NextEra Energy officials say they want to work with the people of Brooke-Alvinston as they bid for a 50-turbine wind project.
But it seems at least some people don’t like that idea.
NextEra Director of Development Nicole Geneau and Community Relations Officer Derek Dudek spoke with Brooke-Alvinston Council recently to outline their preliminary plans for the Hardy Creek project.
Geneau says NextEra was one of 42 companies approved to bid for up to 300 megawatts of renewable energy. From that, Geneau expects there will be two or three wind projects.
NextEra hopes to build between 30 and 50 industrial turbines in the northeast corner of Brooke-Alvinston, into Warwick and Adelaide-Metcalfe Townships. The companies have until Sept. 1 to submit bids for the projects. If NextEra did win one of the contract, construction likely wouldn’t start until at least late 2018 or even 2019.
“We needed to meet you much earlier in the process than before,” Geneau told council as about two dozen people packed the small chambers to listen. “We’re here early and we’re listening.”
Geneau says NextEra is committed to working with municipalities to make sure they know what is going on every step of the way and they want to hear from citizens. “Our intention is to get as much feedback as we can to incorporate into the project design,” she says. “It really does make a difference at this point in time before we have designed where were putting all the infrastructure.”
Geneau expected the community open houses would likely be held in June. But that didn’t sit too well with the crowd who were primarily opposed to the idea.
“The June meeting – that’s a joke,” said landowner Steve Sanders who said he’d been approached by NextEra over a year ago. “It’s too late; it is long done by then.
“They need signatures right now or this project won’t go,” he told the others in the chambers. “No one sign anything until they have a meeting.
“This is a bad, bad, bad idea…This affects the whole community,” he says adding “everybody who has those things out there wishes the hell they’ve never signed one…You sign that paper it’s a done deal.”
And some members of council were vocal in their opposition as well. “You want to work with the community; the majority of this community don’t want you here…Are you going to bully it down our throats?” asked Councilor Frank Nemcek.
“I’m against you 100 per cent; you won’t get any support from me.”
Mayor Don McGugan has said the province has taken away all of the municipality’s powers to stop the project and as the NextEra officials and the landowners who were opposed to the project left the council chambers he said; “We can’t do anything about this. It’s up to the farmers. If they don’t sign up, it doesn’t go.”