March 15, 2013

West Lincoln wants all turbine lines buried

Amanda Moore | March 14, 2013 |

If what’s good for the gander is good for the goose, Alderman Sue Ellen Merritt wants to know why all geese are not treated equally.

Merritt made the cheeky comments in response to the decision by Niagara Region Wind Corp. to bury only a portion of the transmission lines connecting its massive wind turbine project to the grid. The wind company plans to bury lines on host farmer properties and down Mountainview Road in Beamsville.

As part of its consultation reports, Niagara Region suggests “modifications to the transmission line route around Smithville to avoid visual impacts on the urban area.”

The “picking and choosing” drew the ire of Merritt who brought the issue up during the other business portion of Monday night’s planning/building/environmental committee meeting. She said she is tired of the seeing the rural residents treated differently.

“This is reverse discrimination,” said Merritt. “All residents of this township should be entitled to the same consideration.”

Merritt brought up the issue in hopes of gaining council’s support on requesting Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. to require NRWC to bury all lines, not just a portion. Merritt’s request was met with applause from the roughly 20 wind turbine opponents at Monday’s meeting.

Aldermen John Glazier and Joanne Chechalk, both of whom represent the township on the utility’s board, said the fight is not with NPEI, which, like the township, is powerless against the Green Energy Act. The fight, said Chechalk is with the provincial government, which is where any resolution on the matter should be directed.

“We need the province to realize preferential treatment is occurring to one type of resident over another type of resident,” said Chechalk. “The biggest thrust of our trajectory is against the province.”

In the end, committee unanimously supported Merritt in asking staff to come back with a resolution advising the province of council’s concerns with the placement of transmission lines in West Lincoln and inequalities in the planning. The resolution would also ask that the province, and any other boards or tribunals, respect the negotiated road use agreements between the township and the developer.

According to NRWC the 44-kilometres of transmission lines are almost exclusively on municipal road rights-of-way. The Township of West Lincoln and NRWC have yet to hash out road use agreements, said CAO Derrick Thomson, noting this is where the township can make it’s request to have the lines buried.

In a previous interview, NRWC spokesperson Randi Rahamim said burying all of the lines would increase the cost of transmission infrastructure by 10 to 20 per cent.

“It’s not OK to have overhead lines on Niagara Escarpment Commission land, it’s not OK to my understanding, to have overheard lines on host farmer properties, why is it OK to have them everywhere else?” Merritt asked. “They can’t treat us differently. It doesn’t make sense.

“It just doesn’t make sense.”

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