Companies sweeten offers as Addington Highlands set to vote on wind farm support motion
Addington Highlands Council met in special session on Tuesday morning (June 30) to respond to information that had been provided to them by RES-Canada regarding a wind farm proposal in the township. Included in the information package is a proposal for a Community Vibrancy Fund. The fund includes payments to the township if the township supports their project and the project ends up winning in a province-wide procurement process to supply wind power to the electrical grid.
RES has made it public that they have offered $2,000 per Megawatt of generating capacity each year for 20 years. According to the web information about the project, it will generate between 100 and 170 MW, depending on its final configuration. Before discussing the details of their offer and hearing a counter offer from the township, Stephen Cookson from RES addressed some concerns of residents who were at the meeting as observers. He said that RES will adhere to a 750 metre setback between their turbines and any “noise receptors” such as homes or campgrounds, which is 200 metres greater than the provincial standard. He also said that in cases where turbines are installed on private land under lease from private land owners, they would make payments to the neighbouring property owners as well.
As well Cookson said the company has made some changes to their proposal in response to concerns from local residents. One of them is to move the turbines that were to be located on the north side of Ashby Lake further back, and away from the north side.
“There are a cluster of cottages on the south shore of the lake and this will remove the turbines from their sight lines,” he said. He added that the company is prepared to make changes right through the approval and fine tuning process if they end up winning the bid.
The township has consulted their lawyer after receiving the preliminary offers from both RES and NextEra, the other company that has a project proposal in the township. Cookson said RES is prepared to adapt their offer to respond favourably to the “15 or 20 items raised” by the lawyer.
Reeve Henry Hogg asked if the payments could be made as a lump sum when the project is competed and begins generating power instead of over 20 years.
“Look at Greece today. You never know what the value of Canadian money will be in 20 years,” said Hogg.
Cookson responded that RES is willing to go some distance towards front-loading the payments, and the details will be included in their up-dated offer, which will be in the township's hands by Thursday. The offer will also include an offer of payment during the two-year construction period, earlier than the norm, when payments are not made until the turbines are up and running.
Councilor Tony Fritsch proposed that the township make a counter offer to the RES $2,000 per MW. His proposal was for $3,500 per MW and an additional $3,500 for every linear kilometre of township land that is used for transmission lines, the same counter offer that the township made to NextEra at the beginning of June. He made a motion to that effect, which was supported by a vote of 3-1, with Deputy Mayor Cox voting against it.
NextEra was also on hand at the meeting, in the person of Ben Greenhouse, the project manager. He came to confirm that NextEra has submitted a new offer to the township in response to the counter-offer that the township had made. He said that, like RES, his company has incorporated the concerns of the township's lawyer into their offer.
The NorthPoint 2 project, which NextEra had been proposing to build in both North Frontenac and Addington Highlands, has been altered, however. It is now located entirely in Addington Highlands, and will include up to 100 turbines, with transmission lines running along Hwy. 41 in much the same manner as the RES proposal. The change seems to be a direct result of the North Frontenac Council's decision to declare the township an “unwilling host” for wind projects. Greenhouse said that the increased size of the project reflects, in part, the fact that when the final bid is submitted in September, projects can be smaller than presented at public meetings, but not larger.
“It gives us the greatest number of options,” he said.
He also said, after the meeting, that the offer includes a $3,500 per MW Community Vibrancy Fund. He also said that North Point1, which is located entirely in North Frontenac, will also be proceeding to the bid stage.
RES Canada held their formal public meeting on Thursday, July 2 in Denbigh. NextEra will be holding public meetings on August 6 (North Frontenac) and August 8 (Addington Highlands)
Addington Highlands will make a decision whether to support one, both, or neither proposal at their July meeting in Flinton, which starts at 1:00 on Monday, July 6.