Brent Kopperson loves windy days.
The executive director of the Windfall Ecology Centre is enthusiastic about a 20-megawatt wind farm being developed as a joint venture with Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation.
The Pukwis (Ojibwa for whirlwind) Community Windpark received $300,000 from Ontario’s community power fund.
The 10-turbine renewable energy project started in 2003, and a 50-metre tower measuring winds on the island has proven the venture will be viable, Mr. Kopperson said.
The 10 windmills, each 80 metres tall at the hub (higher with the blades at apex), will be built on the northeast side of the island, where they can catch the most favourable prevailing winds.
Electrical energy generated will service 7,000 homes, replacing 15,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.
Installation of the turbines is expected to begin in 2010.
The 20 megawatts of power generated will be fed into the Hydro One network.
A co-operative has been formed, with Trillium Foundation support and the environmental assessment is under way.
Project funds will be paid by a combination of traditional loans from the province’s Standard Offer Program and a co-operative share offering initiative.
Details into how the public can invest in the project will be finalized by next fall, Mr. Kopperson said.
The joint venture partners have worked together since 2001 on numerous projects including an innovative community wide energy efficiency housing retrofit pilot that is now being replicated in First Nation communities across Ontario with funding from the Ontario Power Authority.
“Without contributions like this from the Ontario Power Fund, we could not pave the way for other communities to do similar projects,” Mr. Kopperson said at the funding announcement reception held in Newmarket.
He is aware York Region is also investigating generating electricity with wind turbines with a monitoring project in place at the Sutton water pollution control plant on Black River Road.
The Sutton site was chosen because the location permits wind energy under the Ontario Greenbelt Plan and it is screened from residential areas.
The electricity generated by any future wind turbines will be used to help power regional facilities, called “behind the meter” because they will be tied directly into the load, for example, the pumps at a water treatment plant.
The 60-metre tall Sutton tower was installed last September and is now monitoring wind conditions, Melloney Syrotiuk, a sustainable energy initiative co-ordinator for York Region, said.
The study is scheduled to last one year.
“The consultant will come back with a report sometime next fall and then we will have a public consultation session in Georgina,” she said.
Windfall Ecology Centre would be happy to share their expertise with York Region for wind generation initiatives, Mr. Kopperson said.
By: John Slykhuis
18 June 2008
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