New transmission lines spark plans for up to 51 wind turbines near Petrolia

Sign of the times in Enniskillen

Sign of the times in Enniskillen

Enniskillen politicians and residents are watching with worry as three companies make the rounds asking landowners south of Petrolia to sign leases for wind turbines.

Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott says in the last few months three companies have been speaking with the municipality about projects which could bring as many as 51 turbines to the rural township.

The mayor says there has been major interest since the Ontario Energy Board gave approval for Hydro One’s $40 million upgrade of a major transmission line which goes from the Lambton Generating Station into London. The upgrade allows for up to 500 megawatts of additional renewable power in the area according to documents filed at the time with the OEB.

“These transmission lines that are coming from the Courtright coal-fired facility are being upgraded and all of the sudden there is an interest to feed that line,” he says.

Marriott says the companies are having some success, telling him about half of the landowners they approach are interested. “They have the land owners who are willing to sign, land owners who are afraid to sign because of those opposed and then there are the people who are majorly opposed,” he says.

Chad Burke is one of the people “majorly opposed.” He and his wife own two acres of land in the Rokeby Line/Fairweather Road area. His father-in-law was recently approached by one of the three companies and turned them down.

Burke has organized a public meeting in Oil Springs for March 7 about the proposal hoping to let landowners what is going on. “Once you sign a lease, you’re done,” he says noting the people in this area are pretty fortunate they know some of the risks associated with signing a lease. “We’re pretty fortunate, we’re way ahead (of the wind companies getting approvals),” he says.

Burke is hoping a lot of people will come out to the Oil Springs Community Center to hear about the potential for harm from the turbines – some people say they cause headaches, ringing in the ears and sleeplessness – and what having a turbine on your land can do to land values.

Burke also believes if there is enough opposition, a local group may be formed to try to stop the wind companies from getting a foothold in the area.

“I hope to approach Kevin Marriott to see if the township will pass a bylaw similar to Plympton-Wyoming,” he adds. Plympton-Wyoming passed stiff bylaws which are now being challenged in court by Suncor Energy which is working on a project in that municipality.

Marriott says the sudden interest in Enniskillen is going to make it difficult for the council to please residents. “We thought we’d be on the northern end of these projects,” he says. “Now the whole municipality is involved because that transmission line runs right in the middle of us,” he adds.

“The whole thing all of the sudden becomes scary because of what I see as a 50/50 split in the community. Who do you make a difficult decision when it’s a 50/50 split?”

– Heather Wright