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County will withhold issuing permits to wpd

UPDATE AUG 31: County Council today informed municipal staff that wpd Canada must fulfill all requirements of the Road Users Agreement (RUA) – including the provisions of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) as it relates to County roads – before any approvals or permits are issued to the company.

John Hirsch, an original appellant of wpd Canada’s project in South Marysburgh presented one of three deputations at Thursday’s special meeting – all telling the County to not issue permits for the project.

“We strongly believe 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 the 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,” Hirsch 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.”

Cheryl Anderson reminded council that if the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists had, in 2012, decided they could not afford to appeal the White Pines project, there could easily have been 27 turbines, instead of nine.

“My message is that the municipality should oppose all efforts by wpd to bully us into agreeing to their destruction of South Marysburgh. And do not accept any argument that we cannot afford to fight it. And in case you’re wondering, there are lots of Blandings Turtles north of Royal Road. We are documenting them regularly.”

“As the council motion passed earlier today stated, wpd White Pines Wind has not fulfilled all the requirements of the RUA, including the fact that wpd White Pines Wind may not have received all of the approvals required to proceed with construction of the works under the RUA,” said Mayor Robert Quaiff. “Issuing approvals and permits is premature at this point in time and will not happen until municipal staff members are satisfied that all of the requirements have been met.”

Quaiff noted the original agreement included an underground transmission line and that will need to be altered if wpd intends to place the line above ground.

“They have not applied to the IESO for that and the other one is the kilometres of transmission line that they will need to apply for an REA amendment as well.”

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change granted wpd White Pines Wind its REA for 27 turbines in July 2015. The County and wpd entered into a Road Users Agreement (RUA) in April 2016 for the original project as provided for in the REA. In April 2017, the Environmental Review Tribunal reduced the size of the project to nine turbines.

South Marysburgh councillor Steve Ferguson said there were many issues at play concerning wpd’s “intrusion into Prince Edward County. This is not just a south issue. It’s not about the ability of some landowner to derive income from what they consider useless property – I get that. What is at play is Mr. MacRae’s (wpd president) announcement that regardless of what the people most impacted by this project believe, or what the municipal government may think, whose job is to, among other things, ensure residents’ well-being; his company is going to begin construction on Sunday, Sept. 10.

“Also at play is Mr. MacRae’s announcement on the 23rd of August that if members of the municipal council do not acquiese and agree 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.”

“South Marysburgh has a rich population – not perhaps in monetary terms, but rich with holding traditions and values forged decades ago. The residents are passionate believers in principles upon which PEC was founded 225 years ago.

“The effects of wpd’s project will be felt for decades.”

Rendering of how turbines six and four would look in Milford.

MPP accuses wpd of trying to bully the County

AUG 29 – A letter sent by industrial wind energy developer wpd Canada to Prince Edward County crosses the line, according to Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith.

The letter, dated Aug. 23rd, declares legal action will be taken if the County fails to issue permits wpd says it is entitled to under its REA (Renewable Energy Approvals) for the project in South Marysburgh.

On July 31, wpd served notice to the County it intends to begin installation and construction of the electrical and related infrastructure for the reduced footprint (now nine-turbine, from original 29 plan) White Pines wind project on Sunday, Sept. 10th. It submitted an application for entrance, temporary occupancy and encroachment permits and noted building permits will be sought for the foundation works, prior to commencement, anticipated to begin in October.

On Aug. 23rd, wpd sent a further letter to the municipality. In the letter, Ian MacRae, wpd president, states the company recently received correspondence from the County stating it will not be in a position to issue permits until a jurisdictional “gap” is clarified by the IESO, (Independent Electricity System Operator); HONI, (Hydro One Networks Inc) MOECC (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change) and OEB (Ontario Energy Board). “We know of no good faith basis on which the County may simply refuse to issue permits to wpd because of outstanding permits from the OEB or MOECC, or because of the status of wpd’s commercial contracts with IESO, or HONI, to which PEC is not a party,” stated MacRae.

“There is no jurisdictional overlap or proper basis on which the County may attempt to obtain proprietary and confidential information from those commercial parties; instead, it appears to us to be a clear attempt by PEC to interfere in wpd’s contractual relations.”

MacRae reminds the County that in the past, “attempts by a municipality to obstruct a provincially-approved REA have been met with strong condemnation by the courts. wpd has successfully enforced its rights pursuant to its REA and has recovered its legal costs at both the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal” (wpd Sumac Ridge Wind Incorporated v. Kawartha Lakes in 2015 and 2016). The County has until Sept. 7 to reply, before wpd states it will engage legal action. Smith has written to the Energy Minister in hopes of forcing the government to deal with the situation, noting a number of terms of the original contract haven’t been met by wpd and should be enough reason for the government to review whether the project can even go ahead.

“The project has also missed its ‘Milestone Commercial Operation Date’ by more than two years, according to data provided by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO),” Smith said. “In order to comply with the name plate capacity requirements outlined in the FIT contract provided for the project, the turbines would have to be larger than any turbine currently operating on land in Ontario. “If the company does not intend to meet its nameplate capacity requirements to the IESO, then the County has raised questions that have to be answered about the status of the project and any possible transmission changes that need to be made,” said Smith in his letter. “The community deserves to know of any changes to the size and scale of the project before it is sprung on them at the last minute – in a manner which has so often occurred in the process.”

“We have seen instances in the past, such as with the Samsung agreement where the government enjoyed extensive legal rights to ensure cost savings for ratepayers and it did not pursue the kind of aggressive action to which it was entitled based on the non-compliance by the developer,” Smith said in his letter… “Your government’s prior decisions in pursuing legal action alongside the developer in the case of this project is cause for some concern but it is my hope that the government cannot support this kind of bullying behaviour from an energy company.”

Mayor Robert Quaiff called a special council meeting for Thursday, Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. at Shire Hall to consider the wpd notice of commencement of works, the Road Users Agreement and the notice of dispute filed with respect to the issuing of permits. That meeting will begin in open session and move into closed session to discuss any potential litigation and advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

South Marysburgh councillor Steve Ferguson is hosting a public Town Hall meeting in Milford on Tuesday, Sept. 5 from 7-9 p.m. to help citizens understand the implications of wpd’s plans. “Mayor Quaiff and municipal staff will be attending as well as other knowledgeable individuals who will be able to answer questions,” said Ferguson.

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  1. Chuck says:

    WPD is not presenting the image of a positive corporate entìty in attempting to set up business in the County. We do not want the development, Ontarians do not require it and the greed for more taxpayer $$ to fund foreign interests is their goal.

  2. Marnie says:

    Congratulations to council for taking the time to ensure that the permits are in order.

  3. hockeynan says:

    Let them get on with this project.It has been ok’d and the longer council tries to hold back it is costing us more in legal fees.

  4. Mark says:

    I am impressed the motion was unanimous. Good on our Council!

  5. Rahno Boutilier says:

    I would like to commend Mayor Quaiff and County Counsellors for taking a stand against WPD’s corporate bullying tactics. And the same to those residents who are vigilant to the wily ways of WPD and their legal maneuvering. I am proud to live in a community where the good fight is still fought.

  6. wevil says:

    the county has been dragging their feet let them get on with building the turbines

  7. Bert Jenkins says:

    This is pure corporate thuggery, to be resisted with all means. The appropriate answer is to do nothing to assist WPD (and to heck with their pretentious lower case, too) and let them do their worst.

  8. Susan says:

    The County needs to fight this off with every possible legal means. This is the fight worth fighting.

  9. Andre Gratton says:

    Council needs to push back on this group / company and their tactics….in fact if this is something that will dis- incentivise WPD than i say Council stand up to them.

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