Comments on Ontario Energy Board’s decision to approve WPD transmission line
QUEEN’S PARK “DEMOCRACY” AT WORK
The pace of prospective devastation of the County is accelerating with the news of the approval on March 19th by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) of the 28 kilometre transmission line from wpd Canada’s proposed 29 turbine wind factory in South Marysburgh and Athol to the Hydro One connection north of Picton. The turbines themselves have not yet received their Renewal Energy Approval, although this can be expected soon. Construction of the transmission is line is to commence by March 20th, 2016, only one year away.
So many things about this decision defy natural justice. The OEB is only allowed to consider three things – the interests of consumers with respect to prices, reliability and quality of electricity service; the use of renewable energy consistent with the policies of the Ontario government; and suitable agreements with land owners, where applicable. No other evidence is allowed. No oral hearing was held, everything was done in writing and on line. There is nothing to indicate that the three OEB members who wrote the decision actually drove the route to see the magnificent countryside about to be affected. The County, APPEC and two individuals were granted intervenor status. All made telling and informed objections. In every case, they were overruled, the OEB preferring to accept arguments from its own staff or from wpd or declaring the objections to be outside its jurisdiction to consider.
The transmission line is (mostly) to be buried in County road allowances for its entire length. APPEC’s contention that the iconic maples on Maypul Layne and Crowes Road would be damaged or destroyed was dismissed out of hand. An intervenor whose heritage home and bed and breakfast is on the route was concerned that construction might damage his foundations and affect his business. He was given short shrift. The County asked for a Road User Agreement, given that wpd will be using many County roads to move their heavy equipment which likely will cause damage. Answer – no.
Section 41 of the Electricity Act, quoted by the OEB, gives wpd the right to install its transmission line over, under or on any public highway without municipal consent. It must restore those highways to their original condition insofar as it is practicable. It is obliged to provide compensation for any damage caused to those highways where it lays its transmission line, but not to any other highway it might damage with its heavy equipment. It specifically has no obligation to pay any other compensation as Section 41 removes the provision of the Expropriations Act otherwise authorizing an application to the Ontario Municipal Board for damages.
The combination of the Green Energy Act and the limitations deliberately imposed on evidence which may be heard by the Environmental ReviewTribunal and the Ontario Energy Board are collectively the antithesis of normal expectations in a civilized, democratic, society. Two Ontario Auditors-General have criticized the Green Energy Act for several reasons, including the absence of any cost-benefit analysis at any time and the continuing daily export of excess electricity at massive cost to Ontario tax and hydro bill payers. Nobody at Queen’s Park appears to be listening or even to care.
If you live in rural Ontario, it is to weep.