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Stirling council weighs wind farm options

Posted on November 13, 2016 by Westwind Weekly

J.W. Schnarr
Westwind Weekly News

Following an open house at the end of October, the Village of Stirling is looking for ways the community can benefit from a large wind farm project currently being considered near the community.

During their regular meeting on Nov. 2, Stirling council discussed the results of an Oct. 26 open house on the proposed wind farm, and how the village could work with GreenGate Power.

“In my mind, it’s us being proactive,” said Mayor Ben Nilsson.

“I think there’s a great opportunity for us to do something here.”

Coun. Trevor Lewington said council could provide conditional support for the project and could use that support to encourage GreenGate to address issues put forward by area residents and to consider providing opportunities to the community.

Among the issues the village is looking to address is traffic management, environmental safety concerns, purchasing and procurement from local services, local employment opportunities, emergency response training and plans, and opportunities for ongoing social investment.

The project began development in 2007 and plans include about 17,000 acres of land located five kilometres northeast of Stirling on privately owned cultivated land.

The project will be about 133 megawatts in size and could begin construction in 2018. It could involve the construction of 46 wind turbines, an electrical collection system, access roads, and a new wind collector substation, called the Red Coat Substation.

On Friday, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said there are more opportunities for municipalities to be part of large-scale energy projects.

“We’ve seen this approach from wind developers in particular, and other renewables developers ensuring community benefits,” she said. “Certainly around Vulcan and Carmangay, we’ve seen those kinds of arrangements. It’s great that the municipalities are looking at ways to ensure local employment and local economic benefits.”

She said she expects to see more of that growth in the future.

“Southern Alberta is the birthplace of Canadian wind energy industry,” she said. “We’ve already got many success stories of places that have raised their municipal tax base, and certainly benefitted from having that kind of energy in their communities.

“We have a number of advocates here in southern Alberta who are pleased to welcome that kind of opportunity.”

“I think, as we move forward with an expansion of renewables, there’s going to be more down here in southern Alberta, but more across the province as well,” she said. “We will find that there will be many more of these arrangements, whether it is local training, local hiring, or even some of the assembly and manufacturing opportunities.

“We’re very much looking at that as a government and trying to see how we can add value to this resource, just as we’re trying to add value to our oil and gas resources.”

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