An Ottawa company says it will start work on the first phase of Eastern Ontario’s largest wind energy project near the South Dundas community of Williamsburg this fall.
Robert van Eyk, CEO and president of Windfield Energy Inc., told The AgriNews last month that plans are on track for the first few turbines, representing 10 megawatts of electricity production, to go up on property to be leased from local landowners.
Although van Eyk couldn’t offer a firm time line, he suggested this initial “chunk” of the 75-megawatt project would take about two years to complete after a fall construction start.
The company hopes to follow up with six similar phases and eventually dot a large swath of countryside – south of County Rd. 18 between Williamsburg and Boucks Hill – with over thirty 300-foot turbine towers, each producing between 1.8 and 2.2 megawatts.
“We do know the wind conditions at Williamsburg are more than sufficient,” said van Eyk, whose company plans to erect a wind-data collection tower as a first step this summer. “Williamsburg is definitely moving ahead.”
The company will soon approach South Dundas Council with an update on the development and also plans a public meeting in preparation for a local share offering aimed at securing investors for the Williamsburg wind farm, he said.
Windfield Energy first floated the plan in the fall of 2005, its representatives paying a visit to council at the time.
van Eyk also took pains to assure The AgriNews that his company is still alive and kicking, despite taking down its website and not yet having a single windmill to show for its efforts in places like Williamsburg, Augusta Township and Galetta, near Ottawa.
“Williamsburg is high on our priority list mainly because we’ve had very good public support,” he said.
The much smaller Galetta and Augusta projects, at 6 megawatts apiece, are “definitely going ahead this year” as well, he said.
Windfield Energy is also engaged in a feasibility study for a 60-megawatt wind farm in the Cardinal area, he revealed.
Boucks Hill resident Dean Barkley is spearheading the local effort to bring wind turbines to South Dundas, having made first contact with van Eyk and his company in 2005.
Barkley confirmed for The AgriNews Feb. 16 that planning activity has begun to pick up.
“I was talking to Robert on Friday, and he’s going to talk to me again on Thursday to get a meeting set up with the landowners about finalizing some agreements and stuff.”
Barkley owns land off Whittaker Rd. and hopes to have “at least two” turbines erected on his property.
“I am the one that initiated the project because I had 40 acres here and I was trying to figure out what to do with it,” he explained.
Four landowners are currently involved, though Barkley anticipates the project will ultimately involve double that number.
They would sign 20-year leases paying them between $5,000 and $7,000 annually for each turbine located on their properties, he said. “But that all has to be finalized.”
van Eyk also conceded that Windfield Energy has experienced a key change in engineering personnel since the firm’s last public foray in South Dundas.
van Eyk said he and Windfield’s former engineering vice president, Benjamin Strehler, have parted ways. As a result, van Eyk’s company now employs an engineering firm from Nova Scotia and has entered a “strategic alliance” with a Calgary turbine supplier.
By Nelson Zandbergen – AgriNews Staff Writer
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