Irving says proposed wind farm could cut N.B. emissions by 9%

by | May 22, 2024

58 turbines to bring 350 megawatts of power to JDI forestry lands in Carleton County

By Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph Journal

A wind farm in Carleton County proposed by J.D. Irving, Limited could cut New Brunswick’s greenhouse gas emissions by nine per cent when it’s up and running, according to a report.

The province’s ministry of environment and local government is reviewing a proposal from JDI for a 58-turbine wind farm 20 kilometres east of Hartland, according to its website.

According to the environmental impact assessment conducted by engineering firm Hatch Ltd. for JDI and registered on April 18, the Brighton Mountain Wind Farm project would be built in two sections on JDI-owned forestry land.

The project would be JDI’s first wind farm built as a developer and would have a total capacity of 350 megawatts when installed, which it would sell to the NB Power grid, the document reads. In the assessment, JDI says it wants to insulate itself against shifting energy prices and reduce emissions from the Irving forest supply chain, including pulp production, which it says is one of the chain’s  “major contributors” to emissions due to high energy consumption.

The assessment states that reducing the grid’s dependency on fossil fuels would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generation by approximately 1.1 million metric tonnes annually when the project is fully underway. According to the document, that would cut New Brunswick’s emissions from electricity generation by 33 percent from 2021 levels and the province’s total emissions by nine percent.

“This new wind project will supply New Brunswick’s grid with more renewable energy and will support maintaining the carbon neutrality of our company’s forest supply chain,” JDI’s vice president of communications, Anne McInerney, said in an email. 

NB Power spokesperson D’Arcy Walsh said the utility doesn’t have any purchase agreements in place yet and said it would be “too early to comment” on the project.

There is no current date for when the project will be completed in full. The wind farm is being planned in two stages, with the first stage including 34 turbines set to generate 200 megawatts at a cost of $550 million, according to a JDI press release. Stage one is planned to begin construction in 2025 and come online in 2027, with phase 2 “very much undetermined,” according to JDI. The turbines would have a lifespan of 25 years, after which the project could be decommissioned.

The project, between Highway 107 to the north and 104 to the south, is located on the borders of two municipalities: Hartland and Carleton North, which includes the communities of Juniper, directly north of the project, and Florenceville-Bristol, 26 kilometres to the east. The area is in traditional Wolastaqey Nation and Mi’kmaq territory, the assessment reads, and Wokstak (Woodstock) First Nation is located 60 kilometres to the south.

“Consultation has begun and is ongoing,” McInerney said. “We are following our established commitments to early engagement with Indigenous communities in New Brunswick.”

Logan Perley, communications coordinator for the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick, said the application is still in its “early days” and that the nation is still reviewing it.

Amy McIntosh, CAO for Carleton North, declined comment on behalf of the district, saying they’re hoping to learn more details about the project in the coming weeks. Michelle Derrah, communications specialist for Hartland, said Thursday the town became aware of the project the day before and will ask JDI for a public presentation at a council meeting.

Some wind farm projects have encountered opposition from nearby communities. In January, a group in Wentworth Valley, N.S., unsuccessfully challenged a 17-turbine project in the province’s Supreme Court over concerns about the impact on endangered moose species and the loss of recreational trails.

In 2022, NB Power scrapped a project on the Acadian Peninsula proposed by Naveco Power Inc. after the city of Bathurst pulled out in 2019 over financial concerns. Residents in the community of Anse-Bleue had raised concerns over the project’s proximity to the community and the loss of forest space.

McInerney said the project is located on “rural, sparsely populated and heavily forested land,” and once construction wraps up, “there are no plans to change the way the land is used or accessed.”

According to the assessment, there are few cabins located on and off JDI property, and there are recreational trails, which will require engagement with ATV and snowmobile groups. In winter, some limits to access to the area could be needed due to concerns of “ice throw” from the turbines, according to the statement.

According to the statement, research on bird and bat flight patterns is ongoing, and mitigation is planned to “prevent avian mortality,” with two years of post-construction monitoring planned.

McInerney noted that while it’s JDI’s first wind project as a developer, they have been involved in the construction and maintenance of other wind farms through Irving Equipment Ltd. and Gulf Operators. JDI said “more than 200” temporary jobs would be established during construction, with between 10 and 14 permanent positions once the project is online.

According to the assessment, 30 km of new roads on the project land would be needed to build assembly pads, five on-site quarries would be needed to gather materials, and 19 km of power lines would be needed to hook the project into the grid. Components would be shipped to the Port of Saint John and Port of Bayside and transported via highway to the project.

The assessment says the project’s development area of 18.77 square kilometres and physical footprint of 3.72 square kilometres “has been optimized to reduce environmental impact to the greatest extent possible,” including mitigation measures and post-construction monitoring.

Nine per cent of the project area – 161 hectares – is wetlands, with half of that lying in the proposed power line corridor. The assessment says wetland impact would be “largely temporary,” though there may be as much as 83 hectares of “permanent footprint” from power poles. None of the wetlands are designated as provincially significant, according to the assessment.

According to the assessment, the project requires 16 other federal and provincial approvals and permits in addition to the EIA approval process and local planning applications.

FOREST FIRE INDEX – click image for current status

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