LITTLE CURRENT—After months of review, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) issued a final decision concerning the application for transmission facilities for the proposed McLean’s Mountain wind farm project, granting Northland Power a leave to construct the wind farm’s transmission facilities to the Ontario electricity grid, including a 1 km submarine cable to Goat Island where the farm will connect to the IESO-controlled grid. The new transmission line will begin at a transformer station in the Green Bush, crossing private land to Morphet’s Side Road, down to the corner of Hardbargain Road, running east past the Northeast Town complex, crossing at Highway 6, continuing east on Harbourview Road to a transition station on private land, before running along a submarine cable to Goat Island.
“Its has been quite the process,” commented McLean’s Mountain wind farm manager Rick Martin. “It is nice that the OEB has granted approval for the transmission facilities. It’s another step in the process—which is good. A lot of work and careful planning has gone into the project and this process, and, as well, a lot of great questions have come forward that we have had the opportunity to address.”
Though the OEB’s decision came as pleasant news for Mr. Martin and Northland Power, not all were pleased with the outcome, such as the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA).
“This is a flawed process from the OEB that is supposed to be looking out for the best interests of all stakeholders and residents of this province,” Raymond Beaudry, a spokesperson for MCSEA, told The Expositor.
During the OEB’s review process, MCSEA submitted several objections, which were considered during the process and addressed in the board’s decision.
“MCSEA, in its submissions, reiterated many of the concerns it has expressed at various points within the process,” stated the OEB decision report. “These concerns relate to the accuracy and adequacy of the Notice, the completeness and accuracy of the application and the legitimacy of one of the partners, Mnidoo Mnising Power LP. The board has already considered these matters and made its determinations. MCSEA’s submissions seek to re-argue these issues and, as such, the board will not address them further in this decision.”
Furthermore, the report concludes that, “the board is satisfied that the route of the proposed transmission facilities (an issue raised by MCSEA) is sufficiently defined for purposes of this application.”
“With respect to the technical matters raised by MCSEA, the board’s approval of the proposed transmission facilities will be conditional on McLean’s compliance with the transmission system code and associated standards,” adds the report.
Mr. Beaudry claimed on behalf of MCSEA that there were many flawed issues with not only the OEB review, but also with Northland Power’s application for the leave to construct under section 81 of the OEB act for the 10 km, 115 KV overhead transmission line and the one km submarine cable, the path that will cross the North Channel near the swing bridge.
“With all of the issues identified in the intervener process including a flawed application notice, an application riddled with errors, incorrect and missing information, a revised corporate partnership chart, an illegitimate partnership arrangement with First Nations chiefs, lack of notification to all affected parties, lack of consultation with the member of First Nations communities by Northland Power and the chiefs who signed the partnership arrangement, First Nation elders community members and youth opposing the application, still outstanding lands claim issues and no final design plan for route or transformers at the wind turbine base and also incorrect mapping,” Mr. Beaudry claimed.
“The scope of the board under sections 91,92 (1) and 96 (1) is so narrow that impacts to the environment, species at risk, flora and fauna, voltage fluctuations on existing infrastructure and ground currents are not addressed (in the report),” further states Mr. Beaudry.
Mr. Beaudry concluded his comments on the matter by saying that, “the McGuinty Liberals’ Green Energy, Green Economy Act has not only taken the rights away from municipalities that do not want these projects and transmission lines, but has also stripped the public’s democratic right to a fair and fully transparent process.”
Though the transmission line has been given the green light (though MCSEA is looking at an appeal), the McLean’s Mountain wind farm project is still under review under the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process, which reviews project documents from all areas of the process from construction plans, water assessments, environmental impact, heritage and social to name a few, as well as public comments that were submitted as part of the process earlier this spring.
To view the REA documents visit mcleansmountain.northlandpower.ca under reports or to review the OEB’s decision and report visit www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB, under project number ED-2011-0394.