by Paul Morden, The Sarnia Observer
The mayor of Warwick Township has some pointed questions for Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
Todd Case wants to know how much capacity the electricity distribution grid has in Warwick, and how residents are being impacted by Ontario’s $7-billion green energy deal with Korean tech giant Samsung.
Township officials are meeting Duguid in Toronto on Wednesday.
Case said the questions arise from Warwick residents, including farmers and other landowners who invested in solar panels to sell back power, only to be told by Hydro One there’s no room for them on the grid.
The Ontario Power Authority’s MicroFit program received more than 24,000 applications for small-scale green energy projects but only about 3,700 have been connected so far.
“They’re sitting there with a nice $85,000 to $100,000 lawn ornament,” Case said about residents who bought solar panels, received a contract with the authority, then discovered they couldn’t connect.
Case said some landowners reported being approached by wind farm developers seeking to lease land who claimed they have access to the grid because of their relationship with Samsung.
“There’s a huge red flag that goes up on that one right off the bat,” Case said.
“Fair is fair in this province, so we want to ask for clarification from the minister.”
Case said the township also wants to ensure the grid will have the capacity to carry electricity generated by an energy-from-methane gas project expected to be developed in four or five years at the Twin Creeks landfill site near Watford.
“The one positive thing that will come from that landfill, down the road, is the fact there will be an opportunity to turn that waste into energy.”
Warwick officials are also concerned grid limitations will hurt efforts to promote its industrial park.
“If we’re fortunate enough to have an industry or business come down the road and want to set up here,” Case said, “the last thing we want to find out is that there’s no grid capacity available for them, and we lose out on an opportunity.”
Case said he approached opposition politicians at Queen’s Park with his concerns and received a copy of the Samsung contract from New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath.
“The information’s not there,” Case said. “It’s blacked out. So, another red flag goes up.”
Warwick asked for the meeting with Duguid seeking clarity, Case said.
“If the grid is so underserviced, as everybody says, we want to make sure they take proactive steps to ensure there’s capacity” when it’s needed, he said.
Earlier this year, Duguid told Hydro One “to move forward immediately” on building a new transmission line and upgrading the existing one west of London.
Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan calls for $2 billion to be spent on transmission grid upgrades, including three southwestern Ontario projects the plan says should be in place by 2017 to make room for new green energy projects.