Officials with the Berwick and Mahone Bay-driven Alternate Resource Energy Authority (AREA) attended a productive meeting with representatives of two provincial ministries Jan. 7.
Berwick’s chief operating officer, Don Regan, who also doubles as superintendent of the Berwick Electric Commission - one of AREA’s founding partners - expressed optimism about the meeting.
“Of course we don’t know the outcome yet,” Regan said Jan. 9, “but I think they understand where we are coming from now.”
Regan, Berwick Mayor Don Clarke and their counterparts from Mahone Bay, the other project partner, met with officials from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations (SNSMR) and Energy Nova Scotia to answer questions about AREA’s seven-tower wind farm project planned for West Hants. Officials from the town of Antigonish, which is poised to join the collective, were also present.
Minas Energy, co-ordinating the development for the newly-established authority, recently submitted an environmental impact study for the project, but the borrowing authority required to move the $25 million plan forward has yet to be approved by SNSMR.
Believing the meeting provided the province with a better understanding of the project and the timelines AREA is up against, Regan is hopeful that approval will come within a week’s time.
“Right now, we are under the gun to make a commitment by the end of January to Nova Scotia Power (NSP) for back up service for 2015,” which Regan explained will cost Berwick approximately $95,000.
Making that commitment without approved borrowing authority from the province could leave taxpayers footing the bill for service that wouldn’t be required. Currently, Berwick Electric and other members of the Municipal Electric Utilities of Nova Scotia Co-operative purchase electricity from NSP under a different rate protocol, which will not be required once the wind farm is in operation and generating power for communities in the partnership.
The deadline for Service Nova Scotia Minister Mark Furey to review the project is Feb. 17. He has the option of approving it as submitted, with conditions or denying AREA’s application.
“I don’t believe there is anything in (the application) to warrant being turned down,” said Regan.
Green energy provider Bullfrog Power recently announced it will source clean, pollution-free electricity from the proposed wind farm. Regan said the source of revenue is more good news about the project and for AREA’s partners.
For more on the Bullfrog announcement, click here.