South Dundas wind farm meeting brings large crowd, mixed views

Wind turbines of the EDP Renewables' South Branch Wind Farm, east of County Road 16, turn in a summer breeze on Aug. 5, 2015. The company is proposing another farm east of here that could cover approximately 10,000 acres. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

DIXONS CORNERS – A big crowd had mixed feelings over a proposed second installment of a wind farm in South Dundas.

Roughly 70 people were at the Matilda Hall on County Road 16 Wednesday night to see various charts and talk with representatives about the South Branch Wind Farm II project as part of a three-hour open house.

The 75 megawatt wind farm would be nearly three times the size in area than the existing South Branch Wind Farm (it would be roughly 10,000 acres) and would have 20-30 turbines to the east of the existing wind farm.

The now-operating South Branch Wind Farm is 30 megawatts and has 10 turbines.

The Spain-based company, EDP Renewables, is among 21 qualified companies in Ontario to put together competitive bids for wind farms and are holding these open houses as part of their requirements to submit a bid.

While Morrisburg residents Dick and Doreen Liberty are generally not supportive of wind energy, they felt EDP Renewables put a good case together.

“I think that there’s probably a reason to have wind but I’m still, like everyone else, somewhat skeptical about the fact that there’s some uncertainties. For example, the cows, is this affecting them? Still born calves, milk production and so on and (health effects) in humans as well,” Dick Liberty told Cornwall Newswatch.

Doreen Liberty said they came to “get educated” because it’s hard to make an informed opinion without the information.

“By looking at some of the charts I would say the province has a pretty good handle on what they’re doing and they have to jump through several hoops to get to the final points,” Dick Liberty said. “I’m somewhat impressed.”

EDP Renewables has to submit its proposal by Sept. 1 and its hoping to get council support by resolution Tuesday night, which would give it a competitive advantage.

With the exception of Coun. Archie Mellan, the entire council also showed up at the open house. MPP Jim McDonell was there as well.

South Dundas councillors and staff, spokesmen from EDP Renewables and local residents chat about the proposed South Branch Wind Farm II project during an open house Aug. 5, 2015 at Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)
South Dundas councillors and staff, spokesmen from EDP Renewables and local residents chat about the proposed South Branch Wind Farm II project during an open house Aug. 5, 2015 at Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

“I’m not surprised at what I’m hearing,” South Dundas Mayor Evonne Delegarde said after mingling with constituents. “The people who are involved or potentially involved in the project are supportive and the people who are not, are not supportive,” she said. The mayor said the biggest concerns she heard were about turbine noise, setbacks and the coverage area.

“Your head and your heart have to come into play on this one,” Mayor Delegarde stated when asked about balancing the concerns of constituents before Tuesday’s vote. “You know all the people…I have friends on both sides. I’ve received (dozens) of emails from both sides,” she said.

Bill Lortie moved into a home on Chess Road, a couple kilometers outside the proposed area for the wind turbines, about a year ago.

“The scope of of it is larger than what we expected. The size of the turbines are larger, the number of turbines is greater that what’s currently in the ground there. It’s closer to our residence than we expected,” Lortie said.

Lortie seemed somewhat relieved that it wouldn’t have a direct impact on their home.

“Generally, we were impressed with the presentation. We’ll just have to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to where things go,” he said. “The bottom line is they’re an energy company. They’re in to make a profit, obviously. It’s a bit of a concern if these things start spreading all over,” Lortie said.

“It’s green energy as opposed to gas and oil and coal. Obviously it’s the direction in which we’re all heading and one of these days there will be wind farms all over the place and probably people won’t think twice about it,” he said. “It’s new now and people are rebelling, especially (over) the sound impacts and possible other environmental impacts.”

Another public meeting is happening in Finch Thursday from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Finch Community Arena at 4 John Street for EDP’s 100 megawatt Nation Rise Wind Farm.

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