By Gary Rennie, www.windsorstar.com
The Ontario Power Authority has approved 20-year contracts for the two biggest wind turbine projects in Essex County with a total construction value in excess of $600 million.
Brookfield Renewable Power received approval for its $460-million, 165-megawatt wind turbine project in the town of Lakeshore near Comber. It’s big enough to power 55,000 homes.
International Power Canada has approval for its $136-million, 48.6-megawatt wind turbine project, also in Lakeshore but around Stoney Point.
Brookfield senior manager Ian Kerr said Wednesday the company expects to start work on the Comber East and Comber West sites for the 72-turbine project later this year.
Delivery of the major turbine components won’t come until after the St. Lawrence Seaway opens in the spring of 2011, Kerr said. Completion should take place in late 2011.
“That’s the current schedule,” Kerr said in a telephone interview.
“We expect to start construction fairly soon,” said International Power Canada president Mike Crawley.
Completion of the 27-turbine project should follow in 2011, he said Wednesday.
Crawley doesn’t anticipate any significant delays in getting turbine towers and blades delivered.
Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain welcomed both projects as long overdue given the town’s early start on the planning process for alternative energy more than eight years ago.
It was disappointing to see project approvals going to other municipalities, said Bain, who was involved in lobbying recently for hydro grid connection rights for the two projects in his town.
“You’re going to see a lot of action here now,” said Bain.
Brookfield and International Power can likely work out delivery schedules so that the two projects don’t pose logistical problems for each other on area roads, Crawley said.
Kerr said congestion at Morterm at the Windsor harbour for deliveries could be the issue that needs to be worked out.
Siemens is the supplier for turbines for Brookfield, while International Power is using Vestas Canada turbines.
Both companies have wind turbine projects well underway in Essex County — Brookfield in Kingsville and International Power in Essex, west of Harrow.
Brookfield’s 50-megawatt, 22-turbine Kingsville project is worth about $150 million.
International Power’s $110-million, 24-turbine Harrow project is expected to be the first one operating in this area. Crawley said a startup date in May is likely, with some testing beforehand.
“We’re very pleased to have been offered this contract under Ontario’s progressive FIT (Feed-In Tariff) program and look forward to adding to Brookfield’s significant and growing wind portfolio in the province,” Brookfield CEO Richard Legault said in a news release. Brookfield’s parent company — Brookfield Asset Management Inc. — has more than US$100 billion in assets.
Leamington’s SouthPoint Wind, which has generated controversy with residents and area municipalities with its proposal for 715 turbines in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, received no mention in the list of 184 approvals announced by the OPA.