Welcome to the official Amherst Community Wind Farm website!
This website has been set up to provide information for the community and stakeholders on the Amherst Community Wind Farm. As of January 2019, since the Amherst Community Wind Farm was commissioned in January 2017, it has generated a total of 37.70 GWh of clean renewable energy.
About The Project
The Amherst Community Wind Farm is located in the County of Cumberland, approximately 5 kilometers east of Amherst, Nova Scotia. The site lies between John Black Road and Pumping Station Road on privately owned land. The Amherst Community Wind Farm consists of two wind turbines with an installed capacity of 3.0 MW each for a total project capacity of 6 MW.
This capacity is estimated to supply approximately 1,892 homes with electricity while offsetting 10,606 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
When developing a wind project, it is crucial to find the best suitable location and community to host it. To do so, there are four main factors to consider during the site finding phase of development:
- Wind resource
- Distance to existing electrical and civil infrastructure
- Environmental sensitivity
- Socio-economic concerns.
While the wind strength and consistency has a major impact on the power produced, factors such as proximity to the electricity grid, road access, ecology, archaeology and cultural significance, proximity to residential dwellings, and health concerns should also be considered. The location of the Amherst Community Wind Farm was selected after a thorough review of all the above factors. Discussions with experts at the Department of Natural Resources Canada were also incredibly influential in determining this specific site. Items of environmental and socio-economic significance in the region have also been studies in depth by Natural Forces and third-party consultants. The results of all project studies have been compiled in the Environmental Assessment.
January 1st, 2017: Turbines reached commercial operation date under our power purchase agreement.
November 22nd, 2016: As of November 21st both turbines are energized and we are aiming to complete electrical and commissioning works by the end of the month.
November 2nd, 2016: We are pleased to report Turbine 1 at Amherst is now energized! This is a great milestone as it is the largest wind turbine in the Maritimes.
October 24th, 2016: The first turbine is assembled and raised, construction in ongoing on the second turbine. The bottom section of the second tower has been installed and we expect the rest of the turbines to be installed this week!
August 23rd, 2016: Construction has been ongoing. Last week, tower construction was in full force for Turbine 1 and the blades for that turbine began arriving Friday.
July 19th, 2016: After an enormous day on July 9th, where 1,000 cubic meters of concrete were poured in seven hours, the foundation for Turbine 1 is complete. Prep work for the foundation for Turbine 2 is underway and trucks are beginning to deliver tower segments for Turbine 1. In the following weeks, more trucks like those seen the photo directly below are expected to arrive on site.
June 29th, 2016: Site road construction is almost complete and tower foundations will be poured within the first two weeks of July. Increased traffic near the site should be expected for that time.
May 25th, 2016: Road construction is underway and is continuing with success.
May 6th, 2016: Clearing of the site has been completed and equipment is on site to start building the turbine roads. Road construction is intended to start in the following week.
Natural Forces is committed to establishing positive relationships with the community by means of public meetings and community consultation. In doing so, we will address all concerns pertaining to this proposed development raised by local residents and community members. The following is an estimated projected time line for the public consultation that will take place in accordance with the following schedule:
- Winter 2011 – Open house #1
- Summer 2012 – Community Feed-In Tariff Approval
- Spring 2014 – Commenced wind monitoring
- Summer 2014 – Open house #2
- Summer 2014 – Website built
- Fall 2014 – Environmental Assessment registration
- Winter 2015 – Environmental Assessment approval
- December 2015 – Newsletter Released
- Winter 2016 – Pre-construction activities
- Winter 2016 – Tree clearing
- Spring 2016 – Road construction
- Spring 2016 – Turbine pad construction
- Spring 2016 – Foundation construction start
- Spring 2016 – Tower, turbine and blade delivery
- Summer 2016 – Concrete pour for foundation
- Summer 2016 – Electrical work by Nova Scotia Power Inc.
- Summer 2016 – Assemble of turbine
- Fall 2016 – Site cleanup
- Fall 2016 – Electrical work continues
- Fall 2016 – Commissioning of the turbines
- Summer 2036 – Project decommissioning
Throughout the length of the project’s development, construction, operational, and decommissioning phases, Natural Forces is committed to:
- Constant consultation with residents of nearby communities
- Continuous discussions with the local councillors, MLAs and business owners
- Informing the public of the project’s progress using this website, newsletters, public open houses and press releases.
At the public meeting October 9th 2014 held at the fire hall by Natural Forces, there was mention of a possible Community Liaison Committee (CLC) however due to a lack of interest the CLC will not be formed at this time. The formation of such a committee may be revisited in the future if enough community interest is available.
An increase in demand for local goods and services during the feasibility and construction phases of development.
- The creation of jobs within Amherst and the Municipality of the County of Cumberland during the construction phase.
- The creation of a small number of permanent positions during the wind farm’s operational life for maintenance.
- Renewable energy supply in the Amherst region to help meet growing energy demand. Additional revenue for Municipality of the County of Cumberland through the payment of annual property taxes by the project proponent, which will benefit all residents of the municipality. Help achieve government renewable energy targets.
- Targets are to produce 25% renewable energy by 2015 and 40% by 2020.
What is the process?
- Assess the wind resource
- Survey for environmentally sensitive features
- Optimize turbine location to capture the wind efficiently and minimize impact on sensitive features
- Begin consultation with regulators and the public
- Conduct and present the Environmental Assessment for environmental approval
- Apply for road, work and construction permits
- Clear trees for roads and turbine pads
- Build access roads and pad areas
- Pour the turbine foundation
- Assemble the wind turbine
- Connect to NS Power’s electrical grid
- Commission the wind turbines to start producing power
- Conduct post-construction wildlife monitoring
- Monitor remotely for real time alerts when additional maintenance is needed
- Operate for 20 years
Decommission or Retrofit
- Assess wind turbine after 20 years
- Decommission wind turbines in 3-6 months
- Reclaim the site to its former state OR
- Receive approvals and permits to retrofit the turbine to continue harnessing energy
Environmental Impact Assessment
The New Brunswick Clean Environment Act, Environmental Assessment Regulations states that any wind farm project exceeding 3 MW of installed capacity must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). As the Oinpegitjoig (Richibucto) Wind Project will produce 3.8 MW of electricity it is subject to an EIA.
To fully assess the potential environmental impacts of the project, comprehensive studies including the following were conducted:
- Wind Resource Assessment
- Bird and Bat Surveys
- Wetlands and Watercourses Surveys
- Vegetation and Habitat Surveys
- Noise and Visual Assessments
- Electromagnetic Interference Assessments
- Archaeological Assessments
Results from these studies have been compiled in the EIA document provided in the “What’s happening?” section above.
For more information on the EIA process, please visit the Department of Environment and Local Governments EIA webpage by clicking here.
Environmental studies and surveys were completed and the results compiled to understand the impact the project may have on the environment and the community.
These studies were compiled in a publicly available provincial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The draft EIA was registered on August 18, 2017 and a final EIA was submitted on November 27, 2017.
As of August 2018, the environmental impact assessment has been reviewed and approved by the provincial Department of Environment and Local Government.
A copy of the EIA and appendices are provided below for public review.
- EIA – Richibucto Wind Project
- Appendix A – Landowner Consent
- Appendix B – Zoning Confirmation
- Appendix D – Field Survey Results
- Appendix E – Archaeological Impact Assessment
- Appendix F – Noise Impact Assessment
- Appendix G – Shadow Flicker Impact Assessment
- Appendix H – Environmental Protection Plan
- Appendix I – Complaint Resolution Plan
- Appendix J – Stakeholder Consultation
- Appendix K – Permit Applications and Approvals
Frequently Asked Questions
The Richibucto Wind Project is not anticipated to impact the bald eagle population. There have been no documented eagle mortalities from wind farms in Atlantic Canada and across Canada, bald eagles made up less than 1% of mortalities observed according to the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database. The West Cape Wind Farm in PEI has also observed bald eagles in the area which have continued to use the site during operation with no reported incidences.
Some older wind farms have observed eagle deaths as a result of collision with blades. However, these older sites were often sited poorly and before developers had a good understanding of how to properly site their projects. For example, wind farms sited in migration pathways would present a much higher risk to eagles, and birds in general which is not the case for the Richibucto Wind Project. Studies in the USA have found higher rates of golden eagle collisions compared to bald eagles suggesting this species may be more susceptible to collisions with wind turbines due to foraging and flight behaviours. Though higher eagle mortalities have been documented in the USA, less than 3% of all human caused eagle mortalities were related to wind farm operations.
The turbine model chosen for this project is an Enercon E126-EP3 and will has a capacity of 3.8 MW, which will power approximately 900 homes annually even with periods of low wind. The wind turbine technology used for this project is larger than those used for New Brunswick’s existing wind farms and this allows a single turbine to produce one and a half times that of existing technology. Using a single wind turbine that is slightly larger, allows Natural Forces to reduce the environmental impact of the project by requiring a smaller area than what would be needed for two turbines. The turbine hub height is 135 m high, and the blade length is approximately 63.5 m long resulting in a maximum height of 198.5m.
The main reason for proposing only one wind turbine is the capacity of the local distribution grid. After NB Power completed a feasibility assessment, it was determined the local substation could only handle the interconnection of approximately 3.8MW as such, there is not likely to be any expansion projects in the future. Additionally, many of Natural Forces operational wind farms in Nova Scotia are small projects like the proposed Richibucto Wind Project. These smaller projects are financially more feasible and allow local community groups like Pabineau First Nation to partner on the project providing local economic development.
During operation, if significant noise impacts are noticed at nearby homes, there are operational mitigation measures that can be implemented. Noise impacts are most likely to be observed if a home is located directly downwind from the turbine. If the noise complaints are reoccurring, the Proponent can determine at which wind direction the noise is observed and either shutdown the turbine or rotate the direction of the blades reducing the noise levels observed at the home. The Proponent is committed to monitoring the occurrence of all noise complaints for the Richibucto Wind Project and will work with land and business owners to implement an effective solution. For more information on how to contact the Proponent with any concerns you may have, please refer to the Complaint Resolution Plan in Appendix I of the EIA located in the “What’s Happening?” section of the Project Webpage
The turbine has been located approximately 1.2 km from the nearest homes.
The Projects installed capacity will be 3.5 MW from a single turbine. This is enough to power approximately 900 New Brunswick homes.
The municipalities of the Town of Richibucto and the Village of Rexton will receive direct benefits through annual Real Property Taxes. Each municipality has a tax rate and upon submitting the annual payments to the Department of Finance, the municipalities will receive an amount based on the applicable municipal tax rate.
The wind turbine will be owned by Oinpegitjoig Wind limited Partnership. This partnership has been formed between Natural Forces Wind Inc (a private entity) and Pabineau First Nation who will be majority owner of the wind project.
The Proponent will hire local contractors where possible during construction. The Proponent has already met a few local contractors at the second Open House who would like to participate in the project’s construction. Construction activities are likely to start in the fall of 2018, and local contractors are encouraged to reach out to Natural Forces to provide more information about their work.
This project will create work for local business during the construction phase of the project. Workers will be needed for the civil works, the turbine foundation, the electrical works and crane work. There will also be a need for a contractor to maintain the road and clear the road of snow during the winter months throughout the operational phase of the project.
The Project is located on private land. There are no project plans to move the turbine into crown lands. The proponent prefers to keep the Project landowner’s identity confidential out of respect for their privacy.
The project is located approximately 500 m east of the Peat Moss Facility and 60m south east of the wetland area. The proposed turbine location is on land that remains dry all year. However, the surrounding Project lands are more saturated due to previous land disturbance and Peat Moss facility drainage.
An environmental concern associated with wind farms is the possible impact to birds. This impact is mainly from direct collision with the blades. For all of Natural Forces wind farms, post-construction bird and bat mortality studies are conducted for two years after commissioning. These studies occur in the Spring and Fall during migration periods where bird activity is the highest. The Proponent hires a third-party consultant to visit the Project site approximately three times a week to search for possible bird collisions. The searchers are tested for efficiency in finding birds and the site is also tested for possible scavengers that may remove the birds before searchers can find them. By using the number of observed birds, the searchers efficiency, and any scavenger removal, accurate collision rates can be determined. Natural Forces has observed anywhere from 0-4 collisions per year at their wind farm sites in Nova Scotia. All of the previous post-construction studies from Natural Forces sites are posted on the respective webpages. Post-construction studies of the Richibucto Wind Project will also be posted online for public review. For more information about the impacts of wind turbines on birds, Canada has a nationwide database called the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database that provides an annual report of bird and bat collisions submitted to the database. Atlantic Canada observes the lowest collision rate per turbine across Canada.
Information about the Project and the Open Houses has been advertised in the local newspapers in both French and English for the August and December events. Newsletters providing Project information and Open House dates and times have also been sent for both events. These newsletters reached over 1,200 homes and business in the local area. The Proponent welcomes any questions or concerns from the Public and encourages them to reach out. Contact information for Natural Forces and the webpage has been provided on each advertisement and newsletter and is provided at the bottom of this webpage.
A study done by Health Canada in 2014 investigated the health effects of wind turbine noise. This study found that wind turbine noise was not associated with self-reported sleep, illness or stress levels. For more information on this topic, please visit the Health Canada Environmental and Workplace Health page.