Niagara Region and Rankin Construction signed a contract Thursday to build the first commercial wind farm in Niagara.
The $23-million windmill project will put up five, 98-metre-tall turbines along the Lake Erie shoreline in Wainfleet.
Rankin and the Region signed the long-awaited contract with the Ontario Power Authority to provide up to 10 megawatts of electricity at peak capacity, or enough to power the equivalent of 3,500 homes.
“We’re pretty happy about it. It’s a first for the Region – and for Canada,” said Rankin, who said the windmills should be the first built higher than 80 metres in the country.
Construction on the windmills could begin as early as next year or as late as three years from now.
“It’s not like these turbines are sitting on a shelf. Worldwide demand is huge right now,” said Rankin, who is dealing with a German turbine firm.
“But I’d sure like to get started late next year.”
Regional council voted to invest $4 million in the green-power project in November, calling it a potential money-maker and environmentally responsible.
Not everyone agreed.
A few councillors and another local wind-power advocate argued the Region shouldn’t spend public money on a private project.
The latest development was announced at Thursday’s council meeting.
Chairman Peter Partington called the wind farm an example of the Region’s “vision of a more sustainable, healthy living environment for all our residents.”
In addition to the initial $8 million combined investment from Rankin and the Region, the remaining dollars required will be borrowed by a new corporation created to own and operate the wind farm.
By Matthew Van Dongen
24 May 2007
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