May 24, 2012

Residents oppose transmission line on county’s rail corridor

By WES KELLER, Freelance Reporter | Orangeville Citizen | 24 May 2012

County council is continuing its negotiations with Dufferin Wind Power (DWP) for a 230-kilovolt transmission line easement, a combination of above- and below-ground installation, along the former CP Rail corridor, and it appears nearby residents would be more inclined to accept the proposal if the line were to be totally underground.

DWP recently completed three public information sessions in Shelburne, Amaranth and Melancthon, and compiled a list of comments received. That list might not include other comments and queries fielded by municipal councillors, nor those that have been directed to the county.

In Shelburne, Councillor Walter Benotto said he and others have heard complaints from residents, particularly from the Gordon Street area, but the only advice they can offer is for the residents to contact the county. Although the line passes through the town, he said, the corridor is county-owned, and local municipalities have no control over it.

DWP is seeking approval for two alternative transmission lines, only one of which would be used. The 230-kv one would run from a transformer substation within the wind farm, south and west, to connect to the Hydro One grid in Amaranth.

The second proposal had been a 69-kv line to connect to the 230-kv grid in Mono, presumably to entail a transformer substation to be placed there.

The wind farm, which has its Feed-in Tariff approval, is a 100-megawatt, 49-tower installation.

From some comments opposing the transmission proposal for the rail corridor, it would seem uncertain whether the public has been made sufficiently aware of how the line would be built.

One Shelburne resident objected to the line in the apparent belief that it would be built down the centre of the corridor, within the former rail bed. “The rail line is used by snowmobilers and other recreational vehicles and with poles it certainly isn’t safe for (those),” the unidentified resident said via mail.

Others generally preferred that the line, if constructed, should be underground. Some township residents suggested that, if the residents are favoured by burying the line, rural dwellers should have the same privilege.

There were concerns about the electromagnetic field that might be caused by electrical transmission, and questions about health effects. Some residents seized the opportunity to object to the wind farm, in some cases on the basis of costs.

There is an ongoing debate over whether Ontario is paying too much for power generated by wind and solar installations, but with little or no mention of the true costs of hydroelectric and nuclear once capital costs have been factored in.

It is a debate that should deserve full disclosures and public forums.

While detractors are saying Ontario is selling surplus electricity to other jurisdictions at below cost while consumer costs here are rising, the provincial government boasts that net revenue from exports of power has grown “to over $75 million this year.”

“Ontario is part of an interconnected North American power grid that allows the province to buy and sell electricity with states and other provinces. Being interconnected gives the province the opportunity to export power when it’s not needed by Ontario.

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