Changes may be in the wind for Truro, where councillors are considering using wind power and natural gas in some town-owned buildings.
The issues were discussed Monday after councillors heard a presentation from Scotian WindFields Inc. on the idea of erecting wind turbines in the watershed to power facilities such as the water treatment plant.
“I find wind power very exciting,” Coun. Charles Cox said after hearing from Scotian WindFields president Barry Zwicker.
The company, the first in a number of alternative energy firms that council will meet with in coming months, was created last summer when eight community-owned wind fields joined forces under the province’s commun-ity economic development investment fund.
Mr. Zwicker said his company would be willing to work with the town to find an efficient way to provide renewable energy.
“The way we would like to deal with the Town of Truro is the same way we deal with every other client that we have, that we enter into a memorandum of understanding that basically says . . . we will join forces in this whole effort to bring more renewable energy into the town.”
Mr. Zwicker said Scotian WindFields would incur the bulk if not all of the capital costs and sell cheaper energy to the town.
Once an agreement to move forward was reached, the company would erect a test tower to collect wind data. It would use the data and energy consumption information from the town to determine if the project was viable. If so, a more detailed plan would be created, and a public education campaign would be launched.
Mr. Zwicker said the process could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
He’s already optimistic that based on existing wind maps, wind speeds atop hills overlooking the town would meet and likely exceed the minimum required for economic viability.
Mr. Cox told Mr. Zwicker he was glad to hear the company would be willing to work with the town and wasn’t just looking for a land lease situation.
“I would suggest as we hear these presentations, it’s important to note just how far a particular organization is going to work with the community,” Mr. Cox said.
On the issue of natural gas, town staff recently studied impacts of converting oil-fired boilers to burn natural gas for the civic building, police station, fire hall, library and the old Normal College in the downtown.
Staff estimated that based on current pricing, bills of between $75,000 and $85,000 annually could drop to $64,100 and $57,900, while the cost of conversion was estimated at between $75,000 and $85,000.
Mayor Bill Mills asked councillors to consider that information between now and February’s meeting and look into whether there is a competitive advantage to signing up for natural gas.
He said Heritage Gas, the company hoping to bring natural gas to Truro, needs a certain percentage of businesses and institutions to sign up before May in order to start acquiring land for a pipeline. If enough people sign on, gas could be flowing in Truro by 2009.
By Cathy Von Kintzel
9 January 2008
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