By Ian Cumming
St. Isidore–With a September 1 deadline to apply to the Ontario government for a share of the provincial allotted windpower megawatts (MW), four wind companies held public information open houses in three eastern Ontario counties, detailing their area proposed projects.
Two of these were: the RES Canada presentation in Vankleek Hill for the 15-turbine, 40 MW Gauthier project on June 22, and the EDF EN Canada presentation for the 14-MW project in St. Isidore on June 23.
With EDF having a large number of solar and wind proects in 19 countries throughout the world, including scattered throughout the United States plus Alberta and Quebec, the company is looking to expand its presence in Ontario, says David Thornton, from stakeholder relations at the company.
Wind developer exec former McGuinty staffer
Thornton started as a staffer in Premier McGuinty’s office, was the former campaign manager for the Ontario LIberal Party, and over six years at Queen’s Park, was senior policy advisor for renewable energy at the Ministry of Energy, and also senior policy advisor for land use planning and municipal affairs at Municipal Affairs.
Thornton and his staff fielded questions from the audience.
“Who do you work for?” Thornton asked Sylvia [sic] Gagnon. “I work for no one,” Gagnon replied. “I live in North Glengarry and I’m against the invasion of our beautiful farmland by these monstrosities.
“I came here for answers and instead I’m talking to a lot of slippery people.”
The over 160 farmers signed up for the St. Isidore project “are more than who will get windmills,” said Thornton to Ontario Farmer. “That’s the way these projects work.”*
However, “all these farmers who sign up will be paid something, whether they get a windmill or not,” added Mark Gallagher from EDF.
The concept of also paying local supportive residents who have signed up a minimum of $1,000 per year** “was something I brought from Ireland,” said Gallagher. “They do that over there, pay people on a per acre basis.”
EDF pays the municipal taxes on the windmills, said Gallagher *** which would come to $150,000 per year on a project smaller than what they are proposing in St. Isidore.
He noted that, on top of that, they are committed to invest heavily in sports grants and other community projects over the next two decades. ****
The one farmer who held out from EDF, having 700 acres in the St. Isidore area as part of his 5,000 acres in two counties, gave a quick walk through scanning the posters and [said] “I’ve seen enough, I’m going home,” he told Ontario Farmer.
This is going to end badly
He said his instincts are telling him “this is going to end badly.
“It’s a business model based on a falsehood that can’t sustain itself. Some day people won’t be able to pay more on their hydro bills.”
The night before, in Vankleek Hill, the RES Canada presentation had fewer posters but the issues and the concerns for those attending were exactly the same.
“I have no idea where the Liberal government is getting the money for these things,” said local mayor [Champlain] Gary Barton at the RES presentation. Barton, unlike his counterpart in St. Isidore is not embracing the proposed project in his area.
However, under the Green Energy Act, “there is nothing I can legally do,” said Barton.
He recalled a specific face-to-face meeting several years ago [that] involved him and another local mayor with then Ontario Energy minister George Smitherman, expressing concerns about a large solar project in their area.
“He told us there is nothing you can do,” said Barton.
Electrical engineer Stan Thayer was at the RES presentation noting, “I’m not against anything. When I was at McGill in the 1970s we worked with solar panels and wind mills. I understand all this.
“But, I can’t afford it,” said Thayer. “Plus, the BS being presented to the public is wrong,” he said.
“No one has shown me facts from any windmill, no matter the size, making a profit,” said Thayer.
“They are using cosmic math,” he said. “Because we don’t know where they are getting their numbers. They don’t add up, multiply or divide.”
* It’s the way they work now: the new procurement process requires sign-off from adjacent landowners so developers are paying people.
** $1,000 a year for noise, vibration and changed property value?
*** Taxes on wind turbines (they are NOT “windmills”) are capped under the Green Energy Act at $40,000 per megawatt, in spite of the fact the turbines cost $2-3 million. The property tax revenue is less than 20 or so houses.
**** The wind developers get to choose where the money from their “vibrancy” or community funds go, and they like to choose sports so they can have their name plastered all over it as advertising.