You can ask all the questions you want and shout as many complaints from the rooftops within earshot, but you have to take a stand.
That’s what county council did when it comes to Dufferin Wind Power Inc.’s proposal to run a hydro line along its abandoned rail corridor on Thursday night (Feb. 7).
“It is nice to ask questions, but it’s still not a position,” said Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver. “When you take a position, you therefore object.”
That position will be forwarded to several provincial approval authorities, including the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) through the Renewable Energy Application (REA) process and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). The commenting period on the province’s environmental registry expired on Tuesday (Feb. 12).
So, where does county council stand? First and foremost, it wants a moratorium placed on all wind development until results from Health Canada’s study into potential health affects caused by turbines are shared publically.
“There should be a moratorium placed on this enterprise,” MacIver argued. “It behooves us to do that.”
Now on to demand number two. The county’s objects to overhead transmission lines, and demands Dufferin Wind bury the 230 kV transmission line from its proposed wind farm in Melancthon to the transformer station in Amaranth.
Several councillors lamented the cost to run an underground line compared to an overhead one has been hard to pin down. For comparison sake, Dufferin Wind vice-president Jeff Hammond estimated last year it would cost about $390,000 to $460,000 per km for an overhead hydro line and more than $2.6 million per km for one underground.
“There isn’t a price on the health on our citizens. So tough, if you do anything, you bury it,” said Amaranth Deputy Mayor Walter Kolodziechuk. “The health of our citizens is not for sale.”
Dufferin Wind has proposed burying the transmission line through Shelburne, especially near a local elementary school there. County council wants to see that same courtesy extended to everyone living near the proposed transmission line.
“Bury it along the whole rail corridor,” Kolodziechuk said. “It seems as if you have 200 children, you’re important, but if you’re a family of five, you don’t count and you can move. I didn’t think we were Syria.”
While Dufferin Wind’s at it, the county wants the company to avoid running its transmission line through Shelburne altogether. Use rural routes surrounding the municipality – that is demand number three.
“I don’t think it should go through Shelburne at all,” said East Garafraxa Mayor Allen Taylor. “It should come down one of the concession roads in Amaranth.”
Finally, before any decision on the wind power company’s application, the county demands REA staff answer the concerns and questions expressed by Dufferin residents.
The county will also forward a report conducted by its consultant, MMM Group, which states the technical aspects of Dufferin Wind’s rail easement proposal will likely earn a passing grade from provincial regulators.
“The report, as a whole, was probably accurate. Not tough enough, that’s true,” Taylor opined. “Personally, I believe the energy board will OK it.”
Although the easement may be seen favourably in regulator’s eyes, the county’s consultants have raised several concerns.
Dufferin Wind has promised to deliver its storm water management plan, erosion control plan and environmental management and protection plan, but consultants report those documents are absent. County council has told staff to relay its consultants’ concerns about that to REA staff.
If the county refused to negotiate, MMM Group reports Dufferin Wind could try to expropriate a rail easement. While some councillors would prefer to negotiate, others argue the county should push Dufferin Wind’s hand.
“I don’t like the idea of using the rail line for that. It is just bad use of public property,” Taylor claimed. “If it is forced on us through the official process, I can’t do anything about it. I don’t think we should be caving in.”
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