Sheridan shows off Hermanville wind site

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Eastern P.E.I. residents Gordon Robertson and Zilla Leslie attended the open house for the new windsite farm in Hermanville this week with Sandy Stewart, left, secretary of economic, trade, policy and strategy, and Energy Minister Wes Sheridan, right.

SOURIS — There was no shortage of wind here this week as officials opened P.E.I.’s latest turbine farm that will not only provide power for the province, but generate more than $8 million in revenue on an annual basis.

At least, that’s the figure Finance Minister Wes Sheridan was trumpeting after welcoming about 75 people to the late afternoon event tucked away on the northeastern shore.

Ten new windmills now occupy the Hermanville-Clear Springs wind site which generates 10 per cent of the provincial need. Combined with the three other windfarms across the province, P.E.I. now generates 30 per cent of energy needs.

“We expect to realize about $8 million plus in revenue from this site every year,’’ said an excited Sheridan, who encouraged people to jump on the tour bus and enjoy an excursion of the site.

Wind technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past decade and Carl Brothers, chair of the Wind Energy Strategic Network for the province, said the new Hermanville site will capture more wind than any other wind farm.

The 92-metre towers have mill spans of 116 metres and catch even low flowing wind closer to land. The open house was not a particularly windy day, but the mills were turning at a steady pace.

“We have been in denial about climate change and here we are doing something dramatic to reduce our impact,’’ said Brothers, a passionate advocate for wind technology for more than 20 years. “This is state of the art technology we will all benefit from ... our children and grandchildren.”

The building of the Hermanville project, which is 15 kms north of Souris, was hotly contested by some local residents and cottage owners and one business claimed it left the province because of the construction.

However, there was no shortage of praise for the effort here during the open house.

“I think it’s a great addition to eastern Kings and I hope we see more,’’ said Souris town Councillor Thelma MacDonald.

The Hermanville/Clearspring wind development came in slightly under its original $60 million budget and will generate more than 110 million kilowatt-hours of emission-free electricity each year.

Like other wind projects operated by the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, the power from the Hermanville/Clearspring Development is being sold to Maritime Electric for use by Prince Edward Island customers only.

Former MLA Claude Matheson said while he doesn’t live near the windmills, he was surprised how little noise was produced from the towers rising over 300 feet into the air.

“When I first arrived I could hear them, but now talking to you I don’t ... I guess they just blend in as background sound,’’ he said.

Gordon Robertson of Basin Head and Zilla Leslie of Souris Line Road said the creation of green energy was most welcome to the area as a way to keep electricity rates in the province affordable to aging Islanders.

The windmills were fabricated in Nova Scotia and the turbines and electronics are from Spain. The Spanish company Acciona actually monitors the Hermanville site from Chicago and sensors determine if something needs to be adjusted, fixed or changed. They have a life expectancy of 25 years before replacement.

“We are on the cutting edge in wind technology in the entire world,’’ said Sheridan.

While there is no immediate plans for a fifth wind farm, Sheridan anticipated the growth of wind energy for the province would continue.

The development employed many local firms during construction and dealt out $20 million in contracts. Meanwhile, the wind farm will benefit the area with approximately $350,000 each year through payments to nearby landowners and a development trust for the community at large.

Organizations: P.E.I. Energy, Clearspring Development, Maritime Electric Acciona

Geographic location: Eastern Kings, Prince Edward Island, Souris Line Road Nova Scotia Spain Chicago

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