A $200,000 donation from wind developers Suncor and NextEra is drawing fire.
Lambton County announced in a news release that the owners of the Cedar Point Wind Energy Centre – Suncor and NextEra — would contribute $200,000 over four years to the Creative Counties Fund.
The announcement listed over a dozen groups receiving money from the fund; but that wasn’t what was drawing the attention.
Politicians and anti-turbine activists were questioning why the county accepted the donation at all.
Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper — whose community has fought the establishment of Cedar Point project in court— says councillors were not aware of the sponsorship. “I thought there would have been a red flag come up on this,” he says adding, “By taking this money, we’re giving the message, ‘ya, we oppose turbines, but give us some money and it will be nice…One you accept money from them, you lose all credibility.”
Santo Giorno of WAIT PW, which organized to stop the project, agrees. “The optics aren’t very good,” he says. “Members of county council appear to be giving support to the Cedar Point project — that may not have been the intention — but by accepting the funds and praising the generosity of Suncor and NextEra, they appear to be giving approval.
“It puts them in a very awkward position…what are they going to do when Suncor and NextEra comes back and says they want to put another project in the county?”
But Lambton County Warden Bill Weber doesn’t see a problem saying it would be difficult to turn the donation down. “Anytime grant money is made available…I think we have to participate with that and do positive things with it,” he says.
Weber understands some municipalities have very strong feelings about the wind industry. “Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores and the county are unwilling hosts…however it is the law is through the Green Energy Act, and they’ve occurred in our municipality…if groups don’t want to apply to (the fund) because of where the money comes from, they don’t need to apply for it.”
Napper wishes councillors had a say in the matter. He believes the money should have been refused. “I don’t think you could oppose them and take their money.. being an unwilling host brings with it responsibility.
“If you do that (accepting the cash) take the (unwilling host) bylaw off the books.”