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Kings halt won’t stop wind firm

KENTVILLE – The two wind energy companies that have proposed projects for Kings County are not deterred by council’s decision to put a hold on all large-scale wind developments.

“We’re disappointed that Kings council has decided to take this step,” said Dan Roscoe, chief operations officer with Scotian WindFields Inc., a Nova Scotia-owned company.

“The two concerns we heard raised were public consultation and due diligence. We had always pledged to do public consultation and would have been happy to include that in our permit under the previous bylaw.

“In fact, we had our first public consultation five years ago.”

Scotian WindFields’ proposal is for a single turbine located in Greenfield on the South Mountain.

Roscoe said the company will continue to work on its Kings County project but will find another location that will work for the community.

“We will come back to the community and engage them with respect to this project,” he said. “We understand that wind development takes time, and we’re still going to look to find an appropriate location for this one-turbine project.”

He said Scotian WindFields, financed by local investors, does not have all its wind energy eggs in one basket. The Dartmouth company has eight projects on the go in other regions of the province and 20 applications in the works.

“Other municipalities are looking positively at it,” Roscoe said. “We’ve seen Annapolis County express concerns but then come up with a bylaw that is workable.”

Kings County is an anomaly in its strong opposition, he said.

“They’re the last one to the party, so to speak.”

In a letter to the county that was copied to the provincial government, Scotian WindFields president and CEO Barry Zwicker said the company “is actively looking for new project locations (in Kings County), which we hope the community will find more acceptable.”

His letter added that “extending a moratorium on wind energy development is not a defensible position.”

Zwicker said the Municipal Government Act allows for devising regulations but “does not provide for the wholesale ban of any specific type of development.”

A plan for a 20- to 30-turbine wind farm on the North Mountain was not included in a request for proposals for wind farm development in Nova Scotia that closed last week, meaning that project cannot even be considered for another three years.

But Acciona Wind Energy Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Spanish conglomerate Acciona, has optioned to lease 1,800 hectares of land on the North Mountain from Arlington to Black Rock.

Project development manager Hemanth Shankar said in a recent email exchange that wind projects can take a long time to develop and the plan is still in the works.

“We understand that wind farm development is subject to public regulations,” Shankar said.

“We will continue to work with the citizens of Kings County to ensure residents have fact-based answers to their questions so that wind energy can contribute local economic benefits, create new jobs and help the province become a leader in clean energy.”

The multibillion-dollar Spanish company owns 270 wind farms in 32 countries and employs 35,000 people. It operates 10 wind farms in North America, including several in Ontario.