Skyway 8: Back-room deals, spin as turbine numbers climb
The Skyway 8 Project in Southgate Township, County of Grey, presently owned by Capstone Infrastructure, has been a myriad of confusing and secret deals as well as a debacle of onus ownership.
The five 95-meter turbines totalling 9.8 MW and transformer(s) are well within Grey County and Southgate’s borders yet the township of Melancthon had more correspondence, updates and notifications with the proponents than either Grey County or Southgate township. In fact, an invitation to a BBQ celebrating the end of construction was on the Melancthon council agenda June 5, 2014. Nowhere was it found in any newspaper in Southgate nor mentioned at Southgate council or on their website. The power lines from the transformer(s) were supposedly buried on a little used portion of the Melancthon 260 road allowance in order to join up with a HONI less than four miles away.
A document produced by the Grey County TAPS (Transportation and Public Safety) Committee dated December 19, 2013, said oversized and overload permits had not been submitted, two entrances on Grey Rd. 8 must be reduced to the required size/width by the proponent post construction, and there would be no request to install power transition equipment within the Grey County. This document went to county council and was passed as resolution CC12-14 on January 9, 2013.
The two entrances off Grey Road 8 have not been reduced and a washed away south east corner of Grey Rd. 8 & Southgate Road 10 has not been repaired. Some time ago I contacted the CAO of Grey County with no response, and twice to the CAO and the Public Works Manager (PWM) of Southgate Township. I received a reply from the PWM that he would contact the county CAO. To date no further correspondence has been received.
The transformer that was specifically not to be in Grey County is indeed well within the boundaries of Southgate Township, a municipality of Grey County. An electrical worker on the transformers was asked why the need for transformers of this size when there are only five turbines. The worker replied “Five? There’s a whole lot more than five turbines coming.”
This is an area which has declared itself an unwilling host.
The original application to the MoE, granted September 29, 2011, approved 103 – 105 dBA for the turbines and 67 dBA for the transformer. That was amended July 29, 2013 to increase the dBA for the transformer to 94 dBA. Both dBA allowing for the cooling fan noise.
In an article published in the Dundalk Herald September 17, 2014, the author says Samsung is planning 65 more turbines. He also says the project was received with broad acceptance by local residents and municipal council. One wonders why then there are three For Sale signs and one For Rent sign nearby. He does not stipulate which municipal council. Melancthon was a willing host at the time of negotiations.
One land owner that has two of the turbines and is eagerly waiting for approval of the 65 larger turbines planned as he has signed up for more was interviewed. He also has solar panels and is paid 80 cents per kilowatt under the FIT program. He says the money is secondary. A neighbour of his who signed up three years ago for a turbine and is also waiting for the next phase said “the people who protest the loudest are people who live outside the area.” He went on to say that “the people that are protesting are ones that can’t get one.” A pat answer we have heard time and time again by the proponent’s script writers.
The neighbour also mentioned in the interview a petition she started that was in favour of the project and had 100 signatures. In fact, it was an online survey with approximately 75 signatures, the majority of whom not only don’t live in the area but do not reside in Canada. A legal survey which was signed by over 720 residents of Southgate were not in favour of IWT’s was presented to Southgate council in March. Pecuniary interests were not declared at Southgate council even though at least one incumbent has recently admitted he is getting 28 turbines on 14 farms he owns during the next phase.
Needless to say, the upcoming municipal election is clearly about “Trusted, Timely Transparent Decision Making.”
Louise Morfitt Hall is a resident of Southgate, and is running for council in the municipal election, October 27
The views expressed here are those of the author.