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New location on list for P.E.I.’s latest wind farm

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Heather MacLeod, manager of energy assets for P.E.I. Energy Corporation, expects there will be a number of turbine suppliers bidding on the project. (CBC)

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation has started environmental assessments at three possible sites for a new 30-megawatt wind farm, including a location not on the original list.

The three sites now being considered for the $60 million project are Eastern Kings, Irishtown in central P.E.I. and Skinners Pond in the western part of the province.

“We had erected a meteorological tower at Rock Barra and early data from the wind was showing the winds weren’t as strong as we had expected,” said Heather MacLeod, manager of energy assets for P.E.I. Energy Corporation.

“So that one has dropped toward the bottom of our list.”

Wind data needed

The Energy Corporation has added Skinners Pond as a possible site.

“Skinners Pond was an area that private developers had been looking at for a number of years,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod said having wind data from those private developers made it possible to add Skinners Pond to the list.

“We want a full year’s worth of wind data so by the end of January we should have that,” MacLeod said.

“Then we can decide based on the costs for construction, the capital costs and the estimated production, what would be the most feasible location.”

The plan is to have the new wind farm operational by September 2020. That meant the corporation had to move forward with the next step of evaluating the three sites.

“We had hoped to do just one environmental assessment at our final location but in order to capture the fall migration we had to start before we were able to select our final site. So bird studies were underway this fall at the three sites,” MacLeod said.

“Hopefully by spring, we’ll be able to reduce our studies to just the final site.”

Already delayed

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation initially planned to build at East Point by 2019.

However, a municipal bylaw change in Eastern Kings requiring a two-kilometre setback from the shore meant the corporation had to change its plans.

“The bylaw restrictions at Eastern Kings certainly reduced the land area that’s accessible to us so that presents challenges in laying out a wind farm if we choose Eastern Kings as our next site,” MacLeod said.

“We’ll have to put the turbines closer together or put fewer of them and that can affect our overall production and the financial capacity of the wind farm.”

Tight timelines

MacLeod hopes to put out a request for proposals this week to start a short list for turbine selection.

“It’s tight timelines, some of these components have long lead times,” MacLeod said.

“I expect there will be a number of turbine suppliers bidding into this. We’ve been approached by a number already and I expect to have good interest.”

There will also be something new in this request for proposals.

“We always say in energy that storage is the holy grail so if we were able to incorporate a little bit of storage into the next wind farm, that would be very appealing,” MacLeod said.

Once the final site is selected, MacLeod said it will be important to reach out to land owners.

“For the most part, land owners for our existing wind farms are very happy to have us there so I’m hoping that continues,” MacLeod said.