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World Energy GH2 answers CVADA questions

A trio of wind turbines (example only). Codroy Valley residents have a lot of questions about future wind development, and World Energy GH2 recently answered questions put forth on their behalf by the CVADA. – © Andreas Senftleben from Pixabay

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CODROY VALLEY — With the potential for wind development being thoroughly discussed in numerous communities, the Codroy Valley Area Development Association (CVADA) is taking their time to ensure the questions posed by residents are answered, both by World Energy GH2 and the government departments responsible for decisions on wind energy development. The goal is to achieve open and honest communication, so that their community can make its decision based on the most current and correct information available. On Monday, July 18, the CVADA released the answers on its website, provided by World Energy GH2 in response to 14 questions about the planned wind development. The questions posed included potential future employment opportunities, the number of proposed wind turbines to be installed, turbine maintenance, emergency and contingency measures, disposal strategies for the wind turbines, bird migration, pollutants, and what will be revealed by the environmental assessment report. Some of the information provided by World Energy GH2 included:

  1. 1,800 direct construction jobs, 300 jobs in operation, and 3,000 indirect jobs

  2. World Energy GH2 will prioritize local, qualified vendors

  3. The project will help mitigate the effects of climate change on a global scale, but it is not anticipated to contribute specifically to local air quality improvement

  4. As part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), air quality, noise, vibrations, and light effects are being studied within the vicinity of the project area

  5. The likelihood of ice buildup on turbine blades in NL is currently being studied and de-icing of the turbine blades prior to operation will eliminate risks of ice-throw and limit production losses

  6. A series of environmental management plans are being developed to mitigate the effects of project development on the surrounding environment

  7. Between 155-165 wind turbine sites have been identified as part of the ‘Codroy Wind Farm’ for a capacity of 1GW. The fact that World Energy GH2 was so forthcoming with their responses is viewed as a positive by CVADA Chair Ron Laudadio. “I’m really glad. I was impressed, actually, because we posted the report on the Web, and within minutes, GH2 reached out to me eager to answer the questions. So I was very delighted by that. I was very happy that they sent us their answers. What that means is that they continue to foster a communication with us, which is fantastic, because really our objective to support the community is just more information out there because a lot of fear really comes from the unknown,” said Laudadio. “The best way to address that is just to continue to have the conversation so that people get greater information. So I was very happy that they were quick to send the response. They answered every question, and I know there’s going to be follow up conversations that are going to be required and more questions from the community. So Angie had reached out to me soon after sending me their answers because she sent it to me on GH2’s behalf, and she again reiterated that they’re very keen to have the CVADA host a session in which they will continue to participate with to further answer even more questions if they pop up.” The CVADA is looking forward to hosting the event. “We’re thinking about doing it a virtual as opposed to a physical, so that way it can be well recorded, it can be well heard, but we’re trying to figure out how best to facilitate such an event,” said Laudadio. The hope is to host the session as soon as possible. “What we want to do before we have that conversation is hear back from the government, and the reason, primarily, is because we can get a lot of information from World Energy GH2 – and they have made an obligation to the government to maintain communications with the communities – but we are all very keenly aware of the fact that it’s the government that’s making this decision on our behalf,” said Laudadio. “World Energy GH2 has been far more conversational with us than the ministries that are involved and, so, we’ve been working with (MHA) Scott Reid (St. George’s – Humber) as best as possible to have the government answer those questions as soon as possible. I understand from Scott that both ministries are working on them. Andrew’s (Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology) group has been working on it, as well as our environmental ministry. Hopefully they answer all the questions instead of just scooping off saying, ‘well, I’m sorry. This sounds, speculative.’” Laudadio remains hopeful that the government understands the point and the premise of what the CVADA is trying to accomplish. “Scott assures me that they’re working on it, and if I don’t hear back at a date or a time that they’re going to be responding back, then we’ll just have the session with the GH2 and do that. We were hoping at least that the community would have the government’s answers in hand first, before we have those conversations with the GH2, because I wouldn’t be surprised that some of the government’s answers will precipitate some important questions back to World Energy GH2.” The topic remains a controversial one,and the CVADA wants to be ensure that they are representing their community accurately. “As the CVADA, we’re an area development association, and the mandate there is primarily on behalf of the community to support development for the benefit of the community as a whole. We have to be careful with representing the community. We don’t necessarily want to be the voice of the Codroy Valley, so that that way somehow we mute others, but at the same time, we do want to represent the community because we do have a voice. And representing 1,800 or 1,900 people does have a say when it comes to working through conversations with World Energy GH2 as well as the government,” said Laudadio. “We’re trying to be very careful not to overstep, but at the same time to also represent as best as we can. So it’s a very difficult line for us. I don’t think we’ve come to a conclusion about specifically how to do it well, but we’re trying to do our best, and so the position we’re primarily taking is to support the community in their decisions. Whether each individual in the community decides that they want to support or if the member wants to be opposed, we really want to support them equally as much as we can.” Future polls will continue to inform the CVADA how to best focus its efforts to represent all of the Codroy Valley residents when it comes to wind energy development. “What we want to do is support the community to have an articulate message during the community commenting period, which is that 50-day window at the end before the government makes the decision, and we really want to help the community as a whole have a very clear message to the government, so that that way it’s well taken in consideration in their evaluation process,” said Laudadio. Every question that was sent to World Energy was answered. “One answer was no, which is not ‘no, we won’t answer the question’. It was ‘no, our answer is no,’ which I thought was interestingly and cleverly terse, but it was factual. We could all hope for a chapter on each question and we could always hope for more, but what I’m eager about is that they want to continue a conversation because the more that we can have conversation, the more insight we can gain,” said Laudadio. “I think if we take an aggressive approach with them, it would just be shutting them down and that’s why we’re being careful to be respectful and supportive and encouraging in that conversation. So I’m happy that they answered the questions. I’m not really going to throw rocks that they didn’t answer them enough. I think their willingness to continue the conversation allows those questions to be much longer in the future.” So far there hasn’t been a lot of feedback from the community, but Laudadio does expect that to change, as the information was only shared recently. “We have a lot of silence. I’m looking at that in a good light because, as you know, this is a very passionate topic, and I think that if we had not done something well, I think we would have heard it, and I think really it’s something for them to digest. So it’s only been out there for a couple of days. When I look at the statistics on the Facebook post, not a lot of people have seen it yet,” said Laudadio. “Usually we see a lot of people see these posts on the weekend and Tuesday, probably the times that people just scroll through their timelines. So I’m expecting to see some comments on Facebook sometime by end of Tuesday, but to us directly, I haven’t heard anything back other than people were happy.” Whether or not the CVADA will take a stance in support of or against the World Energy GH2 project in the Valley is something that the board will decide at a later date. “My leadership style is to leave it to the board, let the machine work the way it’s supposed to, instead of me really taking on any kind of leadership role that dictates. So the position we’ve taken right now is that the poll will be something that we have a lot of confidence in because it’s a well-informed community who then has offered their sentiment,” said Laudadio. “And it’s really up to the board to decide on our board meeting immediately after that poll to accept. That said, it will be focused on doing our absolute best to support the community. So I would say you could probably infer to some degree, but I want the board to make that decision about how we want to best support the community instead of trying to make any kind of commitment prior.” The CVADA looks forward to more conversations in the future, especially when it comes to what the government has to say. “We’re very happy with the engagement with World Energy GH2 to communicate. We have a lot of anticipation with what the government has to say because we’ve been rather concerned that the government’s been so silent and really, they’re the ones who represent us. They’re the ones who are going to make the decision on our behalf,” said Laudadio. “It’s been alarming to a lot of the community members that I’ve been talking to about how silent they’ve been. So if there’s anything else that the CVADA feels rather passionate about is the anticipation of getting those answers.”

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