November 19, 2019
While people in Prince Edward County are celebrating the demise of the “White Pines” wind power project as government-ordered decommissioning of the industrial-scale wind turbines is going on this week, the people of North Stormont, south-east of Ottawa, are watching the behemoths go UP.
The White Pines project in Prince Edward County, developed by Germany-based wpd, was a controversial power project appealed several times by residents concerned about the environmental impact of the wind power generators and infrastructure on wildlife and people. The original plan was for 29 turbines; that was reduced to 27 after legal action and finally, to nine.
The new Ontario government passed legislation not long after taking office cancelling the power project — residents say it should never have been approved in the first place.
But now, more than 30 giant grid-scale wind turbines are currently being erected in North Stormont, near the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick by Portugal-based power developer EDPR. EDPR sold the project last year to Axium Infrastructure; that consortium also owns the K2 Wind power project in Huron County, which has been the subject of appeals, and post-operation, hundreds of noise complaints.
K2 Wind is currently under order by the Director of the environment ministry to implement and evaluate a noise assessment plan for more than 80 of its 140 turbines, which were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations for wind turbine noise emissions.
“Nation Rise” as the North Stormont project is called, was also the subject of appeals, and a last appeal was submitted to the Ontario environment minister six months ago. No word on the status of the appeal, nor on the status of a request for a stay of construction, filed in May.
Residents are concerned not only about noise (the project got to use old, pre-2017 noise assessment rules under the Wynne government), and also damage to the environment, especially a fragile or “vulnerable” water table.
The Nation Rise final approval came through days before the provincial election in 2018, despite the “caretaker” government convention which discourages major decisions during the election period. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) also granted a Notice To Proceed days after the election, despite being warned by government leader MPP Todd Smith not to approve any more projects.
Now, the giant towers are rising in the quiet communities of North Stormont, as the power developer races to meet a December operational deadline. The local MPP Jim McDonell claims there’s nothing he can do about it—that Notice To Proceed meant the project had to go ahead.
Pre-construction liability for Nation Rise (i.e., the cost of the government cancelling the contract) was about $400,000. If it goes into operation, the people of Ontario will bear the cost of the project which will add more than $400 million to electricity bills, over the 20-year life of the power contract.
So, while the turbines go up, others — already approved and built — come down. And you’re paying for it all.
OTTAWA WIND CONCERNS
The local community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont are having a fund-raising country breakfast December 1st. https://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/