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CBU gets approval for wind farm

SYDNEY – Cape Breton University is inching closer to becoming the first university in Canada with its own wind turbine following the approval of its community feed-in tariff application for a 5.4 megawatt wind farm.

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Charlie Parker announced the farm and four other project approvals at the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment on Tuesday.

CBU president John Harker said the university has been interested about wind farms since 2008, long before the community feed-in tariff program was put in place.

He said the community feed-in tariff “made it even more attractive to us, but like everything here we are very conscious of having limited resources and an invaluable role to play in the community.”

The estimated $10-million project, jointly developed by CBU and Cape Breton Explorations, will be built on land contributed by Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. across from CBU.

“I think there has been a lot of focus, and rightfully so, on renewable energies and certainly we do see centre for sustainability as being a major player in that,” said Gordon MacInnis, CBU vice-president of finance and operations.

He said if all goes well, the turbines could begin taking shape in the fall of 2013 at the earliest.

“We have a little bit of work to do with Nova Scotia Power in terms of connectivity, environmental assessment, etc. That will take several months yet.”

The other projects announced Tuesday included a 3.5-kilowatt wind project in Grand Etang owned by Lemoine Development Association, the Harbour Authority of Grand Etang and SuGen Research Inc.

A 50-kilowatt wind project in Barney’s River, a 4.6-megawatt wind project in Ketch Harbour, and a 500-kilowatt tidal project in Digby County were also announced.

The feed-in tariff program is an opportunity to receive an established price per kilowatt hour for projects producing electricity from qualifying renewable resources to feed into the province’s electricity grid.

“It’s really about involving community’s at the grass roots level,” said Parker.

“They can invest financially in the project or they can invest their time and effort into producing local electricity and it really helps to spread the message of the importance of getting off of fossil fuels and on to renewal resources.”

Tuesday’s announcements mean applicants can move forward to secure financing, develop grid impact studies and complete the required federal and provincial environmental assessments and approvals.

To date, 90 applications from more than 20 community groups have been received.

The 15 projects approved so far will generate more than 42 megawatts of power.