SEGUIN TWP. – Construction on a transmission line to get wind power to the Ontario grid should start next winter.
Henvey Inlet Wind has partnered with private company, Pattern Energy, to build a 300-megawatt wind farm on Henvey Inlet First Nation. It’s a project expected to bring significant revenue to Henvey Inlet, but first, a transmission line must be built over both private and municipal land, and either through or around two First Nation communities.
To get the energy to market, Henvey Inlet Wind is building a 68-kilometre transmission line into Seguin Township where it will tap into an existing Hydro One line. The route takes it from Henvey Inlet, south along Highway 69, before turning east at Carling Township onto an existing Hydro One right-of-way in McDougall Township, to the Parry Sound substation before finally connecting to a Hydro One line in Seguin Township near Otter Lake.
In order to build the line, Henvey Inlet Wind and Pattern Energy has the authority to expropriate property where necessary and are consulting with landowners, but in its dealings with Seguin it acknowledged in a presentation on the project to council that the final approval to sell township land and create easements rests with council.
Pass through Seguin
In all, 6.5 kilometres of the transmission line would pass through Seguin Township, impacting 20 private and 12 township properties. Of the township land, Henvey Wind is negotiating to buy a four-acre parcel for the switching station and wants seven permanent transmission easements and four temporary access easements.
Land consulting company CanAcres’ Haseeb Amirzada and Pattern Energy Project developer Jody Law updated Seguin council at the March 7 meeting.
“As far as next steps of where we hope to be in the next couple of weeks, to actually move forward with the purchase of the four-acres of township property and also move forward with acquiring permanent easements as well as temporary easements … and I believe that’s already been moved onto legal counsel now for review. As well, Henvey Inlet Wind has discussed the possibility of acquiring the land use rights with staff and it was recommended to us that the preparation of a joint memorandum of understating (MOU) would be used to guide the process,” said Amirzada.
The MOU, said Amirzada, would in part stipulate Henvey Inlet Wind would cover the full costs to review the purchase and easements that would be in place before construction begins.
“We would put a commitment from Henvey Inlet Wind to work with the township for any mitigation measures that would be taken … to the visual impact the switching station might have to the surrounding area,” said Amirzada.
Coun. Mario Buszynski represents those living where the switching station would be. He questioned whether the wind power line would tap right into Hydro One’s line or into the hydro station itself.
“It will be the 230 (KW) line,” said Amirzada. “The first structure south of Rankin Lake Road is what’s being proposed. Obviously this is still being discussed with Hydro One, so our final proposal hasn’t sort of surfaced yet, but that is what we are proposing.”
McDougall Township has fought against the transmission line passing through, even writing to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change last fall requesting a individual environment assessment. The township received a response at its March 16 meeting, stating an individual assessment isn’t needed.
Last month McDougall Township council had two separate groups in front of it on the matter of the Henvey Inlet Wind transmission line project. The first were representatives of the project announcing a jog in the route off the Hydro One corridor at Mill Lake, putting it east, to the south end of Avis Lake, then south along an unassumed road before rejoining the hydro line corridor and entering into Seguin.
Then, at the next meeting, Jim and Marian Ferris spoke of the impact the planned transmission line had on the sale of their Mill Lake home and argued against the jog off the existing Hydro One corridor.
The couple had a deal to sell the home to another couple on the lake, whose property was expected to be expropriated for the transmission line. But, the transmission line still isn’t built, and the deal fell through.
They spoke of the emotional stress of trying to sell their home and the damage to the environment of moving the line when it could follow the existing corridor.
The Ferris’ were told that the township is solely a commenting agency.
“They can expropriate from us just the same as you,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “We said don’t come to McDougall at all, but if you do, we want access to your poles for (Internet fiber).”
Area municipalities are attempting to expand high speed Internet through the region.
Henvey Inlet First Nation was awarded a 20-year contract under Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program in February 2011 and entered into a 50/50 partnership with Pattern in 2015. The feed-in tariff contract begins once energy starts entering the grid. The province will pay 13.5 cents, plus an aboriginal addition of between 0.75 to 1.5 cents, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator
On Ontario’s high voltage grid, wind is six per cent of its output.
“It’s growing every year quite significantly,” said Alexandra Campbell, of the Independent Electricity System Operator. ”The government has a target by 2025 of half of our power coming from renewable energy but that would include hydro as well. I don’t’ think there is a specific breakdown of solar, wind. Hydro continues t o be 25 per cent of our power.”
Henvey Inlet Wind is a corporation formed by First Nation’s company, Nigig Power Corporation, and Pattern Renewable Holdings Canada.
Requests for comment from Henvey Inlet First Nation chief Wayne M. McQuabbie and staff were not returned. However, in a February report in the Anishinabek News, McQuabbie spoke about the project.
“This is a major development in the field of green energy in Canada which will directly benefit our membership and the economy of the surrounding region,” says McQuabbie. “We look forward to construction, operation and a promising future. We hope our project will inspire other First Nations and all Canadians to take further steps to develop a greener planet in this time of climate change.”
The project is a large economic project, in both construction and operation.
A May 2015 summary of the wind centre lease stated that rent payable to Henvey Inlet Fist Nation is $500,000 a year before the commercial operation date or December 2017, whichever comes first. According to the document, “once the project commences the sale of electricity, (Henvey Inlet) will receive a ‘royalty’ rent – a variable rent calculated on the basis of the project’s actual revenue.” That amount is projected at about $2.2 million a year for the 20-year feed-in tariff contract.
While the project isn’t being built by a federal or provincial government, land can be expropriated under the Ontario Energy Act once the Ontario Energy Board has given the project leave to construct.
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