A company that operates seven wind farms in France plans to build nine of the electricity-generating projects in the Windsor-Chatham area by 2009.
“We chose the Windsor area because it has excellent wind conditions conducive to operating wind farms,” said Patricia Lemaire, director of communications for Quebec-based Boralex Inc.
Three of the wind farms could be operating within 85 kilometres of Windsor by next year, with a further six expected to go online by the end of 2009.
The deal depends on the results of environmental studies.
Lemaire said she was unable to provide specific dates until the studies have been completed “but if all goes well, we will be able to start operating three of the farms by the end of next year and another six a year later.”
Lemaire was also unable to disclose the exact locations of the farms but said all would be located within 85 kilometres of Windsor in either Chatham-Kent or Essex counties.
Each would be capable of generating 10 megawatts of power and would be the first Canadian project for Boralex, which also has seven wind farms in France.
According to the website utilipoint.com, a megawatt generated by wind turbines produces electricity that equates to the same amount of electricity consumed by about 300 homes in a year.
Across the region, wind farm projects are meeting with varying levels of opposition particularly in such communities as Leamington and Essex.
In order to try and establish consistent guidelines, the County of Essex is co-ordinating an $80,000 study on wind and other alternative energy systems in co-operation with planners from seven area municipalities.
In the meantime, Leamington and Essex councils have banned new wind and solar power projects until the study is completed. Kingsville council rejected a similar ban and a new project proposed for parts of Kingsville and Lakeshore is now undergoing an environmental assessment.
The number of turbines on the Boralex farms in France ranges from two to 26, capable of producing between nine and 78 gigawatt hours of electricity annually.
Boralex will be partnered in this project by Gengrowth, a privately-held Canadian company based in Toronto that is dedicated to the creation of renewable energy projects.
Patrick Lemaire, president and CEO of Boralex, said “it is with great enthusiasm that Boralex penetrates the Ontario wind energy market. These projects are in line with our strategic plan as well as the diversification of our activities.”
The project will almost double Boralex’s wind power capacity. The wind farms in France generate a total of 103 megawatts.
All energy generated by the farms will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority under 20-year contracts.
In addition to its wind farms, Boralex owns a 23-per-cent stake in Boralex Power Income Fund, which owns 10 power stations in Quebec and the U.S., with a capacity of close to 190 megawatts.
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Lakeshore town council will meet 6 p.m. today at town hall to vote on a new official plan and zoning bylaw that would accommodate wind farms.
By Dave Hall
10 July 2007