South Dundas welcomes leading energy firm to table

by Alicia K. Gosselin
Press staff

MORRISBURG – It’s not the first time members of South Dundas council sat through a presentation about potential wind turbine projects in the area, and it may not be the last.

During the South Dundas council meeting Tues., May 19, representatives from Invenergy, the sixth largest renewable energy generation company in North America, gave a brief overview on future plans for their Nine Mile Wind Project.

The project has secured option agreements with 30 local landowners so far, and holds approximately 11,000 acres of land in both the Townships of North and South Dundas for the placement of 20 to 25 wind turbines. Although South Dundas council welcomed the presentation, Invenergy’s request for a delegation at the next council meeting in North Dundas was denied.  

It’s also the second renewable energy generation company to stand before the South Dundas council this year.

According to James Murphy, vice-president of business development at Invenergy Canada, the Chicago-based firm has generated more than 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy from their projects to date. It’s also one of 42 companies qualified by the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) to participate in the IESO Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) request for proposals (RFP), which is working to procure about 300 megawatts of wind energy for the province.

Murphy said the Nine Mile Wind Project is projected to generate between 50 and 90 megawatts of energy. The bid submission date for the RFP is on September 1, 2015.

Despite the Municipality of South Dundas being registered as an “unwilling host” for future renewable energy projects in the area, council also stated in the resolution that the position would stand unless there is a demonstrated need for energy in the province.

According to Murphy’s presentation, “the electricity supply mix in Ontario has undergone a substantial shift over the past decade and will continue to rapidly evolve over the period of the Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP)…[which] concludes that new supply will be needed starting in 2019.”

“The electricity system in Ontario is an alphabet soup of stuff,” noted Murphy, as he outlined the premise of the projected wind turbines. “In contrast to previous procurements, obviously, we are frowned upon and the subject of much discourse. That’s why we are trying to get the support of broader communities.”

The purpose of the presentation was to start “phase one” of their community engagement program, as bidding companies who have community support will be given favour during submission time.

The RFP process requires each qualified company to meet a number of mandatory conditions before submission, including municipal consultation, one public meeting with notice to the community, a formal community engagement plan, as well as land control requirements.

Councillor Bill Ewing brought up concerns about the specific locations of the wind turbines, noting that the locations would be the most important factor affecting local residents. Murphy stated the site location was west of the current South Branch Project near Brinston; however, the purpose of the presentation was merely to “provide the strengths and size” of the project, and exact turbine locations will not be known until after Invenergy is successful in their bid, which could mean as early as 2016.

As the province has committed to a total cap of renewable energy projects, a second procurement process will be taking place next year. If there are unallocated energy gaps after the second procurement, then they might run a third, according to Murphy.

Invenergy will be hosting a public meeting during the summer months for more information, and will be giving the community at least 15 days’ notice prior to the meeting.

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