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Provincial green power rules squeeze Niagara wind farm

Ontario released the much-anticipated regulations for its new Green Energy Act Thursday, including minimum setback distances for windmills from roads and houses. Under the new rules, turbines in an industrial wind farm must be built at least 550 metres from the nearest home. That's a problem for the first wind farm planned for Niagara, said Tom Rankin, who has partnered with Niagara Region to build five turbines in Wainfleet capable of churning out 10 megawatts of electricity.

THOROLD - New provincial regulations designed to promote green energy may short circuit plans for Niagara's first wind farm.

Ontario released the much-anticipated regulations for its new Green Energy Act Thursday, including minimum setback distances for windmills from roads and houses.

Under the new rules, turbines in an industrial wind farm must be built at least 550 metres from the nearest home.

That's a problem for the first wind farm planned for Niagara, said Tom Rankin, who has partnered with Niagara Region to build five turbines in Wainfleet capable of churning out 10 megawatts of electricity.

"It could be a real setback for us," said the owner of St. Catharines-based Rankin Renewable Energy Thursday. "If we have to meet that requirement it may force us to cut down on the number of windmills we can put up."

Rankin said some, but not all of the proposed windmills would meet the new 550 metre rule.

The closest planned tower is about 350 metres from a home. "We'll have to do some rejigging, to see how things fit," he said.

Wind projects completed or already under construction don't have to meet the new rules. Rankin said Thursday he needed to find out whether his project could be... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

THOROLD - New provincial regulations designed to promote green energy may short circuit plans for Niagara's first wind farm.

Ontario released the much-anticipated regulations for its new Green Energy Act Thursday, including minimum setback distances for windmills from roads and houses.

Under the new rules, turbines in an industrial wind farm must be built at least 550 metres from the nearest home.

That's a problem for the first wind farm planned for Niagara, said Tom Rankin, who has partnered with Niagara Region to build five turbines in Wainfleet capable of churning out 10 megawatts of electricity.

"It could be a real setback for us," said the owner of St. Catharines-based Rankin Renewable Energy Thursday. "If we have to meet that requirement it may force us to cut down on the number of windmills we can put up."

Rankin said some, but not all of the proposed windmills would meet the new 550 metre rule.

The closest planned tower is about 350 metres from a home. "We'll have to do some rejigging, to see how things fit," he said.

Wind projects completed or already under construction don't have to meet the new rules. Rankin said Thursday he needed to find out whether his project could be grandfathered.

That's unlikely, according to Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan. "Wind farms that are not built as of today will still need to comply (with the new regulations)," she said.

In making the new rules, the province had to decide between industry setback suggestions of 100 metres or less and requests from vocal wind farm opponents seeking two-kilometre buffer zones.

Even a half-kilometre setback could zap future wind power projects in Niagara, however.

"This type of setback would appear to negate a good chunk of the peninsula for wind towers," said Patrick Robson, commissioner of integrated community planning at the Region.

Robson said a 550-metre buffer is already difficult to find in densely populated Niagara - and many properties that fit the bill are already off-limits to windmills, like any land on the Niagara Escarpment.

Robson noted the Region spent many months developing its own wind energy policies that are now invalidated by the "much more stringent" provincial rules.

The Region's rules, for example, called for turbines to be set back from roads and houses by 1.25 times the height of each tower.

Prospective wind farm developer Larry Dykstra said the setback rules may make it "virtually impossible" to build a wind farm in the northern peninsula.

"Niagara just doesn't have a lot of big farms," he said. "For setbacks like that, you need big parcels of land."

Dykstra said his group is looking at the possibility of putting windmills in Lincoln, Grimsby or West Lincoln.

The new regulations may squeeze out proposals for more heavily-populated Vineland, he said.

But on the positive side, Dykstra said the Green Energy Act's new feed-in-tariff makes windpower more economically viable.

The feed-in-tariff is the amount of money that will paid to producers of renewable energy. That amount ranges from 10.3 to 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the size and type of green energy production.

The feed-in-tariff allows homeowners and businesses to add windmills or solar panels and sell excess energy back into the provincial grid, said Horizon Utilities spokeswoman Sandy Manners.

"We think it's pretty exciting; we think many businesses in particular may look into putting panels on the roof," she said.


Source: http://www.wellandtribune.c...

SEP 25 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22361-provincial-green-power-rules-squeeze-niagara-wind-farm
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