NORTH HURON— During the May 21 regular council meeting, North Huron councillors discussed a request from the Multi-Municipal Energy Working Group (MMEWG), for the township to reaffirm its position not to host wind turbines, originally declared in 2013.

According to a letter from MMEWG, the “Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is undertaking to procure additional capacity to meet projected future energy needs. 

Request for Proposals (RFP) from the IESO are calling for 5 TWh (a unit of energy measuring one trillion watt hours) of new energy generation, and they propose that this new energy be produced mainly by wind and solar power by 2030, the letter said.

“It further proposes that a portion of this generation could be derived by repowering on the current footprint of existing wind turbines that will reach their end of contract life between 2026 and 2034,” the letter continued.

Since its inception, the MMEWG (formerly the Muli-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group) has advocated for more robust safety measures and best practices related to wind turbine installations across the province.

The letter stated, “To date, many of the concerns raised have not been addressed with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks confirmed in a recent IESO engagement session that no changes to the existing setbacks are planned.”

MMEWG continues to identify the severe health effects on many residents who live near wind turbine project sites and says they continue to jeopardize their health and well-being. 

“The current setbacks from other activities are not sufficient to protect against the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines,” the letter said.

“Public safety continues to remain a paramount concern of the MMEWG. Setbacks for tower collapse remain insufficient. The current blade length plus 10 metres requirement not a strong enough protective measure for existing projects let alone repowered turbines on existing footprints,” the letter explained. “Setbacks for ice throw are also insufficient, as the blade length plus 10 metre setback is less than the ice throw distance witnessed in Ontario. Ontario has witnessed turbine fire and flaming debris on the ground at 200 metres, while setback was 50 metres. A Ministry review failed to recommend industry standard protective barriers for fire suppression in spite of examples of fires in similar turbines.”

The MMEWG recommended that North Huron reaffirm its 2013 decision not to be a willing host for wind turbine projects. One hundred fifteen municipalities declared themselves “unwilling hosts” at that time.

The letter said, “With the expected surge in proposals given the ambitious procurement efforts being undertaken by the IESO, and little change in the regulations, the MMEWG strongly recommends that municipalities reaffirm their unwillingness to host projects until the appropriate ministries address the concerns and make stronger rules and regulations to ensure that, as municipal leaders, provide measures necessary for the health, safety and well-being of citizens within our jurisdiction, as mandated by the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended.” 

Coun. Mitch Wright requested comments from the East Wawanosh councillors because they would likely be most affected by the decision. “I wouldn’t want to make a motion or defeat a motion without hearing what the farmers are thinking out there.”

Coun. Chris Palmer and Coun. Anita Van Hittersum suggested that solar panels would be a better option because of the area’s rolling hills and their less impact on the fields.

Palmer also mentioned the division these requests sometimes create between family members and neighbours (who may or may not wish to participate).

Councillors voted to inform the MMEWG that they reaffirm their stand and do not support establishing new wind turbine projects within the municipality.

By Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 06, 2024 at 18:16

This item reprinted with permission from   Advance Times   Wingham, Ontario
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