Promises weren’t good enough for a majority of S,D and G council members when it comes to reimbursement for any road repairs as a result of a proposed wind farm project in South Dundas.
Council defeated a proposed road use agreement (RUA) this week with EDP Renewables, which hopes to develop S,D and G’s first wind farm, near Brinston, north of Iroquois.
The main issue for councillors, including South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds, was the absence of secured credit up front in the RUA.
Byvelds said he’s worried about billing a company once it has completed its work.
“Once they leave and there’s no money in the back pocket, it becomes a little hard to get it,” he said, calling the draft RUA “too loosey goosey.”
Byvelds cited the possibility that another change in the ownership of the South Branch Wind Farm, which was bought by EDP Renewables from ProWind earlier this year, could leave the counties chasing after reimbursement funds.
South Glengarry Mayor Ian McLeod said it would be beneficial if some kind of cost estimate would be identified.
“Money up front always talks better,” McLeod said, noting the road use impact is not a “one-off situation.”
Roads superintendent Ben de Haan, who advocated the signing of the RUA, explained it would be difficult to establish an up-front figure.
“I’d have a hard time quantifying it.”
EDP project manager Ken Little tried to calm fears, explaining a thorough assessment of the roads needed for transporting material and equipment would be done before construction, and again afterwards.
Little noted that RUA has been put in place for a wind farm project almost 10 times the size in Chatham-Kent in southwestern Ontario.
The demands and concerns, however, seemed a little overwrought, according to North Stormont Mayor Dennis Fife.
Fife pointed out that other road use by other companies provided no compensation.
“Here, we have in writing what we’re going to get,” he said.
“We’ve had a several hundred acre solar farm project (that’s caused road wear and tear), and nobody said anything.”
Fife claimed excessive financial penalties only slows down economic activity.
“It’s getting ridiculous.”
Warden Bill McGimpsey favoured the RUA, and suggested council’s opposition was more of a case of “language.”
It was suggested that EDP come back with an updated agreement within about one month, although Little said that would delay the proposed start of the project further than July.
Byvelds replied that another four weeks shouldn’t make a difference on a project in the works for close to five years.
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