By Tom Collins
NORTH FRONTENAC — The province will announce new wind turbine projects by the end of the year — as many as 100 turbines or more — but seven out of eight Eastern Ontario municipalities that could be impacted by those submissions voted against the projects.
The lone wolf was Addington Highlands Township, which approved two turbine projects with a combined 370 MW capacity in July.
Wind turbine developers submitted 27 wind turbine projects by the Sept. 1 deadline. Those proposals equal 2,246.8 megawatts (MW), but the province will approve only 300 MW this year, translating to about 100 large turbines.
North Frontenac mayor Ron Higgins is 80 per cent confident there won’t be turbines in his township as it has declared itself “an unwilling host” but says the province can ignore that designation. Ninety-one of 444 Ontario municipalities have declared themselves unwilling hosts to wind turbines.
Higgins hopes the province will choose to put turbines where they are wanted. The province says wind developers that came to an agreement with a municipality have top priority for approval.
North Stormont Township councillor and Avonmore dairy farmer Jim Wert said there is no upside to turbines for his municipality, but has no confidence that North Stormont will not be getting wind energy.
“I think the track record of this decision-making process speaks for itself,” he said. “If you take a look at the number of municipalities that have had unwilling host status in the past and the number of them that now have windmills, I think that speaks volumes.”
According to numbers compiled by the municipality last year, 89 per cent of wind turbines are operating in municipalities that don’t want them as 25 of 28 municipalities that have turbines declared themselves unwilling hosts.
Wind turbines are a divisive issue for farmers, said Wert. With turbines bringing in around $30,000 a year per turbine, farmers who have the option of having wind turbines are in favour of them, while neighbours who can’t have turbines may be upset about the potential impact on property values.
South Dundas Coun. Bill Ewing said his municipality is against turbines unless the province can justify a need for it. He didn’t believe municipalities would be successful in stopping turbines if they all joined forces.
“That would be like trying to stop the snow from falling,” he said. “They missed the boat when the province first said, ‘you shall.’ (Municipalities) should have all got together and said ‘whoa, stop this.’ It became a dictatorship then.”
The successful applicants are expected to be announced later this month. The seven applications for Eastern and East-Central Ontario include:
- 35 to 100 turbines for a 200-megawatt project in Addington Highlands Township.
- 40 to 60 turbines for a 170-megawatt project in Addington Highlands Township.
- 35 to 50 turbines for a 150-megawatt project in the Nation Municipality, Russell Township, North Stormont Township, and Alfred and Plantagenet Township.
- 29 to 50 turbines for a 100-megawatt project in North Stormont Municipality.
- 50 turbines for a 100-megawatt project in North Frontenac Township.
- 40 turbines for a 75-megawatt project in South Dundas Municipality.
- 15 turbines for a 40-megawatt project in Nation Municipality and Champlain Township.
On that list, the Nation, North Stormont, North Frontenac and South Dundas have declared themselves as unwilling hosts. Russell Township has approved a powerline through part of its township, but not wind turbines. Champlain Township voted in favour of allowing a substation in its township, but not turbines. Alfred and Plantagenet Township wouldn’t have turbines as part of the project, and they have not made a decision on whether to support wind turbines. Alfred and Plantagenet Township originally approved the project on July 20, but rescinded its decision on Aug. 12 once they discovered the Nation — which would have the turbines — was against it.
According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, there were 76 Ontario wind developments running as of September, with a total of 2,150 turbines and 4,042 MW capacity.
There are three operating wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario — 86 turbines at Wolfe Island, 10 at Brinston south of Winchester and five at Loyalist Township west of Kingston.
The province has approved eight other Eastern Ontario projects that are not yet up and running.