First Nations wind partnership begins operation
The Wocawson Energy Project, a five-turbine wind farm located near Sussex, N.B., is now in commercial operation and generating electricity for the NB Power grid.
The project is a partnership between the Tobique First Nation, the majority owner, and Nova Scotia-based Natural Forces, a private independent power producer that delivers renewable energy projects in partnership with local communities. Tobique owns 51 per cent of the wind farm and Natural Forces 49 per cent.
The 20-megawatt project is expected to supply 5,000 homes with wind energy, including homes in Sussex, and offset about 22,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
This partnership was forged through a provincial project called LORESS, which stands for Locally Owned Renewable Energy Projects that are Small Scale. The program allows NB Power to obtain up to 40 megawatts of renewable energy from two First Nations and an additional 40 megawatts from municipalities or other local entities.
In addition to the Wocawson project, a smaller, single-turbine wind farm was completed several months ago near Richibucto. That project, in partnership with Pabineau First Nation, is known as the Oinpegitjoig Wind Project.
Andy MacCallum, vice-president developments for Natural Forces, said the projects will generate clean energy and economic development for the First Nations for many years. Natural Forces will operate and maintain the turbines for 25 years.
“These projects are going to generate stable, long-term revenue for our partners,” MacCallum says.
“We’d really like to see NB Power and the province of New Brunswick come out with another similar program to allow more of these projects to be built. The economic development benefits are significant for the province of New Brunswick and for our First Nation partners.”
The two projects have a long-term power purchase agreement with NB Power. Every kilowatt of electricity generated will be sold to NB Power at a fixed price for 25 years.
Natural Forces is also to build up to 10 turbines for the $60-million Burchill Wind Project in the Lorneville area of Saint John. The power from that project, which is still in development, would be sold back to Saint John Energy.