POLITICS

Conservatives question huge green energy deal between Samsung and Six Nations

05/31/2012 01:41 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Conservatives raised concerns Thursday about a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars between Korean giant Samsung and Ontario's Six Nations to build a huge wind and solar farm near Caledonia, south of Hamilton.

The Opposition is worried the green energy project in Haldimand County could be targeted by militant Mohawk warriors who have blocked use of a $100 million hydro transmission corridor in the area for years.

The refurbished electricity transmission corridor was completed in 2006 except for 10 or 11 hydro towers that have no wires on them, said Haldimand-Norfolk Tory MPP Toby Barrett.

"There are no Hydro One workers on those towers. There are Mohawk warriors that go up on those towers and it's a warriors' flag that flies on those towers," said Barrett.

"There's never been any electricity run through them because of militant (Mohawk) warrior intimidation."

Mohawk warriors also occupied a housing development in Caledonia in 2006, triggering years of tensions between local residents, First Nations and the Ontario Provincial Police.

The province eventually bought the Douglas Creek Estates to try and defuse the situation, but the community remains divided.

Adding one of the world's largest wind and solar farms in the troubled area could be asking for trouble, warned Barrett.

"It really adds fuel to a very volatile fire that's going on down in our area," he said.

"The native people that I have talked to, Mohawks, have come out to a number of the wind tower meetings in opposition very forceful and with strong opposition to what's going on in Haldimand County as far as wind towers."

Energy Minister Chris Bentley said he was not worried about any transmission problems from the new project because the province built new hydro towers to get around the protesting Mohawks.

"When the issue came up years ago alternate routes were identified, transmission solutions were found in other parts of the province," Bentley told reporters. "There are no transmission issues there."

Bentley would not address the possible threat of protesting warriors trying to disrupt the new green energy projects, insisting the agreement had nothing to do with the government.

"It's their agreement," insisted Bentley.

"I'm aware of its broad outlines and I think it was the result of very, very hard work by both (parties), and represents a remarkable opportunity for both frankly."

The deal with Samsung and Pattern Energy Group to develop the 250 megawatt wind and solar farm is expected to generate about $55 million in revenue for the Six Nations over 20 years.

The Haldimand development is part of the first phase of Samsung's investments in Ontario, along with another 250 megawatt renewable energy project in Chatham-Kent. The two developments combined are expected to cost about $1 billion, Samsung said Thursday.

Samsung said the Six Nations can choose to be an equity stakeholder in each of the wind and solar projects or take a royalty.

The Six Nations of the Grand River, which has almost 24,000 members, is about 25 kilometres south of Hamilton between the communities of Brantford, Caledonia and Hagersville.

The Liberal government has a $7 billion deal with Samsung that will see the Korean multinational build four manufacturing plants for green energy components in Ontario, in exchange for guaranteed space on the crowded transmission grid for its new power projects.

The agreement calls for the generation of 2,500 megawatts of renewable energy by Samsung and the creation of 900 new manufacturing jobs and 16,000 jobs overall in the province.