A whirlwind of questions will be addressed before a zoning bylaw is complete for a 10-hectare wind farm expected on the south side of the Trans-Canada highway between Dacotah and Elie.
The reeve for the municipality, Ronald Rasmussen, said it will take some time for council to research concerns about noise, aesthetics, ground clearance for crop spraying and the impact large scale wind farms have on property values and development.
Council will look to the provincial planning department for answers.
The local project will be on the same 100-mega watt scale as the St. Leon wind farm in southern Manitoba with approximately 63 turbines, each 5 feet across at the base and 121 metres high to the tip of the blade.
“It’s totally innocuous,” said Herb Weidman, a local farmer who will have at least one turbine on his land if the project is approved.
“It doesn’t bother anyone else and it’s a way we can generate electricity without any pollution whatsoever.”
Turbines will provide electricity for 41,000 homes. Each one occupies approximately one per cent of farm land or one quarter section.
Some farmers also welcome the wind farms for their long-term financial benefits.
“The dollars for landowners help when we can’t always count on the growing season here. There’s some extra subsidy, but not a big amount of money at least in my case, but if you add it up over 10 years it can turn into a fair amount,” said Kevin Rice who operates a 472-hectare farm east of Elie.
Landowners stand to benefit from approximately $55,000 in revenue each year per tower.
Each wind farm brings in a large tax base for the municipality of approximately $1 million per year through land and school taxes as well as payments to landowners.
Rural Municipality of Cartier has yet to announce whether it will approve the proposal and amend a zoning bylaw.
Council has considered a guideline for erecting the turbines at least 500 metres away from any homes, however some say that distance is still not enough.
“A lot of people are opposed because they say it will ruin the landscape. It will look different and there are some concerns about shadow flicker from the blades, but that’s part of the reason why they’re 500 metres away from the residences,” said Rasmussen.
The council had its first reading of the zoning bylaw at a public hearing on July 9 and will vote on it at a meeting on Aug. 13.
The developers for the project, Sequoia Energy, will also have to apply later on for conditional-use permits for each of the turbines if Manitoba Hydro accepts its proposal for the planned project location.
Affected landowners have a choice to sign a lease for 50 years that is renewed after 25 years against the land title. This works so if farm land is sold, developers still have the right to produce energy on it.
The project will be on private agricultural land only and is being promoted as an efficient and productive way for rural municipalities to diversify their local economies.
Manitoba Hydro and the provincial government have set a goal for developers of establishing 300 mega watts of electricity generated through turbines within the next three years.
Following that, their ultimate plan is to see 100 mega watts generated over the next eight years.
“There are many other projects across the province that are competing for the right to be built. There’s no guarantee that any one of them will go ahead,” said Bob Spensley, president of Sequoia Energy.
By Leah Kellar
21 July 2007
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