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From the October edition of The AgriNews, an update on the South branch wind power project. You recall that Prowind, the same developer as for the Marlborough project in North Gower, began this project by leasing land from local farm owners, and then sold it to Portuguese energy giant EDP. Construction is ongoing now.

Here is an excerpt of the story by Lois Ann Baker.

BRINSTON–Now that the wet weather is out of the way, construction on the South Branch Wind Farm* is well underway. The sites of the 10 turbines that will be scattered throughout the Brinston area have been excavated and access roads have been created to allow the many trucks and equipment to access the sites.

Within the next week or two the foundations for the turbines will be poured, paving the way for installation of the turbines.

The main site located on Brinston Road just south of the hamlet, will also be home to the substation that will be used to maintain the turbines. A building consisting of meeting rooms and storage space will also be located on that site.

Project manager Ken Little said … the turbines [will] be installed in November and they should be producing power for Hydro One by the new year.

The controversial wind farm has sparked interest among the locals, said Little and EDP Renewables has tried to keep up “fairly regular communication” with both supporters of the project and those that oppose the turbines.

Ralph Butler of Williamsburg expressed his concerns over the wind farm by saying that the area of farm land being wasted is unbelievable.

BrinstonAerialSB“I think it’s the biggest waste of money since the gas plant,” said Butler. “I’ve been complaining about this ever since it started.”

Butler added that with new regulations brought in by the Ontario government stopping the turbines from producing power when there is an abundance of power on the grid, it’s possible these turbines will never turn a blade to produce power. He also added that the municipal government should have done something to stop the project.

[EDP’s] Little didn’t seem overly concerned with the regulations saying that…they will be compensated. “If we are asked to shut them down, after a certain amount of time we will be paid,” said Little.

In light of these new regulations, South Dundas council passed a resolution at the first regular council meeting held after the groundbreaking of the turbine sites to not support any future proposals until the supply and demand for electricity demonstrates a need. Council had previously turned down a resolution by Councillor Evonne Delagarde requesting that the municipality become known as “Not a Willing Host” to industrial wind turbines.

At the same council meeting, council felt the need to defend themselves when long-time Brinston resident Robbie Giles gave a presentation on how he felt council had no been open and acted in the best interests of residents of South Dundas, with regards to the South Branch project. Giles claimed too many informal meetings with a lack of follow-up was a big issue.

Giles said he felt the biggest lesson learned from the South Branch project was that revealed a lack of public contact or consultation and urged council to take responsibility for “access, transparency, honesty, respect for all voices, and courage to change position and challenge authority, if it is the right thing to do.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds** responded with “I think we are an open council. We do not have informal meetings and do not discuss council issues away from the council table.” ***


*They are not “farms”

**Remember that name, especially in the next municipal election, October 2014

***Because that would be ILLEGAL under the Municipal Act, wouldn’t it?

Aerial photo of South Branch wind power plant by Ralph Butler