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Blue Highlands Citizens' Coalition

Position Paper

Presented to Mayor Anderson and Members of Council

January 31, 2005

Re: Proposed Meteorological Testing Tower at Gibraltar


     The Blue Highland's Citizens' Coalition (BHCC) wishes to express its opposition to the proposed installation by Superior Wind Energy Inc. of a meteorological test tower for wind testing purposes south west of Gibraltar.

     The reason for BHCC's opposition is that the tower installation cannot be described as being for the purpose of allowing Superior Wind to determine whether there are adequate wind resources in the area of Superior Wind's proposed "Blue Highlands" wind power facility.

     As members of Council know, Superior Wind has been awarded a 20 year, multimillion dollar contract by the Ontario Government for the supply of energy from the proposed "Blue Highlands" wind power facility. In order to be eligible for the award of that contract, Superior Wind had to satisfy a number of technical criteria specified by the provincial Government, including the viability of the wind resource on top of The Blue Mountains. Neither the Ontario Government nor Superior Wind would have entered into that multimillion dollar commitment with each other if both parties were not absolutely convinced as to the viability of the local wind resource. Indeed, the contracting process imposed a viable (and proven) local wind resource as a prerequisite to the award of any contract under the 300 MW Renewables RFP.

     Thus, the reason for the proposed installation cannot be characterized as being for investigative purposes, at least as far as the viability of the local wind resource is concerned. Council cannot and should not approve the proposed installation on the basis that "Superior just wants to test the wind to see if there is enough wind for a viable wind farm".

     The reason that Superior Wind wishes to install the test tower has already been explained to Grey Highlands Council. At the October 2004 Grey Highlands public meeting corresponding to tonight's meeting but relating to the similar proposed tower installation south of County Road 4 a few kilometres east of Maxwell, Superior's representatives confirmed that it is not Superior Wind, but rather its bankers, who require the wind speed data from the proposed test towers. Superior Wind's representatives confirmed at that time that they themselves are satisfied with the wind speed data which they have gathered in the area of the proposed "Blue Highlands" wind power facility from SODAR unit testing, communications tower testing and other data sources. Superior Wind's representatives went on, however, to explain that their bankers still need fixed tower wind speed data in order to provide bank financing for the proposed project.

     In our view, it is important for Council to focus on the reason for the proposed tower installation. As stated earlier, the reason is NOT based on a desire to simply investigate local wind speeds to determine whether a project might be valuable. The wind testing to determine whether a project is viable has already been done and indeed a multimillion dollar, 20 year energy supply commitment has already been made by Superior Wind based on the viability of the local wind resource. Thus, the proposed tower installation (which relates solely to financing for the proposed project and not to the viability of the local wind resource) is properly viewed by Council as part of the actual implementation of the proposed project.

     In our view, it is not appropriate for Council to be approving at this time any actions by Superior which relate to the actual implementation of the project. There are two principal reasons for this.

     First, the implementation of the proposed project will require extensive revisions to the Town's Official Plan. As we outlined to Council during our November 15 presentation before Council, there are a number of provisions in the Town's Official Plan that would need to be revised before the proposed wind power facility can proceed. It would not be appropriate for Council to approve any element of the actual implementation of the proposed wind power project unless and until the necessary Official Plan amendment process has been completed.

     Second, there are extensive and serious concerns of Town residents who live in the vicinity of the proposed wind power facility which need to be addressed. These concerns need to be addressed by Council through an appropriate public consultation, investigation and policy formulation process. Until that process has been completed it is not appropriate to proceed with any step in the implementation of the proposed "Blue Highlands" wind power project. For the reasons we have outlined, the installation of the proposed test tower is one such step.

     The Coalition recognizes the complexity of the issues presented by the question of the appropriate scope and scale of wind power development in the Town of the Blue Mountains. Those issues cannot be properly dealt with unless and until Council and indeed all of the Town's residents have had an opportunity to engage in a responsible and informed decision-making process regarding the wind power development issue. That is a principle that we have been espousing since our formation in May of 2003. In our respectful submission, this is the time for Council to start that process.

     Unlike the "cart before the horse" approach which the provincial Government appears to have taken regarding the wind power development issue, Council has the opportunity to take the time for a proper public consultation and policy formulation process to be pursued. It is not appropriate for steps like the proposed test tower installation to cloud and indeed compromise the integrity of that essential process.

For these reasons, we wish to have our strong opposition to the proposed test tower installation recorded.

Thank you.

THE BLUE HIGHLANDS CITIZENS COALITION