Middlesex Lambton Wind Action is closely watching talks between Middlesex County and NextEra Energy.
NextEra has several wind projects in Middlesex and Lambton County. It’s planning to build transmission lines to carry the energy created by the turbines in southern Ontario and it wants to build them on municipal and county right of ways.
NextEra recently went to Middlesex County Council to talk about the plan. Draft documents from the Jericho project, with 92 turbines in Lambton Shores and Warwick, show the transmission lines would also stretch into Lambton County.
Lambton County Councilors recently gave county staff authority to negotiate with wind energy companies about access to county right of ways.
Esther Wrightman of Middlesex Lambton Wind Action says NextEra wants to build a separate line of polls to carry the energy being produced because Hydro One would not allow NextEra’s lines on their poles. In some areas, that could mean Hydro One poles on one side of the road and NextEra’s on the other.
“A good portion of our county roads will have poles on each side of the road,” she says. “You just double the chance of hitting a pole (in an accident) by putting poles on the other side of the road, too.”
Middlesex County engineers have asked NextEra to come back to the county with plans from an engineer.
Wrightman is pleased, saying the transmission lines will have a devastating effect on the landscape of rural Ontario.
“They will be running by people’s homes, near schools; it is very invasive, it is going to drastically change the community.”
She’s also concerned about the infrastructure left behind “white elephants with transmission lines running down your road” she calls them, should the energy companies pull the turbines out of service.
The transmission lines have also be a source of concern for rural landowners. Activist Harvey Wrightman says about 30 to 40 landowners have refused to sign agreements for the new transmission poles with NextEra even though they’ve been offered huge sums of money. “For a rural lot the wind companies are offering about $9,000 for (transmission line) pass over with no poles,” says Wrightman. “If poles are involved it can be $50,000…that sounds like considerable amount, but if someone with half million dollar house loses 20 or 30 percent of his property value, that’s not enough.”
The holdouts, Esther Wrightman contends, are making it difficult for the wind energy companies to site their transmission route to get power from four projects(including Suncor’s Cedar Point project in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores) onto the provincial energy grid.
But Jose Hernandez of NextEra Energy says the company has been working with Middlesex County on the issue and plans to meet with municipal officials in Lambton as well.
“The proposal…we are continuing to work towards is the option we’ve shown to the public from the beginning,” she says.
She says meetings are planned in Warwick in February on the Jericho project and its transmission lines.
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