NORTH STORMONT — The citizens’ group opposing the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project is urging Premier Doug Ford and his new Ontario government to cancel the North Stormont project and to stop spending taxpayer money defending the unbuilt project in the legal arena.
In a press release issued via the Wind Concerns lobby organization today, the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont are again highlighting how the project received Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ dropped on the June provincial election that ultimately stripped the Wynne Liberals of government and even party status.
Project opponents have filed an appeal, based on environment and health concerns, which is set to begin Thursday July 5 with a hearing in Finch.
Margaret Benke. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News
But in light of Ford’s election pledge to pull the plug on projects that lack final approval, this legal action is “a waste of time and taxpayer money,” says Margarent Benke, spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.
Ministry of the Environment employees and lawyers must travel from Toronto and mount a defence of the approval, notes Benke, adding this makes no sense if the government plans to cancel the unnecessary power project.
“We made an urgent request today for action on the Nation Rise project. It will cost the people of Ontario a base price of $500 million over 20 years, and add to our electricity bills,” she asserts. “The Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing will represent even more cost to the government and to the people of Ontario, and more financial and emotional strain to the people of North Stormont.”
Benke maintains the development “would expose citizens near Finch, Crysler and Berwick to environmental noise from huge, 3.2-megawatt wind turbines.” Most of the planned 33 turbines “would also be located on an area designated as a ‘highly vulnerable aquifer,'” she adds.
Should the project proceed, the Township of North Stormont stands to collect about $300,000 annually from the developer, for 20 years. Although officially opposed to the project, the township has settled on the idea of spending about $30,000 of this windfall annually on municipal recreation. The balance would bolster the township’s general infrastructure budget.
The municipality has also inked a deal with the developer on road damages resulting from heavy equipment used during construction. In South Dundas, where the same company — EDP Renewables — built a 10-turbine project, smiling municipal officials received an $868,000 cheque as road-damage compensation. Almost double that amount was handed over to the United Counties of SD&G on top of that.
Critics of Ontario’s wind-power programme say the province already has surplus electricity and doesn’t need turbines that generate power out-of-phase with demand. They’ve also been energized by Ontario’s Auditor General, who has criticized the contracts for above-market rates charged to ratepayers — to the tune of $9.2-billion.