NextEra: call for moratorium a negative step

A Next­Era Energy spokesman says Mapleton council’s decision to call on the province to issue a moratorium on wind energy projects is a “drastic” decision.

Josie Hernandez feels such a move “isn’t a positive thing” for the local region.

A moratorium, she said, applies to other possible developments, not just NextEra’s plans to construct an 18 to 25.3 megawatt farm consisting of 12 wind turbines, each measuring 80 metres in height.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Hernandez. “I think in general … calling for a moratorium is certainly a drastic step.”

She said perhaps some of the worry on behalf of local councillors is tied to new provincial legislation like the Green Energy Act, which many claim takes away what little say municipal councils had on wind energy projects.

However, she vowed that Next?Era will continue to work with Mapleton council, as well as township residents, though she noted there is nothing new to report at this time. She added NextEra still does not know the answer to the most common question posed by locals: where will the turbines be located?

Currently the company is awaiting approval of its contract from the Ontario Power Authority, which Hernandez guessed should be provided within 60 days, though no one can be certain of the timeline.

She said when there is more information provided, NextEra will hold more meetings with the public and local municipal officials.

“I understand if they’re op­posed to the project,” she said of the local citizens’ group led by residents John Krul and Bill Kabbes.

But she stressed that studies completed by the respective Wind Energy?Associations in Canada and the United States have shown that if companies follow the proper guidelines, there are no adverse health ef­fects from wind turbines.

Barring “drastic changes” from the Ontario Power Auth­ority, Hernandez said NextEra still plans to have its Cones­togo Wind Energy Centre operational by December.

She noted the construction is “a rather quick process” – and it’s the planning that takes the most time.

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