The company comes to tea
by Harvey Wrightman
In the Nextera Bornish project near Parkhill, a 115 kv line is proposed to link projects in north Lambton (the Jericho and Camlachie wind projects) and another 115 kv line is planned for the west Middlesex (Adelaide) wind project. Both lines to converge at a new substation at Nairn that will “tap” into the 500 kv line. Nairn and Seaforth are the only two “taps” that Hydro will allow. That both would be built by NextEra/FPL (NexTerror) is interesting.
NexTerror has an inside track in its dealings with this government.
Because both lines are high voltage, they require easements with adjoining landowners. I’m not sure of the status of those easement acquisitions for Bluewater; but, there is considerable resistance to both the Jericho/Camlachie line and the Adelaide line. Both happen to feature buildings of historical significance that are on the municipal road – you can’t just shove string lines over them.
Another feature of NexTerror is it’s cheap – it doesn’t offer much compensation fto landowners for what is a permanent easement with rather vague,open-ended in wording, and paltry, one-time compensation compared to the decrease in property value that will occur with 100′ poles out front, strung with multiple lines.
I attended a landowner meeting in late July where a NexTerror rep (project manager) was present with two “landmen” from the land acquisition company that does the sign-up work for the needed easements and options, some interesting statements were made:
- To a resident’s question about responsibility, ” …if someone did hit one of these poles, where would you phone, Florida?” the NexTerror rep replied that, “… what we would do is ummmm, if we had Hydro One infrastructure there as well, uhhh if we had both on the poles (combined Hydro and NexTerror lines), uhhh we would actually give them to – sell them for a dollar to Hydro One, and then we’d rent back off them so you’d phone Hydro One. Typically, what would happen regardless even if Hydro One didn’t own them, we’d enter into an agreement for Hydro One to respond.”
One wonders, if Hydro doesn’t own the lines, what incentive would Hydro have to look after a line that may very well cause stray voltage and power surges? Hasn’t that happened elsewhere?
- Re: pole siting on road allowance or private land, the rep states, “…well, we’d have a couple of options. Under the Ontario Electricity act we have the right to go on the municipal right of way. In our permit applications…we’ve shown them in the road right of way. So that’s the first option and that’s what we would press for.”
A resident then asks, “What gives you the right to do this as a foreign company?” The rep replies, “The Ontario Electricity Act….as a transmitter in Ontario, the road right of ways were built or exist in part to allow utilities such as the gas line to go up there. A transmitter in Ontario is considered a utility like that and as such has the right to use.” The resident interjects, “It’s still a private company.” and the rep says, “Just like Enbridge or Union Gas.”
The problem here is that NexTerror would be both a transmitter and generator and with very little regulation applied to it.
Although the rep never stated outright what “option #2″ is, one might reasonably suppose that the expropriation powers of a utility could be applied for.
Later in the evening, the question about expropriation returns. A resident sums it up, “ So, we all say no, but you’re gonna try and shove it through anyways. That’s what comes naturally, eh?”
The rep, “It’s unfortunate. No one wants to do that.”
Resident, “…but that’s what you’re gonna do, right?”
Rep, “So yeah, we may have to push it through.”
“…push it through.” – what else does it mean but expropriation.
Given the size of the poles and the tight space constraints, there likely is not enough room on the right of way. Both Hydro and Middlesex County will argue their positions forcefully. They will not be thrilled with a ”private, unregulated utility” using public roadway. For them there are serious safety issues here, and the GEA does not trump the Road Safety Manual. NexTerror knows this, and would much prefer the extra room of easements on private land, but they’re cheap and hate paying. Their relations with the land acquisition company appear to have soured – no easements, no pay perhaps?
This is all to be done on a nickel and dime budget. Negotiation delays, legal fees and publicity of its bullying tactics are not helpful if they have to go to an OEB hearing. Add to that the lack of results in getting easements, and you can see NexTerror’s frustration. Their relations with the land acquisition company appear to have soured – no easements, no pay perhaps?
The strong-arm tactics it exercises has made for a very sullen bunch of signed leaseholders, particularly so with those who have their leases “sold” or bartered into NexTerror’s hands.
Process and democracy suck. Give us Chinese rules – command style edicts.
Who does regulate these “private transmitters”? They are the new “robber barons” of the 21st century – and Big Green are their comrades/facillitators.