Catching up to the rest of the world

Catching up to the rest of the world

Article By – Cyndi Sweeney – Herald Community

Chebucto Community Turbine

Sounds of awestruck children travelled the aisles of two chartered buses, packed with 141 passengers on their way to sign a 49-metre long blade belonging to one of five wind turbines on Sept. 12.

Seven-year-old Linden Stevens asks his father, “how will everyone be able to sign it?”

“He was born the first year I became an investor in Chebucto (Wind Field), this will be the closest he’s been to a windmill,” says Jim Stevens, a board member with Chebucto Wind Field Inc. (CWF), the original company, he says, that brought the Chebucto Pockwock Community Wind Project together. “So much has happened in seven years … it was a time when we needed change with Nova Scotia Power … This is a huge moment for so many people,” says Stevens.

The total cost for the five Vestas V-100 wind turbines is $29 million and they’ll provide about 10 megawatts of local, clean energy to more than 3,200 homes in the Upper Pockwock area.

As a thanks to shareholders and local community members, Terry Norman, president of Chebucto Pockwock Lake Wind Field (CPL) arranged a special trip to the secure site, located on Halifax Regional Water Commission property, to view the turbines and sign their name on a blade.

“The tower sections totalled 208 metric tonnes, that’s 460,000 lbs,” explains Norman to the passengers. Each of the turbines weighs 2.9 million pounds and there’s 2.4 million pounds (1,000 metric tonnes) of concrete at the base of them. Norman says the project is expected to come in on budget and be operational around November.

“I’m pretty excited to finally see them up,” says Jane Matheson, one of approximately 200 shareholders who invested through Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF) more than four years ago. “I’ve been excited about wind energy for many years and the model created by CEDIF offers a 35 per cent rebate for a five year commitment.”

Matheson says while she was cautioned there’d be no guarantees, she decided if nothing else, it’s a good charity. “But low and behold, it’s going to make money,” she laughs.

CWF is a CEDIF, a Nova Scotia government program encouraging investment in local businesses by offering investors significant tax credits. Having an extensive business and entrepreneurial background, Norman worked closely with Stevens and CWF president Wayne Stobo on the project and obtained approval to apply for COMFIT (Community Feed-in Tariff), to become a project sponsor in 2011.

At first, some members of the Upper Pockwock community were concerned about the size of the turbines and the noise they would generate, says Gina Jones-Wilson, president of Upper Hammonds Plains Community Development Association.

“But we have to have some kind of clean energy,” she says. “As a community party, we benefit from the sustainability fund which the wind farm company gives to the community,” says Jones-Wilson.

As part of the CEDIF model, a community partner in required and Norman says one per cent of revenues from the turbines will come to Upper Pockwock at an estimated $40,000 annually.

“It’s dedicated to the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Development Assoc. and they have a committee that will decide how that money gets invested … so there’s a very tangible benefit, as well as having the clean power coming to people in their community,” says Norman.

Towering high, the total height from concrete base to the end of the blade tip at full height is 144 metres or more than 470 feet. Coun. Matt Whitman (Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets Bay) says they can be seen from all over Hammonds Plains. “Anytime we can do something environmentally friendly like using wind turbines, it’s a good thing,” says Whitman.

“I’m very impressed by the turnout, it’s great community spirit,” says Lennett Anderson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Upper Pockwock. He says the wind turbines will help the development of the community through educational grants, bursaries and scholarships. “We’re even looking at entrepreneurial opportunities for employment … It’s really exciting.”

But MLA Ben Jessome says he’s actively involved in ensuring the community gets what they’re asking for. “It’s good to see us going in this direction but probably the most important impact on the community is to see how that one per cent gets spent at the end of the day.” Jessome says some of the earlier benefits outlined to the community have been lost in translation. “It’s gone from, ‘the Pockwock road is going to get upgrades’ to ‘no, anything we break is going to be mended’ … some of the things said have been lost.”

Jennifer Carter, a shareholder from Dartmouth, became involved in the project in 2009.

“It’s the CEDIF principal that was the original attraction. I knew it was possible all along. We’re just catching up with the rest of the world” she says.


Article in Herald – Sackville & Bedford