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Acciona still hoping to build wind farm on Tantramar Marsh

A proposed wind farm project along the Tantramar Marsh in Aulac is still on track to become a reality although it’s still unclear as to when that might happen.

“We’re continuing to develop it,” said Michael Petersen, development director with Acciona Wind Energy Canada Inc. earlier this week.

Acciona, one of the world’s leading renewable energy firms, began the initial steps towards the project more than four years ago when it landed the contract from NB Power to construct the 43-turbine wind farm in Aulac.

But a number of delays have kept the project from moving forward as quickly as had anticipated.

Petersen said Acciona was granted a certificate of determination from New Brunswick’s Department of Environment in Jan. 2010, which basically gives the company approval for the 64.5 megawatt wind farm as long as certain regulatory conditions are met first.

One of those conditions involves an in-depth avian study, a review that looks at the potential disruption of migration routes and the impacts of the turbines on the bird and bat populations.

“We’re continuing to complete the permitting process . . . to work through those conditions.”

Petersen said along with the bird study, which has been ongoing for over a year now, other factors that have set back the project included permitting delays as well as the economic recession.

Those setbacks meant Acciona missed the deadline to access Eco-Energy funds and resulted in the company being released from the power purchase agreement that was originally made with NB Power.

But Peterson says these types of hold-ups are the norm in the industry.

“We deal with quite a few different stakeholders so it’s not unusual to be facing these types of delays.”

While Acciona finishes up the permitting phase, Petersen said the firm is now also engaging in the search for “off-take opportunities” to sell the power. He said although New Brunswick hasn’t issued any RFPs for wind energy projects in recent months, Acciona is on the lookout for other processes in which they could sell the wind power.

Petersen said the project will continue to move ahead, one step at a time.

“This is a project we’ve invested in,” he said, “and it’s one we hope to soon move forward on.”