A 177 megawatt wind turbine project is getting a second chance in southwest Saskatchewan, but first has to pass the test with the province and landowners in the area.
SaskPower and Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. announced Thursday a new location for a wind farm originally planned for a site near Chaplin. Environmental concerns – it was too close to a migratory bird flight path – led to a needed change of location for the proposed 77 wind turbines.
That new location will put the turbines in the Blue Hills area, between Herbert and Neidpath, in southwest Saskatchewan.
Landowners in the area say they were recently approached by agents representing the Ontario-based Algonquin Power.
Tom Donnelly, a retired farmer in the area, says it is still early in the process, but he has been approached with a lease agreement.
“I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t particularly like the idea of obstructions on the farm land, but it is clean energy, it generates without pollution. So it’s a good idea, but kind of a nuisance,” he said. “We have some concerns, whether you’re making the right deal or not.”
He said some neighbours are against it, some neighbours are for it and some are indifferent. As it stands now, he is hoping a meeting can happen with all those involved in the proposal.
“It seems to be a general lack of information coming from the company there, we really don’t seem to get much information,” he said.
Beyond securing the land to put the turbines on, Algonquin is also tasked with passing through the province’s regulatory review process.
When Algonquin’s Chaplin site was rejected in September, the province introduced more detailed guidelines for wind turbines in the province. The document details certain areas to avoid, like national or provincial parks, certain rivers and areas with significant bird populations. It also recommends design elements to minimize effects on wildlife.
Tim Schuster, director of independent power producer development for SaskPower, says early indications of Algonquin’s Blue Hills site are positive.
“It seems to be a good site, but the detailed work has to be done, the studies have to be done,” he said.
A news release from SaskPower says it is expected to be in service by 2020.
Algonquin originally won a request-for-proposal process with SaskPower to provide wind power in 2012 at its proposed Chaplin site.
When the Chaplin site was rejected by the province, SaskPower gave the company “an opportunity for an alternative site” according to Schuster.
The 177 megawatts produced at the Blue Hills location, if approved, will make up about 11 per cent of the wind power SaskPower is hoping to have online by 2030.
SaskPower is opening up a tendering process for another 200 MWs of wind power next month, as it aims to have 1,600 MWs of wind-generated power by 2030.
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