EDP offer of millions contingent on municipal support of South Branch II project proposal

Tom LoTurco, EDP Renewables director of development for Canada, characterized the public meeting hosted by the company regarding its proposed South Branch II wind project as, “extremely positive.”

He said that the meeting, which saw over 70 attendees, was among the most positive he has ever been involved with.

The meeting was held to give the public the opportunity to learn about and ask questions about the wind project which could bring between 24 and 36 turbine tower locations to an area of rural South Dundas, stretching mostly north of Waddell Road and east of the existing South Branch wind farm to County Road 31.

Many of those in attendance were from the landowner families who are signed on with this second South Branch project.

While South Branch was a relatively small 30 megawatt project involving only four landowner families, South Branch II already has over 20 landowner families, with the potential to add more, as the 75 megawatt project, that will encompass about 10,000 acres, moves towards the September 1, 2015 large renewable procurement deadline. 

That competitive bidding process through the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator), will ultimately determine the fate of this South Branch II project.

EDP Renewables has asked South Dundas council to provide a municipal resolution of support for the project, a decision that South Dundas council deferred until its August 11 meeting. 

If successful, the municipal support resolution will allow EDP to gain an advantage over other projects which do not have that resolution in the extremely competitive LRP bidding process. 

“It is critical for us to get municipal support,” said LoTurco, explaining that the resolution would give them an advantage. It would move EDP’s bid ahead of others submitting the same price in the bid stack.

“The resolution makes it more likely for us to be successful with a less aggressive bid, allowing us to maintian some funds for the municipality,” said LoTurco.

In recognition of this advantage, EDP has put together a value proposition that would include a municipal benefit fund that would pay $262,500 per year for 25 years directly to the municipality. That fund would amount to $6.5 million.

This is in addition to a proposed $75,000 annual community benefit fund, $110,000 annual property taxes and a $3.3 million road user agreement.

On top of the 250 construction jobs involved with such a project, EDP is proposing to add 8-12 full time equivalent operations jobs.

This value proposition presented by EDP is dependent upon South Dundas council providing a municipal council support resolution for the project.

All members of council, with the exception of councillor Archie Mellan who declares pecuniary interest and does not participate in council discussions regarding this project, attended the EDP public meeting, as did acting chief administrative officer Shannon Geraghty.

South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde said she saw attending this meeting as an opportunity to speak to and hear from the residents on this matter. 

“I am not surprised at what I am hearing,” she told The Leader

“Generally, people involved with the project are supportive of it, and people who are not involved with the project, are not supportive of it,” said Delegarde. 

She said she has received dozens of emails, both for and against the project on the matter. “I have friends on both sides: Making this decision, my head and my heart will have to come into play.”

“I don’t like all the uncertainty of all of this,” said South Dundas councillor Marc St. Pierre.

“It’s a decision we’re going to have to make on Tuesday,” said South Dundas councillor Bill Ewing.

“I am still weighing the pros and cons of supporting or not supporting this,” said South Dundas deputy mayor Jim Locke.

Asked if he was optimistic about receiving the requested municipal support resolution, Ken Little, South Branch project manager said, “I’m always optimistic.”

According to project literature provided by EDP Renewables, “The total investment over the 25 year project life (including landowner payments) totals $76,250,000.”

The display panel receiving the most attention at the August 5 meeting was the map outlining the project boundaries and showing the “No build zones.”

Most were interested to see the proximity of their property to potential build areas.

Generally, those area residents that The Leader spoke with were somewhat resigned to the fact that this project could happen, regardless of their feelings on the matter. 

“It’s really important to be aware of what’s going on, and to get yourself informed,” said South Dundas resident Jennifer Perry who lives very near the project boundary. 

Council’s decision regarding the support resolution occurred after press time August 11. Full details will be available in next week’s Leader.

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