By Doug Hallett
A newly formed residents’ association in the west end is pushing for hydro towers to be moved farther away from homes as part of a major upgrading of aging transmission lines.
Hydro One, which delivers electricity across Ontario, is planning to upgrade five kilometres of transmission line to 230 kilovolts from the existing 115 kilovolts, and this would require much higher towers.
The base of the existing towers, built in the early 1950s, are only 20 to 30 feet from the front doors of some homes on Deerpath Drive, says Jon McMeekin, a spokesperson for the new Guelph-Wellington West Residents Association.
“At the time these lines went in, this area was a gravel pit. But now it’s a neighbourhood,” he said in an interview Monday. The residents, who met last Wednesday evening with Hydro One officials at the West End Community Centre, want the new, taller towers needed for the 230-kilovolt lines to be moved closer to the Hanlon Expressway and farther from existing homes, McMeekin said. Burial of the power lines might be another option, he added.
The new towers would be about 125 feet high, about twice the height of the existing ones, he said. “It doubles the height, doubles the voltage.”
The existing towers are near the front of a vacant field owned by major west end developer Armel Corp., and McMeekin said it might be possible to have the new towers built 200 to 300 metres farther back on the property.
Homes most affected by the towers, McMeekin said, are on Deerpath, Lois Lane, Bronwyn Place and Melrose Place, which is where he lives.
Some residents have health concerns about high-voltage power lines being so close to their homes, while other people are worried about the effect on property values of the “immense” new hydro towers that Hydro One wants to build, he said.
Instead of taking the “easy way” of building new towers where the existing ones are, Hydro One “should be a responsible corporate citizen” and pursue another option, he said. “That is all we are asking.”
A petition that the new association is circulating has a couple of hundred signatures on it at this point, McMeekin said.
Hydro One says the upgrading of the five kilometres of transmission line is part of its plan to ensure an adequate and reliable supply of electricity for users of electricity in the Guelph area. The other main upgrading inside Guelph would see two new auto-transformers installed within the existing fenced area at the Cedar Transformer Station, 255 Edinburgh Rd. S.
Coun. Cam Guthrie, who was at last Wednesday’s meeting between the residents and officials of Hydro One and Armel Corp., said the meeting was useful.
“Everyone understands it needs to be upgraded,” Guthrie said of the power system, and he thinks it is feasible to build the new towers closer to the Hanlon.
“My whole thing is let’s do it once and do it right,” he said.
Hydro One will need the approval of the Ontario Power Authority for whatever upgrading plans it pursues, he noted.
An environmental assessment is currently being completed.
Guthrie said his fellow Ward 4 councillor, Gloria Kovach, couldn’t be at last week’s meeting but has conveyed her support for the new residents association.
Guthrie has also been in contact with local MPP Liz Sandals, who has indicated she’s “very willing” to listen to the residents’ concerns, he said.