Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wind farm growth would upset residents

By Elaine Della-Mattia, Sault Star
Algoma residents and visitors are annoyed and dismayed by the intrusion of the Prince Wind Farm turbines and will be angrier if the Goulais Wind Project moves ahead destroying the natural beauty of the area, says a report penned by Save Ontario's Algoma Region.

SOAR has filed its 21-page report as its submission to the Ministry of Energy regarding the Goulais Wind Project.
The report concludes that with area residents already annoyed with existing wind farms in the area – which are half the size of the new generations of turbines planned for the Goulais Wind Project – they don't want to see more.
They want to protect the natural beauty of Algoma and the wilderness of Algoma Highlands and the Lake Superior Coast.
SOAR argues that Ontario's energy prices are expected to increase 40 to 50% over the next few years, mostly due to increased uses of renewable energy sources.
The Goulais Wind Project is considered an extension of the Prince Wind Project, which includes a total of 126 turbines.
SOAR argues that the Green Energy Green Economy Act is misguided and undemocratic, impacts rural Ontario and doesn't include local service boards in the renewable energy process.
It charges that misrepresentations have been made to the public about the project and the proponents have dolled out money for gifts and included First Nations in order to get approval.
SOAR argues that rural Ontario is the place of choice for industrial wind projects even though the majority of electricity consumption occurs elsewhere.
They say that while wind park developers serve as the “middle man” between the government and communities, the government is misguided and places its faith and trust in the developers.
More difficulties arise when community governance bodies are local service boards, which SOAR believes does not possess the same degree of elected representation as that of an incorporated municipality.
In addition, SOAR writes in its submission, consideration must be equally given to the Batchewana First Nation, Garden River First Nation and Thessalon First Nation communities.
Batchewana First Nation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the developer to be a partner in the project and Garden River First Nations has said it has no interest in participating but fully endorses the project. The Thessalon First Nation raised concerns about their treaty hunting and fishing rights and consultation between the First Nation and appropriate Crown agencies and ministries have not taken place.
Input by the First Nations communities does not indicate the lack of support expressed by area residents from neighbouring communities, the submission states.
SOAR concludes that interaction between the developer and First Nations occurred after the final open house was held in September.
It also states that the government should have been involved in the negotiations, and it is a dereliction of duty and an abdication of responsibility for the Crown not to be involved.
SOAR has been advocating against Algoma area wind projects for several years and have encouraged others to make the Ontario government aware of the impact that industrial wind turbine projects have on the unspoiled wilderness in this area.
If the project receives final approval, the wind farm will be built on the plateau between Highway 17 north and the Prince II Wind Farm, approximately five kilometres northwest of Heyden and five kilometres south of Goulais River.
The deadline for the submission process regarding the Sprott Power Goulais Wind Project to the Environmental Registry ends today.