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The 45 MW Lameque wind farm, located on the Acadian peninsula in New Brunswick, Canada, is emblematic of what can happen when the host community takes an active role in wind development.

The project, owned and operated by ACCIONA Windpower, features 30 1.5 MW wind turbines and began operating in 2011. As with most sites in Canada’s Maritime provinces, the annual average wind speed at the project site ranges from 7.5 m/s to 8 m/s, with relatively low wind shear and turbulence intensity values. According to ACCIONA, turbine availability at Lameque has been over 99% for the first two years of service. For 2012, the first full year of operation, the Lameque wind farm performed better than expected in terms of both capacity factor and production. Maintenance, extreme weather and other issues contributed to a loss of less than 1% of potential energy production during 2012.

Notably, the wind farm features a 12 kV collection system technology developed by ACCIONA. Although 34.5 kV is the most commonly used collection system voltage for North American wind farms, the company maintains that a 34.5 kV system is not necessarily the best option. With a 12 kV collection system, the electricity from the wind turbine is directly injected into the system; therefore, no step-up transformers are needed, explains Scott Baron, the company’s global product line director.

“It allows for the realization of a stronger power curve due to avoidance of electrical losses associated with the transformation of power from one voltage to another,” Baron explains.

And because 12 kV collection system cables are generally less expensive than 34.5 kV cables per linear foot, balance-of-plant costs are typically cheaper.

NB Power is buying the project’s output via a long-term power purchase agreement. The project has received support from Canada’s ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program, with an investment of up to C$13.79 million over 10 years. The wind farm helps NB Power to meet the province’s 40% by 2020 renewable energy portfolio standard. For more on wind energy in the Maritimes, see “Nova Scotia Paves Path For Growth Of Maritimes”.

However, if not for the involvement of the Coopérative d’énergie renouvelable de Lamèque Ltée –Lameque renewable energy cooperative – the Lameque wind farm might not have ever been built.

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The co-op

The wind farm started in 1999 with a view to developing a new economic activity that would provide jobs and energy self-sufficiency in New Brunswick, where the local economy is based on fishing and peat extraction.

Paul Langteigne, a co-founder of the co-op, recalls hearing about wind farm development in the Gaspésie region of Quebec, which got him to thinking that perhaps New Brunswick and its ample wind resource could host wind farms.

After sharing the idea with Melvin Doiron, a cooperative development consultant, the project began to gain steam and was presented to Lameque residents and in the Acadian Peninsula, where it was warmly received.

Henri-Paul Guignard, another project co-founder, says that co-ops are an economic mainstay of the entire northeast region of New Brunswick, noting that the wind farm initiative was aided by representatives from three existing cooperatives in Lameque – the consumers’ cooperative, the caisse populaire (a local credit union) and the fishermen’s cooperative – working in conjunction with the municipality.

Being new to wind energy, however, the Lameque renewable energy co-op quickly realized it needed an experienced partner to build the project. In fact, Guignard says it took four attempts before it won NB Power’s request for proposals (RFP).

Guignard credits the 2004 involvement of ACCIONA – which assisted in the co-op’s third and fourth attempts to answer the RFP – for helping to win the bid. Based on global experience, ACCIONA was not only instrumental in correctly pricing the bid, but the company also led the engineering, permitting and construction of the wind farm. And today, ACCIONA operates and maintains the site.

Just the same, Guignard says if not for the co-op – which performed the early feasibility studies on the project, such as wind assessment – the project would not have been completed.

Notably, the co-op also did the leg work in helping secure land lease agreements with 68 landowners who each receive about C$2,000 annually over 25 years. Guignard says the co-op’s close involvement quickly allayed any concerns by landowners.

“No co-op, no project,” he says flatly.

Mostly, however, New Brunswick residents quickly understood just how impactful using local labor would be for the local economy. In fact, he explains, more than 300 local residents worked on the project. What’s more, given that the project is located about 3 km from the city line, the laborers ate in local eateries and slept in nearby hotels.

Guignard says ACCIONA was a good partner that adhered to the province’s 1,500-meter setback requirement from the nearest residence.

“There continues to be good support for Lameque,” Guignard explains. “[The wind farm] is a point of pride in the community. So much so, the people are asking us to do more [wind projects].” w

Project Profile: Lameque Wind Farm

Local Cooperative Instrumental To Building New Brunswick Project

By Mark Del Franco

If not for the involvement of the Coopérative d’énergie renouvelable de Lamèque Ltée, the Lameque wind farm might not have ever been built.

 

 

 

 

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