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Dispute between County and WPD over permits powers up

A dispute over a stalled Road Users Agreement is heating up between Prince Edward County and a wind proponent planning to construct nine turbines in South Marysburgh.

Mayor Robert Quaiff has called a special meeting Thursday for council and legal counsel to consider a Notice of Commencement of Works, the Road Users Agreement and the Notice of Dispute filed by WPD with respect to the municipality not issuing permits.

WPD is threatening legal action if the County doesn’t issue the necessary permits to which the company says it’s entitled under the Renewable Energy Agreement now that the Environmental Review Tribunal has granted approval for nine of the once proposed 27 turbines. WPD plans to begin work on the sites area on September 10 and building permits will be sought for the foundation work to commence in October. The nine turbines will be all located on private property mainly in the Milford area.

In July, council deferred discussing a road user agreement because they were waiting to see if the Ontario Energy Board or Independent Electricity System Operator would issue a notice to proceed.

At this point in time, Jordan Penic Senior Manager of Communications at IESO said the WPD project is still under development, it was procured under the FTT program and is at the ‘pre-notice to proceed stage.’

“This project hasn’t been granted a notice to proceed at this time,” Penic explained to Quinte News on Tuesday.

He said a notice to proceed would need to be granted before construction begins.

The letter dated on August 23, WPD president Ian MacRae, stated they aren’t aware of any good faith agreement where the County can refuse to issue permits to the company because of outstanding permits from the OEB, Ministry of Environment or commercial contacts like the IESO to which the County isn’t a party. The letter also states that there is no change in the cabling or conduit as a result of any proposal.

“Further, we know of no good faith basis in which the County can attempt to proprietary and confident information from the commercial properties,” MacRae wrote. “Instead it appears to be to us a clear attempt by PEC to interfere with WPD’s contractual relations…As you may know, in the past, attempts by a municipality to obstruct a provincially approved REA have been met with strong condemnation by the courts.”

The letter goes on to say if WPD doesn’t hear from the County by September 7, it will take the municipality before the Divisional Court.

Mayor Quaiff said in his opinion this is a bullying tactic and he doesn’t take threats lightly.

“We’ve been trying to get some answers from the Independent Electricity System Operator and other agencies as to whether or not they have a FITT contract as the other one is out dated,” said Quaiff. “Obviously we can’t sit idle so that’s why I’ve requested the meeting on Thursday with our solicitor.”

Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith echoed the mayor’s position accusing WPD of trying to bully the County.

“The threat that the company has not-so-subtly attempted to communicate to the municipality is one of legal action that it will proceed if County representatives continue to try and obtain information that is relevant to the project,” Smith stated in a letter to the Energy Minister asking him to ‘deal with the situation.’ “Given the number of issues which this project, and the proponent, has had in living up to the original terms and the egregious business behaviour which it has engaged in when dealing with the municipality, the province should examine all grounds and rights it enjoys with regard to any ability to WPD to proceed.”

The special council meeting gets underway at 1 p.m Thursday. Meanwhile a town hall meeting has also been set for September 5 at the Milford Town Hall from 7 to 9 p.m to hear residents’ concerns surrounding outstanding permits.

Comments from WPD and the Ontario Energy Board weren’t available by press time.

 

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