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Chester district approved for wind energy project

 CHESTER - The Municipality of Chester is going into the wind energy business.

 The municipality was approved on December 16 by the province under its COMFIT renewable energy program. COMFIT (Community-Based Feed-in Tariff) is an incentive program to establish an energy supply using natural and sustainable resources.

 "We hope to begin work this summer," Warden Allen Webber said. "Our project will serve to support the alternative energy goals established by the province and will provide a mechanism for our municipality to generate additional revenue over time for the benefit of our constituents."

 The municipality has been approved to develop a 2.3-megawatt wind-to-energy project. Development will be at the Kaizer Meadow site where the Minas Basin Pulp and Power Corporation has been collecting wind data for the past two years. The municipality has agreed to use Minas Basin Pulp and Power's services to oversee the design, construction and long-term operation of the facility.

 The project cost is estimated at approximately $5 million and is expected to generate a positive cash flow beginning in Year 1 of just under $270,000. Revenue is scheduled to increase annually over the 20-year life of the project to approximately $700,000 in Year 20.

 The power generated at the site would be sold to Nova Scotia Power to be used on its distribution grid at the 20-year fixed rate of $131 per megawatt hour.

 "There's a number of reasons we are undertaking this project," Mr. Webber said. "But essentially, if you look at municipalities there are few ways they have of generating revenue other than through property tax revenue and that has become quite a burden. We view this as potential relief of that burden for the taxpayer."

 Initially the COMFIT program allowed for municipalities or towns to form a private partnership in creating an alternate energy source. That has since changed, meaning the municipality is on the hook for the entire $5 million.

 Nova Scotia's Renewable Electricity Plan, established in 2010, calls for 40 per cent of the province's electricity to be generated from renewable sources such as wind, biomass and tidal energy by 2020.

 A portion of that target has been set aside for small projects, to be developed by municipalities, Mi'kmaq bands and other community groups.

 The program aims to achieve at least 100 megawatts of its mandate through smaller-scale, community-based renewable energy projects, while relying more heavily on better suited wind, tidal, hydro and biomass larger-scale projects to achieve the balance of its objectives.

 "These applications reflect significant community ownership," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker. "Once constructed, they will stand as testaments to the spirit of innovation and self-reliance that characterizes rural Nova Scotia, while contributing to local jobs and strengthened economies."

 For more information on the COMFIT program, visit the Nova Scotia Department of Energy website at

posted on 12/21/11
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