Court “not our prefered course of action” Suncor says

Wind turbines near Watford, Ontario

Wind turbines near Watford, Ontario

Suncor Energy says challenging Plympton-Wyoming’s wind energy bylaws in court is a “step we had to take.”

Suncor has a contract with the province for a 100 megawatt project in Lambton Shores and Plympton-Wyoming. About half of the wind turbines will be erected in Plympton-Wyoming, in and around the Camlachie area. There have been detractors to the project who are concerned about the health effects from the industrial turbines. People living near turbines have been known to suffer from insomnia, headaches and tinnitus.

Last year, the municipality passed tough bylaws. The bylaws say there should not be turbines within two kilometers of homes – the Green Energy Act say 550 meters. Plympton-Wyoming was also requiring building permit fees of $10,000 per turbine and another $200,000 per turbine as a decommissioning deposit.

A week ago, Suncor Energy filed a legal challenge to the bylaws in Sarnia Court.

“This isn’t our preferred course of action,” says Suncor spokesman Jason Vaillant. “It was a step we had to take to keep the work going that we started there.”

Vaillant says Suncor has been working on the Cedar Point project since 2006 and has been talking to municipal officials and the elected leaders about their concerns from the beginning. “We have talked about the bylaws and how we think they are restrictive and more importantly in conflict with the process were supposed to follow to get these wind farms built,” says Vaillant adding the province’s Green Energy Act sets governs the development of wind energy including outlining setbacks of 550 meters from homes. “That conversation has gone on both with staff and with elected officials. Unfortunately we were not successful.” That forced Suncor to take the legal route. “It isn’t something we want to do or a route that we look to take from the outset but this where we find ourselves,” says Vaillant.

A court date has not been set yet, but Mayor Lonny Napper the township is hiring a lawyer to defend its bylaws saying the elected leaders under the Municipal Act have a duty to protect the health of their citizens. “We’re not against wind turbines; we’re in this strictly for the health and safety of our people.”
Napper says the municipality would prefer the province place a moratorium on wind development until a federal health study is completed in 2014.

-Heather Wright