Summerside wind farm paying dividends

A new wind farm in Summerside, P.E.I., is already generating about 25 per cent of the city's power needs, says the director of municipal services.

A new wind farm in Summerside, P.E.I., is already generating enough energy to supply about 25 per cent of the city's power needs, says the director of municipal services.

Put another way, the 12-megawatt wind farm, in operation for three months, is producing enough energy to power 4,800 homes, said Greg Gaudet.

"It's performing right on, if not a little better than our engineering studies had indicated," he said.

And plans for a pilot project using smart meters could boost its performance even more by making the most efficient use of the wind when it's available, said Gaudet.

The meters indicate when wind power is available and can also be hooked up so that some appliances turn on automatically when it's windy, he explained.

Summerside has invested $2 million in 400 meters for the pilot involving homes and businesses and hopes to have them up and running by the end of the year, he said.

The details are still being worked out, but the city may offer a rebate to encourage people to use wind energy.

Summerside has 5,900 residential customers, 900 commercial and 30 industrial, said Gaudet.

Generating $1 million net revenue

The $30-million wind farm is also providing a net amount of about $1 million a year for the municipality, said Malcolm Miller, director of financial services.

"That goes into general municipal revenues so it can be used for the benefit of everyone in the city," he said.

"That's the amount of dollars which are not going off Island to purchase energy from someone else's facility."

Off-Island energy still accounts for about half of the power Summerside buys, said Miller.

The other 25 per cent is supplied through a purchase agreement with the three-year-old wind farm in West Cape, about 60 kilometres west of Summerside.

But the city's new wind farm is a big first step to reducing the use of fossil fuels, said Miller.

The four 80-metre-high turbines were built in the community of St. Eleanors last summer.

Some local residents opposed the wind farm, saying it would cut into their property values, create noise and pose possible health risks.