A disagreement between Prowind and the Township of Norwich over where to put distribution facilities for the Gunn’s Hill wind farm has lead to Prowind filing an application for a written hearing with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).
Prowind is asking the OEB to determine where the distribution facilities should be located within Norwich Township’s road allowances.
Township Mayor Larry Martin said the township’s road superintendent and CAO are both concerned about the infrastructure.
“They are trying to look after our infrastructure as much as they can, and they want to make sure that it’s there and it’s going to stay there,” Martin said. “As long as it’s looked after, we can get along.”
Martin said for the last three terms of council, Norwich Township has maintained it is an unwilling host to the Gunn’s Hill wind turbine project.
“At this point in time we’re just trying to look after our own assets,” he said. “And we’re not trying to back anything up, we’re not trying to stop anything from happening, we just want to make sure that our assets are looked after.”
Vice president of Prowind, Juan Anderson, said he was unable to talk about the ongoing regulatory issues, but did say his company is hopeful it can reach a resolution with the township in parallel to the regulatory process.
“There are rights provided to distributors and energy companies to have their electrical lines in a road allowance,” Anderson said. “That process is available through the (OEB) and we were able to go through a process to get approval for those lines should there be a dispute with the municipality over the location.”
Anderson said his company is continuing to work with the township to get this disagreement resolved, adding that at the same time, they didn’t have a choice when it came to filing the application.
Norwich Township CAO Kyle Kruger said the proponent does have the right to place its electrical infrastructure within the municipal road allowance, though the municipality can direct the details of where within this road allowance they place it.
“There have been ongoing discussions,” Kruger said, “and at the time of filing their application to the OEB, there was some disagreement on some of the details” with regard to road allowance, hydro pole locations, road crossing and impact on trees.
“Those discussions haven’t proved to come up with a final agreed upon location,” he added.
Kruger said all of this this is subject to the application Prowind has filed, meaning the OEB can direct the placement in absence of agreement between the parties.
The Gunn’s Hill wind turbine project received a Renewable Energy Approval in April. The approval was appealed by the East Oxford Community Alliance, leading to an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the case. To date, the ERT has yet to make a decision on the project and is expected to do so sometime this month or next.
The project, which has been controversial among many of the locals, has been approved, despite the ERT, and is moving forward with construction planned for spring.
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