MAPLETON TWP. – There are still lots of details to work out, but councillors here have signalled their acceptance of the NextEra Canada draft wind farm agreement.
Council held a special meeting on May 30 to go through proposed changes to the draft bylaw for the Conestogo Wind Energy Centre, which will feature ten wind turbines near Arthur.
Chief administrative officer Patty Sinnamon said the company had 90 days to reach an agreement with the township after handing in its traffic study.
The special meeting was needed to get that completed by June 5, but she noted the company is still considering changes.
Sinnamon said there would not be a bylaw just yet, but the work “would show NextEra is working towards an agreement. She said the company must show it is giving its “best efforts” to reach that agreement.
She added that while the township had requested the right to have property values within a set distance of the wind turbines guaranteed, the township does not have the right to insist on that, so “it has removed in its entirety” from the agreement.
The fee schedule was changed in some places. The fees council has agreed to include:
– a $5,000 one time fee per turbine, for a total of $50,000;
– building permit fees based on $10 per $1,000 worth of construction. With the turbines valued at $726,000, plus $703 for the transformer substation, the total building permit fees are $73,303;
– development charges of $4,600 (figures rounded off) per turbine plus $700 for the transformer substation to be paid to the township;
– development charges of $5,520 per turbine plus $850 for the transfer substation to be paid to Wellington County;
– $1,125, which includes a fee of $125 per entrances onto property, with five entrances expected, and a $1,000 deposit fee per entrance;
– all reasonable legal costs to the township, not to exceed $10,000, associated with the preparation of the agreement between the township and NextEra.
Sinnamon explained the last one was an estimate by the township’s solicitor. She added NextEra officials had told her they are unfamiliar with such a clause, but it is no different than what Mapleton requires of a developer of a subdivision.
Councillor Jim Curry said the company should have its fire and medical training from the fire chief, and an emergency response in place before the turbines are built. That also comes at the company’s cost.
Mayor Bruce Whale argued the company might say it cannot do the training until the equipment is in place.
But councillor Mike Downey supported Curry and said an experienced company like NextEra should have no problem completing training in advance.
Councillor Andy Knetsch said the idea of “good faith” action in the event of problems with shadow flicker is “pretty broad,” but Sinnamon said the company has to have that in place as part of its renewable energy application.
The agreement states construction must be done within 12 months of the agreement being signed, and completed within 24 months, with the operations to commence by 36 months after the building permit is issued.
Sinnamon said stray voltage is the purview of Ontario Power Generation and “is out of our jurisdiction.”
Councillor Neil Driscoll said his concern is the pole markings by NextEra are sitting in the middle of the township owned ditches. “That’s not acceptable to put poles in our road ditch.”
Public works director Larry Lynch said he has driven every inch of the property affected with Bell Canada and Ontario Power Generation. He said the poles are not set to be in the ditches, “and we don’t want them between the ditch and the road, either.”
Driscoll said the marks he has seen for the poles look like hydro markers.
Lynch said he does not like the idea of taking down trees to put in conduit, and “it’s up to us to determine appropriate corridors.” He said that can be done on “a case by case basis.”
Driscoll said, “So long as it’s not in the middle of the ditch … We’ve got to service the ditch.”
He said with any project, “Use common sense and put them on the property line where they belong.”
As for the impact moving the equipment on township roads, Lynch said until he has the final route, it makes no sense to check conditions of roads that are not going to be used.
The township expects to have its engineers inspect the roads and bridges along the travel route because NextEra will have to pay for any damages done to them.
Sinnamon said it is a goal to “nail down” the travel route. She added the township is not asking for anything it would not ask of any other developer.
Council discussed insurance concerns and then approved the agreement.
The draft is still subject to negotiations with NextEra, so council did not pass it as a bylaw.
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