Enniskillen Township is looking for ways to protect residents and firefighters if a wind energy project comes to the community.
Two companies, Enerfin from Spain and EDF EN are considering projects in Enniskillen Township. While township council has refused to meet with the companies, Enerfin has revealed its project in Enniskillen and Brooke-Alvinston could have up to 30 turbines in the region.
Mayor Kevin Marriott recently presented three bylaws from communities in Grey and Huron Counties, which require wind energy companies to install fire suppression units in the motor of the industrial turbines. There motors, in some cases, are up to 300 feet off the ground making it impossible for local departments to fight a blaze.
In Brooke-Alvinston, where there are four turbines, the municipality has made it clear to the owner that if there is a fire, the local department will not be able to help put it out.
But Marriott says the solution would be the fire suppression units. “If they are going to catch fire they should have their own self containment unit rather than expecting the local departments to do it,” he says noting the municipality simply could not afford to have the type of equipment on hand to fight the fire.
“I don’t know what it would cost to have equipment that would reach 300 feet high it would be in the millions of dollars,” he says.
The fire suppression units, he says, would be more cost effective. “I’ve heard a wide range for costs. I’ve heard at high end $750,000 – but I can’t see it at that high. I’m thinking it’s more in the range of $200,000.”
Municipalities have been limited in what they can order wind energy companies to do with the Green Energy projects, but Marriott believes this is a legitimate request.
“That is one area that we still have total control of is fire – there is nothing the province can over ride us on still completely municipal jurisdiction.”
Council members plan to review the three bylaws Marriott presented and he expects the township will pass its own fire suppression bylaw – as Warwick Township recently did – in the near future.