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Rail easement still on the table for Dufferin Wind

With Dufferin Wind Power Inc. (DWPI) intent on running a hydro line along its abandoned rail corridor, county council is listening with all ears.
In a 13-8 vote on Thursday (Oct. 11), county council asked staff to begin drafting an easement agreement with the wind farm developer, consult the public and proceed to hire a consultant to peer review DWPI’s proposal.
“We have many issues to deal with, but at least get a draft agreement in front of us that we can review,” said Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver. “We can debate it, we can make changes in it, and etc.”
Dufferin Wind Power Inc., owned by a North American subsidiary of China Longyuan Power Group Corporation Limited and Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) Ltd., is proposing to build a wind farm in Melancthon.
While it still requires provincial approval, the question of where to run a transmission line from its proposed 100 MW wind farm to the Orangeville transformer station in Amaranth remains unanswered.
That’s where the county comes in, as DWPI’s preferred option would make use of Dufferin’s rail corridor.
Another option proposed by DWPI would see a 33 km low voltage power line run through Melancthon, Amaranth and Mulmur to connect to the grid in Mono.
There are opponents to both plans, however, as the hydro line along the county’s rail corridor option has ruffled a few feathers in Shelburne.
Despite DWPI’s proposal to bury hydro lines through Shelburne, town council is staunchly opposed seeing to the transmission line run through its municipal boundaries.
On the other hand, a letter representing dozens of Mono residents opposing the second option was recently sent to Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley. In that letter, Mono resident Lynda Bechard notes the group opposes both the construction of a transmission line, as well as a transformation station in the forested area near the end of First Line.
In June, county council halted easement negotiations until DWPI paid for its legal fees, and on Sept. 13, the parties signed an agreement reimbursing the county $36,676 for costs incurred so far, plus a $40,000 deposit for any in the future.
DWPI has agreed to pay those costs regardless of whether an amicable agreement is reached or not.
County council was faced with three options on Thursday: cease negotiations altogether, proceed with a peer review and public consultation before drafting an agreement, or completing those tasks at the same time.
Mulmur Mayor Paul Mills suggested the county cease all discussions until DWPI’s proposed wind farm gained provincial approval.
Melancthon Deputy Mayor Darren White also questioned why the county wouldn’t consult the public and conduct a peer review before drafting an agreement.
“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to get the consultant’s review and public consultation before,” White said.
“Waiting until you have all the information before you start writing agreements seems logical to me.”
In the end, the majority of council chose to do everything in one fell swoop. As MacIver explained, balancing the county’s concerns, those of its residents and lower-tier municipalities, can still be achieved through the all-in process.
“We can still do everything in one,” added Orangeville Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock.
“The process continues along and we still have an option to decide.”