The CEO of Saint John Energy says the utility’s first-ever wind energy project will generate up to 16 per cent of its customer’s energy needs when it’s up and running in 2022.
Saint John Energy announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with Halifax-based Natural Forces in a $60-million project that will see up to 10 turbines built in the Spruce Lake Industrial Park on the city’s west side.
“It’s a big day and it’s a great day,” said Saint John Energy CEO Ray Robinson, saying it’s a major step forward in the company’s sustainability and growth strategy.
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The Canadian Wind Energy Association says wind energy is now the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in Canada.
Saint John Energy will purchase the wind-generated electricity from Natural Forces. The company’s vice-president of development, Andy MacCallum, says they are driven to fight climate change.
“To try to get cleaner forms of electricity onto the grid,” MacCallum said. “That’s very important to us, very important for my children and our grandchildren.”
The public is also being invited to invest in the project, which is expected to create more than 100 construction jobs.
MacCallum says it’s hoped $6 million of the $60 million project cost will be from private investment into the corporation.
“So you are an equity holder and you get a return on your investment over the course of the lifetime of the wind farm…so about 25 years,” said MacCallum.
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Public involvement in energy project is also something Saint John energy wants to expand upon. Robinson says the utility wants to launch a solar garden in the future.
“Saint John Energy can build the solar project and customers who wish to invest in renewables can rent as many solar panels on the farm as they wish, and the output from those panels can be credited off their bill,” Robinson said.
Saint John Energy is currently not permitted to generate power for distribution and that means this project will require legislative change.
The project is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment. There will be public consultations getting underway within the next few weeks.
If the project gets the green light, construction is expected to begin next year.