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Wind farm plans move forward

Two subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Canada have applied to the Ontario Energy Board for leave to construct electricity transmission facilities for their proposed wind farm projects in Middlesex County.

The applications were submitted to the OEB Feb. 8 and in anticipation of an upcoming hearing to allow the public and other agencies to express interest, county councillors at their bi-monthly meeting Feb. 19 in London gave Middlesex County staff permission to intervene on their behalf.

Chris Traini, a Middlesex County engineer, said the procedure will be “fairly standard” for electricity infrastructure on county property.

“We want to go to the (OEB) to make sure they know (NextEra) has to follow the normal county bylaws and policies,” Traini said. “So they’ll need work permits, entrance permits, moving permits, the same as anyone else who would install infrastructure on a county road.”

Traini said they will also need to craft a Road User Agreement outlining the terms that will allow NextEra to install infrastructure on county roads. The applications include transmission lines within the right of ways of Kerwood Road, Nairn Road and Elginfield Road.

“We’re trying to put ourselves in position so we don’t have additional costs to do our normal jobs (like road maintenance and construction) and therefore increase the burden to tax payers because of this infrastructure,” Traini said. “We ask for that because we don’t have detailed engineering drawing until they actually go to construction which will be a few months after approval is given.”

It typically takes the OEB around 30 days from the date an application is submitted to announce a hearing, Traini said.

There are three NextEra wind farm projects in Middlesex County in “advanced development,” said Josie Hernandez, a spokesperson for the company. “That basically means we’ve completed our stage of studies and reporting and reviews and have submitted the renewable energy application to the Ministry of the Environment.”

According to documents available on NextEra’s website, development on the Bornish Wind Energy Centre began in 2007. Located in the municipality of North Middlesex, it will consist of 45 1.62 MW turbines and is expected to be approved by the Ministry of the Environment in mid-April.

The Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, to be located in Adelaide Metcalf, has been in the works since 2006. It is anticipated that project will include 38 wind turbines and is expected to produce enough energy to power approximately 15,000 homes in Ontario at full capacity. The Adelaide project is expected to receive MOE approval in mid-May.

A third project called the Jericho Wind Energy Centre to be located on private lands in Lambton and Middlesex was recently submitted to the MOE for renewable energy approval, Hernandez said, and if accepted will be approved later this year.

All three projects will share the transmission lines being considered by the OEB.