CLEAR SPRINGS – The provincial government is hiding in the shadows when it comes to promoting the enormous benefits wind farms bring to the province and the electrical bills of individual Islanders, a public open house was advised here Tuesday.
“I really can’t believe the government isn’t out their promoting this source of energy,’’ said local resident Brian MacDonald. “This is for the good for all Islanders and the power stays here, but that message isn’t getting out.”
MacDonald was just one of a dozens of people who filed through the P.E.I. Energy Corp. open house here to mark the release of the final report on the environmental impact assessment of the 30 megawatt wind farm to be constructed in Hermanville/Clear Springs this year.
The issue has overwhelming support from those least affected and utter contempt from those seasonal residents of north eastern Kings County who say their cottage life will be ruined. All residents within 1.5 km. of the project were notified about the open house and those unable to attend could email comments.
“I can understand the concerns of seasonal residents, but I voted against the bridge years ago and thought it was ugly….but now I have a different opinion,’’ said MacDonald.
While he won’t be directly affected, MacDonald said the government should drive it home that power generated from this project will serve Islanders and not be shipped off somewhere else.
“It’s the only way we can generate power and keep rates affordable for people,’’ he said.
The open house in the St. Margaret’s Hall, north of Souris, was a chance for the public to review the 200 plus page report conducted by the engineering and project management firm AMEC which has energy projects around the world.
“The report basically says we don’t see any significant adverse residual impacts as a result of the project,” said Janet Blackadar, Maritime director for AMEC based in Fredericton. “The mitigation we propose for the project is reasonable and there are no non-standard mitigation measures that have to be put in place.”
Blackadar, the project manager for the EIA, said the report covered everything from watercourses and wetlands, birds and bats and even archaeology. The bird survey alone took an entire year to compile.
And judging by the snow drifts in the area following a winter storm, there is little doubt that wind is a frequent visitor to the area.
“This project has a lot going for it in my opinion….the wind regime is very good here,’’ she said. “This project is similar to East Point and so we’re fairly comfortable with the technology and layout.”
P.E.I. biologist Morley Pinsent did exacting research into the project and has assisted in other wind farm efforts across the province.
“It’s pretty benign and there is nothing insurmountable with this wind farm,” he said. “As an Islander I think we need wind power. We don’t have many alternatives and it’s relatively low impact.”
Souris and Area Wildlife association president Fred Cheverie offered a few suggestions to the report, but said he basically approved of the effort.
“I read it thoroughly and I’m taking the positive side…my greatest concern was distance from homes, noise levels and the environment,’’ he said. “From what I see, the detriment to migratory birds and even bats should be at a minimum.”