NOVERMBER 2, 2023 UPDATE:
Natural Forces intends to bid the proposed Westchester Wind Project into the provincial Green Choice Program Request for Proposals. Updates will be posted here on the project website and will be sent to our mailing list, which you can join below. The following notice was sent to members of the surrounding community: November 2023 Green Choice Program Notice
To join the mailing list for the Westchester Wind Project, please click on the link below and fill out your contact information.
About The Project
This project is located in Mi’kmaki, the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq. Natural Forces acknowledges that working on these lands is a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. We believe that private companies have an important role to play in the decolonization of the energy sector and, ultimately, the path towards reconciliation through partnerships and meaningful engagement. To honour and achieve this, we must look forward for generations and integrate the practices and knowledge of the original land stewards, the Mi’kmaq, into project planning. The proposed Westchester Wind Project is being developed by Natural Forces. Natural Forces, alongside any future partners, will develop, construct, operate, and own the project.
The initial plans are for the proposed project to consist of an estimated 12 wind turbines. Depending on which wind turbine generators are deemed most appropriate for the project, these 12 turbines could have a total installed capacity from approximately 50 MW to 84 MW. This would be enough electricity to power over 17,000 Nova Scotian homes. The project is located in Cumberland County, on Westchester Mountain to the west of Highway 104, approximately 24 km from the Cobequid Pass Tolls.
Provincial Green Choice Program Request for Proposals Update
Natural Forces intends to bid the proposed Westchester Wind Project into the provincial Green Choice Program Request for Proposals. More information about the Program can be found here. Associated project updates will be posted here and sent to the Project mailing list as they become available.
Project Milestone Timeline
March 2021 – Environmental studies began
May 2021 – Wind monitoring campaign began to supplement data collected from 2011 to 2014
July 2021 – Natural Forces held the first open house at the Westchester Fire Hall
February 2022 – Environmental Assessment (EA) was registered with the Province
May 2022 – Project was bid into the Nova Scotia Rate Base Procurement program
September 2022 – The new Cumberland County Wind Turbine Regulations came into effect. Information can be found here.
December 2022 – The Addendum to the previously submitted EA was submitted following a request for additional information
February 2023 – The second and third open houses were held on February 7 and 9 at the Westchester Fire Hall
February 2023 – The NS Minister of Environment and Climate Change approved the EIA
November 2023 – Notice sent to community members of Natural Forces’ intention to bid the project into the Green Choice Program
Who is proposing this project?
When developing a wind project, it is crucial to find the most 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
Nova Scotia has excellent wind resources, so generating electricity is feasible in many locations around the province. Factors other than the strength and consistency of the wind must be taken into account when considering a site, such as proximity to the electricity grid, road access, ecology, archaeology, and cultural significance, proximity to residential dwellings, and health concerns.
The location of the Westchester Wind Project was selected after a thorough review of all of these factors.
Public & Stakeholder Engagement
Natural Forces is committed to engaging with the public, stakeholders, and stakeholder groups throughout the lifetime of the project. We are both keen to ensure the community understands the project details and is aware of project activities, and to accept input and feedback from community members. Below is information about the major public and stakeholder engagement activities that have taken place to date, including summaries of the information that has been shared at our open houses.
The development of wind energy in Nova Scotia provides a clean and stable source of energy that displaces energy generated from fossil fuels. Wind energy development positively impacts the community in a variety of ways, including:
- Providing tax revenue to the hosting municipality for the entire lifetime of the project;
- Creation of local employment and contracting opportunities during all phases of the project;
- Stabilizing energy costs for Nova Scotia Power customers by increasing electricity generation sources with fixed cost contracts; and,
- Increased revenue to local businesses due to economic spinoff from project activities.
Natural Forces has held three open house to provide an opportunity for the community to engage with Natural Forces staff. All three open houses were held at the Westchester Fire Hall. The first open house was held in July 2021, and the second and third open houses were held on February 7th and 9th, 2023. All of the information that was presented at these open houses can be seen at the links below:
(the February 7 and 9 open houses presented the same information)
Natural Forces will continue to host open houses throughout the development of the project.
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 Impact 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 30 years
Decommission or Retrofit
- Assess wind turbine after 30 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
In Nova Scotia, any wind projects that exceed 2 MW in size are required to complete a provincial environmental impact assessment (EIA). During this process, an entire committee made of provincial and federal agencies evaluate the location and overall impact of the project on the surrounding environment and the public. As the Westchester Wind Project will likely produce more than 50 MW of electricity, it is subject to an EIA.
To fully assess the potential environmental impacts of the project, the following comprehensive studies have been conducted:
- Wind Resource Assessment
- Wetlands and Watercourses Surveys
- Bird and Bat Surveys
- Mainland Moose Surveys
- Vegetation and Habitat Surveys
- Noise and Visual Assessments
- Radiocommunication Impact Assessments
- Archaeological Assessments
The results from these studies were compiled in the EIA document that was registered with the province on February 23, 2022. The full EIA document and the associated studies are available for download below. As is common with projects of this kind, the Minister of the Department of Environment and Climate Change requested additional information to provide a final decision on the project. As such, the environmental studies at the project site were continued throughout 2022, the results of which were compiled and reported on in the addendum to the initial registration document. As of February 13, 2023, the EIA was approved by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
More information on the approval can be found on the provincial EIA website. Both the initial EIA document (2022) and the addendum (2023) can also be viewed below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Natural Forces undertakes rigorous environmental impact assessments ahead of construction to determine existing environmental sensitivities and potential impacts on the project to the environment. This information will be reviewed by provincial government officials and will be open for public comment.
The proposed turbines will be set back at least 1.0 km from all cabins and houses.
No. 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 negative health impacts. The summary of these results can be reviewed on the Health Canada Environmental and Workplace Health page and links to additional studies can be found in the following section.
For this project, Natural Forces leases land from private landowners. Over the course of several years, we have developed trusted relationships with the landowners and in all instances the land remains in the ownership of the landowner and is leased for the duration of the project. No land has been leased from unwilling landowners.
During construction, Natural Forces makes every attempt to hire local contractors, using our in-house construction management company, Natural Forces Construction, to ensure smaller contractors are able to participate.
Wind turbines have moving parts and therefore some sound can be expected. However, well-designed wind turbines are generally quiet in operation, and compared to the noise of road traffic, trains, aircraft, and construction activities, to name but a few, the sound from wind turbines is very low. As wind turbine technology has evolved, the sounds emitted have decreased. The further away you are from a project, the less sound it will make. This site will likely have trees and other barriers that would break a lot of the sound before it reaches homes. A typical wind project would have a noise level of between 35-45 decibels. For reference, the compressor of a refrigerator produces 40-45 decibels. (Check out the Energy Nova Scotia Wind Page for more information). Stories of excessive noise often come from areas where the turbines are very close to homes. Natural Forces follows the minimum standards for distance from residences laid out by local regulations, or a typical minimum of 1KM.
For more information contact:
Meg Morris, Project Manager