The hills of Albert County are expected to be busy with activity later this year as the first of five wind farms planned for New Brunswick is constructed near Caledonia Mountain.
The 96 megawatt Kent Hills wind farm will be located near Caledonia Mountain, southwest of Moncton. It will have 32 wind turbines and provide 280,000 megawatt hours of power per year, roughly enough to meet the electricity needs of 17,300 homes.
Energy Minister Jack Keir and officials of TransAlta Corporation broke ground on the site last October, but construction has not yet begun.
Construction will include clearing the land, building the concrete bases and then installing the huge wind turbines. Cranes are used to lift the components into place. After that, crews will need to clear a path for the transmission line that will carry electrical current from the turbines into the NB Power grid.
The capital cost of the project will be $170 million and it is expected to generate a significant economic spinoff into Metro Moncton and surrounding areas during the construction phase. TransAlta, the Alberta company that will build and operate the wind farm, has promised to use local contractors during the construction phase.
The 32 wind turbines to be used at the Kent Hills site will be put up in two phases. They will stand 80 metres (262 feet) tall. The three blades are each 45 metres (147 feet) long. By comparison, the Aliant tower in downtown Moncton is 127 metres (416 feet) tall.
TransAlta has said construction would begin this spring, with the wind farm going into service by December. The project must pass through a series of environmental assessments before it gets the green light for construction to begin. Officials from the company could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Heather MacLean, a spokeswoman for NB Power, said the Kent Hills project is the first of five wind farms planned for New Brunswick. Other projects are planned for Aulac, Lameque, Caribou Mountain and Bathurst over the next couple of years to help the province meet its commitment of generating up to 400 megawatts of electricity through wind power by the year 2010.
The Aulac area wind farm near the Nova Scotia border will generate approximately 64.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to sustain more than 10,000 homes.
BY ALAN COCHRANE
TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF
Wednesday April 9th, 2008