Winds of change gently blowing on wind farm support

South Dundas Deputy Mayor Jim Locke listens to arguments about whether the township should stay with its designation as an 'unwilling host' for wind farms. In his comments May 5, 2015 Locke sounded like he is having a change of heart on green energy projects in the municipality. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

MORRISBURG – South Dundas isn’t ready to rule out putting its weight behind another wind farm in the township.

During a council meeting Tuesday night, some councillors wanted more information on EDP Renewables’ 40 turbine proposal northeast of Brinston while the deputy mayor appeared to be changing his tune on green energy.

Jim Locke was behind the October 2013 resolution, along with then-councillor Jim Graham, to deem South Dundas as an “unwilling host” for wind farms.

But Locke sounded like he was changing his tune on the matter.

“So we are saying our position stands?,” questioned Locke. “There’s been a lot of changes in the last two years. It’s coming to light the cost of maintaining our nuclear reactors. I would like to see, before we throw this by the way, I would like to see the location of the towers,” Locke said.

Locke suggested “if two towers in Brinston had be located in another spot” there wouldn’t have been the public outcry to the South Branch Wind Farm.

“I don’t think a lot of the fears have materialized. I really don’t…it doesn’t affect the real estate…the closest residences, two of them sold,” Locke added.

He says there are a lot of other factors at play and the township shouldn’t sweep it under the rug.

The next contract for wind energy in the province is a competitive bid process and EDP Renewables will be scored on a points system – some of those points will be based on municipal support.

“Green energy is here to stay,” Locke said. “I’m more concerned about where the towers will be located.

Coun. Marc St. Pierre agreed that the township should hold off until it sees the EDP plan.

EDP Renewables is waiting for the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to publish the grid connection availability, expected on May 22, 2015, when it will outline how big the wind farm will be and where the towers will be built.

Coun. Bill Ewing says he would like to get a better idea from Rideau St. Lawrence Utilities on its opinion on the wind power project, suggesting it might be beneficial of the South Dundas utility. “What is the feel of our own utility towards the turbines? Is it going to be beneficial to ourselves down the road?,” he questioned.

The issue of the resolution will be coming back to council in two weeks, where another green energy company is expected to make another proposal at that time.

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