Ratepayers will fund Nova Scotia Power’s $93-million share of the cost of building a controversial Lunenburg County wind farm.
The provincial Utility and Review Board approved the South Canoe capital project on Friday.
The $200-million wind farm, which will be the province’s largest, is slated to be operational by Jan. 1, 2015.
South Canoe would have 34 turbines and be built on a 3,044-hectare property between Vaughan and New Russell.
The project’s lead developers are Oxford Frozen Foods and Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd.
Nova Scotia Power owns a 49-per-cent stake in the project.
Some wind farm developers cried foul over the utility’s plan to include the project in rates, saying the utility shouldn’t be able to do so under what was a competitive bid process.
The board has said – and restated in the decision – that its role wasn’t to analyze the job done by the province’s renewable electricity administrator.
The wind farm will sell its electricity to Nova Scotia Power at a fixed price for 20 years under a contract awarded in August by the independent administrator, Carlisle, Mass., consulting firm Power Advisory LLC.
The provincial regulator did include a caveat on its approval of South Canoe.
The board said it would automatically reconsider the decision if Nova Scotia Power’s share of the project’s cost varies by more than five per cent above or below original estimates.
“The board could disallow some or all of any possible overexpenditures, if warranted,” the decision said. “This provides protection for ratepayers.”
South Canoe is expected to produce enough electricity to power 32,000 homes – the equivalent of all the homes in Lunenburg County and western Hants County. The wind farm will ensure the province meets its 25 per cent renewable electricitity target for 2015.
However, the project still faces one final regulatory hurdle.
A residents group has appealed last month’s decision by the Municipality of the District of Chester to grant the wind farm a development agreement.
Members of the Friends of South Canoe Lake are concerned about the setback distances of turbines their potential effects on residents’ health and property values.
The 92-metre turbines will be at least 1.2 kilometres from the nearest home.
The board will hold a hearing starting May 30 in New Ross.
[Article posted here as it appeared on April 26, 2013]
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