Central Huron “not a willing host” to wind turbines

May 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

File photo.

File photo.

HEATHER BOA News Now CLINTON – The Municipality of Central Huron has added its name to a growing list of municipalities that do not want to host wind energy projects in the province.

Council passed a motion Tuesday crafted by Coun. Burkhart Metzger to inform the provincial government that it “is not a willing host for industrial wind turbine projects as regulated under the Green Energy Act.”

Deputy Mayor Dave Jewitt was presiding over council during discussion on wind energy because Mayor Jim Ginn declared a pecuniary interest on the topic and stepped away from the council table. However, in order for Jewitt to comment, he had to turn over the job of chairing discussion to Coun. Marg Anderson.

“Typically I would not support an outright prohibition on anything because I think that there may be areas of our community that this could proceed,” Jewitt said.

However, he said since the government has indicated an interest in returning local authority, he sees the motion as a way to achieve more local control over wind energy development.

“I do have reservations about supporting a motion with an all-out blanket ‘no,’ which is what this would be doing, but I also think it is a tool that we can use as a municipality to maybe put a little bit of pressure on the government to allow us to have greater control,” he said.

Metzger said he wrote the motion to limit the municipality’s position as an unwilling host to wind energy development under the Green Energy Act because there may be a better program, with public consultation to arrive at where turbines will be placed. He said his hometown in Germany is currently in its third year of public consultant on where to place wind turbines, as part of a process to develop an energy plan that includes renewable energy. The community engagement has led them to identify an area where it would be acceptable to develop wind energy projects, he said.

“If I look at the process there, how long it took and that they’ve come to a socially acceptable solution, that’s the hope that I have; that there are technologies and whatever that maybe make some sense in some sort of a program,” Metzger said. “Everybody knows we have to do something. But the way it’s done on wind energy, there’s very little public consultation and making it untenable for everybody without the support.”

Coun. Alison Lobb, who said she doubts she’ll ever sign a land lease with a wind energy development company, said some of her neighbours say income from a wind turbine on their property would change their farming operations.

The motion was supported in a unanimous recorded vote of council. Ginn did not vote because he had declared a pecuniary interest.

Local resident Peter Middleton, who is a member of Central Huron Against Turbines (CHAT) told council the anti-wind turbine group collected 500 confidential signatures in a door-to-door campaign that ended in the summer of 2012, concentrating on proposed development areas for Twenty Two Degree Wind Energy and Summerhill Wind Energy projects.

“We at CHAT always thought we knew how residents of Central Huron felt about industrial wind turbine projects that were planned for our area but we really couldn’t be sure until we talked to the people in the community,” he said. “Even we were surprised at the response to our petition.”

Those who signed the petition were saying they were opposed to “any and all” wind energy development, and specifically to Twenty Two Degree Wind Energy and Summerhill Wind Energy projects.

He said CHAT has decided not to release the petition signature list, although it would allow one member of council to review the list.

He said nearly 30 municipalities have declared themselves not willing hosts of wind energy development. There are 444 municipalities in the province.

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