Town “unwilling host” to more wind turbines until more info is known

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council is saying “no” to more wind turbines until more health information is known and local planning is restored.

Wind turbineA motion was passed at the June 24 meeting endorsing a recommendation from administration which sees the town sending correspondence to provincial ministries and to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) identifying Amherstburg as an “unwilling host” to industrial wind turbines. The town wants to see the federal study on the health effects completed, peer reviewed and recommendations implemented.

Council also wants to see municipalities have planning authority restored to determine where and when industrial wind turbines should be located in their communities.

“It is certainly very, very important we get this letter out as soon as possible,” said Councillor Diane Pouget.

Pouget stated the provincial government is showing they are staying away from municipalities that declare they are “unwilling hosts” to industrial turbines.

Councillor John Sutton said town council needs “good data” on this issue, noting they also want to see the potential health effects in the study. Sutton added the town’s previous setbacks were more stringent prior to the implementation of the province’s Green Energy Act.

The Green Energy Act is “highly flawed,” said Councillor Carolyn Davies, adding that other alternate energy sources should be explored as well.

“The bottom line is we do not know what is going to happen down the road with energy sources and resources,” she said.

In a report from town planner Rebecca Belanger, she noted that Bill 39 was defeated in the Legislature that proposed a limit provincial wind development, eliminate the feed-in-tariff program and give municipalities a greater voice in planning renewable energy projects. Belanger said “ongoing review and consideration for changes to the Green Energy Act at the provincial level are occurring.”

Over 90 municipalities in Ontario have declared themselves “unwilling hosts” to wind developments, stated Belanger, and noted Amherstburg council passed a motion May 25, 2010 which sent correspondence to the province and AMO “urging an immediate moratorium be placed on wind turbine project until such time as the current medical study on health effects is complete and recommendations from same implemented.”

Belanger’s report also noted that “Premier Kathleen Wynne has identified that the province will not impose wind turbines in municipalities that are unwilling hosts.”

“The province presently does not require any additional power to be sourced from wind turbines,” wrote Belanger. “Due to the number of wind turbines that have been connected to the grid in the past two years, Ontario is facing challenges relating to how to deal with too much power. Wind power is variable; it has to be backed up by natural gas-fired generators, kept idling to be switched on if the wind dips. It appears that the benefits to the environment have not been realized.”

Belanger added that many rural communities have identified health concerns including vibration and noise impacts with health and nuisance concerns needing to be “fairly addressed.” She pointed out the federal government’s study on health effects is planned for completion in 2014.

Removing local authority for renewable energy has created “a problematic effect,” she added, stating “it has not been beneficial to take the decision-making authority out of the hands of municipalities. Belanger called for “a greater balance” between local autonomy regarding land use and community needs and Ontario’s power requirements.

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