Lambton County Warden Bev MacDougall said the purpose of the proposed road use agreement is to protect the county and ensure the project is built in an appropriate way. "It doesn't change the fact that we're still fighting them on the issue, overall," she added. "We're sending a very strong message" that county council is not in favour of industrial wind turbines, MacDougall noted.
Lambton County’s public works department is gathering comments from residents about power lines Suncor Energy plans to build near or on county road allowances as part of its 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind energy project.
Lambton residents have until Feb. 3 to submit comments to Jason Cole, the county’s manager of public works, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 519-845-0801, ext. 5370.
“We’re try to address any of the concerns we can within the construct of the road use agreement, or will respond accordingly as to why those issues can’t be dealt within this agreement,” Cole said.
“It’s a valuable process that we’ve initiated to make sure everyone is aware of what we can and cannot deal with, and how this project will impact the county roads.”
Transmission lines for the wind project are expected to be built close to county roadways, while collection lines from the turbines to a transmission station are expected to be buried within county road allowances, Cole said.
“Those two aspects have a very large impact on the county road allowance and we want to make sure we protect its long-term viability.”
The proposed agreement will also lay out responsibilities for any damage to the road allowance during construction, he added.
Cole said his department plans to submit a proposed road use agreement to county councillors shortly after Feb. 3.
Suncor has said work is expected to begin this year on the wind energy project in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.
The company has a long-term agreement to sell electricity to the Ontario power grid, and in 2014, it received provincial environmental approval for the project.
An appeal of that approval is currently being heard by the Ontario Environment Review Tribunal where the county has argued placing the wind project’s power lines along road allowances will create a traffic safety hazard for the travelling public.
Lambton County Warden Bev MacDougall said the purpose of the proposed road use agreement is to protect the county and ensure the project is built in an appropriate way.
“It doesn’t change the fact that we’re still fighting them on the issue, overall,” she added.
“We’re sending a very strong message” that county council is not in favour of industrial wind turbines, MacDougall noted.
Cole said the department went through a similar public consultation process when it prepared a proposed road use agreement for the Jericho wind project NextEra built in Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.
“In the end, that road use agreement was not signed by council,” Cole said.
But, as electricity providers, wind companies have been given rights by provincial legislation that meant the county’s decision didn’t stop the Jericho project from moving ahead, or stop the company from using the county’s road allowances.
“We’re spent a lot of time and effort managing construction operations within the roadway in the Jericho project,” Cole said, “and some of that is expected and some of that is as a result of not having a road use agreement in place.”
In September, Suncor went to the Ontario Energy Board for permission to locate more than 22 kilometres of distribution lines within Plympton-Wyoming’s road allowance after it said it couldn’t reach an agreement with the township.
That application is still before the provincial energy board, as is one Suncor filed last January to build 15 kilometres of transmission lines to connect the Cedar Point project to the provincial power grid.
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