As part of the approval process for the Amherst Island wind project the proponent must undertake a study of the heritage properties on the island. The proponent farmed this task out to a consultant, Stantec, who then produced the Heritage Assessment (52 MB). Stantec did a 2-day survey back in July of 2011 and came up with 23 island properties (a 24th property was on the mainland) that they judged to be “heritage resources” along with 4 “Cultural Heritage Landscapes”.
One of the properties was 2750 Front Road, now owned and occupied by realtors David and Diane Hieatt. Their property was listed as BHR (Built Heritage Resource) #6, described in their section 5.3.6, on their pages 53-56 (PDF pages 52-55). They also have a map showing its location in their Figure 4, on PDF page 24.
The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, APAI and the Loyalist Council are all on record as considering the proponent’s studies incomplete and error-prone. 2750 Front Road stands as a glaring example of just how error-prone these studies are. You see, Stantec GOT THE WRONG HOUSE.
The picture in 5.3.6 is in fact 2750 Front Road, and the description sort of matches as well. But the map in Figure 4 indicates that BHR #6 is the home of Paul and Gwen Lauret, at 1900 Front Road. The description in 5.3.6 has a number of errors, as if they co-mingled the homes. But one thing is certain – the distances they quote to the nearby turbines were figured using the Lauret’s home.
You can imagine the surprise and outrage of the Hieatt’s. This project not only puts their amenity and health at risk, it also puts their very home at risk. Perhaps most galling of all is how Stantec explains away all of these risks and in the end concludes that things will be just fine. After all, Stantec is being paid by the proponent and the proponent isn’t going to pay for unfavorable studies.
The Hieatt’s wrote a submission to the EBR explaining all this and I am pleased to include it here. There is no way to spin your way out of this – the study is in error. It will be interesting to see how the MOE handles this. Will they care? I’m betting not – they haven’t seemed to care about anything except getting the approvals done before the next election.
David and Dianne Hieatt, submission to the MOE
The Loyalist Township Council has long expressed concerns over its lack of input to renewable energy projects, particularly the wind energy project on Amherst Island. Recently the Council passed a motion as related in the Kingston Whig:
“The motion, passed at Monday evening’s council meeting, requests that Premier Kathleen Wynne and either Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli or Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Linda Jeffrey meet with council members.”
So far Wynne has had several meetings with people and groups opposed to wind energy projects, but no action has resulted. I am not holding my breath waiting for any. Meeting with people and pretending to care about their opinions is easy. It will be a great deal more difficult for Wynne to make the kind of decisions that will provide relief for the rurals.
Kingston Whig-Standard, “Township wants say”, April 10, 2013
The next Loyalist Township Council meeting is this coming Monday, April 8, 2013. It promises to be interesting. There are 6 items, roughly half the council’s agenda, devoted to some aspect of the project on Amherst Island. The agenda can be found here, along with links to all of the following.
- AI Stone Fences. The island was originally settled by Irish families, and of course they built stone walls. Some of these are in very nice condition still, and many of them are threatened by the construction. BIG – lots of pictures.
- Heritage Committee Minutes. Adjunct to the report they submitted.
- Thompson Letter. Virginia lives on the mainland.
- Barr Letter. Elizabeth lives on Amherst, and is urging Council not to accept the bribe Algonquin is offering for their support.
- APAI Letter, March 15. Reminding the P.Eng.’s employed by the developer that their first allegiance is to the public.
- APAI Letter, March 21. Taking issue with Algonquin’s assertion that residents were now more in favor of the project than they were before.
As part of the approval process for any Ontario wind project the local government can fill out a Municipal Consultation Form. This form can contain the areas that are of local concern. Unfortunately, while the Province provides for this consultation it is then up to the Province (and only the Province) to see that these concerns are addressed. To date, the Province has been pretty much rubber-stamping everything the developers are submitting, so these consultations are only for show. The projects continue to be built, regardless of the problems they cause for the locals.
The Loyalist Township Council has produced an 84-page report [backup copy] that includes not only the Municipal Consultation Form but also a number of studies and comments that are indicative of just how much there is to lose on Amherst, plus Algonquin’s plans are so deficient.
Continue reading Council Has Some Concerns
Amherst Island is part of Loyalist Township, the bulk of which is on the mainland. In order to sweeten the pot a little for those who won’t have to live with the turbines on Amherst, Algonquin secretly offered the Council $375,000 annually. While we don’t know the details of the offer, no doubt Algonquin wants something in return, like “cooperation” on roads, the ferry, the right-of-ways, whatever. Finally the offer came out on their web site and then in the Whig, along with reaction from some islanders.
Kingston Whig-Standard, Cash offer an insult.
AI Wind Project web site, Windlectric Provides Green Energy and Benefits
But a careful reading of what they are offering reveals they are not really offering $375,000. Rather, they are offering a fixed percentage of some undefined rate – which could be based on revenues or generation. They don’t say. Algonquin has stated they are anticipating achieving a capacity factor of 38%. If the $375,000 is based upon that figure we can bet the average payment will be somewhere in the $200,000 range.
UPDATE, May 1, 2012. The Council has written a letter that confirms Algonquin wants something in return for the money, including a road and right-of-way agreement. The Council does have some control over these, and the project installs easier if Council rolls over and lets Algonquin do whatever they want. This offer isn’t altruistic at all. Algonquin is simply willing to pay the Council to get their way as opposed to paying a lot more for lawyers to get their way.
Loyalist Township, Letter of May 1, 2012
Peter Large, a resident of Amherst Island, wrote a letter to the editor regarding some mistakes in the original article.
Large, Letter to the editor
September 2, 2008. Loyalist Council conducted a special meeting to pass the new 5-year plan. The council did so, but before doing so it inserted the following language to section 220.127.116.11. Commercial-Scale Wind-Energy Generating Systems shall be separated from urban land uses (except Industrial), the Hamlet and Shoreline Residential designations on Schedule A and residential land use designations on Schedule C, D and E in order to reduce the potential impact to public health and safety, noise and visual intrusion on these areas.
The important addition was the reference to public health.
I got an email from one John Litcharson in Wilton, on behalf of a group named the Loyalist Colloquium on Public Policy. He attended this meeting (which I did not) and his commentary is here.
July 2008. Amherst Island is part of Loyalist Township, and the township is in the midst of re-doing its 5-year plan. A major part of that plan now concerns wind turbines. The Township staff updated the plan (creating the first draft) and during June held a series of meetings to get public comment. Out of those discussions came the second draft, 34kb., with the changes noted in red. This second draft will be discussed and voted on by the Council in September. I see a fair number of good (in my case, good = more protection for residents) things in this draft, and as always there’s a few things that could be improved. It looks like they have reinstated NPC-104, from which Ontario had arbitrarily exempted wind turbines. But even this does not get the setbacks to where most health organizations think they ought to be. My noise section contains a fuller explanation of all of this. UPDATE – as of early December 2008 the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing deleted the Township’s reinstatement of NPC-104. It is presently being appealed, with little hope of a reversal. John Harrison wrote this letter to the MMAH, which contains a nice description of the issue.
Just as a start, here’s a map of the original Vector project, 11kb. Six years later I came across a Beacon article about a presentation the Vector salesman made to AIMS, the local mens society, about the project. It is interesting how naive everyone was back then.
If the project would have stayed this small, there probably wouldn’t have been the furor we now see. But just like Wolfe Island, the project grew, in secret, until the locals were faced with essentially an industrialization of the entire Island.
Vector became CREC which became part of CHD – Canada Hydro Developers. I came upon the original Vector contract, 4.1mb, which seems to be for just the wind metering tower. In it there’s provisions for the subsequent turbines for 30 years, but it’s unclear to me if that required further negotiation or if there was a separate agreement that is specific for each lessee. In any event, all these contracts were apparently released by CHD when they abandoned the project.