Hydro One officials say they plan to have “shovels in the ground” this spring for its new 500 kilovolt power line from the Bruce power facility near Kincardine to its switching station in Milton.
Late last year the Ministry of the Environment, as well as Lieutenant Governor David Onley, approved the environmental assessment for the 180km line, which will pass directly through Erin and the northeast corner of Wellington North.
The approval represents the second of three major hurdles required before Hydro One proceeds with construction of the $635-million line. The last remaining hurdle is the negotiation of property rights with affected landowners.
Hydro One spokesman Danielle Gauvin said about two thirds of the 350 affected landowners – 30 to 40 of which are in Erin and Wellington North – have been in contact with the company about an agreement.
About two weeks ago affected landowners received a letter stating they had until the end of February to make a decision.
“After that, there’s no longer choices … [they] will be subject to the expropriation process,” Gauvin said.
While expropriation still involves payment for the land, it is a “government regulated process” over which Hydro One does not have a lot of control, Gauvin added.
Property owners have the right to choose to go to the expropriation process, but regardless of the decision they should inform Hydro One of their plans by the end of next month, Gauvin told the Advertiser.
“We’ll still be working with the community throughout the process,” she said, explaining Hydro One officials have been working since April 2008 to make its best offers for the land.
In about 30 cases, including at least one each in both Erin and Wellington North, the proposed line passes over a principal residence or other building. In such cases, Hydro One is offering to buy out the entire property or move the building to another location.
Another major concern for Orton residents is that the proposed line passes directly over their community park.
Gauvin said Hydro One has been working closely with East?Garafraxa Township as well as the Orton Community Association to find a solution. She mentioned relocation of the park, possibly through a land swap, is one possibility.
“We’re making good progress,” she said. “We’re comfortable we’ll find a solution that’s agreeable to all parties.”
Gauvin explained clearing of the right of way for the corridor, which ranges in width from 53 to 61, could begin at the end of February, but excavation will likely not proceed until at least April.
There are a few exceptions, Gauvin said, but generally construction will start closer to the Bruce power facility near Kincardine and move southeast to Milton.
The Bruce to Milton line is the largest expansion to Ontario’s transmission system in 20 years. The move was necessitated by the addition of two units at the Bruce complex, as well as several new wind energy projects coming on line in the near future.
For more information about the Bruce to Milton line, visit www.hydroone.com.