| May 07, 2015

Wind, solar projects lining up at Addington Highlands’ door

The wind resource in the Denbigh region has drawn another company into the mix as the deadline for the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process from Ontario Power Generation approaches.

Renewable Energy Systems of Canada, who first approached the township with a preliminary proposal for a wind project in 2008, returned on Monday with a presentation that was geared to attract the support of Council, and the public at large as well.

“We have a tradition of developing the lowest impact site possible by maximizing the setback from residences and points of interest,” said Stephen Cookson, the director of project development for RES Canada during his presentation.

NextEra, a company that approached the township earlier this year asking for support from the township for a project in the same area, is proposing a mix of sites for 80 to 100 turbines, some to be located on Crown and some to be located on private land, to produce up to 200 megawatts of power in Addington Highlands.

RES – Canada, on the other hand, is planning 30 - 50 turbines to produce between 100 and 150 megawatts of power. While Cookson said the sites would be a mix of Crown and privately owned land, used under lease agreements, they also said that the majority of the project would be located on Crown land sites.

The company has yet to complete all of the analysis it needs to do in order to finalise its bid, and one of the issues that needs to be confronted is that of grid capacity in the vicinity of the proposed turbines.

When contacted after the meeting, Cookson said that grid capacity to receive power from the Denbigh area was not made available in 2008, and that was why RES did not pursue a project at that time.

“We are hopeful that the grid capacity will be available this time around,” he said.

Cookson also said that RES would be presenting their plans at a public open house/meeting some time later this year.

“We have been having a lot of discussion, information and input within the community and with council ever since NextEra came forward with their plans,” said Councilor Tony Fritsch “and the issue of setbacks comes up often. Are you open to across the board, council-suggested minimum setbacks for all your installations?”

“We are open to suggestions, and we are committed to minimising impacts and generous setbacks. The constraint comes in when setbacks make a project unviable from a financial perspective, so it’s a trade-off,” said Cookson.

RES will also be making an offer for a community vibrancy fund before Council decides whether to support the project or not. NextEra has offered $1,750 per mw, which would come out to $350,000 per year if the township supports their project and they end up winning the LRP.

“We have two competing companies coming before us,” said Reeve Henry Hogg. “Are we obliged to support only one project?”

“You could support one, both, or none,” said Cookson.

“Is it possible that both would get built?” Hogg asked.

“It is possible, but not likely in this case, partly because we will be choosing overlapping sites on Crown land,” said Cookson.

Solar projects get support

Utlilia Amaral of SunEdison and Rob Hitchcock of Abundant Solar Farms both made presentations for small-scale solar farms, which are being contemplated under a small-scale renewable power projects procurement process that is also being sponsored by Ontario Power Generation.

SunEdison is proposing a 7-acre solar farm project on a private property on Wilson Hills Road, east of Northbrook, which will have a 500-kilowatt capacity.

Abundant Energy has four projects under development, all of the 500-kilowatt size. Their projects would be located at 2570 and 1548 Upper Flinton Road, and on Concessions 3 and 4, Kaladar.

Neither solar project developer offered any inducements to the township for a motion of support, but they both indicated that the impact on neighboring properties would be minimal, and that vegetation would be planted at the perimeter of the project sites, blocking public view of the panel arrays.

Council provided blanket support for the two projects and any other solar project that comes forward.

Budget approved, levy up by almost 5%

The 2015 budget was approved. The township will be levying a shade under $2.4 ($2,399,973) million from Addington Highlands ratepayers for local services, up about $113,000 from 2014 (the 2014 levy was $2.287 million) In percentage terms the increase is 4.9%.

When the township rate is combined with Lennox and Addington County taxes, which are up by 2.7%, and education rates, which are flat, the average Addington Highlands ratepayer will see a total increase in the 3% range on their tax bills this year.

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