SYDNEY – A wind energy developer proposing to build small one- and two-wind turbine farms in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality didn’t receive the endorsement it was seeking from council Tuesday, instead it will continue to seek “community support” and approach property owners on leasing land for its project.
Wind Prospect Inc., based in Halifax, is a subsidiary of Wind Prospect Group, which operates in 10 countries including Australia, China, Turkey and the United States.
Andy MacCallum, development manager for Wind Prospect Inc., said it has its eye on five sites in the CBRM that could have turbines feed electricity to Nova Scotia Power’s grid.
The proposed sites are located in North Sydney, Barrachois, Whitney Pier, Albert Bridge and Catalone.
In order to work with NSP through the Nova Scotia government’s community-based feed-in tariff (ComFIT) program, which launches in August, the company will need to meet eligibility criteria set out by the province.
The ComFIT program aims to achieve at least 100 megawatt hours of electricity through smaller scale, community-based renewable energy projects.
“We lease land by coming to an agreement with the landowner … and pay a rental fee to the landowner for 20 years. We don’t buy (the land),” MacCallum said.
It offers property owners 13-14 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity produced over the duration of the 20-year contract.
MacCallum said the proposed CBRM sites all have setbacks from residential properties of 800 to 1,000 metres.
From the property owners MacCallum has spoken with, he said “they all seem pretty interested” in leasing land to Wind Prospect Inc. He said his company is currently in discussions with Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. on undeveloped land it holds in Whitney Pier.
CBRM planner Malcolm Gillis said the company’s policy on setbacks for wind turbines go well beyond the CBRM’s current regulations of 175 metres.
The CBRM’s wind turbine policy on setbacks has been under review since last fall, Gillis added.
He said unlike provinces such as Ontario, the Nova Scotia government leaves it up to individual municipalities to set wind turbine guidelines.
“It would be interesting to find out if the province’s Environment Department is moving in (Ontario’s) direction, and if not, how do they intend to regulate these developments.”
Council decided to offer an invitation to Emera, the parent company of NSP, and the Department of Environment to further explain the province’s renewable energy strategy.
The provincial government has set in place a new target of 25 per cent from renewable sources of electricity by 2015. This goal will increase to 40 per cent by 2020.
The province will review the progress of its renewable electricity plan within 18 months of implementation to determine whether the regulations are achieving its goals.