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County wind project has new owner

The wind turbine project slated for Royal Road at Point Petre in the southern reaches of Prince Edward County is about to be taken over by another Alberta firm.

Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. is set to formally complete the acquisition of Vector Wind Energy Inc. of Ottawa later this month. Vector purchased the Royal Road project from TransAlta Corp., (Vision Quest Windelectric) in February.

“We certainly like the prospects of the Royal Road project and although I’m not completely familiar with all the details myself, we feel it is in a very appropriate area and are ready to move ahead once everything is finalized with Vector,” said Hydro Canada CEO John Keating.

Hydro Canada has built and operates a number of sustainable energy facilities across Canada. Publicly listed since 1990, the company owns and operates 18 green-power facilities. Wind-generated electricity accounts for five sites and hydroelectric power for 12 sites. Canadian Hydro’s first biomass plant is located in Grande Prairie.

The company owns and operates 45 turbines at Melancthon 1 Wind Plant near Shelburne which produces almost 200,000 MW/h of electricity.
They expect to complete construction of the second phase of the project in 2007, adding another 88 turbines producing a further 350 MW/h of renewable energy annually.

Closer to Prince Edward County, Canadian Hydro is scheduled to begin construction on its Wolfe Island site in 2007 and Keating said he expects that project to be up and running by the end of 2008.

Plans call for 86, 2.3 MW turbines to be erected which will generate an estimated 537,000 KW/h of energy or enough to power 75,000 homes. Keating said the Royal Road project is a natural fit for the company with Wolfe Island close by.

“Once the acquisition is completed we will have to become more familiar with the Royal Road project in order to advance all the work TransAlta had begun prior to selling to Vector,” he said.

“We wouldn’t anticipate a lot of changes but things like the turbines might be different and we will need some changes for that. Being so close to Wolfe Island, there will be operating synergies between the two sites.”

The Prince Edward County project is still before the Ontario Municipal Board. After the municipality approved the project a number of appeals were filed.

A number of wind-turbine projects have received approval recently and Keating said he believes the government fully endorses the production of green renewable energy.

“I don’t see any evidence they are trying to slow this process down at all,” he said from his Calgary office. “Each project has its own obstacles that have to be dealt with, that’s just part of the process, but I think the government is as committed to this as we are.”

Rob Miller, a project engineer originally with Vector and now with Canadian Hydro agreed with Keating, saying he had only heard about off-shore projects being slowed down.

“I think the Ministry of Natural Resources basically put a moratorium on off-shore turbines on the grounds they didn’t have enough criteria to assess it yet, but that differs completely from turbines going up along the shores of the Great Lakes in remote areas.”

Meanwhile, the province has put the brakes on a wind power mega-project proposed for Lake Ontario off the shores of Prince Edward County.

The Ontario government has deferred Trillium Power Energy Corp.’s plans to build a 710-megawatt wind farm – the largest of its kind in North America – until the province can further study the environmental impacts of offshore wind projects.

The Toronto-based private company had proposed building as many as 140 wind turbines in a shallow area of Lake Ontario 17 to 25 kilometres offshore near the Canada/United States water border.

Construction on the $1-billion project was supposed to start in 2008.

But Steve Irwin, spokesman for the Ministry of Energy, said offshore wind energy is still in the early stages in Ontario and more study is needed. He also said the delays are specific to offshore wind projects only and aren’t an indication of any provincewide suspension of wind power proposals in general.

“I wouldn’t call it a moratorium,” he said. “[The review] involves looking at how it affects lake water conditions, what it does to wildlife in the area, how it affects everything from birds to bats.” – with files from the Kingston Whig-Standard

By Bruce Bell / The Intelligencer