Work is expected to begin within days on the four-turbine Zephyr Wind Farm near Watford now that provincial environmental approval is in place.
The $22-million, 10-MW project near Churchill Line, between Ebenezer and Old Walnut lines in Brooke-Alvinston, has been in the planning stages for more than a year and received provincial approval last week.
“We are hoping to start construction early next week,” said Brent Hall, vice-president of strategic planning for the wind farm’s owner, Mississauga-based Green Breeze Energy Inc.
“We’re looking forward to getting going.”
Mayor Don McGugan said Brooke-Alvinston council is scheduled Thursday to consider a proposed agreement with Green Breeze Energy that will ensure the township roads are maintained during construction.
“We can’t stop them,” McGugan said. “All we can do is make the best deal possible for our roads and our community.”
Ontario’s Green Energy Act took away municipal power to decide where renewable energy projects can be built.
“The community is split on the wind energy,” McGugan said. “I’ve heard both sides.”
Hall said the company will be upgrading some roads “just to make sure that they’re able to hand the traffic and weight of the cement trucks.”
Access roads will then be built to turbine sites, electrical lines laid and the foundations put in place for the towers.
“The turbines should start being erected come beginning of January,” Hall said.
They will be the first turbines in Canada made by Samsung of South Korea, Hall said.
They’re scheduled to be loaded off of ships in Windsor on Monday and later taken by truck to the building site.
The towers come in four parts and will stand 80 metres high once the cells and hubs have been put in place, Hall said. The 100-metre blades will be trucked to the site directly from their manufacturer in Arkansas.
“We should have everything up and installed and ready to produce power by the end of January, beginning of February,” Hall said.
But, he added, that depends on the weather.
“Constructing in the wintertime, slows things down a bit,” Hall said.
“The ironic thing with wind turbines – on high wind days you can’t do work on them.”
Samsung is also installing sensors on one of the four turbines to gather data to use for marketing, Hall said.
“We might take a little bit longer, just because of the fact it’s the first ones, and do some fine-tuning.”
At it’s peak, the construction project is expected to employ about 40 workers.
Esther Wrightman, a member of the anti-wind turbine group Middlesex-Lambton Wind Concerns, said she’s hopeful the project’s environmental approval will be appealed.
“I’m looking forward to that, hopefully.”
She lives about 10 minutes from the site and was among a dozen sign-carrying protesters at the company’s final public information meeting about the project.
Hall said construction is allowed to move ahead even if there is an appeal to Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.
A previous appeal of provincial approval for a wind farm lost, Hall said.
“I would assume they would lose it again this time, but that is the process.”
There are other wind farms proposed for sites in and around Brooke-Alvinston, but McGugan said, “They’re moving slow.”
Nextera Energy is holding a public open house Thursday in Ailsa Craig about its plans for three large wind projects, including a 96-turbine Jericho Wind Energy Centre in and around Lambton Shores.
That community is home to the only 10 wind turbines currently operating in Lambton County.