WIND FARM PRO­JECT IN PRESCOTT-RUS­SELL NOT DEAD YET

Vision (Canada) - - Actualités • News - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

A wind farm pro­ject in Prescott-Rus­sell may not be dead yet.

“We’re not aban­do­ning it,” said An­drea Cos­man, pro­ject lea­der for the Eas­tern Fields wind farm pro­ject, the Mon­tréal-ba­sed com­pa­ny which pro­po­sed to set up nine wind tur­bines throu­ghout The Na­tion Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty and Cham­plain Town­ship hasn’t gi­ven up hope for its pro­ject.

Re­ne­wable Ener­gy Sys­tems Ca­na­da (RES) of Mon­tréal ac­qui­red the Eas­tern Fields pro­ject in 2015 from Lea­der Re­sources Inc., which made the ori­gi­nal pro­po­sal un­der the then-Li­be­ral pro­vin­cial go­vern­ment’s green ener­gy pro­gram. RES re­cei­ved a contract the fol­lo­wing year from the In­de­pendent Elec­tri­cal Sys­tem Ope­ra­tor (IESO), the go­vern­ment’s in­de­pendent po­wer pro­ject contrac­tor, and on re­fi­ning de­tails of the pro­ject, in­clu­ding hol­ding pu­blic in­for­ma­tion and consul­ta­tion ses­sions, as part of the Re­ne­wable Ener­gy Ap­pro­vals pro­cess (REA).

The com­pa­ny had lease ar­ran­ge­ments with lan­dow­ners in both mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties for sites for the nine wind tur­bines and the trans­mis­sion connec­tion site to the pro­vin­cial po­wer grid, and was close to star­ting construc­tion on the 32-me­ga­watt pro­ject la­ter this year or ear­ly next year. The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives took of­fice in June and the fol­lo­wing month, more than 700 green ener­gy contracts were can­cel­led, in­clu­ding the one for Eas­tern Fields.

“There was sur­prise,” said Cos­man, ad­ding RES of­fi­cials knew the PCs were lea­ding in the polls and that part of Pre­mier Doug Ford’s cam­pai­gn plat­form was a pro­mise to re­duce ener­gy costs for the pro­vince, in­clu­ding can­cel­ling the pre­vious Li­be­ral go­vern­ment’s green ener­gy pro­gram.

“But can­cel­ling our contracts didn’t ac­tual­ly re­duce ener­gy costs,” said Cos­man, ad­ding that the IESO is al­so pre­dic­ting “an ener­gy shor­tage by the mid-2020s.”

Wind farm fu­ture

The IESO pre­dic­tion gives RES hope that its Eas­tern Fields wind farm may still be­come a rea­li­ty. The com­pa­ny still has its lea­sing ar­ran­ge­ments with lo­cal lan­dow­ners and, Cos­man no­ted, has made no de­ci­sion at present on can­cel­ling those. RES al­so does not have an “off-table op­tion” yet for the pro­ject.

“This is an ad­van­ced pro­ject,” she said. “We are al­most rea­dy for construc­tion. Wind po­wer is ac­tual­ly the chea­pest source of new (ener­gy) ge­ne­ra­tion, po­ten­tial­ly, in Ca­na­da.”

RES may de­cide to wait and see if the new Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive go­vern­ment changes its mind on green ener­gy pro­jects or if there is a change of go­vern­ment du­ring the next elec­tion four years from now.

“But can­cel­ling our contracts didn’t ac­tual­ly re­duce ener­gy costs,” said Cos­man.

—pho­to ar­chives

Le gou­ver­ne­ment pro­gres­siste-conser­va­teur a mis fin au contrat pour le pro­jet de parc éo­lien Eas­tern Fields, ain­si que des cen­taines d’autres pro­jets « d’éner­gie verte », dans le cadre de ses plans de ré­duc­tion des coûts pour l’On­ta­rio. Mais l’en­tre­prise mon­tréa­laise qui pré­voyait ins­tal­ler neuf éo­liennes dans la mu­ni­ci­pa­li­té de La Na­tion et dans le can­ton de Cham­plain n’a pas en­core per­du es­poir pour le pro­jet.

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