Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott says his municipality’s decision to effectively slam the door on wind companies seems to be working.
Forty-two companies are now preparing various wind and solar project for the latest round of approvals for energy contracts with the Independent Electricity System Operator. In Central Lambton, four companies, Suncor Energy, NextEra Energy, Enerfin and EDF EN have been approved to apply for large-scale industrial wind energy projects.
While Suncor, NextEra and Enerfin have all either held or planned public meetings, EDF EN which is planning a 100-megawatt project mainly in Enniskillen and Plympton-Wyoming has been noticeably silent.
The company’s public relations officer, David Thorton, says the Churchill project is still in development and EDF EN is “looking to see if it is able to be competitive” in this round of bidding.
Thorton tells The Independent the company is confident in a number of areas – there is a good connection to the grid, they have the land leases they need for turbines and there is a strong wind pattern which would make the project successful.
But he says EDF EN is not sure it can provide a competitive price in its bid.
Part of the problem is the “community engagement” which is now necessary under new rules from the province. Consultation with the community would be required for transmission lines in the area, Thorton says. Those meetings have yet to be scheduled.
Also, companies who have met with municipalities, who have community enrichment agreements with municipalities or who get municipal backing for the project get a higher ranking in the process.
Thorton says it has been “difficult to have conversation with local council” so the company is still considering whether it will submit a bid for the project.
In March 2014, council told municipal staff not to even speak on the phone with representatives from companies hoping to build wind energy centers in the community.
“We’ve reached out to council in the past … they’re reticent to enter into an agreement.
“We want to have a productive conversation with them.”
Mayor Kevin Marriott says that is not about to happen. He thinks the municipality’s stand of simply not talking to anyone is working. And it’s not just EDF EN’s concerns which have him buoyed.
A recent advertisement for Enerfin’s Sydenham Wind project lists the possible location as Brooke-Alvinston and Enniskillen Township or just Brooke-Alvinston.
“That’s almost admitting it may only be Brooke-Alvinston,” he says.
Marriott says the tough stand is frustrating some of the wind energy representatives saying they have become angry with staff members who refuse to engage in conversation – but that’s okay with him.
Marriott says for the first time in a long time he is “very cautiously optimistic” the projects the community has fought so hard to stop may pass them by.