The county wants to see some money flow to its coffers, before it considers a rail corridor easement agreement with Dufferin Wind Power Inc.
On June 14, county council decreed the wind farm developer pay its legal fees incurred to date, and that Dufferin Wind Power Inc. also write a cheque for any costs it estimates may be sustained in the future.
“Let them pay the freight,” said East Luther Grand Valley Mayor John Oosterhof, whose request the cost of any future peer reviews conducted by the county be added onto the tally was granted. “They should cover the cost of the county looking at their venture and peer reviewing it to come up with a proper and informed decision.”
Dufferin Wind Power Inc., owned by a North American subsidiary of China Longyuan Power Group Corporation Limited and Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) Ltd., has asked permission to run a single pole hydro line along the county’s rail corridor from its proposed 100 MW wind farm in Melancthon to the Orangeville transformer station in Amaranth.
Two options to transmit electricity from the company’s planned 49-wind turbine project have been proposed. The first is a 33 km low voltage power line running through Melancthon, Amaranth and Mulmur to connect to the grid in Mono. The second would make use of the rail corridor.
In early May, county council directed staff to work on drafting a preliminary easement agreement with the wind developer. The drafting of a potential agreement and a handful of title defects along the rail corridor have led to a number of legal fees.
Earlier this year, Jeff Hammond, senior vice-president of Dufferin Wind Power Inc., noted his company is willing to pay the county’s legal costs to draft an easement contract, whether an amicable agreement is ultimately reached or not. On June 14, Mono Deputy Mayor Ken McGhee wanted to ensure those costs are recovered sooner rather than later.
“If the company wants us to proceed on their behalf and look at their proposals, I think we should be reimbursed appropriately,” he said. “The costs of us trying to find all the answers are accumulating. In the end, if we don’t grab it, we’re going to be stuck with the bill.”
Reimbursement wasn’t the only issue county council tackled that night, as Shelburne Deputy Mayor Ken Bennington submitted a planning report from his town, as well as a motion from his municipality and a petition signed by residents opposing the wind developer’s proposal.
Town staff conducted an inventory of existing and proposed sensitive land uses along the proposed transmission corridor in Shelburne. There are about 106 existing or proposed dwellings with 150 feet of the wind developer’s proposed hydro line – Hyland Heights Elementary School and a public park also abut the rail corridor.
Referring to a restriction in California forbidding any new elementary schools or schoolyards within 45 metres of a 230 KV transmission line, Bennington urged county councillors to cease negotiations.
Shelburne council, as well as many residents, is concerned about the link between electromagnetic fields and potential health effects.
“A wise man once told me that the more you stir something, the more it stinks,” Bennington argued. “We’ve wasted enough staff time and money on this issue. I don’t think we should be approving any electricity down that corridor.”
Amaranth council may have also thrown a wrench in Dufferin Wind Power Inc.’s direction. In its correspondence to county council, Amaranth urged Dufferin to consider forcing the wind developer to adhere to the requirements of a bylaw it has in place with regard to burying new hydro lines.
In parts of Shelburne where the corridor is narrow, and population density is higher, Dufferin Wind Power Inc. plans to bury the hydro line underground.
At an earlier council meeting, however, Hammond estimated it could cost about $390,000 to $460,000 per km to build an overhead hydro line, and more than $2.6 million per km for one underground.
After approving McGhee’s suggestion that Dufferin Wind Power Inc. ante up some dough, and the developer respond to the various pieces of correspondence, county council discussed the proposed easement during closed session.
In the end, council asked staff, which is discussing a potential easement agreement, to proceed as directed in closed session.
“We need to recognize and receive the concerns that are out in the public,” McGhee said. “If the county is going to allow anybody to use it, it has to be appropriate for the health and wellbeing of our residents.”
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