Eastern Kings debates new wind farm

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation held the first of a series of public meetings Thursday night in eastern Kings, their top pick for a new wind farm site.

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation has selected eastern Kings as it's top pick for a new wind farm site

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation held it's first of four public meetings in eastern Kings to gauge interest in being the site for 30-megawatt farm. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation held the first of a series of public meetings Thursday night in eastern Kings, their top pick for a new wind farm site.

The meeting was held to give local residents information on the wind energy expansion project, based on the provincial government's 10-year energy strategy announced in March.

The $60 million project will develop a new 30-megawatt wind farm on P.E.I. by 2019, and according to project consultant Carl Brothers, will be a big boost to the local economy.

"There will be three to four, I estimate, long-term service jobs as well as probably 70-100 construction jobs during the construction project. There will be revenue flows to the landowners," said Brothers, president of Frontier Power Systems.

Carl Brothers is the president of Frontier Power Systems and is working with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation to evaluate the best site for the new wind farm to be built by 2019. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Brothers estimates landowners who agree to be a part of the project could receive up to $200,000 annually that would be distributed among all the participants. The community would also receive $100,000 annually.

Long term investment

Though it hasn't yet been determined, many at Thursday's meeting were concerned about the size of the project.

"They look neat but after a while when you start seeing 15 or 20 on a landscape, it does take away from somewhere as picturesque as the east end," said Priest Pond resident Lary Fitzpatrick.

"But it's a part of progress."

Fitzpatrick said he's open to another wind farm in the area, but would like the entire community to benefit, and not just the landowners.

"The windmills will be here for a long time so could it be possible to have high-speed Internet with fibre-optics or a road upgrade. Something that people can all benefit, even though we're looking at these windmills," he said.

'It's investing in rural P.E.I.'

"I see it as a win-win-win. It's investing in rural P.E.I.," said Souris West resident Alicia Bruce.

Souris West resident Alicia Bruce said she would be happy to see a new wind farm in the area. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"There's the long-term effects of having jobs. Plus economic security for the Island. The fact that we're generating our own energy that we can use here, that's saving money," she said.

Though several residents expressed concern about the tight deadline to make a decision, Bruce said she understands that clean energy development needs to happen sooner than later.

"Speaking as a young person living in the area and planning to live in the area, it is urgent," said Bruce. 

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation has a target agreement with eastern King's community council in July with hopes to start field work in August.