Lambton politicians want to give the public a chance to look at agreement with NextEra Energy before they pass it.
Lambton County staff has been negotiating with NextEra on a road allowance use agreement so they can place their transmission lines for the Jericho Wind Energy project in Lambton Shores and Warwick Township along the sides of the roads.
The company wants to string 15.7 kilometers of lines along Lambton County roads.
But county councilors voiced concerns about the project, wondering if the county was getting the best deal for taxpayers. They asked for a more extensive report of the agreement which has been reached.
In a report to the county committee, Jason Cole, manager of public works, says all of the concerns county staff had have been addressed by the proposed agreement.
“Although the yearly fees vary due to payment terms, the County will receive, on average, approximately $25,000 annually from Jericho for facilities located on County road allowance, with opportunity for future adjustments,” says Cole.
“The Draft Road Use Agreement allows the County… to maintain the rights that would typically be granted when dealing with any other ‘non-renewable energy’ utility requesting use of the road allowance… the agreement protects for future road improvements and offers reasonable compensation for additional costs associated with the new utilities in the road allowance,” he added.
And county staff believes if the agreement isn’t passed, NextEra would have the Ontario Energy Board rule on the agreement and the gains may be “jeopardized.”
The OEB hearing could be complete in mid-March.
But councilors are not comfortable approving the deal just yet. “The effect of this decision is for 30 to 50 years…I really believe we should table this for a full 60 day input session which is widely circulated,” Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told fellow councilors at a recent committee meeting.
They agreed and have recommended to county council the deal be put on hold so the public can comment. County council discusses the issue March 5.