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Wind company to pay for hydro line upgrade

A wind developer with turbine projects proposed for southeastern Grey Highlands is paying $5 million to upgrade a Hydro One transmission line along part of Grey County Rd. 2 between Maxwell and a grid connection near Ravenna.

Hydro One is upgrading the 30-kilometre line at the request of International Power Canada. The line is on a county right of way and would connect 11 turbines in the Plateau Wind project near Maxwell to the provincial grid.

“This is the case of a private company paying Hydro One to do this. They are being paid to upgrade the line,” Alan Barfoot, chairman of Grey County’s transportation and public safety committee, said Tuesday at an information session sponsored by the county. The meeting was held at the community hall in Ravenna to give residents along the proposed line a chance to learn about the project and make comments.

Barfoot said county councillors have concerns about how many trees will be cut along the route.

“We’ve been working with (Hydro One) through our staff, and where they can they have been routing the lines from one side of the road to the other to reduce the number of trees that have to be cut . . . It’s not taking up any more space and from Hydro One’s perspective it’s an upgrade of the current line that’s there,” Barfoot said.

The 35-foot poles will be replaced with 55-foot poles are part of eforts to increase the capacity to 44 kilovolts from the current 4.8 kV.

“We have been requested to connect Plateau One and Two wind generation to a 44 kV circuit, which will require essentially 30 kilometres of line to be built. We also have some existing sections of rural circuits located in (farm) fields that will be relocated out to the road at the same time. These poles are 1960s vintage so they are becoming end of life anyway, the conductors will be getting old,” said Bill Smeaton, a customer operations manager for Hydro One Net-works.

Smeaton said he was pleased with the turnout at Tuesday’s meeting and the interest shown in the project by local residents and political leaders.

“What we were concerned was how many questions are we going to have to field on the generation side. People are pretty well educated on these issues. They have been able to separate the two issues. We’ve had lots of conversations about the Green Energy Act but in the end we’ve been able to talk about our portion,” Smeaton said.

Blue Mountains Deputymayor Duncan McKinlay said although the work is all taking placing on county property, local residents had concerns and unanswered questions that could best be dealt with at a public information meeting.

“Hydro One came to the county to talk about their land-use agreement, which they are entitled to do. At that time it became evident that it would be a good idea to have a public information centre so that people on the opposite side of the road, people driving by, people that are generally interested or concerned could get a better understanding to what is being proposed,” said McKinlay.

The final agreement with Hydro One will come up for approval at the TAPS committee meeting later this month.

Larry Close, a member of a grassroots group opposed to wind turbines in the region, said IPC’s offer to fund the $5 million upgrade to the hydro line is an indication of how rich the subsidies and payments being made by the province are.

“It indicates the absolute decadence of the feed-in-tariff program when they’ve got this kind of money. Between tax breaks and government grants, and Plateau has received grants, it’s a bit of a gold mine,” Close said.

He believes that IPC will recover some of its $5 million investment as subsequent wind energy developers seek a way to transmit electricity from their projects to the distribution grid.

Close said six wind developers have proposals to build a total of 86 wind turbines in Grey Highlands plus there are another 73 turbines in municipalities that border Grey Highlands.

A request for an interview with IPC was not returned in time for publication.