Despite supporting anti-wind farm efforts, Lambton County council may be better off serving the public by signing a road-use agreement with proponents behind the proposed Cedar Point wind farm.
That’s what several Lambton County mayors pointed out when the months-long debate over whether to endorse a 50-year agreement returned to council’s morning committee Wednesday.
“If we don’t accept (the contract) the way it is today, we lose control of making our own decision and the courts decide,” said Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber.
The Ontario Energy Board recently deferred its decision on whether to permit Cedar Point II Limited Partnership – a jointly-owned company of Suncor and NextEra – to build buried collection lines on county road allowances for the 46-turbine wind farm planned for Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.
The deferral was granted to allow Lambton County and wind farm proponents an opportunity to agree on a road-use agreement. A deadline for a decision has been set for June 4.
An estimated $200,000 would come into the county coffers over time if council signs the 50-year agreement, but public works manager Jason Cole said the larger incentive is the county would save millions of dollars because wind farm proponents would also agree to cover the cost of relocating transmission lines on Thomson Line.
The county plans to make improvements to the road southwest of Lambton Shores in the future.
Despite the benefits, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley wasn’t sold Wednesday on the length of the agreement and called for a 20-year term – in line with the proponents’ contract with the province – in the hopes of sending a message to the Ontario government.
“My belief is that within the next 20 years, there will be a change in government and the Green Energy Act will be suspended,” Bradley said.
Even if council was to decide to shorten the term, county solicitor David Cribbs cautioned that Cedar Point proponents are unlikely to accept a shorter term agreement.
“We may win the battle to shorten the term, but we may lose the war,” observed Petrolia Mayor John McCharles.
Committee members endorsed a 50-year road use agreement for the Cedar Point project Wednesday, but county council still needs to make a final decision as a whole at its June 3 meeting.
After Wednesday’s meeting, anti-wind farm advocate Santo Girono echoed Bradley’s concerns about the length of the agreement.
“That’s going to be for the next 12 councils to live with this agreement,” he pointed out.
He and his group, We’re Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW), presented a detailed analysis of the road use agreement to the county during its public comment period.
“We feel the decision rests with the county and they make decisions in the best interest of the county,” Girono said.
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