Landowners fighting wind turbine project won’t back down

The Battle River Group (BRG) isn’t giving up its fight against Paintearth County’s approval of Capital Power’s Halkirk 2 Wind Project that would see 74 wind turbines, a collector system and a substation erected north of Halkirk.
Last month the county rejected BRG’s petition requesting wind turbines’ setbacks be 1.5 km instead of the proposed 500 metres. The BRG – which consists of about 37 affected landowners – submitted their petition with 312 signatures to the county in December.
BRG member Dwayne Felzien said the County of Provost has a wind turbine setback of 1,000 metres for all residential property but now say setbacks should have been at least 1,200 metres.
“Please advise if the petition will be considered by council resulting in an open public review of the wind tower set backs from residents within the county,” said Felzien in a Jan. 23 email to the county, which council plans to discuss at its Feb. 6 meeting.
Felzien also wants county council to clarify the meaning of its land use bylaw, which they amended in June 2017.
The bylaw references Wind Energy Conversion Systems (SECS/WECS) that states all development must meet the minimum standard such as not be sited near Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA) identified by the county.
“This is the bylaw that raised the question during the AUC hearing as to why the county approved tower locations within ESA’s and defined waterways,” said Felzien.
During a Jan. 23 county council meeting, Todd Pawsey, development officer for the county, cautioned council not to rely on the ESA designations in Paintearth County when it comes to planning, including Capital Power’s proposed Halkirk 2 Wind Project saying that lands highly rated for ESA’s in the county are only rated low to mid range provincially and are cultivated farmland.
A hearing held by Paintearth County’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) in December was adjourned until April 2018 at the request of Capital Power’s lawyer to allow Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) to finish its regulatory review process. The AUC is expected to make its decision by March 12.
Halkirk already has 83 turbines at Halkirk Wind Farm and adds about $2.3 million into the county’s coffers annually.
With the Halkirk 2 project, Capital Power aims to meet increased power needs in the province as Alberta phases out coal-fired electricity generation facilities by 2030.

Lisa Joy
ECA Review

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