To The Editor,
Last year RES took over the Eastern Fields Wind Power project near St-Bernardin. We’ve seen firsthand how the lack of information about the project has many people concerned. We are committed to changing this perception and want everyone to know we want to fully engage the community going forward. We recognize (and apologize for) past mistakes and are committed to improving communication going forward.
We know that actions speak louder than words. To prove our commitment, we’ve already initiated door-to-door engagement with local residents closest to the project. Through this campaign we focused on understanding the specific local questions and concerns. To address the most common questions we created several informative FAQ sheets and project newsletters which were sent out to local residents. We hosted a free BBQ last summer for residents to casually come and meet us. In the fall we held a free wind farm visit for local residents. We are in the process of planning two open house events, scheduled for December 6 and 8, to be held at the community centres in Vankleek Hill and St-Bernardin, respectively. These open houses will be from 12-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. and will provide detailed information on the project and wind energy, with subject matter experts on site to receive feedback and address specific questions. We look forward to meeting as many people as we can and encourage everyone interested to find some time those days to drop in and meet us.
We are making these efforts because we see this project as being a long-term partnership with (and a genuine benefit to) the local community. Project benefits include long-term tax revenue, as well as a “Community Benefit Fund” earmarked for local investment that is above and beyond tax payments. Jobs will be created during the construction and operation periods as well. We are also offering bursaries for local residents who want to get training leading up to project construction. Another initiative we have just developed is a potential “Local Electricity Discount” (LED) program. This program would provide an electricity rebate for residents and businesses closest to the turbines. Up to 50k would be set aside annually to abate electricity costs and provide direct benefit to the local residents. This amounts to one million from the project over its lifetime. All of these initiatives contribute to the viability of the project and the betterment of the community over the next 20 years.
Mistakes were made with the initiation of the project, we know. We want to put the mistakes behind us and prove that we are committed to the community. We can only do this through open and transparent engagement and ensuring that the community sees genuine benefit from the project over the long term. In the end, we hope that the community can see the project as we see it: a local source of pride and an asset to the community for decades to come.
For more information about the project and about RES, please feel free to visit our website at www.easternfieldswind.com
Project Manager, Renewable Energy Systems (RES)