'The plan is set': Province says wind farm expansion going ahead in Eastern Kings
'I'm bowled over by ... the audacity of the statement,' says wind farm opponent
P.E.I.'s energy minister says the expansion of the wind farm in Eastern Kings will go ahead, even though an environmental study is not yet complete and other steps in the public process have yet to be taken.
"I don't want to leave it in the air that there's a possibility that we're not going there," said Steven Myers, minister of transportation, energy and infrastructure. "We think the whole project's in order and as we move through the steps we will be able to pass them. Our homework is done and the plan is set."
The P.E.I. Energy Corporation wants to double the output of its Eastern Kings Wind Farm by building seven new turbines. They would be larger than the 10 turbines already there.
An environmental impact assessment is currently underway, as required by provincial law. The energy corporation has not yet made a formal application to the local municipality for the necessary permits. Local officials have said public meetings will be held to discuss the matter further.
Some residents are opposed to expanding the wind farm. The minister's comments caught one property owner off guard.
"I'm bowled over by ... the audacity of the statement," said Don Humphrey, who is a member of the Eastern Kings Community Association, a group of residents opposed to the expansion.
"There's supposed to be an environmental impact study. There's not even a full application for a development permit submitted.... This is really news to me."
Myers made his comments Friday in an interview with CBC News. He said he'd be meeting Monday with some of the residents in Eastern Kings who oppose the project.
"I have no problem going out and facing this," said Myers. "But I think it's also important that I'm honest and upfront about our plans."
The additional wind turbines will generate revenue for the province — $2.5 million in the first year alone, according to Myers — and will add to the province's inventory of renewable energy.
"We're going to be able to increase the total green energy we're putting on our grid in Prince Edward Island, which is a really good thing for Islanders. It's a really good thing for the environment," said Myers.
The Eastern Kings Community Association continues to enlist the help of a lawyer to oppose the expansion, but the group prefers not to take the matter to court, according to Humphrey.
"It was just suggested that a legal process would be costly to all involved and we'd really rather not do it," said Humphrey.
The province's wind regime will continue to grow, according to the minister. The energy corporation intends to add another 40 megwatts of wind-turbine generating capacity, in addition to the expansion of Eastern Kings. A location for the additional 40-megawatt generating facility has not yet been identified, according to Myers.