Suncor Energy notified Plympton-Wyoming this week that it will begin installing electricity lines for its Cedar Point wind energy project along roads in the town after May 4.
The 46-turbine wind project under construction in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township is a joint venture of Suncor Energy and NextEra, the company that built the Jericho wind project in Lambton County.
Suncor spokesperson Jason Vaillant said in an e-mail that preliminary construction of the Cedar Point project is on schedule to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year.
Once road construction has been completed, work is expected to begin on turbine foundations, Vaillant said.
The issue of the location of the project’s distribution lines on road allowances in Plympton-Wyoming had been before the Ontario Energy Board.
A hearing had been scheduled for March, but the day before it was to begin the town’s lawyer informed the energy board Plympton-Wyoming would not be participating in the proceedings.
Following that, the board said it only had jurisdiction to make an order on the location of lines if there was a disagreement on the issue between Suncor and town.
Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper said the decision to withdraw from the hearing came after the town’s engineering staff reviewed Suncor’s plans for the electricity lines.
“All the lines that we’re getting are underground, so they were quite happy with that,” he said.
The town and Suncor have had a rocky relationship over the wind project, with the company taking Plympton-Wyoming to court at one point over bylaws aimed at wind turbines.
Kyle Pratt, chief administrative officer in Plympton-Wyoming, said Ontario’s Electricity Act allows companies to locate lines within municipal road allowances, but there were issues over their exact location.
“We’ve come to terms,” he said. “Both parties agree where it should be within the right-of-way.”
Pratt added the town, and Lambton County, are currently working on road use agreements with Suncor.
“Our relationship with the municipality is important and we continue to look to understand their concerns and address them as we move forward,” Vaillant said.
Napper said he still believes questions remain unanswered about wind turbines and the impact they have on people living near them.
“At first I thought they were pretty good, and then the information started coming out,” he said.
“Boy, once you got the information, it seemed to me that they couldn’t do your municipality much good.”
Napper said it has been disheartening to see how the issue has divided the community.
“I have friends now that don’t talk to each other,” he said.
“There are brothers and sisters who are split over it.”
Ontario’s environmental approval of the Cedar Point project was unsuccessfully appealed to the provincial Environmental Review Tribunal by Aberarder residents Kimberley and Richard Bryce.
They have since taken their fight to the Division Court for Ontario.
No court dates have been set at this point, said Asha James, a lawyer representing the Bryce family.
A residents’ group, We’re Against Industrial Turbines, Plympton-Wyoming, has been raising money to help the family with its legal costs.
Vaillant said Suncor is currently reviewing the appeal filed with the court.
“We are disappointed that this case will proceed to Divisional Court but respect the appellants’ right to express their views and pursue this path,” he said.
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