Re: “Wind turbines’ local footprint is light, global impact important.” In his Feb. 10 opinion piece, Keith Towse stated that Community Wind and other developers have successfully built wind projects in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in the Maritimes adjacent to or on municipal watersheds, with zero impact on municipal water supplies.
A review of environmental assessments for approved and constructed wind power projects located in Nova Scotia include the Martock Ridge Community Wind Project (three turbines) and the Chebucto Pockwock Community Wind Project (five turbines).
The Martock project is located adjacent to the Mill Lakes Protected Watershed area near Windsor. The Chebucto Pockwock site is located north of Hammonds Plains by Pockwock Lake. Both sites were commissioned in 2014 and no instances of adverse effect to the water quality and supply were identified in the environmental assessment process associated with either project.
What Mr. Towse did not clarify was that in both projects, the placement of turbines were in a small, isolated area in comparison to the larger remaining watershed areas and away from major watercourses.
The proposed Sandy Point Wind Project appears to be unique in Nova Scotia insofar as the placement of the turbines. The 14 industrial-scale turbines will completely surround the existing water supply of the Municipality and Town of Shelburne (Rodney Lake) as well as the entire watershed area and its natural watercourses.
Based on the last map of proposed turbine placement (supplied by Community Wind) a low estimate of 20 to 25 kilometers of access roads would be required to connect all of the turbines. Keep in mind that these roads will be wider than an average road in order to facilitate the huge crane equipment needed to construct each of the mega-machines and sturdy enough to support the estimated 900 or more cement trucks needed to haul the concrete required for the foundations of the 14 turbines.
Based on industry standards, a 2-megawatt turbine weighs approximately 1,700 tons. An average modest house weighs in at 75 tons. So a 2 MW turbine weighs approximately the same as 22 homes. Multiply that by 14 and the “light” local footprint is somewhere around the weight of 300 homes.
The problem is they are not using 2 MW turbines. The proposed turbines for Sandy Point wind project are 5 MW (bigger, taller and heavier).
An estimated 30-km transmission corridor would also be needed to deliver the wind energy to the nearest grid access point. As per the Shelburne Municipality’s revised bylaw (L101), section 5 – general provisions for wind turbines – 5.1 (iv) states: All power lines on site of the wind turbines to the substation or grid will be underground. This project is going to tear up and disturb a lot of ground and natural waterways that surround and flow through the watershed area.
In terms of land, 15 hectares (37 acres) will be needed for access roads and a transmission corridor. About 85 hectares (210 acres) will be needed for the 14 industrial turbine sites, staging areas (storage of turbine blades/tower sections) and transformer stations (which collect the wind power generated and send it to the grid).
Mr. Towse also stated in regards to clearing of land for the construction phase that they’d use existing roads and cleared areas to the greatest extent possible to “minimize” clearing of existing woodlands.
There is one seven-kilometre dirt road that dissects the peninsula across the centre and accesses the water treatment plant. In total, approximately 100 hectares (247 acres) of land and vegetation will be destroyed or altered to complete this project, which, by the way, is greater than the entire size of Rodney Lake itself.
Not exactly “minimizing” the clearing of existing woodlands, are you, Mr. Towse? Sorry, but we’re not buying what you’re shovelling!
Brian Ogilvie has lived in Jordan Bay for 46 years.
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