Whynotts Settlement turbines now turning

Nearby resident says development is positive

Whynotts Settlement’s two new wind turbines quietly began spinning this past Monday.

It didn’t go unnoticed by one of the turbines nearest neighbours.

“We were a little nervous that there may be some noise but thus far we haven’t noticed anything. It’s been a positive experience overall,” said Bobbi Jo Corkum-Oickle, who lives directly across from the Whynotts Community Wind project.

“I look out the window every morning and see the wind turbines; it’s fun,” said Ms Corkum-Oickle, a Grade-1 teacher at Bridgewater Elementary School. “With kids it’s really exciting because they can grow up learning about them.”

Whynotts Community Wind is located on privately owned property off the Mullock Road. The project is fully operational after Nova Scotia Power recently completed its interconnection with the turbines.

“We commissioned the turbines as soon as we possibly could,” said Keith Towse, the CEO of Community Wind Farms Inc., the lead developer for the project.

The idea for the wind farm took shape in 2011. The Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office proposed the project on behalf of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs for eligibility as part of COMFIT, the Nova Scotia Community Feed-in Tariff Program.

The program is purposed to increase the amount of community based, local renewable energy projects in the province. It guarantees a rate per kilowatt-hour for the energy a project feeds into the province’s electrical grid.

After four years of proposals, tests, negotiations, construction and finalization, the project was started after a four-hour checklist was completed and a switch was flipped.

The turbines are now providing electricity to more than 1,200 homes in the area.

The team involved has signed a contract to sell the renewable energy to Nova Scotia Power until 2034.

“Wind turbines are designed to last at least 20 years so we fully expect them to stay operational through the whole of that period,” said Towse. “There will probably be the odd hiccup, where you need to repair something, but substantially the mechanical components should last that time.”

The project offers a more renewable form of energy, in line with COMFIT, and its cost is regulated.  A fixed price of 13.1 cents per killowatt hour – approximately the same price a retail customer pays to Nova Scotia Power – will be charged.

With the project now producing electricity, its owners – the majority holder being the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, and the minority being Firelight Infrastructure Partners, a Canadian renewable energy project investment company – can begin to collect the profits.

And the community will eventually benefit financially, too. Because the project is operating, the sustainability fund is now in effect.

“One per cent of the gross revenues from the project will go into the community sustainability fund, and members of the community liaison committee will decide where to contribute the money,” said Mr. Towse, who thinks this will be the equivalent of $7000 a year.

He came up with the idea for the fund as a way to give back to the people living near the turbines.

“We feel it’s important they receive some benefit from the project, other then the benefits that everyone receives from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping energy prices stable.”

Whynotts Community Wind will have an open house sometime in February or March to answer any new questions from the community.

 

 As published in the Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin. 

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