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Dufferin Wind transmission line length won’t trigger environmental assessment

Dufferin Wind Power Inc.’s transmission line isn’t long enough to trigger an environmental assessment (EA), but the county is shifting its focus elsewhere.

Any transmission line built in Ontario exceeding a length of 50 km automatically requires an EA be conducted.

Earlier this month, county council received the results of a survey confirming Dufferin Wind’s 230 kV transmission line running from Melancthon to Amaranth is 47.2 km in length.

“It’s easy to give (people) a final answer and some closure,” said Melancthon Mayor Darren White. “Now, we can move onto the next thing.”

A group of residents reportedly witnessed the stray energy emitted from Dufferin Wind’s transmission line illuminate a fluorescent light bulb late last year.

While Dufferin Wind “unequivocally” states its transmission line meets all regulations, White wants the county to hire an electrical engineer to conduct its own electromagnetic field (EMF) tests.

“I’ve had people tell me that is perfectly normal and safe. I’ve had people tell me it isn’t,” White said. “If for no other reason other than peace of mind for residents, then we should at least get the answers.”

Dufferin Wind’s transmission line is located about 70 feet away from at least one home in Melancthon and close to Hyland Heights Elementary School in Shelburne.

The company has buried the line in parts of Shelburne to address community concerns about its proximity to the school.

Health Canada doesn’t consider EMF a hazard and there are no precautionary measures required as it relates to daily exposure. Dufferin Wind officials have told The Banner they welcome any studies of their transmission line design.

“We’re interested in the input of council or any third party who chooses to validate the quality of (the transmission line) design,” Dufferin Wind Power spokesperson Connie Roberts said in an email last month. “We anticipate their findings, if conducted accurately and fairly, will reassure the local community that Dufferin Wind Power has built an exemplary wind farm.”

County staff is currently investigating pricing, available consultants and a process to follow when measuring EMF at multiple locations of the transmission line.

White figures the EMF study could cost something in the range of $10,000 or $12,000.

“At the most, I would think,” White said, noting Melancthon council has agreed to conduct its own study along the transmission line within its township’s boundaries.

“Hopefully, the county would use a different consultant,” he added. “You could almost use the two studies together to create some kind of a reliability factor.”