THUNDER BAY, ON ---- April 3, 2011 --- Nor’wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee have permission of the City Clerk to appear before Council on Monday everning and to present there comments on on the Big Thunder Wind Park development lawsuit settlement report.
This report has inaccuracies, and omissions.
Council should ensure that this report contains all sufficient information to make a decision.
You can watch this council meeting here on Lake Superior News starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday April 4th,
Specific examples are as follows:
1. The chronological history makes no reference whatsoever to any of the public deputations, letters to Council or administration, meetings with the NMEPC, or public meetings and open houses sponsored by NMEPC. This omission is odd given that Councillors and administration were present at these events.
2. The chronological history fails to identify the numerous and significant meetings discussions that must have taken place prior to the October 10,2006 confidential memorandum advising that Administration intended to enter into an agreement with Horizon. Omission of these events from the history suggests that the relationship with Horizon materialised spontaneously with an agreement. These early discussions are important to understand the entire process.
3. The discussion regarding the FIT approval and contract (page 2) suggests that this contract provides the right and ability to sell the power through the Thunder Bay Hydro grid. The ability to connect electrically to the Thunder Bay Hydro grid would be the subject of an electrical connection assessment (or test) and agreement, and not the FIT process. Clear identification of the status of this electrical connection agreement is not made.
4. The report states on page 2 that there has been sufficient notice regarding Loch Lomond Road allowance in accordance with its Bylaws and Policies. None of the relevant bylaws or policies are identified, and there is no specific information how sufficient notice has been done. Please consider the following,
Policy No. 09-04-01 It is the policy of the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay to manage the City's real property in accordance with the City's statutory authority, effective business practices and the principles of open and accountable government.
If the easement was obtained for the purposes of utility access for a City agency, and is now being proposed to be used for another commercial purpose then the easement should not be misused. If the land is being declared surplus, then the abutting land owners should be notified and provided the opportunity to purchase.
5. The discussion regarding building of additional turbines after ‘capacity approvals’ (page 3) does not tell the entire story. While connection of any further turbines to the electrical grid must await all approvals, the REA would in our opinion provide all necessary approvals to build the infrastructure and towers. Therefore once the City provides a lease and RWEA approvals are obtained, construction on all REA approved facilities could commence.
6. There is a reference that the REA process may limit turbine height (page 4). There is no basis to suggest this, based on remaining tower sites and the lack of REA height limits.
7. There is reference that the magenta band (maximum turbine height 161 m) will mitigate viewshed concerns (page 4). This is difficult to understand as there would be towers 20 m higher than previously proposed, and there are numerous potential sites among the existing towers. With higher towers than previously examined for this project, and increased tower visibility, how are viewshed concerns mitigated?
8. Similarly for the turquoise band, where towers will be 45 metres taller than previously proposed. With the contour lines examined it can be seen that the Mountain Road, Mount Forest area will have a more direct sight line and increased views of these significantly higher towers. There is no basis to claim that viewshed concerns are mitigated by taller towers.
9. The statement (page 5) that height control on the areas south of the turquoise band will be controlled by access infrastructure and future REA approvals has no basis. Further the statement that turbines are becoming more efficient without necessarily increasing height is misleading as taller and taller turbines are being developed and tested (http://inhabitat.com/norway-to-build-the-worlds-largest-wind-turbine/). The development of turbines with no height restriction and no ability to control heights and locations will leave future councils and citizens without any means to protect their interests.
10. The statement (page 5) that new turbine locations and future restrictions represent Horizons response to the public concerns is misleading. Relocating 2 of the towers is a small improvement, but the new proposed sites have never been commented on by the public. Leaving the numerous other locations does not satisfy public concerns. Increasing turbine height would only increase public concerns.
11. Lease and easement amendments (page 5 and 6). There is a suggestion that the public will be allowed access to lands including easements, but not leases, and that this will satisfy the public’s needs. What is not stated or identified is that with the 200 metre lease radius around each tower, public access and any future use of the area will be impossible. The 200 metre radius zones overlap and create barriers. The public will be effectively banned from these areas for the next 45 years.
12. Land Access (page 6). There is a statement that in recognition to public opposition to access on Loch Lomond Road Horizon will take a number of steps. The inference is that the steps taken will satisfy public concerns. The steps proposed do not satisfy public concerns.
13. Construction Issues (page 7). The report states that no more than 150 acres of trees will be removed, yet there will be over 500 acres leased (16 towers at 31 acres each), plus easement for all the access roads and transformer sites. Either the tree removal is under estimated or the leased land is excessive.
14. Financial implications (page 9) do not identify potential litigation from citizens or community groups against the City, decommissioning cost risks, or construction liabilities. The rent geared to energy generation is not clearly identified. The loss of use of a significant land base is also not identified. This section concentrates only on the implications necessary to encourage council to support the proposed changes.