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MacLeod: Agreement may hurt C.B. wind industry

The Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject may put a spike through Cape Breton’s fledgling wind-power industry, Tory MLA Alfie MacLeod warned Thursday.

MacLeod told a legislative committee that industrial Cape Breton is the likely location of a link to the undersea cable announced by the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and this province.

“Wind projects are being held up in Cape Breton already because we already provide so much of the province’s power,” said the MLA for Cape Breton West.

MacLeod said Cape Breton now generates 67 per cent of the province’s electricity supply.

“There are people who want to invest in wind power in Cape Breton, but they are having trouble connecting to the grid.”

He was questioning Nova Scotia Power Inc. officials about wind power in a legislative committee room at about the same time details of the $6.2-billion underwater link were unveiled at a St. John’s news conference.

The standing committee on resources was supposed to be talking about wind power, but the implications of the Lower Churchill project on the renewable energy sector were hard to ignore.

MacLeod said he was aware of one group frustrated in efforts to connect to the power grid, even though the proposed site is only eight kilometres away from the grid.

Robin McAdam, executive vice-president of sustainability for the power utility, told the MLA he would like more information on the particulars of the wind power project in Cape Breton.

McAdam said wind power will continue to play a significant role in the utility’s generation strategy in Nova Scotia, regardless of the new flow of electricity from the Lower Churchill project.

“A specific study will be required to determine the impact and options (of the cable).”

Later in an interview, he said the additional flow of electricity from the undersea cable will be a good thing for the wind industry in Nova Scotia, as this development will strengthen the wind-energy sector as an intermittent provider of electricity for an enhanced system.

“We have wind turbines at Lingan and also at Point Tupper.

“Cape Breton is the largest supplier of electricity for the province and I don’t see that changing.”