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County seeks strict power line conditions

County council hasn’t rejected Dufferin Wind Power’s (DWP) request for a power line easement on the county’s rail corridor, but it is asking that stringent, and perhaps costly, conditions be attached.

The conditions being sought would include an underground line for its full length, and also diversion of the line around Shelburne.

DWP has its Ontario Power Authority FIT contract in place for its proposed 100- megawatt wind farm in north Melancthon, but is still undergoing the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the turbines and also for a transmission line.

It has opted for a 230- kilovolt (kv) power line on the rail corridor to the Orangeville substation where it would connect to the Hydro One grid, but that line is subject not only to an REA but also to a “leave to build” from the Ontario Energy Board.

Although there was a council consensus that everything to do with wind energy should be placed on hold until federal and provincial health studies have been completed, and although most councillors would like to see the power-line proposal go away, they were guided by the reality that the council is not in a position to express a “flat no” to the proposal.

East Garafraxa Mayor Allen Taylor, who had been at Tuesday night’s public information session at Centre Dufferin Recreation Centre, said he believes the independent consultant report from MMM Group is accurate that, on the basis of DWP’s submission, the OEB would approve construction of the power line.

Perhaps more importantly, he said he believes that DWP could take expropriation measures if the county refused an easement despite the OEB’s approval.

“I don’t think we have the option of saying no’,” added Grand Valley Mayor John Oosterhof. “We should negotiate, demand underground all the way. We have to talk to them. The province is going to overrule (if we say no), and we walk away with empty pockets.” Amaranth Deputy Mayor Walter Kolodziechuk’s basis for demanding an underground line the full distance, he said, was that there are rural residents living as close to the corridor as some in urban areas, and families as close to the line as is Shelburne’s Hyland Heights school.

He pondered whether 200 children at a school are more important than a family of five in the country. “The health of residents is not for sale; bury it,” he said.

Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver said DWP has not explained why it would opt for a 230kv line from the proposed turbine site to the substation, except that Hydro One requires the 230kv connection.

(The DWP proposal is for the required transformer to be installed within the wind farm rather than at the Orangeville substation. TransAlta’s Melancthon wind farm has lower-voltage lines on Amaranth’s 8th Line leading to two transformers at a substation for connection to the 230kv Hydro One grid.)

The county’s comments to the Ministry of Environment on the transmission line proposal will include copies of correspondence received from the public along with the council’s requests.

Those requests include, among other things, that there be a moratorium placed on wind-farm developments until federal and provincial health studies have been completed; that the power line, if approved, should be underground for its full length; and that the line be rerouted to avoid Shelburne entirely.