Posted By Paul Schliesmann, The Kingston Whig Standard
The ex-Kingstonians planning to erect 60 to 90 wind turbines west of Wolfe Island in the waters of Lake Ontario have pegged the price of the project at $1.5 billion.
Ian and Nancy Baines were in town this week to meet with Kingston Economic Development Corporation officials to begin preparing for what they describe as the largest energy renewable project in Canada.
“I’m here … to look at what the possibilities are to get materials, labour, expertise, as much as possible from Kingston,” Ian Baines said in an interview with the Whig-Standard.
“We’re getting a list from KEDCO of all the suppliers to the Wolfe Island project so we know who’s done it before.”
The Baines’s plan is to erect 60 to 90 wind turbines, spaced about a kilometre apart and anchored to shoals jutting into Lake Ontario.
The project is feasible, said Baines, because Kingston is “the Saudi Arabia of wind.”
Their company, Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc., has been licensed to generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity. The 86 Wolfe Island turbines have a capacity for just under 200 megawatts.
The project will be financed through a parent company, Windstream Energy LLC, established by Baines in New York City to attract investment capital.
He described his backers as having “very deep pockets.”
Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. is also in the process of securing the rights to 19,200 hectares of lake bed beneath the waters of Lake Ontario.
Even though the area would include part of Kingston Harbour and Big Sandy Bay off Wolfe Island, Baines said they will not put turbines that close to land.
“The intention is that we would hold the land, which would prevent anyone else from going (there),” he said.
“We just think they’re too high impact for the people on shore.”
There are no provincial regulations to determine where offshore wind turbine installations can or can’t be placed.
“We expect other companies may try to come in later and pick up the pieces,” Baines said.
“This is doing the right thing for Kingston. It doesn’t make sense to have turbines that close to shore.”
He described the project as having Pigeon Island as its geographic centre.
If approvals from various provincial and federal departments go according to schedule, the company will order the turbines two years from now and install the foundations a year later.
“We’re coming home, continuing something that’s been going on for a long time. We’ve put it into high gear because of the timelines,” said Baines.
In their agreement with the Ontario Power Authority, the Baines have four years to complete the work and begin supplying power to the provincial electricity grid.
“A project of this size will require an international team,” he said. “We have to find the expertise, probably in Europe because they have built a dozen or so wind projects offshore.”
The turbines will also be purchased in Europe. The turbines on Wolfe Island were made by Siemens of Germany though the Baines’ agreement with the Ontario Power Authority stipulates that 50% of the money on the project must be spent with Ontario- based companies.
“We want to encourage our partners and suppliers to find as much expertise as possible here in eastern Ontario but Kingston is the obvious place,” said Baines.
The project was awarded earlier this month through the provincial government’s Feed-in Tariff program, which grants app rova l to renewable energy products utilizing wind, solar and hydro as sources of power.
Baines, a Queen’s University engineering graduate, was the founder of the 86-turbine farm on Wolfe Island.
After securing the rights from private landowners on the island, Baines said his investors encouraged him to sell the project to Canadian Hydro Developers, who built the facility.
Just as the wind farm was beginning production it was sold to TransAlta of Alberta.
This time, Baines says, he won’t relinquish control.
Baines also took a swipe at the people opposing wind turbine projects, calling them “pseudo-environmentalists.”
“I’m a business person,” he said. “I’m proud of a long-term commitment to improve the environment.
“I’m not proud of the term environmentalist because it’s used as a cloak. They use that word to stop renewable energy projects.”
He also corrected critics who say wind power is unreliable because it’s only generated on windy days. The long-term goal, he said, is to raise provincial wind capacity from its current 1% to about 10%.
“Wind will probably never be mainstream. It’s another source of energy,” he said. “We have a province that’s in transition to eliminate coal and the flexible source of energy will come from water and wind.”