Bluewater wind farm in the works north, southwest of Ripley

Section: 
News

By Kristen Shane

 

*This story has been updated from the print version

 

Another wind turbine farm is in early stages of development in the Ripley area.

 

International Power Canada Inc. has optioned about 7,000 acres of land from more than 40 landowners north and southwest of Ripley, said the project lead Jim Wilgar earlier this week. That means the company and the landowners have agreed that the company may develop the land in the future.

 

Tentatively, International Power is estimating the towering white turbines it erects would churn out about 75 megawatts of power from one group of turbines mostly on the east side of Highway 21, and 50 megawatts from another group on the west side, said Wilgar. To put that in perspective, the wind farm built by Suncor Energy Products Inc. and Acciona Wind Energy Canada Inc. south of Ripley can produce up to 76 megawatts using 38 turbines.

 

The two proposed projects were originally separately known as Lurgan (the smaller one, southwest of Ripley) and Barrington.

 

AIM PowerGen Corp. started developing Lurgan four years ago, said David Timm, International Power Canada's vice-president of strategic affairs, last week. Staff put up a weather tower to monitor wind and started talking to landowners.

 

Last fall, the UK-based International Power PLC bought AIM PowerGen and changed its name to International Power Canada Inc., based in Markham.

 

Soon after, the company snapped up the larger development from the Halifax-based company Barrington Wind Energy Ltd., hence its name.

 

Together, the two projects are now known as Bluewater, said Wilgar last week.

 

“We’ve been involved in the wind development game for quite some time,” he said.

 

The company has helped build a 99-megawatt farm near Port Burwell, on the north shore of Lake Erie.

 

Wilgar owns a cottage near Amberley. “We know there’s a lot of wind up there,” he said.

 

But before the company can harness any of it, it has to go through a long process of environmental studies and public consultation in order to get provincial government approvals. Then, it would likely take a year to build the wind farm.

 

That’s still several years off, said Timm.

 

Government approval isn’t guaranteed. The company is competing with dozens of wind farm developers for a piece of the provincial sky.

 

“The Huron-Bruce zone has the added layer of uncertainty regarding transmission,” said Timm.

 

The area currently doesn’t have enough transmission line capacity to get the power into homes and businesses throughout the province. Hydro One recently received its Environmental Assessment approval to bulk up capacity between Bruce Power and a Milton switching station.

 

“We hope that the timeline of our permitting approvals coincides with the in-service date of the Bruce to Milton line, which should make available transmission in the area,” said Timm.

 

Company officials have met with Huron-Kinloss and Kincardine municipal staff and council members to let them know their interest in developing a wind farm here, said Wilgar.

 

The proposed farm is slated to fall mostly in Huron-Kinloss. The former Barrington part's northern edges are slated to edge into Kincardine along the South Line. It would border Lake Range Road to the west, Bruce County Road 6 (the road to Ripley) to the south, and Sideroad 5 to the east. The former Lurgan part, southwest of Ripley, would border Lake Range Road to the west, Concession 2 to the south, Highway 21 to the east and Bruce County Road 6 to the north. 

 

Cheryl Murray’s neighbour’s land is one of optioned properties. She lives near Concession 12.

 

Although her family has not optioned their four acres, she fears surrounding wind turbines could have a big impact on their health. She said last week that she is unhappy she wasn’t told about the possibility of a wind farm coming to her backyard.

 

“I just feel at a loss. It’s very, very emotional for us,” she said.

 

She feels she may have to sell.

 

The project is still in its infancy, said Timm.

 

“Nothing is set in stone. Nothing is determined,” he said. “Through the Renewable Energy Approval process (by which developers must now have their wind power projects approved in Ontario), there is a number of opportunities for public consultation and public input into the project. We’re in the very early stage of project design.”

 

Placement and number of turbines still hasn’t been officially determined.

 

As the project progresses, he said, “I can assure you, it will be a public process.”

 

Wilgar was in the Kincardine area this week to attend meetings about the wind farm development.