Wind Energy Centre
In the Beginning
The Skinners Pond Wind Energy Centre (“Skinners Pond” or “the Project”) has a unique history. Rather than being launched by a renewable energy company or government wind developer like most Maritime wind projects, Skinners Pond was conceived by a large group of forward-thinking landowners in a part of Prince Edward Island that has a great history of establishing cooperatives – West Prince. Well over a dozen years ago as wind started to hit its stride in the energy world, the landowners watched closely and began to formulate a plan. They realized that a large tract of land they all owned pieces of was situated in one of the most energetic wind regimes in Atlantic Canada. Moreover, much of it was being farmed, a primary use of land that wind turbines were perfectly compatible with. They also noted that all of their residences were located around the perimeter of the tract. The question was then posed, “why wouldn’t the middle, an area almost ten kilometres long by two or three kilometres wide and containing several thousand acres, be the ideal location for a wind farm?”
A Beauty Contest for Wind Developers
In late 2007 the landowners proceeded to test their theory, and it turned out that interest from the renewable energy industry was immediate and high. This crystalized in early 2008 when regular large “garage meetings” were conducted over several months so that half a dozen wind development companies could have the opportunity to present proposals to the landowners. Ultimately and after all of the meetings were held and ballots were cast, Invenergy Wind was selected over the other candidate developers to help develop Skinners Pond.
Energy for Generations of Islanders
With more than 4,000 acres under land agreement, Skinners Pond dwarfs in size any other proposed wind development area in the province. The map below illustrates just how easily a 30MW project, the size of PEI Energy Corp’s windfarm at East Point, can be immediately accommodated and still have most of the project area available for buildout when needed by future Island generations.
The Cooperative Model
With 65 signed land agreements representing over 85 owners, Skinners Pond is a model of community cooperation. Its extraordinarily high rate of participation reflects an innovative and inclusive lease arrangement; anyone signing up their land within the project area, even if it’s only a 15 acre parcel and unsuitable for wind facilities, will receive their pro-rata share of 90% of landowner revenue. (The remaining 10% will be distributed amongst those owners whose lands host turbines.) The landowners’ creativity and fairness at Skinners Pond impressed Invenergy so much it has applied a similar approach to its other Canadian wind projects.
Community Benefit Fund (CBF)
Not everyone in the neighborhood owns land in the project area. In recognition of that reality, Invenergy made an early commitment to fund a CBF at the annual rate of $500/MW once its wind turbines start generating power. This means that for a 30MW windfarm, $15,000 will be funneled each year into rinks, firehalls, community centres and other key local institutions for the benefit of all residents. The development of future project phases will only see these numbers grow.
25 KMs to a Transmission Connection
PEI has a high voltage 138kV transmission grid that stretches from East Point, to Charlottetown, to Summerside, to … Bloomfield Corner. Frustratingly, while it does poke into West Prince, the 138kV grid stops about 25kms short of Skinners Pond and the area’s lower voltage circuits simply don’t have the capacity to receive power from eg: a 30MW wind farm. Just as expansion of the 138kV grid to East Point enabled the connection of the East Point and Hermanville wind farms, so will the design and construction of a West Prince 138kV circuit enable Skinners Pond, not to mention providing needed power and reliability to service growing communities up west such as Alberton and Tignish.
Invenergy is North America’s leading, privately-held developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. Invenergy develops, owns and operates clean energy facilities in Canada, the US, Europe, and Asia. Invenergy has successfully developed more than 150 projects, totaling over 24,000 megawatts, including wind, solar, natural gas power generation and advanced energy storage projects.
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