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Protesters voice displeasure over plans for new transmission line

WOODSTOCK— Some local residents staged an impromptu question and answer session Wednesday night to voice concerns over plans for a new transmission line to carry wind energy from western P.E.I. to an electrical substation in Sherbrooke.

Howlan resident Bill Costain set up a petition table in front of St. Anthony’s Parish Hall during a public consultation session hosted by Maritime Electric. He later moved into the front entrance of the building.

Costain said he is concerned about the potential health risk caused by the close placement of the transmission lines to his property.

“I am against the ‘willy-nilly’ placement of power lines, especially transmission power lines,” said Costain.

Patricia Roy of Enmore also collected signatures for a petition representing her area.

“People are not against the line; they just want it in another place,” said Roy.

The consultation session was not set up in a way in which concerned people could voice their opinions and ask questions, said Roy.

“You don’t have a chance to put them (Maritime Electric representatives) on the spot.”

Later during the session, chairs were set up and a group of about 70 people gathered as Costain and Roy presented MLA Robert Henderson with signatures opposing the plan to take to the provincial government.

Henderson said he has had meetings about the line and is also concerned about safety.

He urged people to get more facts on the subject to be properly informed.

“It’s a matter of doing it (protesting) the right way,” said Henderson.

Maritime Electric president Fred O’Brien said he understood the concerns but said the line is needed to transport the power.

“Whenever the wind is blowing, somewhere in the Maritimes, there is less smoke going out the stacks,” said O’Brien.

The information sessions were being held to educate the public on the effects of the new power line and allow access to reports on its impact to the environment.

The line is needed to transport wind energy from the Suez Energy North America’s West Cape wind park to Sherbrooke, and will allow for future wind development projects.

The line is planned to be approximately 64 kilometers long and would cost around $16 million to build. Maritime Electric says it will have no negative impact on customer rates.

Al MacLeod

The Journal Pioneer

10 April 2008