EAST BAY – A scaled-back version of the East Bay Hills Wind Power Project project is seeking environmental approval from the province.
If approved, the project will see up to 30 wind turbines constructed with a capacity to generate about 50 megawatts of renewable energy from a site on the hills above Lake Uist on provincially owned land.
Calgary-based company BluEarth Renewables Inc. is now heading the project after it acquired Cape Breton Hydro Inc. from Cape Breton Explorations Ltd. in 2012.
The original project owner had proposed the development of a hybrid wind/hydroelectric pump storage power generating facility in the same general location.
However, BluEarth confirmed the abandonment of the hydroelectric pump storage component facility upon completion of the acquisition.
There are no plans to expand the 50-megawatt project to the 200 megawatts its original owner had considered, either.
“Through our engineering work and through assessment of the site and the size of the market in Nova Scotia we arrived at 50 megawatts as being the optimal size of project,” said Marlo Raynolds, vice-president of market development for BluEarth.
“Our experience has demonstrated in other markets that 50 to 100 megawatts is in many ways the sweet spot for wind power projects. In this case it landed that the 50 megawatts was the size suitable for the site and the market.”
The province announced on Thursday that BluEarth registered the project for environmental assessment, in accordance with Part IV of the Environment Act.
Construction of the 1.7-megawatt wind turbines will begin in the fall 2015, followed by operation in 2016, if approvals are granted.
The Minister of Environment will decide if the project can be granted conditional environmental assessment approval on or before July 25.
Any submissions will be placed in the library at the Nova Scotia Environment, Barrington Place Halifax Office, and made available to the public.
So far, Raynolds said his company has received positive feedback on the project.
“We’ve been very proactive in terms of engaging with local stakeholders and First Nations,” he said. “We’ve done a public open house and direct stakeholder meetings and also trying to keep people updated by mail.”
Though the project is proceeding with environmental approvals, he said BluEarth is still investigating markets for the power it could create.
“Any of these projects, to be able to proceed through construction and development, require a longterm contract from a customer. At this stage we do not have a customer.”
A customer is most likely to come from a competitive request for proposals process, he noted.
“We are advancing the project through the approvals process in hopes of being able to secure a customer, but we do not want to create expectations that because we are advancing the approval process that this is a slam dunk. There are many steps that need to go through.”
Click HERE for more information on the environmental review.
Besides the province, the project must also get federal and municipal approvals.
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