Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie has got wind of advances on a wind power project near Macdonald, about 32 kilometres northwest of Portage.
At a council meeting on Tuesday, councillors approved a variation order to adjust the positioning of a test tower at the site near Macdonald. The tower was too close to the property line, according to the RM’s zoning bylaw.
Reeve Toby Trimble said it’s good news to hear the idea of wind power as an alternative energy source has taken off in the Central Plains region.
“It sounds like it’s beneficial to the province, and environmentally friendly, so we’ll see where they go,” he said yesterday.
Trimble’s interest was piqued after seeing the success of the St. Leon wind farm project.
“I think it’s always good to have different projects going on,” he said. “St. Leon has a lot of attention, and there was talk in the election of expanding those facilities. So, if they happen, it’s good for the municipality where they are.”
The joint-company of Winnipeg’s West-man Wind Power Company and Airtricity (which purchased former Gale Force Energy) is the project leader for the Macdonald test tower. The company also has a similar tower at St. Ambroise.
The pilot tower in Macdonald, which was installed in January of 2006, is located 12.5 kilometres north and 1.5 kilometres west of Macdonald and is about 45 metres tall.
Residents of Airport Hutterite Colony, which is situated about three kilometres north of Macdonald, allowed Westman Wind Power to install the tower to test the wind potential in the area.
Farm manager Tom Maendel believes if the project is successful, it could not only add some extra income to the local economy, but it could be a boon for future generations.
“Farms are getting smaller. There’s not that many farms out there, and with the price of the margins, you can’t make a living …,” Maendel said yesterday.
“With the price of commodities, you can’t make a living any more, so you have to diversify into something else.”
He said any opportunity to bring more life back on the farm is something worth looking into.
Airport Colony is a mixed farm of hogs, dairy, chickens and turkeys, located on 3,200 hectares.
Maendel said when the project organizers’ expressed an interest in setting up the test site, he was eager to jump on board.
“They just approached us to put up a monitoring tower. That’s all it’s been for two years. It’s monitoring the wind,” he noted.
Maendel said he doesn’t know how long the monitoring tower will be left up before a decision is made to go ahead with a bigger project, but he remains optimistic.
He said there are about 15 farms in the area that could benefit from wind power if the project is a go.
“It’s a great idea,” Maendel said. “At least, there’s another way of getting money into the farmers’ pockets.”
He said he has seen the St. Leon wind farm and would be thrilled if the same concept came to Macdonald in the future.
“You read what the economic benefit is for that area. It’s sure going to put tax dollars in the RM’s pockets in the area and in the town,” Maendel said. “Everybody seems to benefit in that area.”
Westman Wind Power Company and Airtricity will be making a submission for Manitoba Hydro’s request for proposals, which is due by July 17, for projects providing up to 300 megawatts of wind-generated power.
Project developer Gary Martens said the readings at the Macdonald site have been positive to date.
“It has a good wind potential,” Martens said from his base in Swift Current, Sask., today. “It’s a strong resource in the Macdonald area coming off of Lake Manitoba.”
By Angela Brown
The Daily Graphic
24 May 2007
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