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Council seeks update on Port Hawkesbury Paper’s wind farm plans

ST. MARY’S – Councillors for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s raised questions at their committee of the whole meeting last week about the status of a major energy projected for the Strait area, tentatively slated to begin construction next year.

In February, Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) announced that it had “directly funded” the installation of two meteorological towers as crucial steps to building a 112-megawatt wind farm at Pirate Harbour in Guysborough County.

During a routine review of a company information circular on general policies and practices circulated to St. Mary’s council, however, Warden Greg Wier noted that while he actually sits on a PHP committee, “they haven’t even called a meeting, and I’ve been here since October.”

According to PHP, the initiative would be the largest wind farm in Nova Scotia and supply green power directly to its operations. Construction of the facility would generate local employment and significant ongoing tax revenues in the province, the company said.

The towers will collect wind data, which will help verify the strength and reliability of the resource over the next 12 months. Based on the data obtained, and subject to regulatory approvals, construction on the farm could begin in 2022.

“We are excited about the potential of this project to contribute to our mission to make Port Hawkesbury Paper the highest quality and most competitive producer of supercalendered paper in North America while at the same time being a great place to work, environmentally responsible and a strong contributor to the province of Nova Scotia,” Ron Stern, president Stern Partners, one of PHP’s major owners, said in a news release on Feb. 12.

PHP – the largest industrial employer in the region and the biggest energy consumer on the Nova Scotia grid – has been the sole remaining market for an oversupply of wood chips and logs from St. Mary’s forestry since Northern Pulp’s shutdown last year.

Last year, PHP’s Sustainability and Outreach Leader, Andrew Fedora, told The Journal, “Fifty per cent of our wood procurement comes from small private woodlands. In 2019, 11 per cent of our small private purchases were from Guysborough County.”

Regarding PHP’s wind farm plans, Wier said, “Maybe, I will make a call.”