Residents of small N.B. community win 3-year scrap over wind farm

·3 min read
The Chaleur Ventus Project would have consisted of five wind turbines. (Martin Toulgoat/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Chaleur Ventus Project would have consisted of five wind turbines. (Martin Toulgoat/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A wind farm project in the coastal community of Anse-Bleue is officially dead after several years of back and forth stemming from resident backlash.

The tiny community of 400 people near Caraquet has been fighting the project for more than three years. The project was led by Naveco Power, a renewable energy company in Fredericton.

The community has prevailed.

"There's a lot of relief … now the anxiety can stop," said Anse-Bleue resident Martin Dionne.

N.B. Power confirmed that the wind farm project will not go ahead.

"NB Power and Chaleur Ventus were not able to come to a mutually agreeable solution to the delayed delivery of the Chaleur Ventus Wind Project," N.B. Power spokesperson Marc Belliveau said in an email.

Some Anse-Bleue residents have opposed the project from the beginning. They worried the five wind turbines would be too close to homes and upset the tranquility of the community.

RADIO-CANADA / ALIX VILLENEUVE
RADIO-CANADA / ALIX VILLENEUVE

More than 85 per cent of residents signed a petition against the wind project in early 2020.

Dionne said he and the rest of the community only found out about the project in 2019, two years after it was proposed.

He said there are many reasons why wind turbines aren't wanted, including risks to the community's well system and potential impacts to its diverse wildlife that were found in the environmental impact assessment process.

Some residents worried about "shadow flicker," a flashing effect created by sunlight and shadow from the wind turbines inside their homes.

"Everybody has different reasons and the majority of people don't want it here … no means no," said Dionne.

Dionne said much of the community is for renewable energy, but there were too many risks in the case of this project.

City dealt lawsuit 

News that the wind farm project will no longer happen comes just two weeks after Naveco Power filed a lawsuit against the City of Bathurst.

Naveco Power entered an agreement with the city in 2017, giving the city primary ownership of the wind farm.

The deal allowed for the project to fall under a provincial law that allows N.B. Power to buy up to 20 megawatts of power from small-scale renewable energy projects that are majority owned by a municipality, non-profit community group or First Nations band.

The city had applied for municipal capital borrowing approval to borrow up to $20 million in order to fund the project, but withdrew its application two years after the initial agreement.

Bathurst Mayor Paolo Fongemie stated the decision to back out of the project was based on "the cost-benefit or the return-benefit for citizens."

On June 3, Naveco Power, Windforce Investments and the Chaleur Ventus partnership filed a lawsuit against the City of Bathurst.

Filed in the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick, the green energy company accused the municipality of "bad faith" in regards to the project agreement.

The three plaintiffs said they had already invested more than $3.5 million and want to recover those funds.

Naveco Power CEO Amit Virmani declined to comment on the wind farm's status or the case.

The City of Bathurst did not respond to requests for comment.

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