June 15 is Global Wind Day, a day for “discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise our economies and boost jobs and growth.” From coast to coast, many Canadians are already seeing the benefits of this powerful form of renewable energy, and taking steps to make sure it remains an important part of our energy future.
Learn more about a few communities that are celebrating wind energy every day:
Bear Mountain Wind Park
Dawson Creek, British Columbia is home to the province’s first operational wind farm, all thanks to a dedicated group of individuals known collectively as the Peace Energy Cooperative. In 2003, businessmen Don Pettit and Paul Kurjata along with 80 community members incorporated the co-op, hoping to provide an alternative to the oil and gas development happening in their region and power their community through renewable energy.
The impressive development, called the Bear Mountain Wind Park, consists of 34 turbines with a total generating capacity of 102 MW. The co-op has since expanded its efforts to include conservation, biofuels, geothermal energy activities.
Check out the Bear Mountain Wind Park in action:
Oxford Community Energy Co-operative
Ontario co-operatives are also seeing the benefits of wind, made possible through the Green Energy & Economy Act, 2009 and the Feed-in-Tariff program. Oxford CEC recently raised $9 million through the sale of community bonds and shares, and is moving forward with its Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm project consisting of 10 turbines in Oxford County.
Learn more about Oxford CEC:
Many Torontonians may recognize WindShare’s work, namely the iconic turbine located at downtown Toronto’s Exhibition Place, but fewer know that this turbine was the result of the efforts of a co-operative – a group of like-minded individuals looking to bring community-owned wind energy to the city.
In addition to generating clean, renewable energy, the development of the turbine led to the creation of an education program – TREC Education – that hosts tours, excursions, workshops and festivals centred around educating youth and adults about the benefits of wind and other renewables.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has welcomed wind energy in a big way, seeing the clean energy source as a viable replacement for job losses in the auto and other manufacturing sectors. They continue to lead the nation not only in renewable energy development but also involvement of local people in the process.
For example, the South Kent Wind Farm, the largest in Canada with 124 turbines and 270 MW generating capacity, has created hundreds of jobs, generates an estimated $800,000 municipal revenue for Chatham-Kent and the local school district, while also providing $250,000 to communities each year through its community fund.
See Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope describe the process of developing wind energy, including the importance of meaningful community consultation:
Coopératif d’énergie renouvelable de Lamèque
The Francophone community of Lamèque, located on the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick, has a history of co-operative ownership, including fishing, agricultural, retail, and credit union co-ops. In 1999, three prominent co-ops were looking for new business opportunities that would make their small community more self-sufficient and provide new revenues. They decided to unite, and with the help of several industry partners, completed their vision of sustainable wind energy in 2011, building 30 turbines with the capacity to power 8000 homes.
Here’s some shaky and foggy but beautiful footage of the turbines in Lamèque :
Nova Scotia’s COMFIT
Nova Scotia, like Ontario, is creating incentives for renewable energy development through its Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) program. The main players in the COMFIT are municipalities, universities, First Nations, and CEDIFS – the latter being pools of capital created through the sale of shares and bonds to community members, representing an investment in the project.
Since 2012, more than 100 contracts have been awarded to develop small and large-scale wind projects, ranging from a 50 kW turbine at Université Sainte-Anne, to an 11.5 MW wind project by the Halifax Region Water Commission. Along with other COMFIT technologies (tidal, biomass, and hydro), the province is relying on wind to start the process of moving away from coal as its primary source of electricity production.
Community wind not only benefits the environment through clean, emissions-free energy production, it also provides viable investment opportunities for local individuals, and connects neighbours as the community works towards a common goal – on Global Wind Day, that’s something to celebrate.
Header image source: “Lameque Wind Farm” by jarche is licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0