A couple of landowners in Grand Bay-Westfield say they’ve been approached by a Halifax company that’s interested in building a wind farm.
“It certainly makes sense to me,” said Ed DeSaulniers, who co-owns 162 hectares in an area which he describes as a natural wind tunnel.
The parcel that he purchased 20 years ago, lies near Mitchell Road.
DeSaulniers said it’s one of the highest points in the river valley with sweeping views of the St. John River.
But from a business point of view, he said he’s not sure what he’ll do.
He said he received an 80-page sample contract on Friday from Community Wind Inc.
So far, he has only been able to skim it.
But he gets the impression that they’d like to take steps to test wind conditions on his land with an interest to build three turbines.
Keith Towse, the chief executive officer of Community Wind Inc., declined to comment on any specific negotiations.
But he said his company is looking for partners in New Brunswick who would like to collaborate under the recently introduced Locally-Owned Renewable Energy Small Scale (LORESS) program.
It aims to encourage First Nations, co-operatives and municipalities to invest in renewable energy projects that would connect with the NB Power grid.
The partners would share in the risk and revenues.
The government also hopes the projects that emerge will help NB Power with its goal of producing 40 per cent of its in-province electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
NB Power says renewable energy such as wind, biomass and hydro currently account for 35 to 36 per cent of NB Power’s in-province electricity sales.
The utility calls those numbers another record for the province and next best in the country after British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba, which all have massive hydro developments.
“The LORESS program requires that community partners own 51 per cent of the project and revenue from the project gets split according to percentage share in the project,” said Towse.
His company has already formed four partnerships in Nova Scotia, including three with First Nations.
Towse says the first point of order is to determine whether there’s adequate wind to make the project viable, then identify community groups who might be willing to work together.
“We just literally call them up and say are you interested in working with us,” he said.
Towse said the New Brunswick wind atlas, which maps out the province’s wind speeds is a resource he considers but it’s not his own data source.
He said it can take up to three years to get a wind farm into production, from the time he first approaches the landowners for permission.
His Nova Scotia projects began operating in 2014, and were created under that province’s COMFIT program, which was created in 2011 to promote local renewable energy projects that would help the province move away from fossil fuels.
It gave community partners a guaranteed rate for selling power into the grid.
Nova Scotia stopped taking applications in 2015 partly because the program was expected to overshoot its objective of creating 100 megawatts of independently produced power.
Currently, New Brunswick has three wind farms owned and operated by third-party companies.
There are 30 turbines near Lameque, 33 turbines near Bathurst and another 50 turbines near Petitcodiac.
Altogether, they are capable of producing 294 megawatts of energy, almost half the output of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.
CBC News reached out to the mayor of Grand Bay-Westfield to find out whether that municipality would be interested in pursuing a wind project in partnership with Community Wind Inc. Calls have not been returned.
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