Kings County council’s decision Tuesday night to rescind a bylaw allowing large-scale wind farms could be confusing for developers, says the head of a company looking to spend millions in the province.
The council voted 10-1 in favour of rescinding its bylaw that would have allowed developers to erect wind turbines as long as they were 700 metres from the nearest dwelling.
The bylaw was adopted last year.
But that decision may have some potential developers scratching their heads, said Jeff Jenner, president and chief executive officer of Sprott Power Corp. of Toronto.
“It certainly sends mixed messages, because you have certain counties that are very pro wind development and you have certain counties that appear to be against it for the time being, but you have a province that is pushing toward a 40 per cent renewable energy generation target,” Jenner said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Sprott Power is one of 19 companies vying to bolster the province’s supply of renewable energy, looking to add 45 megawatts of wind energy to Nova Scotia’s electricity grid.
John Dalton of independent consultant Power Advisory LLC of Massachusetts has said he will make a decision by July 19.
If it emerges a winner, Sprott Power plans to invest $100 million to expand its wind farms in the province, including its newly commissioned site near Amherst, its facility near Lingan, Cape Breton County, or other areas.
Jenner said the Kings County decision may give some developers pause, but there are other parts of the province in which to invest in.
“I think wind across Nova Scotia is not entirely uniform, but there’s a lot of windy spots in Nova Scotia, and if a county is saying they are against wind, then developers will likely take that into account if they’re going to site a new wind farm.”
He said he doesn’t think the Kings County decision will impede Sprott’s ability to conduct business in the province.
“We’re keen on all development. Is it going to affect our ability to develop projects in Nova Scotia? I don’t think it’s going to affect our ability.”
Bruce Cameron, the province’s executive director of sustainable and renewable energy, said most of the 19 projects being considered will remain unaffected by the Kings County decision.
“We would understand that at least one of the projects bid on would be from Kings County, but there are 19 projects from many locations around the province. So we would expect that the renewable electricity administrator still has plenty of projects to choose from.”
The province wants to add 300 gigawatts of renewable electricity to the Nova Scotia Power grid, starting in 2015.
Cameron said that “many parts of the province have wind farms that are strongly supported by their community” and as such, he remains confident that the province can reach its renewable energy goal.
“The controversy in Kings County has been going for quite some time, and a lot of people have been investing in Nova Scotia and they’ve bid into the (process), so they must have been confident that Nova Scotia is a good place to invest in.”
Terry Norman, president of Chebucto Terence Bay Wind Field Ltd., said educating residents is the best way to combat any concerns they have about wind projects.
“It’s certainly possible that those concerns would spread, but people who we have met with regarding the issues, once they understand just what the wind farm is going to be like and get a chance to experience it first-hand, then we found that those concerns tend to go away.”
Hundreds of Kings County residents who attended public meetings in advance of Tuesday’s vote spoke about concerns regarding noise, possible health and safety impacts, and reduced property values.
“When you look at wind farms like the one in Amherst, which is located near the highway, you can actually drive in there and go up quite close to the turbines, and it’s amazing when people do that that they realize they’re not really very noisy at all,” Norman said.
Chebucto Terence Bay Wind Field, in partnership with Renewable Energy Services Ltd., is looking to build a six-megawatt wind farm with three turbines on a 30-hectare lot off River Road in Terence Bay on land owned by Deal Excavating Services Ltd.
Norman said the location of wind farms is the key to alleviating concerns.
“You need to locate these turbines in an area where it won’t affect people and, if possible, not even affect the viewscape. But some people like the look of turbines and others don’t. It’s more of a personal opinion.”
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