Grey Highlands Council pursues case against IPC’s use of rights of way

By Don Crosby, Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin

Grey Highlands council has narrowly voted to seek a judicial review after the Ontario Energy Board upheld a decision to allow wind power developer International Power Corporation to run transmission lines along road allowances.

In a 4-3 recorded vote on May 18, council decided to take the next step in its bid to get a clarification of a question it put to the OEB last year.

Mayor Wayne Fitzgerald, one of three council members who voted against going to the Divisional Court, said he was satisfied with the ruling by the OEB and doesn’t see the need to spend more money going to court.

He noted that this year council in a bid to trim its spending didn’t put aside $100,000 for the proposed new hospital in Markdale.

Councillors Dave Kell and Dave Clarke also voted against the proposal to go to court.

Fitzgerald said in a telephone interview on Sunday that the decision by council to go to court is not about whether wind energy is coming to Grey Highlands or not. He describes it as the appeal of an appeal that the municipality has already lost twice.

“I don’t think the electorate or the citizens at large want their tax dollars going down this path. We’ve lost (twice) and we’re appealing a loss and we’ll probably lose again in my opinion,” Fitzgerald said.

Last year IPC sought an agreement with the municipality to locate transmission lines along municipal and county road allowances. It offered Grey Highlands $50,000 a year for 20 years to sweeten the deal. Council refused the offer.

IPC appealed council’s refusal to sign an agreement to the Ontario Energy Board. The board ruled in early January that the company had the right to build the line, since it is not only a generator of electricity but also a distributor just like Hydro One.

The municipality appealed the OEB ruling. Earlier this spring the board dismissed the appeal, said it was without merit and gave no further explanation. It noted that because of the frivolous nature of the appeal Grey Highlands came very close to having to pay IPC costs.

“I decided that by OEB dismissing the appeal being without merit, and being vexatious . . . we were very lucky in my opinion that we did not get stuck with the other side’s costs, which believe me could be considerable,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said councillors had discussed their options behind closed doors before Wednesday’s meeting, but Wednesday’s decision to go to court was made in open council.

“We are making an important decision with far-reaching consequences. It’s going to cost a lot of money to go to Divisional Court and there is always the risk you could have to pay the other side’s costs,” Fitzgerald said, adding, “again I repeat this is not about wind energy; this is about appealing decisions that have gone against us.”

Coun. Lynn Silverton said she doesn’t think it’s time to give up.

“We’ve been working on this for seven and half years and using taxpayers money to get the bylaw that was carefully studied and created to make intelligent decisions (before the advent of the Green Energy Act). Then the Green Energy Act took that away from us. In my opinion it would be a waste of taxpayers money if we didn’t take the final step,” said Silverton.

Coun. Stewart Halliday was one of four councillors who voted to go to Divisional Court, saying the OEB made an error in law by refusing to review its original ruling and dismissing the municipality’s appeal out of hand without an explanation.

Halliday says the four councillors who supported the appeal –himself, Silverton, Paul Allen and Deputy-mayor Paul McQueen –want a clarification of whether IPC is a distributor of electricity, something that remains unclear.

He says it’s not enough for the OEB to simply say that its original ruling was right and dismiss the municipality’s appeal as frivolous.

“We feel that International Power Corporation is a generator of electricity and not a distributor. If they were a generator they would have a licence for that. Going to court is the way to go to seek clarification . . . we think municipalities should have authority over their right of ways and the (OEB) says we don’t,” Halliday said.

Halliday said Grey Highlands is the first municipality to have to deal with a wind energy development project under the terms of the Green Energy Act.

“All the other wind turbines have been built prior to the Green Energy Act. All these other municipalities allowed these wind turbine companies to come in because they had the power to do that. No one has ever challenged this before because it was done under the (Provincial) Planning Act.” Halliday said.

He drew a comparison between this case and one several years ago when residents of the former Artemesia Township sought a judicial review by the Divisional Court of a ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board related to an appeal by water bottler Artemesia Waters.

The OMB had ruled that water taking wasn’t a land use. Residents challenged the OMB ruling in Divisional Court. They funded their legal challenge with a loan from the council of the day and they won their appeal.

In this case Halliday said residents don’t have the opportunity and it’s up to council to act on their behalf.

“Unfortunately (in this case) the people can’t really challenge. We as a municipality have to challenge it,” he said.

Wind energy opponent Lorrie Gillis supports council’s move to go to court.

“I encourage anything council can do to protect the citizens of this municipality,” said Gillis who says that the cost of going to court and stopping the wind development would be far less than the tax revenue that would be lost by reduced property values once the 11 turbines are up and running.

9 thoughts on “Grey Highlands Council pursues case against IPC’s use of rights of way

  1. Good for them!

    This is a power plant construction with transmission lines running from .

    If the machinery used,IWTs, are of faulty design,faulty parts, fautly construction,faulty workmanship,etc. then they should not be allowed to operate this power plant or anyother power plants.

    And the same applies to the power lines coming from them and any other structures associated with the production and transmission of the electricity produced by these power plants.

    Wind farm power plants must be constructed and operate under the same safety standards and regulations that apply to anyother power plants presently in use in Ontario.

    Seems the attitude here in Ontario is that a few stray volts here and there from these wind farm power plant operations won’t cause any harm to humans and animals.

  2. Not a GENERATOR OF POWER? Just what do they think thye are operating? Old fashioned farm windmills that didn’t require laws and regulations to operate?

    The wind developers are operating wind farm power plants so they are no different than operating coal,hydro,nuclear,etc. power plants. All of these produce large amounts of electricity which is distributed over transmission lines just the same as other types of power plants.

    Is this the way/means that is used to get around the laws and regulations that govern other types of power generating plants?

    Another citizen investigation required to look into this situation?

    • 20 wind powered generators hooked together can produce ~4 million amps. That’s a lot of electricity and this is not a power plant that requires a license?

      5 hooked togther can produce ~1 million amps. Besides each turbine requires ~200,000 amps of grounding.

      Most homes have ~ 300 amps & 220-240 volt service. So compare this to the millions of amps produced by wind farm power plants and you get the idea.

    • ESA Electrical Safety Authority,Ontario

      Scroll down to “Two Types of Renewable Energy Installations”

      “The electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is the final step for ensuring that the requirements of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC) are met and that all electrical installations meet the requirements of the code.”

      The ESA is responsible for matters of electricity safety in Ontario.

      As far as I can determine the ESA Board of Directors consists of industry stakeholders. Source is Aegent Energy Advisors Inc. news letter.

  3. The amount of electricity produced by IWTs changes minute to minute and this creates issues with lines dealing with dysfunctional energy. Stray voltage should be expected as where else can electricity go if it cannot be accomodated on-line?

  4. Ontario Energy Board

    Use section, ABOUT THE OEB
    Has the Board of Directors
    Executive Management Team

    “The Board has full and part-time members who are appointed by the Government of Ontario for a term of two years initally,and renewable up to five years.”

    “The Chair and Vice-Chair make up the Management Committe which oversees the management and operations of the Board.”

    Use the section ,LICENCES
    Licences include:
    Generation (includes Standard Offer and Feed-in Tariff Program)

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