Money or safety: NextEra says community cash delayed if Warwick forces fire suppression issue

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Barry Wright/ The Independent

Warwick Township’s fire chief continues to push for a safer fire suppression system for the nine turbines in the municipality but one big wind company says it will withhold community fund money if it has to pay for the top of the line system.

Brad Goodhill wants NextEra to install the Nacelle system on the turbines in Warwick, part of the Jericho project.

During a presentation to council on Monday, he pointed to a British study that concludes that turbines catch fire ten times more than is publicly reported.

The system that the chief wants is a cover that houses all the generating components in a turbine, including the generator, gearbox, drive train and brake assembly. But the company says the system is not necessary and is cost prohibitive to tune of $416,275.

Instead, it says it’s willing to install a Cabinet Fire System on the turbines that equips all electrical cabinets with a fire suppression generator.

“Our bylaw does state that whatever fire suppression system is agreed upon, it must meet the approval of the fire chief and the municipality,” said Goodhill.  But, in a letter to Warwick Council, NextEra says if the municipality forces it to install the more expensive option, the company will forgo forwarding any revenue to Warwick under the Community Vibrancy Agreement (CVA) until March 2021 in order to pay for the more costly system.

The CVA typically pays a set annual amount to the host municipality for each turbine to be used for community improvements.

Council has asked staff to determine if future meetings between municipality and the company might bear fruit, or if not, to seek a legal opinion on where things should go from here.

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