On a morning where wind gusts reached 34 km/h, Halifax-based company Shear Wind Inc. announced plans to build the largest Nova Scotia wind turbine park to date near Merigomish.
Glen Dhu wind park will be located on 2,420 hectares of privately owned land on Browns Mountain, off Baileys Brook Road. The 30-turbine project will generate 60 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 17,500 homes.
Construction is expected to begin in 2008, to be complete in 2009.
“Today marks a historic event in Pictou County and I’m certainly pleased to be part of it,” says Mike Magnus, president and CEO of Shear Wind Inc. “This will represent upwards of a $150-million investment in this community.”
This is the second wind energy announcement for Pictou County in two weeks.
Reuben Burge, president of RMSenergy Ltd, signed a long-term agreement with Nova Scotia Power to build the 51-megawatt, 34-turbine farm on Dalhousie Mountain last month.
Wednesday’s announcement was made at the Lismore and District Community Hall. Roughly 60 people attended the news conference, including residents of the area.
Bob Bennett of Merigomish stood to raise concern that 30 wind turbines near his home would create unwanted noise.
“From what we can gather, 95 per cent of the turbines are located three to four kilometers away from the closest residence,” replied Magnus. “We wanted to take a responsible lead. We are very sensitive to that.”
The project is also expected to create jobs. Magnus says dozens of Nova Scotians will be hired to install the 80-metre high turbines and eight people will be hired to maintain the park full time.
Glen Dhu will also feature an eco-interpretive centre, which will provide education on wind power and technology to the public.
“I’m sure the interpretive centre will generate a lot of interest,” says MLA Clarrie MacKinnon, Pictou East. “I’m also of the understanding that there will be local history incorporated in the general kiosk-type area. That, in itself, will make it a destination.”
Shear Wind has entered into a 20-year contract with Nova Scotia Power. Magnus says the site of the future wind park is ideal because there are three major power lines going through the property, which is almost unheard of.
But not everyone is excited about the prospect of having wind turbines in their backyard. Kristen Overmyer, a mechanical engineer living in Baileys Brook, says the Glen Dhu project is a waste of time and money.
“My concern is that they are not meeting the fundamental problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. “The problem is not one lump of coal will be saved in putting up wind turbines. Most of the people think these turbines are going to replace the coal plants. That is a falsehood.”
Ralph Tedesco, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, says the project is part of Nova Scotia Power’s strategy to increase the amount of energy produced from wind in Nova Scotia by 500 per cent between now and 2010, in turn, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
However, Nova Scotia Power customers should not expect to see a change in the price they pay for electricity.
“The thing about the renewable energy contracts like the one were are talking about today is that the contracts are typically 20 to 25 years in time frame at a fixed price,” says Rob Bennett, executive vice president, Revenue and Sustainability for Nova Scotia Power. “The price that we pay today for this energy will be the same 20 years from now when costs for other types of energies, like fossil fuels, have increased. It helps to stabilize the cost for customers.”
The Glen Dhu project still needs to undergo an environmental assessment by the energy department. In the meantime, there will be public consultation where residents of the area can bring any concerns they may have to the department.
By Sarah Regan
3 April 2008
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