The crane has been on-site at the White Pines Wind Farm in picturesque Prince Edward County for more than a week now, and on Tuesday, local landowners and other supporters of the axed project decided it was time to say goodbye.

The first of nine turbines on the site was due to be dismantled and removed, marking the start of a decommissioning expected to take at least three years, so supporters of the project gathered to give speeches and commiserate its demise.

Locals watch as workers prepare a crane to dismantle a turbine at the White Pines Wind Farm on Oct. 29, 2019. Photo courtesy of Bill White

Doug Ford’s provincial government started dismantling Ontario’s green-energy industry as soon as he came to power, cancelling 758 wind and solar projects including White Pines.

The partially built site outside Milford was singled out for decommissioning in a bill that ruled its owner-operators, a company called wpd Canada run by two German investors, could only reclaim costs sunk into the project over its 10-year life, an amount estimated around $100 million.

“Everyone else is building more green energy, and we’re tearing down the ones we’ve already built,” said Jen Ackerman, who owns farmland on which she agreed to locate one of the company’s turbines. “It’s insanity.”

“They’ve turned their backs on the local farmers like myself that say, ‘Hey, this turbine was the best crop I could ever grow,” she said.

The bill terminated the 2010 contract between the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and wpd which locked in a subsidized rate under a policy of the former Liberal government to boost renewable energy production.

Other locals argue that the project was ill-conceived and construction of the turbines rushed through despite environmental concerns. The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County says any major wind project in the region would be “detrimental to its unique historical, agricultural, cultural and rural character.”

Gary Mooney, who founded another group opposing wind turbines in the county called the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy, said local opposition to the project was strong.

“There was a huge sense of relief in the county when the Conservatives won, and in particular when Todd (Smith) was elected,” he said.

Smith, the MPP for the Bay of Quinte riding that includes Prince Edward County, was influential in getting the bill cancelling the project passed, Mooney said.

(National Observer dug into the dispute over White Pines in a feature last year.)

A previous protest against the decommissioning of the White Pines Wind Farm. Photo courtesy of County Sustainability Group

White Pines was originally proposed as a 60 MW facility with 29 turbines (later reduced to nine turbines and 18 MW amid local opposition and after an environment assessment found the full project would harm bat and turtle populations) and a substation on privately owned agricultural lands. The substation and nine turbines were in various stages of construction when the project was cancelled.

A missing bolt required for the dismantling work means it has now been postponed until next week, a slight reprieve that Ackerman holds out hope could turn into a late reversal on Ford’s part.

“Anything can be turned around,” she said. “Doug Ford turned around that deal with the CUPE teachers. He turned that around at 11 o'clock on a Sunday night and the teachers went to work on Monday morning.

“We don’t give up hope. There is always hope he’ll come to his senses.”

Editor's note: This article was updated at 1:50 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2019 to show earlier reduction in size of project was due to an environmental assessment. It was updated again at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2019 to include additional comment from an opponent of the project and to fix a link to previous National Observer reportage.

A previous protest against the decommissioning of the White Pines Wind Farm. Photo courtesy of County Sustainability Group

The opponents to White Pines - have a point. Yes, the wind turbines will disfigure the ``pristine` quality of their idyllic, bucolic rural county. Just as the poles supporting their rural electrification did so decades ago. I wonder if these `purists`are willing to dismantle their electrical grid entirely. If not, why don`t they invest in off grid technologies to provide their own electrification, solar, smaller scale wind power, etc.

Instead, they are indulging in fits of pique, trying to freeze their existence in some illusion of utopia. The world will not wait for them to catch up. Reality is truly biting and Prince Edward County will not escape the ravages.

We homo sapiens are victims of our own success. If there weren't so many of us, the wind farms we need to power our "civilization," and get us off harmful fossil fuels, would not be such a "bother." So the dissent has just made it easier for Trump's evil twin to put another nail in our climate coffin.

Several supporters, including myself, were asked to speak at this protest so here is what I had to say: https://countysustainabilitygroup.com/2019/10/30/don-ross-speech-at-the-...

Bill White ( CSG member and co-producer along with Pat White of www.upintheairfilm.com ) also spoke:
https://countysustainabilitygroup.com/2019/11/02/tuesday-oct-29-speech-b...

Jenn Ackerman, whose farm where Turbine 9 and this rally was being held on, also spoke: https://countysustainabilitygroup.com/2019/11/02/jenn-ackermans-speech-o...