Wind energy continues to be a hot topic in the west Middlesex area.
TCI Renewables, one of four companies looking at installing power generating wind turbines in the area, hosted a public meeting at the Adelaide-Metcalfe municipal office last Tuesday.
Two open-house style meetings, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, were held to provide the public with information about wind turbines.
Interest in wind generation in Ontario increased after the provincial government issued a request for proposal (RFP) asking companies to submit bids for development of wind energy.
TCI Renewables has completed most of the work necessary for its bid, said the company’s development manager, Mark Gallagher.
The company has been talking to landowners, he said, and some agreements are already in place.
The proposed locations are north of Hwy. 402 and west of Centre Road.
The company is proposing to install turbines capable of generating about 80 megawatts, said Mr. Gallagher.
Each wind turbine is capable of generating up to two megawatts, given a wind speed of 12 metres per second (about 43 km/h).
An average wind speed of seven metres per second (about 25 km/h) is needed to make it worthwhile to put a turbine in place, said Mr. Gallagher.
Last fall, the company installed tall “masts” along Egremont Drive to collect wind speed data. While a full year of data will be needed to be certain, the data collected so far is encouraging, said Mr. Gallagher. “It’s looking feasible.”
The wind turbines are mounted on towers that are 85 metres (about 278 feet) high. The three blades are each about 41 metres (135 long). For comparison, when the tip of one of the blades is at the top of its rotation, it would be slightly higher than the peak of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.
The generation equipment is contained in a “nacelle” on top of the tower. The nacelle is the size of a small motorhome and weighs about 63,000 kg (138,600 lbs).
The display that the company brought to its meeting in Adelaide-Metcalfe addressed many of the concerns that people have had with wind turbines in the past, including noise and danger to migrating birds.
The turbines are actually fairly quiet, according to a company display. Noise levels at 350m are about 40-45 decibels, which is equivalent to the ambient noise in an empty house.
While the company is conducting a study on migratory birds in the area, the danger to birds from the turbines is actually not that great, said Mr. Gallagher, especially when compared to other obstacles like large city buildings.
While the company’s bid for the provincial RFP is nearly complete, it will still be some time before any turbines are installed, said Mr. Gallagher. If the company is successful in its bid on the RFP, it will be 2011 before any work goes ahead.
Adelaide-Metcalfe Mayor John Milligan said on the whole he feels the addition of wind turbines to the township would be a positive thing.
It’s up to each individual landowner to decide if he wants to make an agreement to have wind turbines on his land, said Mr. Milligan.
The township’s policy on wind turbines is the same as Middlesex County’s, he said.
If a large number of wind turbines are built, the township stands to gain a substantial amount in tax assessment, he said.
The appeal of the township to wind energy companies has mostly to do with the longer farm sizes, making it easier to meet setback requirements, and the proximity of high capacity power lines, which makes it easier to get the generated electricity into the power grid.
TCI Renewables is a multi-national company with offices in Canada and the United Kingdom. It got its start putting up telecommunications towers, before branching out into wind turbines. The first wind turbine the company installed provides power for a hospital in northern Ireland, said Mr. Gallagher. The company is currently pursuing wind energy projects elsewhere in Ontario, as well as Quebec.
21 February 2008
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