MNR reconsidering Great Lakes wind farm moratorium
By Sharon Hill
Published January 15, 2008
LEAMINGTON -- It's "very disturbing" to hear the Ministry of Natural Resources is considering allowing wind turbines on the Great Lakes, Kingsville resident John O'Neil said Tuesday.
"I would think they would have a hard time backtracking on the comments made just a year-and-a-half ago," said O'Neil, a member of Citizens Against Lake Erie Wind Turbines, a group that opposed wind turbines in Lake Erie off Kingsville and Leamington.
But the group stopped meeting, figuring the battle had been won, after reading the Oct. 3, 2006 news release from MPP Bruce Crozier (L. -- Essex) who announced that the Natural Resources Minister at the time, David Ramsay, had called the site in the lake "inappropriate." After that, the ministry said all proposals for offshore wind projects were being deferred until the issue could be studied.
"I'd really like to know what's changed and why it would become an attractive location now, when in their words the minister confirmed that he shared concerns with the public calling the proposed site inappropriate," O'Neil said Tuesday.
But now the Minister of Natural Resources is Donna Cansfield.
Jamie Rilett, a spokesman from minister's office, confirmed the ministry is considering ending the moratorium on wind turbine developments in the Great Lakes. "We're pretty close to making a decision."
When the ministry put a hold on projects, it had 14 proposals for the provincially-owned lakebed in the Great Lakes, he said.
Jim Liovas, owner of Liovas Construction who made a proposal to build turbines in the lake, said he's "pretty happy" the ministry is considering allowing turbines.
"We're still pursuing the project," he said. "I think we're going to try to get more involved with the people that are opposing the project and try to work with them."
Liovas said he's proposing a 30-megawatt project with 15 turbines in Lake Erie. He said there was a misunderstanding over his Southpoint Wind Power project having 119 turbines. He said there are 119 spots where the turbines could be placed but he said that was for "future development" and the power grid couldn't handle that many turbines now.
Liovas said there is interest in building turbines on Lake Erie from a number of companies. He stressed he's a local developer.
"One way or another in a matter of time there are going to be turbines out in the Great Lakes."
O'Neil, who lives on Lake Erie, said the concerns over turbines on the lake haven't changed. People are worried about the impact on nearby Point Pelee National Park, the effect on migrating birds and the number of turbines. "I would think there would still be a great deal of opposition."
Kingsville Coun. Tamara Stomp, who was a member of the anti-turbine group, was surprised the ministry is considering lifting the moratorium.
"They should consider very hard because I think there's just as many if not more potential problems with wind turbines offshore as the ones on land."
Stomp said she supports green energy but has a lot of questions about wind turbines and doesn't think they belong near highly populated areas. And she has concerns about offshore turbines affecting fish and changing bird migration routes.
Leamington Mayor John Adams said he expects there will be "another uproar" if the ministry allows offshore proposals. The Leamington council meeting where Southpoint Wind Power was denied the use of municipal land for an easement in 2006 attracted hundreds of people, including some who stood outside and peeked through the windows of the packed council chambers.