Port Hawkesbury Paper Wind submits proposal for wind farm in MODG

GUYSBOROUGH – Port Hawkesbury Paper Wind, a branch of Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP), submitted a project proposal to the province for a wind farm in in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) on Jan. 27.

According to the Environmental Assessment (EA) registration document for the Goose Harbour Lake Wind Farm, located seven kilometres northeast of Lincolnville, the project will construct and operate 29 wind turbines with a projected output of 130.5 megawatts (MW), to diversify the energy mix at the Port Hawkesbury Paper facility in Cape Breton.

Projected construction for the project, if approved, is expected in the summer/fall of this year. Commissioning is projected for 2025.

Each turbine has a rated capacity of 4.5 MW with a rotor diameter 150 metres and hub height of 120 metres, according to the EA registration document. MODG residents are familiar with the Sable Wind Farm in the Canso/Hazel Hill area, which has six turbines, with rotor diameters of 82 meters, and produces up to 13.8 MW.

The location of the proposed wind farm, stated the report, “consists primarily of Crown lands, with the use of some private lands necessary for the interconnection route. The Crown lands are currently utilized for forestry and recreational use. The application for the use of Crown land has been submitted and is under review.”

The purpose of the project is to move towards Nova Scotia’s stated target of powering the province with 80 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The proposal reads, “Wind power is one tool of many that will allow the PHP Facility to support the province to proactively pursue green energy sources and help move away from a dependency on electricity predominantly generated using coal.”

In submitted documents relating to a presentation given at a trade fair last summer in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, proponents of the project stated the wind farm would provide Port Hawkesbury Paper with approximately 30 per cent of all required electrical power. Given that the mill reportedly uses on average 10 per cent – and sometimes as much as 25 per cent – of the provincial electrical load, the wind farm would go a long way towards meeting provincial renewable energy goals.

The proposal notes that, “No government funding has been secured for the project, though an application to the NRCan Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program was submitted on December 22, 2022. The Canadian Infrastructure Bank have expressed interest via a 2019 Memorandum of Understanding to participate in the project as an advisor and/or an investor.”

Financial benefits from the project will be accrued by both municipal and provincial governments if it proceeds. According to the registration document, “The project’s collective financial benefit to the region and province is projected to represent approximately $1.3 million per year. As part of this, property tax revenues of approximately $800,000 per year will be paid to the MODG and land lease costs paid to the province will be in the range of $500,000.”

The project will also bring some jobs to the area. The proposal states, “During its development, the wind farm will generate approximately $300 million in investments and construction will create local employment opportunities, with approximately 150 temporary full-time jobs and up to five permanent jobs.”

Open houses took place in Guysborough, Aulds Cove, St. Francis Harbour and Lincolnville (two) prior to the EA registration. As part of the documents submitted for the EA, the company included exit survey comments from the open houses. Comments varied, some in support and others in opposition. Positive comments included many which said the information session was useful, informative and answered many questions clearly. Those who opposed the project voiced concerns about noise pollution, the possibility of decreasing property value, environmental impacts and the lack of jobs for the community.

Comments linked specifically to Lincolnville, the community closest to the proposed wind farm, focused on a perceived lack of benefits for the community and health concerns, including: “I live in Lincolnville, am very impacted by this Project. 3km from my home. It is too close for my health,” and “We don’t benefit from any of this Project, so no windmill in Lincolnville.”

The Journal asked PHP for comment on the concerns voiced by Lincolnville residents and received the following response via email, Jan. 31, from Mark Savory, project director of the PHP wind project, “Direct tax payments to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough will be in the order of $800,000 per year and there are substantial economic benefits of the project for the region over and above this amount in that the access to renewable cost-controlled energy will be critical to the continued viability of the PHP facility (including direct and indirect jobs).

“Construction related employment opportunities, and longer term operational and maintenance support jobs, such as snow removal, road maintenance and administrative support will be advertised through local job fairs. As the project advances, we will be creating a registry of interested and qualified people from the area. Indirect benefits include such things as having the wind farm technicians living in the area, purchasing/renting accommodations and so on,” wrote Savory.

Directly addressing concerns of Lincolnville residents about the location of the wind farm, Savory wrote, “Since we originally sited the turbine locations and shared them with community members during open houses last summer, further studies led us to shift the locations somewhat, moving turbines further away from the Lincolnville area and closer to the Goose Harbour Lake area. The closest turbines to the Lincolnville area are over 3.2 kms away. Like the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, we will continue working with community members to understand what opportunities would be of greatest benefit to them.”

MODG Warden Vernon Pitts also addressed concerns raised by Lincolnville community members in the survey. He told The Journal, “They get the same benefits as anyone else. We’re a municipal unit and all ships rise with the incoming tide. This allows us to continue with our programs.

“Council thinks it’s a great initiative… Let’s see how the community feels about it but theoretically council is in support of it. It’s green energy and it goes on forever,” said Pitts.

The PHP Wind proposal is open to comments from the public until Monday, Feb. 27. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change will decide on conditional environmental assessment approval by March 20, 2023.

EA documents for this project can be found online by searching: novascotia.ca Goose Harbour Lake Wind Farm Project.

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal