Canadian lakes turbine plans draws fire

June 1, 2010 at 9:15 PM
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WINDSOR, Ontario, June 1 (UPI) -- Opponents say a Canadian company's plans for more than 165 wind turbines in Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie would interfere with boating and wildlife.

Criticism on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border has come from sailors and racing enthusiasts as well as from coastal property owners worried about land values, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

SouthPoint Wind, based in Leamington, Ontario, plans to build the energy-generating, 400-foot-tall turbines in Canadian waters.

Canadian legislation has paved the way for clean-energy projects in the area.

"A U.S. citizen who doesn't like the way the wind farm looks across the lake can't just go into Canadian court and sue to try and stop it," Nick Schroeck, an adjunct professor at Wayne State University and executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, told the News.

SouthPoint could not be reached for comment, the newspaper said.

The company's Web site says it chose the lakes "to capitalize on the most profitable areas with shallow water depth, high average wind speed" and proximity to the power grid.

Jennifer Hoover of Southfield Township outside Detroit owns a home in Canada along Lake St. Clair's southern shore. "It's frustrating," she said. "You pay a premium for the land because it sits on the water and then you pay those taxes each year. ... And they can just come in and, on their own whim, decide to throw 50 windmills out in front of our homes."

While U.S. citizens may have no recourse, the News said Canadian groups will likely go to court over the plans. One group, Citizens Against Lake Erie Wind Turbines, is building a legal defense fund.

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