New wind energy project could power 7,000 Sackville homes

The Sugar Brook Community Wind Farm hopes to hear back from NB Power in 2017 or 2018

By Maria Jose Burgos, CBC News

A new project could erect six wind turbines in the Sackville area and power 7,000 homes nearby if approved by NB Power.

The Sugar Brook Community Wind Farm is a partnership between Sackville’s Beauséjour Renewable Energy Co-operative and a green energy company called Prowind Canada Inc., based in Hamilton, Ont.

If the project gets a green light from NB Power, it would cost about $80 million.

“New Brunswick Power is in the place now when they see the increasing need for greenhouse gas reduction in the production of their electricity,” said Eric Tusz-King, interim board chair of Beauséjour Renewable Energy.

“The New Brunswick government has made that commitment as well.”

Location key

The wind farm would be located west of Sackville, towards Moncton, in the upper Walker Road area.

As of now, the area is privately owned.

“[Owners] have agreed that they would like to rent that land if our application with NB Power is successful,” said Tusz-King.

The land is mostly wooded area and has no homes nearby that would be affected by construction.

Eric Tusz-King, interim board chair of Beauséjour Renewable Energy, said the wind farm would bring jobs and help in the reduction of greenhouse gases as well as climate change impacts. (Eric Tusz-King)

According to Tusz-King, besides bringing jobs, the wind farm would “help in the reduction of greenhouse gases and the impacts of climate change.”

Prowind president, Helmut Schneider said wind energy is one of the most cost-effective forms of electricity production.

“We anticipate being able to generate electricity through the Sugar Brook Community Wind Farm at a competitive price while simultaneously bringing significant economic development to the Sackville community,” said Schneider.

Of the total $80 million, the Beauséjour Renewable Energy Co-operative would have to come up with $9 million.

The for-profit co-operative plans on getting the money through the Community Economics Development Corporations, an opportunity for New Brunswickers to channel their investment dollars into their local economy.

Any New Brunswick citizen can participate in that investment vehicle.

“They get a 50 per cent provincial income tax break for several years around that investment,” said Tusz-King.

“A new project like this is risky but we are confident it will move ahead.”

Prowind Canada Inc. communications manager Heather Shilton said $9 million is a “great goal.”

“Once the final cost of construction has been determined, the project will be financed using the equity raised by all of the partners including the co-op as well as financing from a lender,” said Shilton.

51 per cent locally owned

The arrangement with Prowind Canada Inc. states 51 per cent of the project will be locally owned.

“That means we can influence the siting of it. We have been involved already in conversations with local people. They support it,” said Tusz-King.

‘We think we’ll get a lot of support from people in the area.’– Eric Tusz-King,

The companies turned in the application for the wind farm this June. They hope to hear back from NB Power this year or next, but don’t know when they will have a final response.

If NB Power approves, Prowind will carry out an application for an environmental impact assessment before construction begins.

Tusz-King said he thinks it will be until 2019 “before we actually see turbine spinning their blades in all their glory here.”

Looking back

Tusz-Kign said 12 years ago, a similar type of effort to get green energy from wind turbines was done. Even though the project couldn’t be carried out to completion, 150 members were willing to invest on it.

They will hopefully get a return on their investment and a tax credit.”

There will be a meeting on Oct. 4 at the Sackville Commons where  Beauséjour Renewable Energy Co-op will answer questions from people who have environmental or other concerns about the wind farm.