Gilead / Ostrander Point — everything you need to know
CCSAGE has prepared a comprehensive status report on Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point wind project — everything that you need to know, completely up to date and fully supportable.
Following is the Executive Summary of the report. For a link to the full report, scroll down.
The project. Gilead Power Corporation proposes to construct nine 135-metre high industrial wind turbines with maximum power capacity of 22.5 MW, plus a 5.4 km heavy-load access road, on Crown Land in the middle of Prince Edward County’s South Shore Important Bird Are (IBA). Gilead is in the later stages of the province’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process, but has not yet received any final approvals for the project.
The issues. The primary issue is environmental — serious harm to resident wildlife and to migratory birds and bats, as evidenced by Wolfe Island kill statistics. In order to facilitate construction and operations, Gilead has applied for a permit to “kill, harm and harass” endangered species. The other issue relates to nearby property owners, who are at risk with respect to the health of family members and property values.
The economics: Gilead 99%, County 1%. Gilead will generate $8 million of annual revenues from the province’s Feed-In Tariff program in each of the next 20 years. However, the benefits to the County will be trivial, with Gilead spending only 1% of its annual revenues in the County. This would include $26,000 for municipal taxes (thereby reducing taxes by $2.00 per household) and maybe one maintenance job for a County resident.
The timeline and current status. After receiving a 20-year supply contract offer from the Ontario Power Authority, Gilead submitted its REA application on May 16, 2011. To date, no final approvals have been announced. The company’s website still projects that commercial operation will start in 2011, but this is now clearly impossible. If there is a change of government in October, it is possible that this project will not be allowed to proceed.
Gilead’s communications. Gilead has been less than praiseworthy in its communications: it appears to have overstated by 100% its total municipal tax contributions; it is using advertising that is warm and fuzzy rather than informative; and it has set up an email campaign directed at the local MPP that allows each individual to send multiple fake emails expressing support.
The opposition. There is major opposition to this project from naturalist groups — national and provincial as well as local — and from many individual citizens. In an online poll allowing only one vote per household, respondents strongly favoured no turbines at Ostrander Point (669 votes) over turbines there (41 votes). If the Gilead project is approved, there will an appeal to an Environmental Review Tribunal, and there are rumours of direct action / civil disobedience if and when the trucks start to roll.
Alternatives. As an alternative to this and other turbine projects proposed for the South Shore, some of the naturalist groups are proposing that the federal government protect the whole South Shore IBA, to include prohibition of wind turbines in that area. One very interesting proposal calls for the creation of a national park covering both the South Shore and the adjacent offshore marine area.
The full report is available at https://ccsage.wordpress.com/gilead/.