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Norwich Township agrees with revised plans for distribution lines from Gunn’s Hill wind farm

NORWICH TOWNSHIP –

Prowind Canada is expected to withdraw its request for an Ontario Energy Board ruling in relation to its Gunn’s Hill wind farm project after reaching an agreement with township staff about distribution lines.

In September, Prowind filed a request to have the OEB make the decision about where, within township road allowances, the energy company can locate the distribution lines that will carry the turbine-generated power to the power grid. The request was made when, after ongoing negotiations, the township would not agree to the location of the distribution lines in the road allowances on Firehall Road and Middletown Line as proposed by Prowind.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, township council received a report from CAO Kyle Kruger pointing out that ongoing discussions with Prowind have resulted in a revised plan for the location of the lines, and township staff find these acceptable. Kruger recommended council approve the plans, which it did.

The Electricity Act allows for distribution lines to be installed along municipal roads, but it is up to the municipality to approve the exact location. When an agreement can’t be reached, the OEB is asked to rule on the location.

On Oct. 14, Prowind Vice-president Juan Anderson said the intention was to withdraw the OEB request once the signed agreement was in hand – which was expected to happen later that day.

When the disagreement on the matter first came to light, township Mayor Larry Martin said the road superintendent and CAO were concerned about the township’s infrastructure.

“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.”

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.

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.

Anderson said work has begun on preliminary construction of the access roads that will branch from county or township roads to the sites of the turbines themselves. Foundations, towers and turbine installation will be done in the spring after the weigh restrictions are lifted from the roads.