PICTON – It doesn’t appear Prince Edward County council is going to buckle to threats of legal action by wpd Canada to issue required permits for the reduced White Pines wind development.
At a special council meeting at Shire Hall Thursday afternoon, council agreed to withhold any permits from wpd Canada until it met all conditions of the existing Road Use Agreement (RUA) and an amended Renewable Energy Agreement (REA) to reflect the changes in the White Pines project following an April Evironmental Rewiew Tribunal decision.
On August 23, the municipality received a letter from wpd Canada president Ian McCrae informing them his company would explore legal avenues if permits, including an amended Road Use Agreement (REU), were not issued.
“In accordance with the terms of the RUA, please advise of your decision on these applications within 10 days of this correspondence and receipt of applications,” McCrae wrote. “The County’s failure to issue the permits to which wpd is entitled under its REA will be taken by wpd to be an act of bad faith and an attempt to frustrate its wind energy project. If we do not hear from you on or before September 7th, 2017, we will engage our external counsel to take all steps necessary to enforce our rights before the Divisional Court on an urgent basis and to seek our costs for doing so.”
McCrae’s letter was in response to an e-mail from Prince Edward County’s commissioner of Engineering, Development & Works, Robert McAuley, informing wpd the municipality was seeking clarification from several provincial agencies on who would be issuing approval of the re-designed transmission line for the reduced project.
Wpd had informed the municipality it intended to begin site preparation in South Marysburgh on Sept. 10.
In April, an Environmental Review Tribunal ruled mitigation measures for 18 of the 29 turbines to be accessed by specified upgraded municipal secondary and tertiary road segments and intersections in Blanding’s turtle habitat were not satisfactory and removed them from the REA.
Two had already removed in 2105 under the Heritage Act, reducing the project to nine turbines.
John Hirsch, the original appellant of the project, told council not to bend to wpd’s demand.
“We strongly believe that it is premature and dangerous for the County to issue permits under the old RUA which would allow wpd to start modifications to County roads, work on transmission line which would send a completely inappropriate message that the County is going along with this project which it has opposed from the start,” he said. “We believe the County was completely correct and within its rights in saying to wpd, that permits will not be issued if and until there is evidence of a fully authorized project.”
Hirsch said with the turbines reduced to nine after the ERT April decision, wpd cannot meet the requirements of its original FIT contract and they require a new contract with a reduced nameplate capacity and no such contract has been issued yet.
Mayor Robert Quaiff said the original agreement was for the transmission line to be buried underground and will need to be altered if wpd intends to bring the line above ground with the reduced number of approved turbines.
“It’s my understanding as well that the REA needs an amendment because of the change to the nameplate from 69 KV to 44,” he said. “They have not applied to the IESO for that and the other one is the kilometres of transmission line – they need to apply for an REA amendment on that one as well.”
South Marysburgh councillor Steve Ferguson wasn’t happy with the letter sent by McCrae and said council needs to take a stand.
“It’s very difficult to those who don’t listen to reason, won’t follow rules they themselves have set and won’t respect our decisions,” he said. “There are many issues at play concerning wpd’s intrusion into Prince Edward County and this is not just a southern (County) issue, it’s not about a landowner’s ability to derive income from a useless property – I get that. What is at play is Mr. McCrae’s announcement on July 31, that regardless of what the people most impacted by this project believe – this company is going to begin construction of what is left of the White Pines wind turbine project on Sunday, Sept. 10.
“Also at play is Mr. McCrae’s announcement on the 23rd of August is that if other members of the municipal council do not eagree to approve to his company’s various permit applications he may begin legal proceedings against us – that’s everyone in this room and every other taxpayer in the municipality.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding