decision despite "impressive numbers" that showed its Clean Breeze Wind Farm projects would have produced enough power to light up Alnwick/Haldimand Township and Cobourg.

Opponents of the wind turbines were jubilant over the announcement -- but hesitant to claim total victory.

"Obviously we're pleased with that decision, it's what we've been striving for," said Gwyer Moore, a member of the Alliance for the Protection of the Northumberland Hills, a group of neighbours whose properties are near the proposed site.

However, "what we are still apprehensive about is the status of the actual FIT (feed-in tariff) contracts" that Zero Emission People obtained, which made it possible for the Clean Breeze Wind Farm to get this far.

The Alliance is trying to find out if the company still has those contracts with the Ontario Power Authority and is considering "reactivating them at a later date on other sites (in Northumberland County)," or if it has sold them, Mr. Moore said.

Mark DeJong, who operates a family farm with his wife Lisa adjacent to where the turbines were to be built, was ecstatic to hear the news.

"We couldn't believe it at first," Mr. DeJong said. "Now the neighbourhood can move on."

Mr. DeJong believes the actions of the Alliance had something to do with the cancelled plans.

"With all the pressure we put on the company and the government, it had to have been noticed," he said.

Mr. DeJong, who has lived and farmed in the area for more than 40 years, plans to continue to live in Alnwick/Haldimand Township, and is not at all against green energy sources -- just not so close to residential property.

"I am installing solar panels on my barns," he said. "And I am all for turbines, just not so close."

Zero Emission People has cancelled the three public meetings it had scheduled to explain its proposals but the Alliance is still going ahead with the one it set up for April 11 at the Baltimore Community Centre, citing the "ongoing risk" of wind turbine projects being allowed in the county.

"We feel it's a public service to hold the meeting and to disseminate the latest information," Sarah Holland said.

The Alliance fought the wind farm proposals because of concerns of the impact they would have on the social and economic fabric of the community and risks they posed to citizens' health.

More than a dozen of its members who live near the Grafton site launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit in January demanding compensation from the developer and landowner, claiming their properties have been devalued by the project.

The lawsuit will continue, "unless we have some degree of certainty that they aren't going to try to resurrect these projects," Mr. Moore said. "The risk to property values is as real as it ever was."

Zero Emission People also announced it is ceasing development of the wind farm it planned to build west of Hastings, in Peterborough County, offering the same reason, "borderline economics," for deciding not to install three turbines.