A new wind farm could reap financial rewards for Eastern Kings if residents vote to support it.
Energy Minister Wes Sheridan said the province made a presentation to the Eastern Kings community council last week to talk about building a provincially owned wind farm in the area.
But he said if the community doesn’t want the project, the province will move on to the next site it selected for the development.
“I’m hoping that there’s no need to do that,” he said.
Sheridan made the comments after his presentation at the standing committee on agriculture, environment, energy and forestry meeting Tuesday where he talked about the state of P.E.I.’s wind energy production.
The latest development would be the second phase of the East Point wind farm already in place in Eastern Kings and would add 30 megawatts to the province’s electricity production through the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.
That would bump up the total electricity production from wind to 30 per cent.
Sheridan said a private company had previously presented a plan to Eastern Kings residents through the community council, but it didn’t go well and residents rejected it.
“I would have said no myself to the way that they handled it,” he said.
Part of the problem was the company involved didn’t even appear to present its plan to the public, Sheridan said.
“If you didn’t want to go out and talk to the population, move your project somewhere else.”
The latest project could offer an enticing deal for the community with Sheridan saying there will be about $9 million over a 15-year period on the table.
The financial incentives include $200,000 for landowners, and a $125,000 annual trust for the community.
Sheridan said it can spend the trust money any way the community sees fit.
“Let your mind wander,” he said.
There will also be more money in property tax revenues from the addition of windmills and another $25,000 annually the community thought it had agreed to with the previous government on the first phase of the wind farm, he said.
Sheridan said the community asked for the wind farm to be built in heavily forested areas, away from scenic vistas and not along the shoreline so those factors were taken into consideration in the initial plan.
“We have not decided on actual spots until council and the community decides that they want us there,” he said.
Another factor in the wind turbines’ final location will be which type the company that wins the contract to build them will use.
Sheridan said 10 companies responded to the request for proposals and the project will require between eight to 10 turbines, depending on their output.
If the community rejects the plan the cost to move to a different site wouldn’t be much different than in Eastern Kings, Sheridan said.
“The top four are all within a whisker of each other.”
For opposition energy critic Hal Perry, he said any time there is a development in P.E.I. it’s a good thing, but he hopes the government doesn’t decide to play politics with the development.
“Clean energy is good for our province,” he said.
The Eastern Kings community council is holding a vote March 19 to decide whether or not it will accept the proposal.
Sheila Eastman, chair of the Eastern Kings community council, was contacted but said she didn’t want to comment until after this week’s council meeting.
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