While it’s still only a pile of dirt surrounded by construction materials, Andrew Ahearn can show you where turbine one of the Burchill Wind Energy Project in New Brunswick will stand.
“So construction, as you can see, started already in terms of the foundations and things like that, but the erection of the turbines themselves will be like mid-September till late-December,” Hearn said at a turbine site Wednesday afternoon.
Burchill will eventually be home to 10 turbines generating power for the grid in Saint John. Ahearn estimated the blades of at least five turbines would be turning by Christmas.
About 15 kilometers from Saint John, the site will benefit from elevation and optimal wind speeds.
Saint John Energy will purchase the power generated by the turbines at a set price, using it to cover up to 15 per cent of its supply.
Burchill is a partnership between Natural Forces Development – an independent power producer – and Tobique First Nation.
“One of our traditional values as a nation is to take care of the environment,” said Tobique First Nation Chief Ross Perley.
Not only does the development align with their values, said Perley, but it will also provide economic benefits for the community, particularly through the construction jobs created.
“People can apply for an operating job, security, skilled labour, environmental monitor, those types of positions.”
Perley added that revenue they receive from the project will go towards programs they otherwise fund themselves, as well as infrastructure.
“All in an effort to be self-sustainable financially and not always be dependent on federal funding for everything we do,” Perley said.
The project received a large dose of federal funding Tuesday through Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Renewable and Electrification Pathways Program, which will provide nearly $50 million for Burchill.
Collaboration by several stakeholders on the renewable energy project garnered applause from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
“This concept of a community benefit and partnership is really fundamental to getting successful projects like wind energy off the ground,” said Dr. Louise Comeau, director of climate change and energy policy.
In the future, Comeau added, there must be contributions from the provincial government. She said corporations like NB Power must also take the lead on renewable energy projects.