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Armow wind project doubles

The Samsung-Pattern Armow Wind Power Project is doubling in size and even more in capacity after the joint project was re-evaluated after it was purchased from Acciona in September.

Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Pattern Energy Group LP jointly purchased the original 54-turbine, 80MW project from Acciona and now plan to have a maximum of 99 turbines rated for a total of 198MW, but the developers expect it may end up being 92 turbines at 184MW, since some sites might be disqualified.

“During the permitting process we may lose a few,” said Colin Edwards, senior developer for Pattern in Canada, adding they weren’t sure why Acciona didn’t make its project more dense in its project area.

“We took the same land fabric and identified a large number of sites we could build on that would still be compliant with noise regulations.”

The turbines selected will be the Siemens 2.3MW model, which will be “derated” to 2MW in order to meet noise requirements. Edwards said the models are “very common” in the Chatham-Kent area and will also be used for the next phase of the Kingsbridge wind project near Goderich, where Samsung-Pattern is building another 140 turbines.

Edwards said the project will include a large area in Kincardine, stretching north in Bruce Township to Bruce Rd. 20, east to Bruce Rd. 1, South to Hwy. 9 and west to Sideroad J/I, or King St. in Tiverton.

Staff are conducting archaeological tests at a number of sites in the region, but are hoping for final Ontario Power Authority approvals by June 2012, with construction expected to begin in late 2012 or early 2013.

“A number of communities have passed setback guidelines that would preclude any turbine development by agenda-oriented councils,” he said. “We’re happy to comply with many of these guidelines and look forward to working with municipalities in these sensitive areas.”

Edwards said neither the compensation for landowners, nor the “vibrancy fund” they are planning as health and education-related community donations, have been ironed out. He did confirm that the company will contribute a sum larger than the current $50,000 Enbridge Community Fund.

“It’s not just going to be landowners that benefit,” said Edwards. “As a whole, the community sees them and should also benefit.”

Edwards said the companies have yet to be in contact with the Inter-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group or the Armow Citizens Group, which have opposed the siting and density of the project, or receive support from Kincardine council.

“We’ve not engaged with them officially yet, but we have met with some elected officials,” Edwards said.

Armow-area resident Scott Duncan, a community representative on the Inter-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, said they feel “betrayed and exploited” by the changes that are coming, after what they felt was progress made with representatives of Acciona.

Duncan said they had concerns about the potential of “in-filling” within the project if Acciona followed through with the project. Aside from the health effects thought linked to wind turbines, his neighbours are also fearful of the drastic change in landscape, the impact on property values and real estate in their area, and a lack of say for their Amish neighbours, who represent 25% of the project area, he said.

“There’s been little information shared by Samsung since they took over the project,” said Duncan. “There’s a lot of people out there that are shocked and outraged that the project is going to be even bigger. This is one of the things we feared all along.”

Since the public now knows of Samsung’s energy deal with the province, Duncan said the feeling in the area is the deal is already done before dialogue has even begun with the new company.

“We had little hope with Acciona, but more hope that they would work with local residents to balance the scale,” he said. “We are dismayed at the greed that has divided this previously tight-knit community from a minority of landowners that will see the benefits from this.”

The most shocking factor, Duncan said, is the size and scale of the new Siemens model of turbine, which he said will be significantly larger than either model of turbine in the Enbridge or Ripley wind projects, and will be visible from even farther away.

“The landscape is going to be drastically changed in a radius unprecedented up until this point,” said Duncan. “Nobody here has the experience to understand what we’re in for.”

Samsung-Pattern is planning an open house sometime in the next two months and Edwards said it would be advertised locally in the media.

Those who have questions or concerns about the project can call 519-672-3006.