After mulling over an easement request made by Dufferin Wind Power Inc. back in November, county council told staff to work on drafting a preliminary agreement with the wind developer on Thursday (May 10).
That doesn’t mean council will approve it in the end. The county can now negotiate how much the wind developer may compensate Dufferin — it was initially offered a one-time payment of $420,000 — for the use of its rail lands.
“We haven’t said, ‘Yeah we want to do it.’ We want to talk to them and see where it goes,” Warden Walter Kolodziechuk said. “Basically, what we’re doing is saying, ‘Fine we’ll talk to you’.”
The company, owned by a North American subsidiary of China Longyuan Power Group Corporation Limited and Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) Ltd., has asked permission to run a single pole hydro line along the rail corridor from its proposed 100 MW wind farm in Melancthon to the Orangeville transformer station in Amaranth.
Two options to transmit electricity from the company’s planned 49-wind turbine project have been proposed. The first is a 33 km low voltage power line running through Melancthon, Amaranth and Mulmur to connect to the grid in Mono. The second would make use of the rail corridor.
Up until Thursday, one reason the county was apprehensive about negotiating with the wind developer was due to a handful of title defects found along the rail corridor. As far as he knows, the county doesn’t hold clear title for five land parcels along the rail corridor, according to Jeff Hammond, senior vice-president of Dufferin Wind Power Inc.
A pair of those properties “wouldn’t affect us,” but two others “are willing to enter into transmission line easements,” Hammond said. Although the fifth property owner has expressed little interest, Hammond told council Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail is likely going to pursue that matter through the administrative process.
“These title defects can be cured,” he said. “We could move forward and negotiate an easement and it could be contingent upon curing these.”
Hearing those title defects may be close to resolution was like music to Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver’s ears. MacIver, who is supportive of Dufferin Wind Power Inc.’s proposal, suggested county staff iron out an agreement.
“It’s shameful that we’ve been stalled for six years to get clear title and then within a matter of months, we find an individual company can essentially solve those problems,” MacIver said. “I’d like to see the details (of an easement agreement). There is no obligation to say yah or nah.”
In parts of Shelburne where the corridor is narrow, and population density is higher, the company plans to bury the hydro line underground. According to Hammond’s estimate, it may cost about $390,000 to $460,000 per km for an overhead hydro line, and more than $2.6 million per km for one underground.
“We’re not against going underground where it is appropriate,” he added. “At the same time, we’re looking to try and go overhead where it’s appropriate as well.”
If an agreement is reached, the county’s General Government Services (GGS) has made it clear the hydro line easement can’t hinder any future rail operations. After consulting with an engineering firm, the company believes it can install it without preventing or impeding future rail operations.
Hammond did dangle one last carrot in front of council’s nose on Thursday. The company is willing to pay the county’s legal costs to draft an easement contract, whether an amicable agreement is ultimately reached or not.
“We understand it could be a no vote,” he added, before council asked staff to draft an agreement. “After a half a year, we’re at a point where we need to move forward.”