Wheat­land Wind power project in­tro­duced

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

A wind power in­stal­la­tion planned near Hus­sar may have eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the re­gion.

Last week, Green­gate Power Cor­po­ra­tion held an open house for the Wheat­land Wind De­vel­op­ment. The planned project in­volves the in­stal­la­tion of up to 48 wind tur­bines spread over 35,000 acres of pri­vately owned, cul­ti­vated and graz­ing, land and will be able to pro­vide up to 120 megawatts of elec­tric­ity.

“That’s a whole lot of big wind tur­bines, but thank­fully tech­nol­ogy has come a long way and be­cause of that, we are able to have less im­pact on the sur­face land and en­vi­ron­ment by hav­ing fewer tur­bines,” said Dan Tocher, stake­holder re­la­tions man­ager of this Green­gate project. "We feel very good about this project, we have tremen­dous lo­cal and stake­holder sup­port for the project."

Tocher said the open house was a good venue for the pro­po­nents of the project to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to the com­mu­nity, and also get im­por­tant feed­back from the stake­hold­ers and the public at large for their con­cerns or sup­port for the project.

He ex­plains the open house is part of their ap­pli­ca­tion to the Al­berta Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion (AUC).

“We need to be out there pro­vid­ing as much in­for­ma­tion about this project as pos- sible be­cause AUC will also be con­duct­ing their the own public par­tic­i­pa­tion pro­gram through the vet­ting of our ap­pli­ca­tion, and then of course we need to ap­ply for the de­vel­op­ment per­mit with the county,” he said, adding they will be sub­mit­ting their ap­pli­ca­tion in Jan­uary.

The de­vel­op­ment is not far from the ex­ist­ing Win­ter­ing Hills Wind in­stal­la­tion.

“We know through the feed­back post con­struc­tion for a cou­ple years of these projects that these landown­ers are re­ceiv­ing nice roy­al­ties from the project,” he said, adding, “We in­vite landown­ers from the pe­riph­ery of the project to be in­volved and re­ceive a roy­alty. So we are not just com­pen­sat­ing landown­ers who are in the project area or with in­fra­struc­ture on their land, we are uni­tiz­ing for the project area. There­fore, we take any landowner in the project area who feels they are ad­versely af­fected and we put them into the roy­alty pool.”

There are other eco­nomic spinoffs.

“At the open house we took quite a bit of in­for­ma­tion on the lo­cal re­sources, tal­ent and equip­ment, and any­body who thinks they could be of ser­vice,” he said. “We will em­ploy 200 - 250 peo­ple dur­ing con­struc­tion and then cre­ate 20 - 30 jobs post con­struc­tion.”

He adds they are not subsi-

dized or re­ceiv­ing government hand­outs for this project.

"It will not be hand­outs or sub­si­dies from the prov­ince, it will be some sort of fixed pric­ing on power or re­new­able en­ergy cred­its,” he said.

He says the in­stal­la­tion will help the prov­ince as it moves to­wards greener en­ergy al­ter­na­tives.

“The most im­por­tant part is that it is go­ing to dis­place that much coal fired elec­tric­ity, which is a re­ally crit­i­cal com­po­nent,” he said. “That is where we want to be as a prov­ince. There is a lot of pres­sure on Canada glob­ally to re­duce its car­bon foot­print, and the fed­eral government is putting pres­sure on the prov­inces as well to do so. I know that in Al­berta we are in a pe­riod of tran­si­tion with re­spect to mov­ing from coal to other sources in­clud­ing gas. So, it is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for the prov­ince to move for­ward and lead the way."

He ex­plains that while Al­berta has the largest car­bon foot­print in the coun­try, it's not be­cause of the oil sands, but be­cause of elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion, it just so hap­pens that the oil sands uses the most elec­tric­ity in the prov­ince.

“There are al­ter­na­tives out there… and the re­spon­si­bil­ity re­ally falls on all Al­ber­tans to open our minds to this and get our head around it,” he said. “Our job is to pro­vide as much fac­tual in­for­ma­tion about it as pos­si­ble.”

More in­for­ma­tion on the project can be found at www. wheat­land­wind.com.

file­photo

Green­gate Power held an open House for the Wheat­land Wind Project to share in­for­ma­tion about the project and to hear res­i­dents' con­cerns.

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