Sunday, October 13, 2013

Goulais wind farm approved, opponents consider next steps

The Save Ontario's Algoma Region (SOAR) group is clearly disappointed with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) October 4, 2013 decision to approve construction of the Goulais Wind Farm project.
A Renewable Energy Approval (REA) has been given to SP Development Limited Partnership to build, install, operate and eventually retire a renewable energy facility, consisting of 11 wind turbines , with a total capacity of 25 MW, in the unorganized Townships of Pennefather and Aweres.
The wind facility will be connected to Great Lakes Power’s distribution system.
The REA comes with a long list of conditions, which include requiring SP Development Limited to construct and install the facility within three years of the date of approval, compliance with the MOE's noise emission limits, keep an eye on storm water management, sediment and erosion during and after construction, the effect of the project on wildlife (such as birds and bats), establish a community liaison committee with members of the public, and properly decommissioning of the facility upon its retirement.
SOAR's Executive Member and spokesperson Gillan Richards, in an e-mail to SooToday.com, stated: "SOAR and Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) will now consider what action to take in response to the Goulais Project Approval."
The group, if it decides to file an application to appeal the MOE's Goulais Wind Farm project approval, must do so within 15 days.
SOAR has long been opposed to the project, and has maintained that the whirring of wind turbines, for example, is detrimental to human health, and that the presence of more wind farms in Algoma would be an all-round disruption to the environment and wildlife in the area.
Also ranking high among the group's concerns is that, in its view, the project will create an eyesore on the area's famous Group of Seven landscape, disturbing "the natural beauty of Algoma from industrial intrusion."
SOAR states the public in general has never been keen on wind turbine developments, claiming "Algoma residents and visitors are already annoyed and dismayed by the intrusion of the Prince Wind Farm turbines."
SOAR has also long insisted not enough public input has been gathered from the province and the developer regarding the Goulais Wind Farm project (along with other wind projects, proposed by other developers, for the Algoma region).
The group agrees with criticism from The Fraser Institute (a Canadian think tank based in Vancouver) that forecasts Ontario's energy prices will increase dramatically (40 to 50 percent) in coming years, putting the blame for that on the use of wind and solar farms, and insisting that wind turbines are simply inefficient in producing electricity.
SOAR agrees with critics who state Ontario could have gone with cheaper alternatives, such as natural gas or nuclear power, when it sought to move away from coal-fired plants and brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009.
The Ontario government has said the Green Energy Act, despite higher costs for electricity, will ensure "cleaner" electricity for future generations.