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Richibucto Wind Project

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Welcome to the official Oinpegitjoig Wind Project webpage! This website has been created to provide information about the project to the community, stakeholders, and the First Nations of New Brunswick.

About The Project

The Oinpegitjoig (Richibucto) Wind Project is a single turbine wind energy project in Richibucto, New Brunswick that was commissioned in January 2020.

The project is part of NB Power’s Embedded Generation Program for small community owned generators to help the province reach its goals set out in the New Brunswick’s Energy Blueprint of achieving 40% of its electricity supply from renewable sources. The Oinpegitjoig Wind Project is estimated to supply enough electricity to power approximately 900 homes per year. 

The project is located west of the Richibucto-Rexton Industrial Park approximately 3 km southwest of the Town of Richibucto and 1.5 km northwest of the Village of Rexton. The project layout is shown in the following document:

Project Updates

On January 10, 2020 the Oinpegitjoig Wind Project reached commercial operation. This milestone means that the project is now producing renewable energy that is flowing directly onto the electrical grid.

Natural Forces and Pabineau First Nation have been working hard with NB Power to reach the operational phase of the project. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the communities of Richibucto and Rexton, as well as the surrounding area as we continue to operate the project for the next 25 years.

To celebrate this project and partnership, we have made a short film that provides additional information on the project:

Who owns this project?

This project is owned by Pabineau First Nation in partnership with Natural Forces.

Pabineau First Nation is a progressive Mi’gmaq First Nation of New Brunswick located 8 kilometers south of Bathurst, in Gloucester County, New Brunswick. The Pabineau First Nation reserve is comprised of approximately 1053 acres spanning both sides of the Nepisiguit River. Pabineau First Nation has recently purchased two new parcels of land, totaling approximately 700 acres for a variety of community economic development ventures. The Pabineau First Nation community has a membership of approximately 330 people. The administration of Pabineau First Nation is led by its Chief and Council. Former Chief David Peter-Paul, current Chief Terry Richardson, and the Councilors have provided leadership to the First Nation and played a major role in establishing this partnership and project. Pabineau First Nation recognizes the importance of being involved in renewable energy projects, as they produce electricity in a sustainable manner and are a great source of own-source revenue. Please visit the Pabineau First Nation website for more information.

Natural Forces is a successful regional energy developer based in eastern Canada Natural Forces has successfully developed, constructed, and currently operate multiple wind projects in Atlantic Canada, and have been doing so for over a decade. Natural Forces has been working in New Brunswick for over 15 years and was successful in both the 2006 and 2008 calls for power that resulted in the construction of the 150 MW Kent Hills wind farm in partnership with TransAlta. Please visit the Natural Forces website, or contact us at 902-422-9663 for more information.

Why here?

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, and socio-economic concerns.

Wind resource
To measure the wind resource, a temporary meteorological mast or ‘met mast’ was installed on the project site in May 2017. The met mast is equipped to measure the wind speed, wind direction, temperature and relative humidity. The data demonstrated early on that this location has a favorable wind resource. 

Distance to existing electrical and civil infrastructure
The project is located west of the Rexton-Richibucto Industrial Park, making use of the existing Enterprise Street to access the project site.  The wind farm electrical distribution lines are connected to the existing NB Power lines located in the Industrial Park. 

Environmental sensitivity
The project is sited outside of any known environmental sensitive areas. An Environmental Impact Assessment was completed to understand the impact the project could have on the environment and surrounding community, which showed that minimal impacts are expected.

Socio-economic concerns
The  project is sited in an area currently zoned industrial that has previously been used to quarry aggregate used in local projects. The area is located to the east of the Rexton-Richibucto Industrial Park and the Malpec peat extraction facility. Photomontages have been created to demonstrate the potential impact of the project on the landscape in the region and are included in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

What’s in it for the community?

The development of wind energy in New Brunswick not only provides a clean stable source of electricity to help meet growing energy demands and provincial targets but also provides additional community benefits such as:

  • An increase in demand for local goods and services during the feasibility and construction phases of development.
  • The creation of jobs within Kent County during the construction phase.
  • Additional revenue for the Municipalities, through the payment of annual property taxes by the project proponent, which will benefit all residents of the municipality.
  • ​Partnerships and own source revenue for a local First Nation Community

Commissioning

We are excited to announce that on January 10, 2020 the Oinpegitjoig (Richibucto) Wind Project reached commercial operation. Natural Forces and Pabineau First Nation have been working hard with New Brunswick Power to achieve operation. The short video included below shows the turbine spinning.

We look forward to continuing our relationship with Pabineau First Nation and the communities of Richibucto and Rexton, as well as the surrounding area as we continue to operate the project for the next 25 years.

What is the process?

1

Development

  • Assess the wind resource
  • Survey for environmentally sensitive features
  • Optimize turbine location to capture the wind efficiently and minimize impact on sensitive feature
  • Begin consultation with regulators and the public
  • Conduct and present the Environmental Impact Assessment for environmental approval
  • Apply for road, work and construction permits

2

Construction

  • Begin construction in fall 2018
  • Clear trees for roads and the turbine pad
  • Build the access road and pad area
  • Pour the turbine foundation
  • Assemble the wind turbine
  • Connect to NB Power’s electrical grid

3

Operation

  • Commission the wind turbine and start producing power
  • Conduct post-construction wildlife monitoring
  • Conduct routine maintenance every three months
  • Monitor remotely for real time alerts when additional maintenance is needed​
  • Operate for 25 years

4

Decommission or Retrofit

  • Assess wind turbine after 25 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. 

 

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. 

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