| Mar 04, 2015

300 megawatt wind power project proposed for Addington Highlands/North Frontenac

It seems that every three or four years a proponent for a wind project shows up at Addington Highlands Council to talk about the potential of the north eastern edge of the township (the Vennachar-Denbigh-Rose Hill area) and then the idea seems to slip into the background.

This week another group came to Council, but this time there is substantial money behind the company.

NextEra Canada Development and Acquisitions is a wholesale power generation company with assets in 25 US states and four Canadian provinces and almost 20,000 MW of power in operation. Its sister company is Florida Power and Light, a large electric utility company with 4.7 million retail customers. The company is valued at $46 billion and has $15 billion in annual revenues.

They were represented in Flinton by Nicole Geneau, Ben Faiella, and Derek Dudek, three relatively young project developers who work in the smaller Canadian division of the company, based out of Toronto.

They explained that the company has a different kind of model than other large corporations.

“We are a large organisation made up of locally based, small energy companies,” said Nicole Geneau. “We make strong commitments to the communities where we do business.”

NextEra operates eight wind projects in Ontario, all in south western Ontario, and is the second largest generator of wind energy in Canada. They are in the very early stages of putting together a project in Addington Highlands and North Frontenac, with a view towards making a submission to Ontario's Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program.

The scope of the potential project in Addington Highlands is quite large. It could include up to 100 two- megawatt turbines in Addington Highlands and another 50 in North Frontenac. The company is looking to secure agreements from landowners in both townships for land leases for 1/3 of the land they will need to secure access to, and the other 2/3 is on Crown Land that is not included in any other Land Use Permit agreement and is not included as one of the parcels in the proposed Algonquin Land Claim. The total acreage involved is 10,000 acres.

The project would be 1.5 times the size of the Wolfe Island wind turbine project and would produce enough electricity to power 150,000 homes.

In order to win the bidding process under the LRP program a number of hoops need to be cleared. Some of them are technical.

“Evaluating the wind resource, the availability of transmission lines, and securing landowner agreements all need to be done in the coming months,” said Derek Dudek.

A number of landowner agreements are already in place and others are pending as landowners consider their options.

For landowners who do not choose to participate, “the setback from any turbine to their home is at least 500 metres, half a kilometre, but we are committed to going further away than that,” said Nicole Geneau.

Another factor that will be considered before LRP contracts are awarded is community support for the project.

“Points are awarded for a statement of support from the local municipality,” said Geneau.

NextEra promises some economic benefits to Addington Highlands if the project goes ahead.

“The estimated annual property taxation will be $225,000, and any infrastructure upgrades to roads or bridges will be covered by us. There will be quite a bit of work during the construction phase, and 6-10 permanent positions at the project site. We will also need to build a 5,000 square foot building in the vicinity. As well, in addition to the tax dollars we will create a community vibrancy fund that the township can use for recreation or sustainability projects. The fund is $1,750 per megawatt per year, which could be about $350,000 per year in Addington Highlands if we put in 200 megawatts of turbines,” said Geneau.

“That money could be used for a variety of purposes, such as roads, or fire trucks,” added Ben Faiella.

The process that will be followed by NextEra in the next few months include continued evaluation work, a community open house in late May, signing a community benefits agreement in June and making an LRP project bid submission in late August

Reeve Henry Hogg said, “I see great benefits to the township from this: jobs, economic development, and substantial revenue.”

Deputy Reeve Helen Yanch said, “I would like to make a motion that we express our support for this project.”

When Councilors Tony Fritsch and Bill Cox did not speak up (Councilor Kirby Thompson was not in attendance) Reeve Hogg said, “I will pass the chair in order to second this motion.

Tony Fritsch said, “I support this but I would like Kirby to be here to vote on this and I would like to look at it a bit further.

“I agree with Tony,” said Bill Cox.

“I move to defer the motion,” said Fritsch and the rest of Council agreed.

Reeve Hogg will be away for the March 16 meeting of Council, so the motion will come back on April 6.

Other items from AH Council

Drop in construction values

From the dizzying heights of $8.8 million in construction value in 2012, to a lower but still healthy $5.8 million in 2013, the bottom seems to have fallen out of the market in 2014, with construction values of just over $4 million ($4,063,580)

The variation in values is less extreme than the numbers indicate because there were two large one-time public projects totalling almost $5 million in 2012: $960,000 for the Northbrook ambulance base and $4 million for the Pine Meadow Nursing Home addition. In 2013 Bence Motors underwent a $2.6 million renovation. In 2014 the township built a fire hall ($1.4 million) With all that taken into account, the numbers for 2014 are indeed low, but not as bad as they appear to be at first glance.

Excluding those large projects, the totals are as follows: $3.8 million in 2012; $3.2 million in 2013; and $2.6 million in 2014.

The number of permits issued in 2014 was 90, as compared to 98 in 2013 and 106 in 2012. The department took in $28,502 in permit fees last year, down from $35,600 in 2013 and $47,385 in 2012.

Councilor remuneration

As a group, Addington Highlands Council received $84,754 from the township in 2014. Reeve Hogg was the highest paid, receiving $24,732, including $22,528 in salary plus travel, per diems and expense payments. Councilor Bill Cox (who was deputy reeve for the first 11 months of the year) was next at $19,071; Helen Yanch received $13,837; Tony Fritsch $13,591; and Adam Snider $12,473. Kirby Thomson received $1,049 for the last month of the year since he took office on December 1.

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