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Community wind farm proposed for Sackville

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Sackville’s winds could soon be put to good use.

An Ontario-based energy company is hoping to build a small wind farm just on the edge of town, a proposal that would involve some community ownership in the project.

Town council heard plans earlier this month from ProWind Canada Inc. for a 20MW wind farm off Baseline Road, an area a few kilometres from the Walker Road reservoir.

Rochelle Rumney, the company’s director of project planning, explained ProWind is a community energy developer that has been operating since 2007 with its headquarters in Hamilton, Ontario. Primarily dealing in wind energy, Rumney said ProWind recently built a wind farm in Woodstock, Ontario in collaboration with a community co-operative and First Nations. Operational since last November, she said Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm is the first project such as this to have a three-way partnership between the community, developer and indigenous owners.

“ProWind really values that partnership and that approach to development,” she said.

Tom Healy, director of business development for ProWind, said his firm plans to submit its proposal to NB Power, which issued a request for proposals earlier this year for additional wind generation projects. The development of renewable energy projects involving local ownership is particularly encouraged, he said.

“That is the kind of development model we favour,” said Healy.

The 20MW project would see about six or seven turbines erected, enabling the possibility of providing electricity for about 7,000 households. The hope would be to be operational by the end of 2020.

Healy said the location chosen for the project seems to be ideal, in that local landowners are open to the idea, there is access to the site, it is close to the grid infrastructure, it is elevated, and far enough away from residential areas so that the “issues with noise and shadow flicker” wouldn’t be a concern.

“We think this is a good location for our project proposal,” said Healy, noting that the area would undergo further review over the next couple years if ProWind’s project is selected by NB power.

Helmut Schneider, company president, said ProWind representatives would be meeting with groups and individuals who may be interested in partnering with the company on this project during their visit to Sackville.

“We truly believe in community power,” he said. “We don’t value community projects unless they are truly community projects.”

Schneider also touted the benefits of the project, saying wind energy would have environmental impacts as a cleaner and renewable source of energy. He said there would be economic benefits as well, including an opportunity for local groups or individuals to invest in the project. It could also mean up to 200 jobs during the project’s construction phase, with local businesses likely seeing an economic spinoff.