Construction of North Kent Wind, a 100-megawatt wind power facility, is now fully operational in the North Kent area.
Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Pattern Energy Group LP, announced Monday that construction has been completed on the wind farm project.
The project has also spawned the formation of a citizen group that remains active over concerns vibration from the construction and operation of wind turbines for the project have damaged private water wells in the area.
“Samsung is proud to complete its sixth wind project under our Green Energy Investment Agreement with the government of Ontario,” said Eskay Lee, vice president, Samsung C&T, in a media release. “Samsung and its partners have created jobs and invested in the community, benefiting real people in Chatham-Kent and across the province.”
Mike Garland, president and CEO of Pattern Development, said in the media release that North Kent Wind marks the company's six operational wind power facility in Ontario, “totaling more than one gigawatt of capacity, enough to power more than $400,000 homes each year.”
He added: “North Kent Wind was built entirely by Ontario workers and is generating substantial economic benefits in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent by injecting more than $40 million in direct spending into the local economy over the next 20 years.”
North Kent Wind is using 34 Siemens Gamesa 3.2 MW wind turbines with towers and blades that were made in Ontario. During the peak of construction activity, North Kent Wind employed approximately 175 skilled workers, all of whom were from Ontario, with the majority from the local area, the media release stated. The facility also has approximately 10 permanent employees for ongoing operations and maintenance, in addition to utilizing a number of local contractors.
Samsung and Pattern Development are also providing $4 million to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent as a community benefit contribution to be used at the sole discretion of municipal council. In addition, the facility is estimated to generate approximately $5 million in tax revenue over 20 years.
In total, North Kent Wind will inject more than $40 million of direct spending into the local economy over 20 years, including taxes, community benefits, landowner payments, and facility spending, the media release states.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent also holds a 15 per cent equity interest in North Kent Wind through its affiliate Entegrus Renewable Energy Inc. Bkejwanong First Nation, also known as Walpole Island First Nation, also holds a per cent equity interest in North Kent Wind.
The North Kent Wind facility is expected to generate enough clean energy to meet the electricity needs of approximately 35,000 Ontario homes annually, based on average annual residential energy use in Ontario. The facility operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator.
However, opposition to the project hasn't let up since the group Water Wells First initially raised concerns in June 2016 that constructing the project in an area with a shallow aquifer on Kettle Point black shale would damage water wells.
Since then, more 20 landowners have come forward with complaints their wells became clogged after either pile driving took place or the blades began turning on a nearby wind tower.
Area MPPs from both the Progressive Conservatives and NDP have brought concerns raised by residents directly to Queen's Park.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has sided with the wind developer, based in part on reports from the project developers' own consultants, that the wind farm project has had no impact on local water wells.
Water Wells First has a media conference planned for Tuesday to raise another issue regarding the dangers of black shale sediment that it says remains in the water wells of area landowners.
Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls recently issued a media release that stated, in part: “No family in Canada should be fearful of not having clean, safe water come out of their taps. More communities across Ontario will face these same threats due to this government’s complete disrespect for rural Ontario.”
He added the MOECC and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care are not listening and refuse to have a health hazard investigation done regarding the impact of this wind farm.
“Governments must be held accountable when water quality is in jeopardy,” Nicholls said. “ We can’t afford to make any mistakes with drinking water. We can’t put people at risk just because a premier says the jar contents are safe to drink but has never had the jar contents analyzed. Analyze the sediment and do a health hazard investigation.”