The Quebec government said Tuesday it has approved a $300-million project to plant a wind farm – with 44 towering windmills – on agricultural land in the Montérégie region, just south of Montreal.
Each of the Enercon windmills will be equipped with a three-arm blade, reaching 139 metres into the sky.
The power towers, which are to feed into the Hydro-Québec electricity distribution network for at least the next two decades, will be erected on the outskirts of Mercier, St. Constant, St. Isidore, St. Rémi and St. Michel.
Almost half will be installed around St. Isidore.
The Montérégie project, known as Kémont and promoted by Kruger Energy, is expected to begin operating in December 2012. Construction will begin in August.
Hydro-Québec will pay Kémont 10.55 cents per kilowatt hour for the power, indexed to inflation from the start of 2007.
No tower will be installed closer than 750 metres to a residence. None will be located closer than two kilometres to a designated urbanized zone around each of the towns. Altogether, the five towns had a 2006 population of 45,340.
During an inquiry, the province’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) “received no expression of concern from the public concerning the installation of the project on the countryside,” according to a 112-page report it issued in approving the wind farm.
After three public hearings, the BAPE announced May 13 that it had judged the project “acceptable from a social, environmental and economic point of view.”
“All of the briefs received favoured the project and few requested particular conditions for its completion,” its report stated.
“Two participants expressed preoccupations regarding health and the project’s impact on the quality of life or agriculture. One opposed the project because it would be situated on high-quality agricultural land.”
In a brief to the BAPE, François Corriveau of St. Constant had stated that “the affirmation by the promoter that noise and low-frequency sound (generated by the turbines) would not have an effect on health contradicts the results of numerous studies on the negative effects” of large-scale windmills.
The project is rated at 101.2 megawatts – equivalent to the annual consumption of 10,000 homes that heat with electricity.
It forms part of “a strategy to turn Quebec into a leader for green, renewable energy,” Quebec vice-premier Nathalie Normandeau, minister of natural resources, said in a prepared statement.
She called it “one step more toward our goal of developing 4,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2015.”
That would represent about 10 per cent of Quebec’s electricity-production capacity.
Kruger Energy, an arm of Montreal-based Kruger Inc., said the project would provide between $20 million and $35 million of economic benefits to the region, creating 75 jobs during construction.
The wind farm will account for between eight and 10 jobs after it has begun operating, Kruger added.
All towers will be on private land, but the municipalities will benefit as well. They are to receive an annual payment of $5,750, indexed to inflation, for each tower operating on their territory. Each landowner is to get $11,500 a year per tower.
For details, in French only, go to projeteolienmonteregie.com
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