A major wind-farm project in southern New Brunswick that was expected to be ready by the end of next year has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Burchill Wind Project near Lorneville, southwest of Saint John, will be set back nine months, postponing its completion to the end of 2022.
“When the impacts of COVID started to land in our region, our focus shifted away from major projects,” said Ryan Mitchell, vice-president of Saint John Energy.
Instead, Mitchell said the company diverted its attention to the safety of employees, maintaining service to customers and stabilizing the company.
Construction starts in 2021
Initially, the pandemic caused about a three-month delay in the wind-farm project.
But when the project started back up again, he said, impacts related to the global supply chain and manufacturing caused an additional six-month delay.
The wind farm would be owned by Halifax based Natural Forces, which would contract with Saint John Energy to buy all of the electricity the farm produces.
Natural Forces has recently registered the project for an environmental impact assessment.
The construction of roads is expected to start next year, allowing the transportation of turbines onto the site.
Then, Saint John Energy will clear a parcel of land to install a new substation, that would allow the wind farm to connect to the company’s distribution system.
Lowering rates for customers
The project is expected to produce about 15 per cent of Saint John Energy’s electrical output. And it would save the utility about $4 million annually during a 25-year lifespan.
This could maintain or even lower rates for customers, Mitchell said.
Saint John Energy answered questions about project funding recently during the city’s municipal finance committee.
Council is expected to vote on the proposal in September.
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