Three wind energy companies are courting the Township of Brooke-Alvinston as they gear up for the next round of approvals for wind projects.
The provincial government had halted what they call the Large Procurement Process for the largest of industrial wind sights after massive outcries from resident and politicians about the way the projects were awarded and were seemingly moved through the approval process quickly by the province without addressing public concerns.
After over a year of revamping the conditions for getting a lucrative contract , wind companies now have until September to submit projects for approval. And Brooke-Alvinston seems to be a sought after location for wind turbines.
NextEra Energy talked to Brooke-Alvinston Council about its Hardy Creek Project tody. The company sent a letter and talked to Mayor Don McGugan “for about 10 minutes one day” but has said little about the project.
NextEra also has approached Warwick Township and Adelaide-Metcalfe near Strathroy.
NextEra formed a partnership with TCI Renewables in 2009 for a project in the same three municipalities which was at that time called the White Pines Project. The company was expecting to build between 50 and 60 turbines by 2017. It’s not clear if the Hardy Creek project follows the same footprint.
Mainstream Renewable Resources, which recently pulled the plug on its Sydenham 1 project in Dawn-Euphemia, will also be speaking to council in the next month. It also is not saying a lot about the project, but Mainstream’s website says a 100 megawatt project is in the early stages of development. Mainstream also promoted its Sydenham 2 project – a 100-megawatt project mainly in Enniskillen Township which also was expected to have about 66 turbines.
And McGugan says a wind energy company based in Spain also has a project in the works which would place turbines in his community.
The intense interest in Brooke-Alvinston is likely due to the fact Hydro One recently upgraded its main transmission line from Courtright to London. At the time it was approved Hydro One said the upgrade was necessary to allow for power from up to 1,000 wind turbines to be transmitted east. That line runs through Brooke-Alvinston.
McGugan says all the interest leaves the municipality in a tough spot. Years ago, it declared itself an “unwilling host” to turbines. But he says recent campaigns to stop wind development in nearby Lambton Shores and Plympton-Wyoming have proven little can be done to stop the development.
He’s willing to listen to the companies. “They have told be they would likely be holding open houses in the next six weeks and they are interested in a community agreement,” says McGugan. Wind companies have been setting aside funds for projects in the communities they have been building wind centres in for the past few years.
“They know we’re a non-friendly host,” he says adding the companies point out “the government gives them the right to operate; if they have the land leased, they can put the towers where they want…as long as they follow the rules.”
McGugan says his community is split about the possibility of the countryside being dotted with turbines. There was a protest group at Thursday’s council meeting. But McGugan also knows landowners who see this as an opportunity to create revenue.
“Others say our assessment is going down, our population is going down, where do we get the dollars to pay for our arena and our ball diamonds and our services.
“But the majority are still opposed.
“I can see some turmoil in Brooke-Alvinston,” McGugan adds. “There are some people that are pretty excited. They have the right to voice their opinion in an orderly way.”
But if past history is any indication of what will happen, those protests may not help.
“If they’re going to come and it’s out of our control, we’re going to make the best deal possible,” says McGugan.
“If they’re going to come regardless of what council says …we better get all we can get.”