BERWICK – With most of the turbines fully erected, Nation Rise Wind Farm is expected to be operational by mid-June of this year. The sixth Nation Rise Wind Farm Community Liaison Committee (CLC) meeting was held online Feb. 24. Open to the public, the purpose of the meeting was for EDP Renewables (EDPR) to provide project updates and answer questions from the public.
EDPR associate director of planning Ken Little, along with several other EDPR staff, attended the online event, which began with a lengthy presentation before moving to a question period. Little said the project is in late-stage construction with 25 turbines already fully erect. The project’s commercial operation date has been extended by the Ontario Independent Electric System Operator (IESO) to June 17. The Ontario Divisional Court ruled in favour of EDPR last May, allowing the company to maintain its Renewable Energy Approval (REA) following a Judicial Review the previous month focusing on the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ decision to revoke the project’s REA. Following the court’s May 2020 ruling, construction began again.
Located in the township of North Stormont, Nation Rise has been on the EDPR docket since 2015. In 2016, the project was granted a 20-year power purchase agreement from the IESO for 100MW of wind power generation through the large Renewable Procurement Program. The project originally received its REA on May 4, 2018. The first CLC meeting was held Jan. 29, 2019.
During the last CLC meeting, which was held in July 2020, it was decided that a one-time $150,000 contribution from the project would be given to a home improvement fund for homes within 1.5 kilometres of Nation Rise wind turbines. Homeowners are permitted to apply once for up to $5,000 to fund home improvements “that will mitigate the perceived noise or visual impacts from the operation of the project.” More information on this can be found on the project website (nationrisewindfarm.com), along with background information and current updates.
At the time of the presentation, 25 of the 29 turbines had been fully erected. Permanent access roads, culvert installation, temporary road widenings, cable installation, conduit installation and junction box installation are all completed. Substation excavation, foundation installation, electrical house installation, and all electrical work has been completed. All turbine parts are now on site.
The erection of the remaining four turbines, along with turbine inspections, commission, and retrofits, as well as site reclamation, are ongoing. The presentation outlined what is involved in turbine commissioning and stated that commissioning of all turbines is expected to be completed by May 2021.
Question topics ranged from the process itself to issues surrounding vibration monitoring, as well as how and where to submit complaints. The question of whether to continue the CLC, which has exceeded its mandated four meeting requirement, was discussed with community input. North Stormont Councillor Steve Densham, who was appointed to sit on the committee via the municipal council, said he would like to see at least one more meeting to be scheduled following the start of operation.
“I think we are coming up to two very important milestone events that is the actual commissioning of the turbines and the introduction of the home improvement fund,” Densham said. “I think its important for this committee to see and hear what’s going on there, so I would be in favour of having at least one more meeting post commissioning and, ideally, at a point in time when the committee that will manage the home improvement process is in place and potentially invite them to the meeting as well.”
While Judy Tessier, another CLC member, agreed with Densham, CLC member Amy Sanders-Michaud remarked on the lack of interest by the public in attending the meetings, whether in person or virtual, and suggested they are no longer needed. However, should a need arise, Sanders-Michaud said she would like to see the CLC reconvene.
CLC facilitator and chair, Gabriel Constantin of DNV GL, said a decision on next steps for the CLC did not have to be made that night. Members were encouraged to take their time and discuss it over the next few weeks. It was also emphasized that ongoing community engagement would be welcome with or without the CLC, as the company is committed to answering public inquiry.
Following a question from CLC member Blake Henderson, EDPR development project manager, Nathan Roscoe provided an update on where things stand with the home improvement fund initiative. Roscoe said EDPR is currently working with North Stormont on the terms of reference. They already have a list of eligible homes, those that fall within 1.5 kilometres of a turbine, and they are working diligently to ensure everything is in place when Nation Rise goes operational in June.
The CLC members include Densham, Sanders-Michaud, Tessier, Henderson, and Morgan McDonald.