November 24, 2007

Wind farming about to take flight

A proposal to rezone an area of land in the Rural Municipality of Cartier, which may one day be the site of a new wind farm project, will be the subject of a public hearing next month.

On Dec. 4, residents will meet with White Horse Plains Planning District at St. Francois Xavier Community Hall at 7 p.m. to discuss rezoning the land for the municipality of Cartier.

“The zoning will allow it to happen,” said RM of Cartier Reeve Roland Rasmussen.

“It will allow someone to put up a wind turbine.”

The bylaw has already received second reading from RM council, but residents are continuing to debate the issue.

Rasmussen said there is a need for more public input before the bylaw receives third reading.

“There is a misconception this wind farm is finally coming,” he said on Nov. 13. “That’s not true at all. There’s a long way to go yet before anything is put up. Any company that wants to put up a wind farm, to get zoning, it has to go through a conditional use (permit) on every tower.”

Rasmussen said if the zoning does go through in the future, the next step will be establishing a development agreement with any company that wants to put up a wind farm.

If a wind farm project does proceed in the future in the RM, the value of the project is estimated at $220-million, producing about the same 100 mega watts of the St. Leon wind farm, with approximately 63 turbines. The site proposed for the wind farm is 7,769 hectares of land south of the Trans-Canada Highway, between Dacotah and Elie.

Rasmussen said there is currently support for the project as well as opposition to it.

“There’s lots of people in favour of our bylaw too,” said Rasmussen. “If everyone was against it, it wouldn’t have gone this far.”

Some residents have expressed concern about possible health effects or increased noise from the turbine activity. However, the reeve noted there are also some benefits to consider.

“There would be more money coming into the community, employment, investment into the community,” said the reeve. “In the short term, if they build one, it’s a tremendous boon for the construction, but in the long term, I think it would employ seven to 10 people full-time.”

After the public hearing takes place, the planning district will send the RM its recommendations with any changes it wants to make.

“Either we accept them and give (it) third reading, or we reject the changes and start over again,” said Rasmussen. “Hopefully, they will make a decision within a month or two and send it back to us.”

In the meantime, one potential wind farm developer that may be interested in creating a wind farm in the Elie area is Sequoia Energy, based in Winnipeg. The company has recently merged with Good Energies, a leading investor in the renewable energy industry, as a $16-million investment.

Sequoia Energy was involved in the initial stages of development for the St. Leon wind farm project, and Algonquin Energy then became the financiers for the development.

Bob Spensley, Sequoia’s managing director of community partnerships, said Sequoia is still waiting for approval before it can begin a project at Elie, but has been studying the site for its wind power potential since 2002. It hopes to hear from Manitoba Hydro to determine whether the project can proceed.

“(The Elie project is) proposed as a 99-mega watt project, but it would depend which turbines we use before we know the exact number of turbines,” Spensley said on Nov. 13. “At this point, the industry is waiting to see what Manitoba Hydro will come back with in terms of where they see the most valuable projects to be …. It’s pending Manitoba Hydro’s interest in pursuing the project.”

By Angela Brown

Central Plans Herald-Leader

24 November 2007

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