With the regulatory amendments for the 70 turbines making up the Wild Rose 1 windfarm located north of the Cypress Hills under proponent NaturEner’s belt, the company is looking now at amendments to its Wild Rose 2 project.
Combined, the two projects will have the potential to be the biggest windfarm in the country.
But potential is the optimal word. Before Wild Rose 2 can see its first turbine blades turn, it has to get approval.
Like Wild Rose 1, the latest project is seeking to modify its plan by utilizing bigger, more powerful turbines but, fewer of them.
It total, the plan would see the number of turbines reduced from 108 to 63 while – due to the nature and size of the proposed Alstom turbine – capacity of the project would rise from 162 MW to 189 MW.
Gregory Copeland, NaturEner vice-president, said at the community consultation Tuesday at the Cypress County office that the timelines to complete the project are narrowing.
“We have to get the ground broken in the next 18 months,” he said of the two-phase project.
“We’ll turn into pumpkins if we don’t.”
Copeland was quick to point out the company is looking to minimize its cumulative environmental impact and maximize returns through the amendment which will see less area impacted and “fewer toothpicks” on the horizon.
In addition to wildlife surveys, he added that to comply with Alberta Utility Commission regulations, NaturEner must take sound readings from every home within the setback area.
Those regulations give a maximum 35 decibel level at night, 40 during the day.
Wildrose would remain near the lower level, “night or day,” Copeland said, adding that the level is measured outside the home and facing the turbines and averages about four decibels higher than background noise.
Medicine Hat MLA Blake Pedersen who was at the consultation said the amendment looks “positive as they are reducing the footprint and turbines.”
But, he added that with wind energy production, “consistency is an issue.”
Pedersen said the need for traditional non-renewable energy sources will likely remain for awhile. And while the potential for renewable is promising, “we’re a long way from that.”
The pre-construction phase for Wild Rose 1 is scheduled for the spring of 2014 with the turbines possibly in place by the fall.
If all goes to plan, Wild Rose 2 could begin construction in 2015.