A second 500-kilovolt Bruceto Milton transmission line alongside the existing one through East Luther Grand Valley and East Garafraxa is expected to have minimal impact on property owners, but the line does require an individual environmental assessment.
The existing line runs generally east and southeast from the Bruce Nuclear Power Development as far as Colbeck, where it turns south to Milton. Its twin would be on a 175-200-foot easement on the north and east sides of the existing right-ofway.
At Colbeck, a 230-kv line branches off and continues to the Orangeville substation, where it then goes both northeast to Essa and southwest to Kitchener. (The Melancthon wind farm feeds into the 230-kv line at a transformer station in Amaranth.)
Gary Schneider, Hydro One’s manager of regulatory approvals, said there are about 30 buildings within the new easement along the 180 km length, representing about 7.5 per cent of the 400 or so properties affected.
“Not all of those are houses,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “If it is a residence, we would offer a buyout; if a barn, moving it would be an option.”
That may sound simple enough, but it might not be much comfort for homeowners who, like Mr. and Mrs. Willis Crane of East Garafraxa, were uprooted when the first line was built about 30 years ago.
“It sure doesn’t sound good to me,” said Mr. Crane Wednesday. “We’re quite happy and comfortable here (and never expected to have to move).” Living close to the 500-kV line gets a bit noisy when it’s foggy or raining, he said. “You can hear the line crackling in the fog or the rain; not so much in the house, but if you go outside.”
Mr. Crane remembered the opposition to the original line which, he recalled, “was supposed to go somewhere else” (farther west). When Ontario Hydro chose the present route, there was a lot of public opposition. At the time, he said, some of the Hydro negotiators were unreasonable but, finally, “a gentleman came.” After negotiating successfully, the Cranes built their present home on about 7.5 acres but within a couple of hundred feet of the line.
Former East Garafraxa Mayor Earl Lennox said he believes the Cranes would be the only family directly affected by the addition of the line. However, he said, it appears a little park and outdoor rink at Orton would lie right in the path of the proposed line.
Mr. Lennox, who lost six acres of the 62-acre farm when the first line came through, remembered one landowner who got bitten by a guard dog as he opposed the construction. “They wrote him a cheque for his property right away (after that),” he said.
In announcing its plan to build the line, Hydro One termed the project the largest expansion to Ontario’s transmission system in 20 years.
The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) earlier confirmed its support for the new line to increase the province’s transmission capacity and allow for greater access to renewable energy and nuclear power from the Bruce region.
In a report released last fall, the OPA, as part of its mandate to ensure an adequate long-term supply of electricity, identified the need and rationale for the new line to provide transmission capability to reliably transmit power from approximately 1,700 MW of new renewable genera- tion identified in the region, as well as power from refurbished units at the Bruce Power facility.
The proposed line is to be in service by December 2011. The project, expected to cost about $600 million, is subject to both the Environmental Assessment (EA) Act and Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approvals. The company says it will initiate the EA process and will file a Section 92 (leave to construct) application with the OEB simultaneously to meet the service date for the line.
Provincial land use policy requires that existing transmission corridors be utilized to the extent possible for new transmission lines. As a result, Hydro One proposes widening the existing 500 kV corridor and constructing the new line along the north and east side of the widened existing corridor, thus avoiding the need to establish a new right-of-way. The widening will require Hydro One to obtain additional easement rights and, in what it describes as “a limited number of cases,” purchase of properties.
“Ontarians expect reliable and cost-effective power and a transmission system that provides it to their homes, schools, farms and businesses,” said Laura Formusa, Hydro One’s acting president and CEO. “This project is important to secure Ontario’s clean and renewable energy future. We are sensitive to concerns of property owners, Aboriginal communities, local municipalities and stakeholders impacted by the project and will work to ensure that we manage their concerns in a manner that is fair and responsible.”
Hydro One, a Crownowned successor to part of Ontario Hydro, delivers electricity across the province, owning and operating Ontario’s 29,000 kilometre high-voltage transmission network that delivers electricity to large industrial customers and municipal utilities, and a 122,000 kilometre low-voltage distribution system that serves about 1.3 million end-use customers and smaller municipal utilities in the province.
By Wes Keller
29 March 2007
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