PICTOU – A local wind farm developer is hoping to successfully win another contract from Nova Scotia Power that would double the size of his farm. Reuben Burge, head of RMSEnergy Dalhousie Mountain, made a presentation to county council Monday to inform it about his plans to expand operations into both Pictou and Colchester counties. RMSEnergy currently operates 34 turbines, each rated for a nameplate capacity of 1.5 megawatts at its wind farm on Mount Thom. They give out a total output of 51 mw of renewable power. He told councillors that phase two of his wind farm will be known as the Clydesdale Ridge Wind Project with between 20 and 30 turbines erected in both counties. The turbines in phase two will be identical to the existing machines at the Dalhousie Mountain facility, but they will be rated for 1.6 mw instead of 1.5 mw. This addition will add enough energy to the grid to power an additional 20,000 homes annually. About 20 of the turbines would be in Pictou County and another 10 across the line in Colchester. He said his plans hinge on whether he wins a contract with Nova Scotia Power. He added that his existing farm is doing its job of supplying NSP with energy to offset coal consumption, but the wind energy market has gotten much more competitive since his last project. He said there are about 30 companies bidding on the current contract which is why he is going to the community, council and business associates for support. ”I really need the support on this one because it is more competitive,” Burge said. Burge said experience has taught him that being prepared is key to winning contracts, so has conducted many studies on wind farms, including noise, visual and environmental impacts. He said his company tries to work with local communities, making his setback from residences 1,500 metres, whereas the municipality bylaw states wind turbines must be at least 600 feet from homes. He told council he hasn’t had one negative complaint from the public, local landowners or government stakeholders in relation to the Dalhousie Mountain wind farm since they were built in 2009. ”It’s a good project that will employ local people,” he said, adding that if approved he will have about 18 people working for him. In addition to the Clydesdale Ridge Project, Burge is also working with the Nova Scotia SPCA to help them gain a sustainable income through the COMfit program. He is currently bidding on eight COMfit projects, three of which could be in Pictou County. Burge said he is also trying to work with DSTN in Trenton in regard to towers, but admits it is difficult to get established companies like General Electric to put trust in new manufacturing plants. He suggested it would better for DSTN to have a large order of 35 or 45 towers because the price of steel would be much more reasonable. He said it’s impossible to compete with China on steel prices when the order is only for five towers even though he would be saving hundred of thousands of dollars on travel costs if the towers were built locally. County council agreed to write a letter of support for Burge’s green energy initiatives but couldn’t support his company during its bidding process because of a possible conflict of interest.
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