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Chinese wind company eyes Dufferin

Many talk of the Boston-based hedge fund eyeing Melancthon, but what about a Chinese corporation supported wind farm proposed for Dufferin?

Dufferin Wind Power Inc. and Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) Ltd., which entered into a share purchase agreement with China Longyuan Power Group Corporation Limited in July, is proposing to develop a 100 MW wind farm, north of Shelburne, in Melancthon.

After setting up a North American subsidiary corporation for the project, the Chinese company and its partners are hoping to bring a wind farm of about 45 to 55 turbines online, according to Mingyu Tang, senior vice-president of Dufferin Wind Power Inc.

“I can give you a ballpark number like 45 to 55 (turbines),” Tang said. “It depends on the regulations according to the province.”

Furthermore, the wind project’s study area is currently about 6,000 acres in size. In addition, the project would require an about 34-kilometre 69 kV powerline to run from the wind farm in Melancthon through Mulmur and Amaranth, before connecting to the province’s electrical grid in Mono.

Although a Public Information Centre (PIC) for the Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) Ltd. project was held last September, due to changes in the proposal, another round of sessions are scheduled in four of Dufferin’s municipalities next week.

Those will be held in Melancthon at Horning’s Mills Community Hall, Amaranth Township Banquet Hall, the Mono Community Centre and North Dufferin Community Centre in Honeywood from Monday (Sept. 12) to Thursday (Sept. 15) respectively, from 6 to 8 p.m.

“This is a community project, everyone in the project area has the right to understand what is going on and has the right to know what the plan will be, number one,” Tang said, adding it’s also part of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process. “Farm Power is composed by a lot of the local farmers. They’re the owner of the project.”

Then again, as far as Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill sees it, the biggest hiccup is how the parameters of the Farm Owned Power (Melancthon) Inc. project, which first proposed local farmers holding a 51 per cent majority ownership stake, has changed since the concept of a community-owned wind farm was first proposed.

Currently, farmers own a 35 per cent stake, and once the project gets up and running, they won’t have any equity position at all, the mayor suggested.

“The involvement with the local farmers has changed significantly,” Hill said, noting farmers will still develop the project and lease land to the wind developer. “But, once it is up and running, they won’t have an equity position.”

There have been some rumblings China Longyuan Power Group Corporation Limited is owned by the Chinese government. As Tang explained, the company is publically traded on the Hong Kong market, but government-run China Guodian Corporation holds a majority stake.

With more than 100 wind turbines already spinning at the TransAlta wind facility and seven more in Melancthon as part of the Plateau Wind Project under construction, another 45 to 55 may be on the horizon, as representatives from the revamped wind project have re-approached the township.

“I think we are high on (the wind industry’s) radar screen,” Hill remarked.

From Hill’s understanding, local farmers would still be paid to lease land for turbines, plus play an active role in how the Dufferin Wind Project evolves, but their equity would be bought once the wind facility goes online.

“Then, it comes down to any other wind project, from my perspective,” Hill said. “We have extremely limited powers and we’ll continue to be vigilant and make sure the interests of our municipality and our ratepayers are looked after to the very best of our ability.”