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Energy corporation pays to remove windmills from P.E.I. rinks

KENSINGTON – Four P.E.I. community rinks that invested thousands of dollars into wind turbines that never worked as advertised have received refunds.

The payout equals about $280,000 and is being bankrolled by the provincial government.

Community Gardens Complex, which is owned by the Town of Kensington, is one of the rinks.

Mayor Rowan Caseley said Monday that the town had been negotiating for some time with the rink turbine project manager, the Wind Energy Institute of Canada, and recently managed to work out a deal for the refund and to have the turbine removed.

“We’ve received the cheque and it’s now up to them to come and take it whenever they want,” said Caseley.

Town chief administrative officer Geoff Baker added that the money has already been transferred to pay down the facility’s net debt.

This is not the ideal outcome for the project, added Baker, but the town is thankful the parties were able to reach an agreement to mitigate the burden on the facility, and by extension the town.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword. We’re not pleased that the project wasn’t a success, our greatest wish would have been that the turbine was put down there and it covered a large percentage of the utility cost there and made things more affordable.

“But since the thing was not working, we’re very pleased that the province and WEICan has come together and found a solution.”

The other rinks receiving refunds are in Murray River, Crapaud and Alberton. Each contributed $70,000 to the construction of one 50 kilowatt wind turbine on their respective properties; the federal government gave $80,000 to each project and the provincial government paid $100,000 to each. That’s a total of about $1 million to build and install all four turbines.

First proposed in 2010, the project was supposed to save the rinks money on their monthly energy bills, but each suffered from technical and performance problems until they were finally all shut down in January of 2014, because of a shared technical flaw. A few months later, the manufacturer, Seaforth, filed for creditor protection. It had, up until that point, been providing maintenance on the turbines and was trying to get them working properly.

Most of the rinks had demanded their money back by that point.

It was also at this time that the various funding partners and WEICan started discussing the future of the turbines.

The deal they struck earlier this month sees the provincial government accept responsibility for refunding the rinks’ contributions. WEICan wrote the cheques with money provided by the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.

WEICan will now dismantle the turbines, examine and repair them and appraise them for potential resale. Any money raised through the sale of the turbines would be used to recoup costs by the provincial government.