Wheatland Wind Project to move forward

·2 min read

Wheatland County is moving forward with the Wheatland Wind Project, as of the Aug 24 council meeting, which saw third reading of bylaw 202114 passed.

The bylaw specifies 19 quarter sections of land, totaling approximately 471 acres to be redesignated from agriculture general to energy district.

The newly identified energy district land will be used for the construction of 24 wind turbines, as well as an accompanying substation and associated utility infrastructure.

The county received Alberta Utilities approval in Sept. 2018 for the project following an application. The project also received Alberta Utilities Power Plant approval on Sept. 7, 2019, according to county administration.

According to administration, each turbine is rated for five megawatts of power and the county has the option to upgrade them to 5.2 megawatt turbines.

Over the duration of the project, county administration expects construction to create roughly 200 jobs, as well as five to 15 full-time positions maintaining the turbines once completed.

The public hearing was met with some public concern, as concerned resident, Nik Allonby, had submitted to council.

“I make no apologies for this, I am not a fan of any wind farm projects. They are not sustainable,” he wrote.

“The amount of energy they create during their lifecycle is less than that used to manufacture. This is not an efficient solution.”

Allonby added he has concerns about not only the potential hazard of turbines to birds and bats, but also the potential negative impacts on those who reside near the turbines.

Allonby’s concerns are not baseless, as several studies between 2006 and 2013 suggest a correlation between the spinning blades and psychological effects, such as various symptoms related to stress, sleep disturbance and chronic severe noise annoyance.

He further wrote he would prefer to see the development of a solar farm or thorium reactor as opposed to wind turbines.

“A solar project makes more sense. It’s less raw materials, less energy to manufacture, less waste… and much less of an eyesore,” he wrote.

For the county, administration expects the project to generate approximately $20 million in tax revenue over its 20-to-25-year operational life, after which time the turbines may be evaluated for repair or upgrade.

Construction is now anticipated to begin in mid-October and the site should be fully operational by the end of next year, though no firm dates were specified.

“I have not received anything in that area negative, from the landowners in that area. I’ve received positive comments to the effect of, when are they going to start putting these things in,” said Division seven councilor Ben Armstrong.

The project currently expects the first turbine to arrive on site by June 1, 2022.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting